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FTC To Monitor Blogs For Paid Claims & Reviews 129

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the they're-gonna-need-a-bigger-boat dept.
PL/SQL Guy writes "Many bloggers have accepted perks such as free laptops, trips to Europe, $500 gift cards or even thousands of dollars for a 200-word post. Bloggers vary in how they disclose such freebies, if they do so at all. But now the Federal Trade Commission is paying attention. New guidelines, expected to be approved late this summer with possible modifications, would clarify that the agency can go after bloggers — as well as the companies that compensate them — for any false claims or failure to disclose conflicts of interest. Bloggers complain that with FTC oversight, they'd be too worried about innocent posts getting them in trouble, because the common practice of posting a graphical ad or a link to an online retailer — and possibly getting commissions for any sales from it — would be enough to trigger oversight."
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FTC To Monitor Blogs For Paid Claims & Reviews

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  • stop crying (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Monday June 22, 2009 @11:58AM (#28423459) Homepage Journal

    You wanted to replace the "old media", now stop crying. With power comes responsibility.

    • by mh1997 (1065630) on Monday June 22, 2009 @12:00PM (#28423511)
      Perhaps we need a blog czar. That would be change I can believe in.
    • Re:stop crying (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Reality Master 201 (578873) on Monday June 22, 2009 @12:05PM (#28423609) Journal

      Ok, do members of the old media have to disclose all their potential conflicts of interest? Do they face penalties if they don't?

      • by eln (21727)
        Given the number of press releases and just flat-out product advertisements that masquerade as legitimate articles in newspapers and television news, I seriously doubt it.

        The larger issue here is that ALL media outlets do this sort of thing, not just blogs. The FTC should oversee this sort of behavior everywhere, as it is dishonest and misleading to have supposedly trustworthy news sources engage in this kind of behavior. The only reason the practice is becoming a problem with blogs is because some blo
        • >> The FTC should oversee this sort of behavior everywhere, as it is dishonest and misleading to have supposedly trustworthy news sources engage in this kind of behavior.

          Yes, the FTC should regulate blogs and all media outlets in order to increase public trust in them~

          • by fataugie (89032)

            Yeah.....because when I want the God's honest truth....I take my advice from someone I know nothing about who has a blog on the Internet.

            If it's on the Internet....it MUST be true.

            • by i_ate_god (899684)

              Yeah.....because when I want the God's honest truth....I take my advice from someone I know nothing about who has a blog on the Internet.

              If it's on the Internet....it MUST be true.

              I agree. I tend to side with newspapers full of journalists that uphold a rigorous discipline to maintain their integrity and deliver to me unbiased, objective information. In fact, the minute that information is reported by someone who isn't under the control of an editorial staff, advertisement agencies, corporations, and government, is the minute I stop caring because as we all know, newspapers are here to sell ad supported content, not content supported ads. And the filtration of all the powers that be

              • by fataugie (89032)

                Ha, I get sarcasim.

                I don't trust them either....

                If you really care (I know you don't), I take the different arguments of things i care about...research the topic myself using both left and right sources and make up my own mind. Just because someone has a blog doesn't mean they are biased....nor does it mean they are fair.

                Restricting your news intake or information sources reduces your chances of getting the truth.

        • Those are what bug me the most - the "articles" that are written by companies. Traditional media, as you pointed out, is so full of fake news that it's pretty sad.
      • And are those penalties meted out by the government or by their employer? There's a huge difference there. This "review" by the FTC has serious First Amendment implications. I expect this review will be thrown out by the first judge that gets a chance. The FTC simply cannot take over the role played by newspaper and magazine editors in addressing impartiality concerns.
      • Yes, they do (Score:5, Informative)

        by tacokill (531275) on Monday June 22, 2009 @12:33PM (#28424081)
        It depends on which media you are talking about. CNN/Fox/MSNBC? Doubtful. CNBC? Absolutely. You can thank Elliot Spitzer for that, whether you like him or not...

        There are very stiff penalties in the financial world for not disclosing conflicts. When CNBC has a speaker or guest, you'll notice they put up a disclosure screen that shows information on whether the speaker has any conflicts with the company he is discussing. It's not perfect but it is a step in the right direction. It wasn't always like this....back in the day, there were serious and glaring conflicts that were known but never discussed outside of those "in the know".

