The Federal Trade Commission has just released a ruling (PDF) that requires bloggers to disclose anything–and I mean anything–they receive as a result of their blogging. Free review copies of books. Trips to oil rigs. Payments. T-shirts. Whatever it is, you better disclose it, or you get slapped with a fine of $11,000 per infraction.
In other words, the government is now putting all web sites, professional or personal, under its thumb for failing to disclose everything they receive from any source. And what are the guidelines for disclosure? Why, none at all. So, assuming you receive a free copy of a book–even if you don’t review it–you must disclose that you received it. How do you disclose it? I dunno. How do you you know if your disclosure is sufficient? I dunno. The FTC, you see, will make those decisions on a “case-by-case” basis.
<sarcasm>I’m sure they’ll be quite fair about it, too. And I’m quite certain that the FTC will never, ever selectively enforce these new rules so that more scrutiny is given to opponents of the current regime than to its supporters.</sarcasm>
The main thing to remember here is that free speech is not nearly as important as protecting the public from some blogger who doesn’t disclose that he got a free review copy of the book to read, in order to write the review. And, of course, you’re all too stupid and venal to protect yourselves from the danger to the republic that freebies to bloggers represent.
But, we already knew that.
More info and quotes here.