F*&king FTC Major league A-Hole Richard Cleland. I'm sure most of our readers heard about the "new" rules the FTC just came out with which to me are there just to punish bloggers.
The new guidelines declare that bloggers who fail to disclose "material connections" to companies they write about can be fined … wait for it … up to $11,000 per violation! Wow. I asked Julie O'Neill, a former staff attorney for the FTC in the New York regional office and now an attorney in the Washington, D.C., office of law firm Morrison & Foerster, about these new rules.
My first question was whether these rules are fair, rational and enforceable. Julie responded: "I do think that they are rational in the sense that they apply the rules traditionally applied to advertising to new media, but I don't know whether the FTC has completely considered the practical ramifications. For example, the revised guides say that a company that provides a blogger with a free product to review should both require the blogger to disclose that he received it for free and have procedures in place to monitor his postings for compliance."
As you can see from this short excerpt, the FTC has NO F*&king clue what they are doing.
As you know C&L does write a lot of book reviews. Hell, we even host book chats with the author. I happen to get many books sent to my PO BOX and many of them I just don't have time to review or read in a timely fashion so they go up on one of my shelves and I eventually try to get to them. It gets even more ridiculous than I first thought.
The more I read this interview of an FTC staffer by book blogger Edward Champion, the more the stupidity burns.
You can return it. Most book reviewers (political bloggers included) get dozens, if not hundreds of books, per year. The logistics and expense of such a thing makes it impractical. Strict adherence to this edict would essentially kill non tradmed book reviewing. And why?
If, however, you held onto the unit, then Cleland insisted that it could serve as "compensation." You could after all sell the product on the streets.
So stupid. You "could" sell it. If you buy a gun, you "could" shoot someone with it. If you purchase a knife, you "could" stab someone. If you open up a stock trading account, you "could" engage in illegal insider trading. If you buy shoes, you "could" use them to run away from a crime scene. If you get an accounting degree, you "could" use that knowledge to launder drug money. If you take a job at the FTC, you "could" become a blithering idiot.
To be clear, I have no problem with transparency and disclosure, I have a problem with Blogger Ethics rules and laws which don't apply anywhere else in the universe for no rational reason.
WTF, am I supposed to burn a book after C&L reviews it. If I write a TV review on a great, great show called Dexter, will they search my house to see if I got a copy from Showtime? Here it is.
I think Dexter is an excellent show. Go and buy or rent all the seasons because the 4th one just started. Are they f*&king kidding me? The FTC can kiss my Italian ass. And that is that.
UPDATE: I see the FTC is rethinking their position now.
In a conference call for reporters today, Engle aimed to set the record straight after a flurry of news stories (not to mention blogs and tweets) about the FTC's new advertising guidelines that were, as she put it, "all wrong."
"We are not going to be patrolling the blogosphere," she said. "We are not planning on investigating individual bloggers."
Engle stressed that the guidelines are just that – guidelines. “They are not rules and regulations, and they don’t have the force of law,” she said. “They are guidelines intended to help advertisers comply with Section 5 of the FTC Act,” which covers unfair or deceptive practices.
If a blogger received an occasional free sample and happened to write something positive, she said, “that’s not something we think would change the expectation of the audience,” and might not require disclosure. But if at some point it became a steady stream of freebies, then disclosure would be called for. “It’s not burdensome and it’s not hard,” she said.
When it comes to making law enforcement decisions, however, she said the FTC will go after the cases that are black and white. “We’re not interested in playing gotcha in the gray areas.”