        One that comes to mind is a stock analyst who's employer does investment banking for the company the analyst is writing about. ie: Citibank does invesment banking business with Wal-mart. The Citibank analyst who covers Wal-mart has a conflict because if he pans Wal-mart, they take their investment banking business elsewhere. So there is a strong incentive for the analyst to write glowing reports, despite whether or not they are true. That is precisely what Spitzer put a stop to. Henry Blodget [wikipedia.org] was the worst offender but he was not alone.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Yes, though that's rather specific to the financial industry. The securities market is more (though not nearly enough, apparently) heavily regulated than commerce at large.

          Since this is the FTC and not the FEC, it doesn't seem to be as narrowly limited to a particular arena of business. Also, I don't know that similar penalties to the ones that are supposedly to be imposed on bloggers are in place for newspapers, broadcasters, etc.

          • by badasscat (563442)

            Yes, though that's rather specific to the financial industry. The securities market is more (though not nearly enough, apparently) heavily regulated than commerce at large.

            This discussion is about payola. And yes, all broadcast stations are forbidden from accepting payola without disclosing it:

            http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/PayolaRules.html [fcc.gov]

            The FCC obviously regulates the airwaves, so this wouldn't apply to newspapers, but it does apply to all broadcast stations. There might be some similar rule enfo

            • Another interesting example (and one I hadn't thought of). Of course, like you mention, it's the FCC. Also, radio and TV broadcasting is a government licensed monopoly on access to a resource held in common ownership by the state (broadcast spectrum), though I imagine it pertains to cable as well.

              Still don't know if it's parallel to the blogging situation; probably the closest thing I can think of is false advertising controls.

      • by SkyDude (919251)
        Oh. come on - the old media is comprised of upstanding, honest folks who dream of doing anything untoward. Isn't it....?
      • by cawpin (875453)
        You wouldn't believe what is considered a conflict of interest in the modern newspaper. My wife writes for a large newspaper and some of the stuff they consider a conflict is on the verge of violating her rights as a person. The rules are VERY strict.
        • is on the verge of violating her rights as a person

          No, they're not. She has no constitutional or intrinsic, fundamental right to work there.

          If someone wants to work for a private company, they will follow that company's ethics guidelines, rules, and bylaws. Pretty simple.

          • by cawpin (875453)
            Yes, they are. They have no right, moral or legal, to tell her what she can do outside of business hours. They still try. Following a company's guidelines stops where their business does. Their business does not include anyone's personal life.

            ANY company that tries to tell its employees what they are allowed to do on their own time is in the wrong, both morally and legally. They have no more power to tell me what to do with my time than I do to tell you.
            • ANY company that tries to tell its employees what they are allowed to do on their own time is in the wrong, both morally and legally. They have no more power to tell me what to do with my time than I do to tell you.

              How about if, on their own time, they sell company secrets to competitors? Not necessarily applicable to newspapers, I know, but I don't think it's unreasonable to tell people they're not allowed to do that.

              There are certainly many things that companies should never tell you you must or must not do outside of work hours, and should be roundly punished for attempting to control. However, there are also plenty of things that, for one reason or another, it is perfectly acceptable for a company to tell their

              • by cawpin (875453)
                That is correct. I was talking about things that have nothing to do with, nor any impact on, their business. Obviously selling somebody's trade secrets is wrong, again, both morally and legally. I wasn't trying to be an absolutest, I despise those statements too. I guess I should have stated my qualifications the first time around.
      • Ok, do members of the old media have to disclose all their potential conflicts of interest? Do they face penalties if they don't?

        In general, maybe, in that the FTC has general power to pursue "unfair and deceptive business practice", and there can be some enforcement action against certain abuses. But the kind of specific rules that are proposed for bloggers are not imposed on "old media" by the FTC, despite the fact that the exact practices -- free product given to reviewers, media outlets that offer revie

      • by barocco (1168573)
        Have you considered the possibility that the act of monitoring new media would make it better than the old media? If blogs are turned into blocs of unregulated special interest conglomerates, how different are they from the networks?
        • by iamhigh (1252742)

          Have you considered the possibility that the act of monitoring new media would make it better than the old media? If blogs are turned into blocs of unregulated special interest conglomerates, how different are they from the networks?

