More About the Anti-Blogger FTC Bill

June 26, 2009

Rants

Earlier, I ranted about the FTC Bill (coming up for passage this summer). I posted this on my other blog, but I wanted to write a little about it again here, too.

Firstly, the 86-page bill is here (it’s a pdf file). The bill makes a big deal about the reliability and needed oversight of “new media” (that’s us, fellow bloggers) when it comes to truth in advertising laws. Now, I will state that I am JUST FINE with truth in advertising– I have no problem with that. Rather, these are some of the issues I have with this FTC bill:

1. Blogs are OPINION forums.
The FTC desires to regulate opinions?! What will happen if one of my opinions is considered “wrong” or “misleading” by someone who has other opinions? Will I be targeted, simply because I have a blog?

2. I OWN my blogs. It’s MY private property.
This is a lot different than that “store clerk” parable that is being thrown around these days:

“If you walk into a department store, you know the (sales) clerk is a clerk,” said Rich Cleland, assistant director in the FTC’s division of advertising practices. “Online, if you think that somebody is providing you with independent advice and … they have an economic motive for what they’re saying, that’s information a consumer should know.”

The guidelines also would bring uniformity to a community that has shunned that.

This is a horribly poor allegory for sponsored posts on blogs. I OWN my blogs, I am an independent contractor, and this is MY space. A more appropriate allegory would be that of celebrity endorsement. We’ve all seen them, ever since I Love Lucy or The Honeymooners. How about Kim Komando and her GoToMyPC.com? Laura Ingraham and her Select Sleep Number Bed? Rush Limbaugh and his new GM SUV? Will they be required to hoist large placards over their heads, informing addle-brained consumers that their endorsement or product name-drop is sponsored? No! And how about movie makers with their “paid for” insertions of products and product names in movies (remember E.T.’s Reese’s Pieces?)! The movie makers get paid BIG bucks for dropping brand-names into their films. Do you think the Feds are going after them? NO!

But bloggers, who earn a measly $5-8 per sponsored post will have to do it– or be SUED or JAILED by the Feds! It’s unconscionable.

3. This bill, if passed into law, is unenforceable.
Here’s an example: on this blog, I write product reviews. Probably 80% of the product reviews I do on this blog are MY OWN. I don’t get paid for them. I just love doing product reviews. It’s WHY my blog is called, uh, Freaky FRUGALite. I have a readership of educated, frugal moms and dads, and this is why I write about what I do. DUH!! Is the FTC going to sue me for this post about trying out Walborn Immune System Defense? I liked it and it seemed to protect me from the colds that everyone was getting. What am I to do if some addled-brained idiot buys the stuff and gets a cold?? And how can I prove that I was never paid to write about Walborn– how on earth can I prove a negative?! I’m doing it for ME and for my readers– it’s part information and part entertainment, and the American people aren’t SO stupid so as to believe otherwise. 4. SEPS vs SEDS: I think there should be “Stupid Laws” on the books.
If you read a blog post about how a vitamin is going to make you fly like Superman, and you buy that vitamin believing that you can now fly like Supermen, then YOU should be sued, for being such a stupid idiot! I think it’s high time SMART, Enterprising People (SEPS) had some defending here, against the Stupid, Easily-Duped People (SEDS). The SEDS have been pandered too and coddled for tooo long. It’s about time they reaped some consequences here.
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5. Next thing you know, we’ll have to have a Fairness Doctrine for blogs….!
Yeah, this is such a slippery slope! The Feds could tighten the screws, forcing us bloggers to abide by the idiotic Fairness Doctrine. Next thing you know, I won’t be able to write about Hoover vacuum cleaners unless I am “fair” and also write about Dyson vacs in the same sentence! All in the name of “fairness”! GRRRRRR!

6. Bloggers are independent thinkers, and we don’t want government-sponsored “uniformity.”
In the REAL world, that kind of uniformity is called “SLAVERY.” It’s called DEATH TO FREE ENTERPRISE, to CREATIVITY and to INNOVATION.

Finally, I like what John Dvorak had to say about this. (He’s a blogger, by the way, and he did not PAY ME to say this- happy now, FTC?):

This is like the government, in cahoots with the RIAA, going after some mom in Ohio for stupidly leaving Kazaa running on her machine and discovering she’s been a transit point for the “Best of Bee Gee’s” for the past two years. Meanwhile, the Asian mobs off the Indonesian coast are cranking out commercial counterfeit CDs by the millions. Do something about that first before you go after the oh-so-dangerous mom in Ohio.

The same holds true here. I could care less that Milly the Yarn Spinner at millysworldofyarn.com is getting free samples of yarn to review on her blog. Has she disclosed it was free yarn? Will she return the sweaters she knits from the yarn? Who cares?

We do not need the FTC looking into Milly when there are large corporations ripping off the public every day. The community of bloggers can make Milly miserable for her misleading review, but the public can do little about financial scams, major price fixing, overbilling by the phone companies, or any number of big scams. Where is the FTC?

Because the FTC so willfully ignores the obvious, most eggregious lawbreakers, and because they are instead turning their attentions to the Little Guy and the Mom Blogger, I find this bill very suspicious. It makes me really, really wonder about who is “sponsoring” this bill… where’s the FTC’s truth in advertising, huh? Who are the people pushing for this regulation?

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2 Responses to “More About the Anti-Blogger FTC Bill”

  1. Sinclair Says:

    HOOOOEEY! Just one more example of the tightening of the screws on the lid of our rights box. Passkey, please. Your barcode number?

  2. Steve Says:

    It’s not a bill–it’s worse. It’s a federal agency rulemaking decision. A bill would require a vote in Congress, and you could call your representative. While the FTC must accept public comment, it can pretty much do what it wants. Its authority is granted by Congress, but it can broadly interpret its regulatory reach. That’s on display here and makes this rule worrisome.

    http://reason.org/blog/show/the-ftc-plans-to-regulate-blog