David Canton writes:
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission recently proposed new guidelines pertaining to transparency in blogging.
Under the guidelines, bloggers who make an endorsement would have to disclose any material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.
This would mean that any freebie a blogger receives would have to be fully disclosed to readers. And anytime a product is mentioned, any connection with the manufacturer would also have to be disclosed.
If the guidelines are adopted adopted, it would be the first time bloggers were brought under commission guidelines and the first time the FTC could go go after bloggers for “false claims” or “failure to disclose conflicts of interest.”
Bloggers are currently not held to any ethical guidelines, as compared to the ethical standards of journalists. Bloggers would be required to disclose affiliations with sponsors and marketers and any free giveaways they receive. The proposed penalty for violating the rules: a fine of as much as $11,000.
The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) has been one of the strongest and most vocal critics of the guidelines.
In an open letter to the FTC, the IAB claims — and rightly so — that the guidelines unfairly regulate online media without doing the same for offline media.