          Because it takes an email address to start one? I am far more interested in the FTC protecting American Freedoms and Rights with regard to the management of the medium of communications, not whether all communication is "fair and balanced". Yes, it is some form of Net Neutrality that we need to ensure that any little guy will always be able to express his thoughts to the world through use of the Internet. Failure to protect us from that conglomerate is far more important than to protect us from someone s

      • What conflicts of interest? Their only interest is making money. By any means. The content that comes out is completely irrelevant, if it does not affect this interest.

    • by mounthood (993037)

      You wanted to replace the "old media", now stop crying. With power comes responsibility.

      So when actors endorsed $PRODUCT it was old media and OK, but now that it's bloggers we need to apply the same "old media" rules? Blogging is different then advertising and should have different rules -- or NO rules.

      Free Speach is much more important then some FTC fear of everybody being confused on the internet.

      • Right, because you thought that Ashton Kucher was generously giving up his free time to advertise Nikon cameras because he loves them so much.

        Let's not be disingenuous here. You are a blogger, you have a following. Do your readers have a right to know if your opinion is sincere, or because you are being paid $x behind the scenes to say things about something?

        It has nothing to do with free speech. You can say whatever the hell you like. You just have a moral and ethical imperative to disclose ulterior moti

        • Appearing in an AD for a company is not the issue here.

          Conducting a supposedly 'unbiased review' of a product, whilst taking money from the manufacturer of said product is a wholly different situation.
      • by badasscat (563442)

        So when actors endorsed $PRODUCT it was old media and OK, but now that it's bloggers we need to apply the same "old media" rules? Blogging is different then advertising and should have different rules -- or NO rules.

        Free Speach is much more important then some FTC fear of everybody being confused on the internet.

        Are you honestly telling me that you cannot differentiate between an ad and payola? And you don't see the obvious ethical difference?

        If a blog wants to come out and say "buy X product, because they

      • by Tom (822)

        Blogging is different then advertising and should have different rules -- or NO rules.

        That's the whole point. Let me, the reader, know whether you're doing blogging or advertising.

        I'm all for free speech and all, but at the same time I believe in rules. Free speech becomes meaningless when the signal-to-noise ratio goes south, you know? Or, as they said very well in a song: "You can say what you want, but it doesn't change anything." Guess why. Trust, which in a sense is the opposite of confusion, is a vital part of that.

  • by jadavis (473492) on Monday June 22, 2009 @12:00PM (#28423503)

    for any false claims or failure to disclose conflicts of interest

    Since when is disclosing a conflict of interest a legal requirement? Ethical, of course. But a legal requirement? Aren't people free to express their opinions regardless of what their motivations might be?

  • by Old97 (1341297) on Monday June 22, 2009 @12:02PM (#28423545)
    I don't know why anyone believes what is written in a blog without first checking it out. They're opinions given without any standards - professional, ethical or otherwise that apply. On the other hand, people do tend to believe whatever is communicated in any medium - talk radio, television, the internet so I suppose requiring full disclosure or potential conflicts of interest is necessary. So when will the FTC require all broadcast journalists and commentators to disclose their sources of income?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I'd believe you, but I have now way of checking out your claims.

    • by jadavis (473492) on Monday June 22, 2009 @12:15PM (#28423765)

      so I suppose requiring full disclosure or potential conflicts of interest is necessary

      It is? It has not been a legal requirement before, as far as I know.

      What is worst thing that can possibly happen if we don't pass new laws? People might take bad advice from someone they never should have trusted in the first place, and buy overpriced consumer crap that they don't need, and maybe be disappointed with it.

      What's the worst thing that can possibly happen if we do pass new laws? People's legitimate opinions may be silenced on the mere accusation that they aren't disclosing everything that they should. A lot of these bloggers have very little keeping them going aside from personal interest, so even if they are doing everything 100% ethically, an offhand accusation and a letter from a government agency will shut them up quickly. How long before these new laws are applied to public policy opinions, and they can silence underfunded opposition?

      • by Old97 (1341297)
        Irony is completely lost on you, isn't it?
        • by hclewk (1248568)

          It's only irony if it's obvious that what you stated is not even close to what you actually believe. I have absolutely no idea what you actually believe, and you make no indication whatsoever in your post that you are being ironic.

          So when will the FTC require all broadcast journalists and commentators to disclose their sources of income?

