Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Quick Thoughts on the New Blogging Regulations

I want to congratulate the folks at the FTC, who’ve decided we all need to follow some rules about what bloggers can say. See for example, “
Epicenter The Business of Tech
FTC Tells Amateur Bloggers to Disclose Freebies or Be Fined
” at Wired. These new rules are documented in an easy to read 81 page document, which the Internet Patrol helpfully explains in this short write-up.

I don’t know what folks like Jim Harper are getting worked up about with strange posts like “Congress Shall Make No Law . . . But Regulators Act Anyway.” I mean, it’s not like the FTC should be regulating the $24 Billion dollars that banks made in poorly disclosed overdraft fees last year, or scammers like Cash4Gold. This was obviously and importantly top of mind for them, and we all know that bloggers can’t be trusted with the 1st amendment.

The FTC sent me hookers and blow to post this.

7 comments on "Quick Thoughts on the New Blogging Regulations"

  • Bob Blakley says:

    Is there an application form for the hookers & blow? I could write something if properly motivated….
    Alas, no one sent me anything to elicit this comment.

  • Nicko says:

    The article at Wired is erroneous. The rules do not set a double standard; far from it, the rules put bloggers on exactly the same footing as any other media outlet. If you write something about a product where you have been given the product for free or at a discount or you have been paid to write the review, then what you write is deemed to be an endorsement and your financial interest needs to be declared.
    Of course for ages bloggers have been whining about not being treated like real journalists. Now that the FTC are treating them like real journalists they are still whining. Sigh.
    As for Jim Harper, I suspect that he thinks that the FTC is also treading on people’s First Amendment rights for making newspapers put “Advertising Feature” in small print at the bottom of ads dressed up as editorial and that clearly congress should make no law prohibiting vendors from lying about their products either, because “No Law” means “No Law”…
    (And yes, I really did read all 81 pages of FTC 16 CFR Part 255)

  • Kyle Maxwell says:

    I have to agree with Nicko. This simply means that new media has to follow the same core ethical rules as old media.
    This is like saying “omg botnets are the major issue, WHY are people worried about not using Google Docs for sensitive company info?!”.

  • Adam says:

    Nicko, Alex,
    First, I’ve always disclosed such things, and need no federal rules to do so.
    Second, and more importantly, 81 pages of regulations is regulators making work for themselves. Nicko, you need something to occupy your time. I suggest a startup. 🙂

  • tim says:

    (not surprised that Adam is supporting this)
    My problem is not that people should disclose possible conflicts of interest (they should) – my problem is how is this even enforceable? As you stated in your snarky blogpost – the US federal government can’t keep track of major financial institutional that actually play major roles in our lives and its going to go after 12 year old kids who hawk a free video game? Seriously its idiotic. Its regulations for regulations sake and it won’t work.

  • Nicko says:

    The 81 pages cover a great deal more than blogging. If you look at the document that was published, firstly about half of it is a review of the extensive comments that were submitted in their year-long request for comments. Of the remainder, no more than about four pages have anything to do with new media. Sure it’s the output of a bureaucracy but the document is large because it has a lot in it.

  • John Kelsey says:

    I wonder how many such documents full of regulation will apply to bloggers by this time in 2015, and what fraction of bloggers will have any idea what regulations they might be violating. And I wonder what fraction of bloggers who get hassled for such violations will just happen to have recently pissed off someone powerful.

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