Just baby steps ... Or in other words, Fabian Socialism.
The Federal Trade Commission FTC) will be regulating blogs in short order. They will require that bloggers disclose any freebies or payments they get from companies whose products they've reviewed.
Of course, this doesn't apply to newspapers, magazines, or any other form of media. The new law only applies to blogs.
I wonder... Will this regulation apply to those who blog in favor of government programs? What about a politician's blog? Don't hold your breath.
Publishers sometimes send me books in hopes I’ll review or at least mention them. I occasionally attend free advance screenings of new movies (typically law-related documentaries) that filmmakers hope I’ll write about. This site has an Amazon affiliate store which has from time to time provided me with commissions after readers click links and proceed to purchase items ... I’ve been sent “cause” T-shirts and law firm/support service provider promotional kits over the years, pretty much a waste of effort since I don’t much care for wearing such T-shirts and am not exactly famed for posts that sing the praises of law firms or their service providers.
Under new Federal Trade Commission guidelines in the works for some time, I could apparently get in trouble for not disclosing these and similarly exciting things. In addition, the commission’s scrutiny will extend to areas less relevant to this site, such as targeted Google advertising and results-not-typical testimonials.
Interesting to note is that there are no guidelines on how to disclose relationships and this has no effect on blogs, corporations and relationships outside of the US. The new rules would apply to any transfer of value in exchange for publicity but seems very watered down in its execution. TechMeme is full of reverberations, but is there a lot to worry about for the everyday blogger?
There are so many things wrong with that, I don't know where to begin. But gee whiz--a fine up to $11,000, and no clear guidance on what a blogger needs to do to avoid that fine?!
I should disclose that I do a lot of work for the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and I'm sure my sugar daddies there would appreciate the present blog post.
Seeking guideline clarification, blogger Edward Champion interviewed FTC spokesman Richard Cleland on Monday. In Cleland's view, a blogger who kept a free book that he reviewed on his site would have to disclose this "compensation."
Champion swarmed Cleland with a set of smart hypotheticals, to which he scarily responded:
These are very complex situations that are going to have to looked at on a case-by-case basis to determine whether or not there is a sufficient nexus, a sufficient compensation between the seller and the blogger, and so what we have done is to provide some guidance in this area. And some examples in this area where there's an endorsement.
In other words, the vagueness of our guidelines doth make suspects of you all.
That's not just my usual free-speech paranoia barking. The Arnold & Porter blog concludes that the FTC is likely to "define 'endorser' broadly and companies may be wise to begin inventorying to whom they are, directly or indirectly, providing free product."
Allowing these guidelines to take effect would be like giving the government a no-knock warrant to investigate hundreds of thousands of blogs and hundreds of millions of Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter users for … saying nice things about goods and services. Cleland tells Ad Age that a restaurant employee who gave his eatery a good review on Yelp would have to disclose. Given the billions of opinionated postings on the Web, there would be no end to FTC's work.
Because of a pesky thing called the First Amendment, the guidelines don't apply to news organizations, which receive thousands of free books, CDs, and DVDs each day from media companies hoping for reviews. But if the guidelines don't apply to established media like the New York Review of Books, which also happens to publish reviews on the Web, why should they apply to Joe Blow's blog? Regulating bloggers via the FTC while exempting establishment reporters looks like a back-door means of licensing journalists and policing speech. (emphasis added)
But just like everything else Big Government, there's a big, giant hole in our Overlords Grand Vision ...
The notion that the US blogosphere is going to allow the US state to require it to register certain content is something that has me wondering if some cunning conspiracy was not at work by a shadowy cabal of Good Guys (who inexplicably did not let me in on the plan) luring the enemy into a sort of virtual Teutoburger Wald by playing to hubris and Imperial overreach. These people do not really even understand what the internet is I suspect.
I can not tell you how delighted I am. When a body like the Federal Trade Commission commits itself to an unwinnable fight against an almost literally endless enemy with the ability to vanish and reappear at will, it is a clear sign that terminal stupidity has set in, which is really rather good news.
(Not so) funny though ... Considering the newspapers, magazines, and television companies are the Big Corporations.
Bloggers on the other hand (the vast majority), are the little guy ... Just people doing something they want to do.
Yet, the government comes down on the little guy anyway.
However inconsistent Obama's words, his behavior has been remarkably consistent over the years. He has sought out and joined with the radical, anti-Western left, whether Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers of the terrorist Weatherman underground or pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli Rashid Khalidi.
Obama is also part of a long tradition on the left of being for the working class in the abstract, or as people potentially useful for the purposes of the left, but having disdain or contempt for them as human beings.
Karl Marx said, "The working class is revolutionary or it is nothing." In other words, they mattered only in so far as they were willing to carry out the Marxist agenda.
Fabian socialist George Bernard Shaw included the working class among the "detestable" people who "have no right to live." He added: "I should despair if I did not know that they will all die presently, and that there is no need on earth why they should be replaced by people like themselves."
Similar statements on the left go back as far as Rousseau in the 18th century and come forward into our own times.