          This is obviously ironic because it is an extreme. However,

          so I suppose requiring full disclosure or potential conflicts of interest is necessary

          is a view shared by others. If I knew you personally, it might be obvious that this is satirical, however, as a random poster on /. ... When I read your post, it seemed to me that you were in support of the FTC regulation,

          • by Old97 (1341297)
            So when you read a satirical article or book you assume that certain sentences are satire and that the rest is quite serious? When you hear a long joke, do you only judge the punchline and not the set up? Have you tried parsing at a coarser grain than a single sentence?
            • by hclewk (1248568)

              Have you tried parsing at a coarser grain than a single sentence?

              So, you are saying that your entire post was satirical?

              I don't know why anyone believes what is written in a blog without first checking it out.

              I thought you were being serious here, but obviously you really think that it is ridiculous to not believe everything you read in the blog.

              In a satirical article or book there may sentences that are serious. These are obvious, however, because said article/book is longer than a few sentences and so there is an overall tone. The same goes for a non-satirical article/book. You know the author's sentiment, therefore it is obvious when irony is used. Like I

      • if they have little keeping them going, then they have little to declare, they will also be of little interest to the FTC, this is hopefully aimed at taking down FUD blogs and other shills that make it look like some random person's opinions when its in fact paid for by MS/apple/etc.

    • by houghi (78078)

      As you have written it on /., it must be true.

    • by maxume (22995)

      Plenty of people blog with high ethical standards. Certainly higher than every disgraced journalist we have seen over history (and it isn't like they are always at tabloids).

      • But what does our population think about referral links?

        Shameless example: fulldecent.blogspot.com

        I sometimes post reviews of thing I buy and recommend there. There are undisclosed (readable in the URL) referral links there.

        Depending which side of the fence you are on, this could be a widespread abuse.

      • by Old97 (1341297)

        Plenty of people blog with high ethical standards. Certainly higher than every disgraced journalist we have seen over history (and it isn't like they are always at tabloids).

        There are no standards that bloggers are held to. There is no recognized profession or board or any form of regulation or governance. There is no entrance exam, qualifications or licensing. It's just an activity anyone with Internet access can do. So only the bloggers' personal standards apply and those vary greatly from one to the other. If you find one that is consistently on the mark and accurate that you can trust, great, but you need to establish that trust first and not just believe everything y

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I don't know why anyone believes what is written in a blog without first checking it out.

      The next thing you know, some website will start "summarizing" news items, and hordes of people will believe them without first checking it out.

    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Monday June 22, 2009 @01:00PM (#28424531) Homepage

      I don't know why anyone believes what is written in a blog without first checking it out.

      See, the problem is that the people you know are the minority that aren't complete idiots.

  • The IRS is next. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Havent been declaring all those 'free' gifts on your taxes have you mister blogger...

    • by JoshuaZ (1134087)
      IANAL, but if they are doing it correctly it should probably be listed under the miscellaneous heading. Practically speaking, since mnay of these perks are not money but rather hard objects, getting caught this way is unlikely. On the other hand, a detailed audit might turn this sort of thing up.
      • by vux984 (928602)

        since mnay of these perks are not money but rather hard objects, getting caught this way is unlikely.

        One way you can be caught easily is if a company that gave you the items is audited.

        The auditor sees that they wrote off two $1000 laptops and a vacation each under advertising expenses to BloggerJoe and BloogerJane, etc. And then on a whim, decides to flag BloggerJoe & BloggerJane for an audit with a note to check whether a suitable amount was reported by them under income.

        • by dbcad7 (771464)

          If it's a gift and not compensation for work preformed, then it is not income. If it's a prize from say a contest or Lottery, prizes are taxed, but that is a different situation in that there is gambling involved and tax deductions taken for sales promotions.. A true "gift' has no tax burden for the receiver.. and no tax burden for the giver until you reach the magic number of something like $12,000 .. At least that is true of individuals... You can bet that there would probably be some eyebrows raised if a

  • Full disclosure is a common practice elsewhere and doesn't result in the negative consequences TFA claims people are worried about.

    1. Post a disclaimer when you're referencing something that you have no involvement with.

    2. Post an admission when you get something from someone you're writing about.

    • Re:It's Simple (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jadavis (473492) on Monday June 22, 2009 @12:25PM (#28423919)

      Full disclosure is a common practice elsewhere and doesn't result in the negative consequences TFA claims people are worried about.

      It's not a legally requirement though, is it? Just because something is ethical does not mean it should be made into law.

      The problem is that you're increasing the stakes for everyone that writes opinion blogs. Before, they just had to avoid libel, inciting violence, and other blatantly illegal speech. Now, rival bloggers can stir up suspicion about your blog, complain to the FTC (and maybe get their readers to join in), and then the FTC might sue.

