FTC attempt to control Web unlikely
October 13, 2009
Freedom New Mexico
In a major blow to freedom on the Internet, the Federal Trade Commission voted 4-0 to establish new rules in an attempt to regulate freedom of speech on the Web for bloggers and social media users.
If you blog, tweet, or occasionally prognosticate on Facebook, you soon might have federal agents at your door or an $11,000 fine in your mailbox.
Not since 1980 has the FTC updated its rules on endorsements and testimonials. The FTC’s appropriate 29-year silence on these matters ended last week when it decided it was time to overreach into the realm of bloggers and tweeters.
The new rules require bloggers and social networkers to disclose any financial relationships they may have with companies or products they talk about in their posts. Reaching even further, the new regulations also require disclosure of any gifts received by bloggers.
This is a terrible regulatory encroachment.
As of now, blogs and social networking communities are self-policed very well. And there are even Web sites dedicated to transparency, specifically pointing out monetary relationships that bloggers might have with companies and products they comment about.
Paid journalists, though, will not be bound by these same rules. For example, it is common practice for a writer to get an advance copy of a book or a movie in order to write a review. Under these new FTC guidelines, bloggers who receive the same sort of benefit might face federal charges if they don’t report it. This sounds like preferential treatment for traditional media journalists.
The Obama administration and FTC bureaucrats just don’t get it. Regulating Twitter, Facebook, and the blogosphere is like regulating word-of-mouth advertising. It is a blatant assault on freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and privacy.
Good luck trying to track down every blogger violating these new rules.
Fortunately it would take a regulatory force the size of China’s army to pinpoint every offender.
Unfortunately, much like China, the FTC now wants to try and control parts of the Internet.
This smells like a large expansion of government and less privacy for Americans.