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FTC vs Bloggers: Cruising for a Bruising?

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, October 14 2009

The last time I saw political bloggers across the spectrum agreeing about anything, it was in opposition to some overly restrictive notions emanating from the Federal Elections Commission about regulating political speech online. And we know how that story ended, with the FEC doing an about-face (and for good reason). Now the same alignment seems to be forming in response to proposed regulations from the Federal Trade Commission, which wants to police bloggers--but not traditional media outlets--who post testimonials, endorsements or reviews of products. For example, a blogger who wrote a review of a book would somehow be required to post whether or not he had received a free copy from the book's publisher--a requirement that has never been expected of newspaper book reviews.

While this issue is still mostly below the radar, leading bloggers are already speaking out against the FTC. See for example, this blast from the left's uber-blogger Markos Moulitsas titled "FTC idiocy" or this post by Jeff Jarvis, which was linked to by the right's uber-blogger Glenn Reynolds.

When those three agree, you know you're in trouble. Plus, the Electronic Frontier Foundation weighs in with its doubts. Hello, FTC? Time to start over.