      Keep in mind that the FTC files civil suits, which mean that they don't have to have probable cause. They don't need search warrants, because they can just force you to turn things over during "discovery". By the time they realize that you're doing everything legally, you might be out a lot of money in legal fees.

      Who wants to be exposed to that kind of risk if they are making peanuts and just doing it out of interest? They will be afraid to make enemies with rival blogs, and just stick to bland observations that don't challenge the opinions of anyone else.

      • Re:It's Simple (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DragonWriter (970822) on Monday June 22, 2009 @01:19PM (#28424867)

        The problem is that you're increasing the stakes for everyone that writes opinion blogs.

        So, you are creating a new barrier to entry to a new market which is currently providing serious competition for an existing market (traditional media) in which there are stong structural barriers to entry already, thus restoring the status quo ante in which the few masters of that established market are secure against much substantial new competition.

        Are you sure that's a problem, rather than the purpose?

      • Are you sure that old media isn't legally required to disclose when they have been paid to put up certain content? I am not. In fact, I think they probably are- why else would news magazines label those "infomercial" sections they sometimes print as advertising?

        If you take money or free product to produce a blog post, you should disclose that fact. I hang out on some mommyblogs from time to time, and there was a big uproar on one blog over the fact that another blogger took money from 23andMe to post about

        • by 0123456 (636235)

          "Are you sure that old media isn't legally required to disclose when they have been paid to put up certain content?"

          I don't remember ever seeing a game magazine admit that they gave 'This Game Sucks 2' a 95% rating just because of all the advertising the publisher bought that month even though everyone who's seen it knows that it stinks.

          In a rational world this whole idea would be thrown out as blatantly unconstitutional.

          • That's not what I'm talking about.I'm not talking about letting the identity of your advertisers influence your content. I'm talking about being paid directly to produce content- which is what a lot of bloggers are doing. In the old school media, that is called advertising. On blogs, it is not even disclosed.

            I think, but I am not sure (and don't care enough to go look it up), that if a magazine takes money to include content, it is required by law to label that content advertising. This is why many articles

      • by DynaSoar (714234)

        Sorry, the new editor is a bit wonky. It lost the bottom portion of my post after a re-edit. Anyway, to respond:

        The instances I'm familiar with are in scientific pubication. You're required to use full disclosure by the journals. There have been instances of lack of disclosure resulting in disciplinary action as scientific fraud. The legal actions were outside the venue of the journals, so yes, it can be a legal requirement. Modify that with the fact that only the worst get that treatment, with lesser infra

  • by realcoolguy425 (587426) on Monday June 22, 2009 @12:07PM (#28423635)
    Get used to it. We have a Gov't now that will look for any loose scrap of spare change, and will be will to shake you by the ankles to find it. I find it relatively despicable, but not in any way surprising. Maybe if the Gov't took more of an interest in not impeding the trade of goods and services to the degree it does, high taxes, over-regulation [literally picking winners and losers, and running companies themselves at this point] that maybe, just maybe the recession we're in wouldn't be nearly as bad. That maybe we'd have a market where I can find work that actually relates to my 2 year degree, instead of just picking up the 'anything that is available' kind of work that I am doing now.

    I'm not laying this on Obama in any way. We've been on this path of gov't overspending, and over-intervening for awhile now. Although Obama looks to maybe take these things to a whole new level, and he does have support in congress to do so. I just find it interesting that they're going after things that are quite small, and will end up investing likely more resources than they get out of it.

  • Dont you read slashdot replies?
  • by 8127972 (73495) on Monday June 22, 2009 @12:13PM (#28423731)

    Good luck with that.

    There's no chance that this would ever work and the only people they would catch are the most blatant offenders. One other thing that springs to mind, what about blogs run by people outside the US. Does it affect them if they write a review about a US company?

    • by St.Creed (853824)
      That depends on the extradition laws of the respective countries. However, if you only hosted the blog outside the USA I think you'd be in for some nasty surprises. If you also live there, they couldn't touch you unless they have a new extradition agreement. It needs to carry some hefty punishments for that to work, though. They don't normally extradite people over parking tickets. And it also has to be a criminal offense in their country - something I can't see happening anytime soon.

