FTC’s got it backwards

The new kerfluffle on Wired about the FTC’s requirement for citizen bloggers to reveal freebies or face up to $11K in fines is bass-ackwards.

It says that the “established” sites like Consumer Reports don’t need to disclose their information on getting freebies as compensation for reviews, but amateur bloggers do.

I haven’t read the guidelines, but I can tell you right now it’s doomed to failure because of how backwards it is. If I had more time I’d read the actual guidelines, but I’m a little perturbed because Wired specifically mentions “amateur” bloggers, which to me means that there is no advertisements or income being generated on the site.

You know what? If I’m not getting paid for it, it’s none of the Federal Trade Commission’s business. If I’m choosing to express my point of view online, there are already checks and balances on the freedom of expression (libel and slander judicial precedents, for example, well established in Supreme Court cases). If I want to talk about a pair of jeans I got for free, I shouldn’t have to “disclose” that they were free. If I like the product, I like the product. If my personal endorsement carries so very much weight that the FTC needs to get involved, then I must be missing out on the tremendous opportunity to capitalize on Being Me.

This smacks of continued attempts by the mainstream media lobbying groups to curtail the freedom of expression online in a misguided attempt at using legislation to punish individual freedom of expression by whatever sorry excuse possible.The desire to “make the information on the internet more reliable” would be much better served by channeling all of the current military budget into educational reform in this country. Maybe if we stopped producing a country full of the willfully ignorant we’d see the general information quotient rise online.

And really.. the folks the FTC *should* be after are the established companies who try to pose as amateur bloggers through created online personae which they then use to drum up positive PR for their products with. THAT’s the real enemy here. The corporations and advertisers. Not the real bloggers.

This blog post was produced while the blogger used free air.

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