      Pump and dump scheme

  • by rodrigoandrade (713371) on Monday June 22, 2009 @12:14PM (#28423747)
    Sites created by people like you and me, who happen to have a lot of free time in their hands, and like to do something useful with it instead of reading/posting to /. Everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion, and NO blog should be seen as an authority on anything.

    If a blog gives too glowing reviews of whatever product, try to corroborate the opinion by reading another blog, or product review.

    As for TFA, goodluckwiththat.
  • You're not that important. And if you are, then you have the resources to deal with the inquiries you might attract.
  • I'd definitely like to see bloggers identify when they get financial compensation from a company. Especially if the blog is running a review on a product/service. I wouldn't want to buy a product only to find out that the blogger was paid $100 to rewrite some boilerplate company-supplied text into their own style. On the other hand, I'm not sure that the government needs to step in here. Perhaps if, on a case by case basis, it is found that a company is buying many positive reviews and using sleazy tact

  • Any time you have a source of communication that has a lot of eyes or ears on it, whether it's a celeb talking on the radio, TV, a blog, or even twitter, people are going to want to leverage that source for ads. It's really not a big deal, and actually it's a healthy thing(it pays the bills so these people can keep doing this), so long as there's disclosure.

    If there's disclosure then readers can make up their own mind about the writer's credibility.

    The big hubbub right now is that this has been moving away

  • by shellster_dude (1261444) on Monday June 22, 2009 @12:40PM (#28424211)
    When has there ever been any expectation of reliability or accuracy in blogs? If I want to accept kickbacks and from someone and write my heart out about how wonderful they are, that is my own business. No one should ever take a blog at face value. If they do, they deserve to be duped. I can only see this making any kind of sense, if the blogs in question purport to be legitimate and fact based.
  • I remember back when Yahoo's management were still equipped with spines and allowed users to comment on news stories, that the number of duplicate and near duplicate theo- and neocon posts grew like topsy, particularly around election time (circa 2002, 2004). Somebody was obviously paying for this, given the spam-like volume. I suspect this is a not so subtle propaganda suppression technique.
  • I think the only people that would be willing to jump through all the loop holes required by the FTC would need to make enough money off their blog that its their job. There are very few that can accomplish this. This will stifle free speech more significantly then the benefits it will reap. I honestly don't understand why they would want to try this.
    • by bky1701 (979071)

      I honestly don't understand why they would want to try this.

      Have you tried reading your own post? Specifically:

      This will stifle free speech more significantly then the benefits it will reap.

      I'd argue that's exactly the point here.

  • So they want to bust bloggers who accept bribes, but does the FTC plan to go after every single goddamned magazine ever ? It's not like Gamespot invented the practice. I can think of very few print publications that I consider "impartial", at least to a degree where I can soundly make purchasing decisions based on their reviews.

    The FTC should be monitoring the channels and their operation, not the content therein.

  • by fulldecent (598482) on Monday June 22, 2009 @12:48PM (#28424339) Homepage

    ========= please use s/email/blog/s below =============

    your post advocates a

    ( ) technical (X) legislative ( ) market-based ( ) vigilante

    approach to fighting spam. your idea will not work. here is why it won't work. (one or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

    ( ) spammers can easily use it to harvest email addresses
    ( ) mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
    (X) no one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
    (X) it is defenseless against brute force attacks
    ( ) it will stop spam for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
    ( ) users of email will not put up with it
    ( ) microsoft will not put up with it
    ( ) the police will not put up with it
    (X) requires too much cooperation from spammers
    ( ) requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
    (X) many email users cannot afford to lose business or alienate potential employers
    ( ) spammers don't care about invalid addresses in their lists
    ( ) anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else's career or business

    specifically, your plan fails to account for

    ( ) laws expressly prohibiting it
    (X) lack of centrally controlling authority for email
    ( ) open relays in foreign countries
    ( ) ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all email addresses
    ( ) asshats
    (X) jurisdictional problems
    (X) unpopularity of weird new taxes
    ( ) public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
    ( ) huge existing software investment in smtp
    ( ) susceptibility of protocols other than smtp to attack
    ( ) willingness of users to install os patches received by email
    ( ) armies of worm riddled broadband-connected windows boxes
    ( ) eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
    ( ) extreme profitability of spam
    ( ) joe jobs and/or identity theft
    (X) technically illiterate politicians
    ( ) extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with spammers
    (X) dishonesty on the part of spammers themselves
    ( ) bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
    ( ) outlook

    and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

    ( ) ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever been shown practical
    ( ) any scheme based on opt-out is unacceptable
    ( ) smtp headers should not be the subject of legislation
    ( ) blacklists suck
    ( ) whitelists suck
    ( ) we should be able to talk about viagra without being censored
    ( ) countermeasures should not involve wire fraud or credit card fraud
    ( ) countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
    ( ) countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
    ( ) sending email should be free
    ( ) why should we have to trust you and your servers?
    ( ) incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
    ( ) feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
    ( ) temporary/one-time email addresses are cumbersome
    (X) i don't want the government reading my email
    ( ) killing them that way is not slow and painful enough

    furthermore, this is what i think about you:

    (X) sorry dude, but i don't think it would work.
    ( ) this is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it.
    ( ) nice try, assh0le! i'm going to find out where you live and burn your house down!

    • by Sparton (1358159)

      ( ) we should be able to talk about viagra without being censored

      Shouldn't this one be checked?

  • thou shall not publish what is not the true ! there is no evil to report !
  • How are they different? I mean, every 'review' is just full of varying degrees of 'good'. Even the cars that clearly crappy, get something like 'this car was okay'. They would never give any direct negative information about their only significant revenue stream. I don't see why a blogger who got a free iPhone to blog about how awesome his iPhone is would be held to a higher standard.
    • by Synn (6288)

      How are they different?

      Because instead of being a "professional" that that gets influenced by their revenue streams it's now every mom on Typepad getting influenced by revenue streams. The big players don't like that, so they've cried about it over the last couple years and now it's an "issue" in the industry that's been chatted up over the last year or so at conferences.

  • If there is one thing the Internet is good at, it is calling BS. If someone makes a bogus claim there are a thousand others ready to jump down their throats telling them how wrong they are for making such a bogus claim. We don't need more FTC regulation...

  • by lee1 (219161)
    "Many bloggers have accepted perks such as free laptops, trips to Europe, $500 gift cards or even thousands of dollars for a 200-word post." Don't forget free software and advertising [lee-phillips.org]. The sleazy practice [markbernstein.org] of offering advertising income to people who have nice things to say about a product is pretty well established by now; I doubt many readers are fooled.
  • Internet veracity (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dontmakemethink (1186169) on Monday June 22, 2009 @01:29PM (#28425033)
    We must protect at all costs the reliability of information online! Imagine if you had to question the veracity of everything you read! I wouldn't have the first clue what to buy!
  • by mattwarden (699984) on Monday June 22, 2009 @01:57PM (#28425573) Homepage

    Save me, government! I can't tell the difference between real journalism and paid advertisements, but I believe you can! Save me from my own incompetence!!!

  • by hessian (467078) on Monday June 22, 2009 @02:20PM (#28425907) Homepage Journal

    ...this refreshing Pepsi!

  • The FTC should kill all of those fake review sites that are 100% paid advertisements. Like for hosting providers, marchant accounts (accepting credit cards), and I'm sure there is a whole host of others. It's damn hard to find real information on which of these companies are worth a damn and it's all because they flood the search engines with all that garbage.

  • ... the evil Bushitler is out of office, and we all know The One would never, ever use government power to suppress dissent.

    It will be OK. Really.

  • ... that they could be monitoring TV News for unpaid advertising, product bias or factual incorrectness?

    I mean, have they noticed all the PR infotainment that gets put on local newscasts as if it didn't come from some company promoting the health benefits of Orange Juice?

    If Fox News can win in the supreme court for the right to not tell us the truth -- then maybe Joe Blow blogger should have the right to make stuff up too.

    I would be very happy, if we got rid of all paid bloggers -- but who the heck is going

  • He got a free laptop? Damn, amazon mechanical turk only paid me five cents for writing that blog entry...
  • This is really pretty simple.

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

    What part of "no law" do people not understand? Despite this, the FTC has been regulating free speech for 40 years or so, if memory serves. Yet we put up with it. Corporate speakers have long since made their

  • How about putting the FTC on to tracking something really important! Like items that contribute to corrupt government. Want to talk about a conflict of interest? Payola? Have the FTC track lobbyist contributions to legislator's election campaigns.
  • Just one more way you are protecting me from myself. And forcibly taking my money (via taxes) to pay for the privilege. Geez, thanks a lot, government guys.

What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite. -- Bertrand Russell, "Skeptical Essays", 1928

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