Muzzled Mommies

The FTC vs. bloggers


Is the government coming after your mother's blog? If she posts reviews of products she received for free, the answer might be yes.

In the course of updating its advertising and testimonial guidelines, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has floated the idea of regulating online speech. Internet writers who fail to disclose compensation they receive for products they review favorably could be held liable by the agency. The proposed guidelines don't specify penalties, but current false advertising rules allow for punishments that include fines and forced corrective disclosures.

Who would be covered by the new rules? It's not clear. The proposed guidelines say a college student who reviewed a new video game console provided by the company would be infringing if he didn't disclose that he received a free review copy. But what distinguishes the student from a professional journalist who writes a game blog for a magazine? The commission doesn't say. 

Nor is it clear if there is a financial threshold for FTC action. So it's unknown whether Amazon sales links, which may generate only a few cents' commission per sale, would be subject to the new requirements. Mommybloggers—women who write about family life and swap parenting advice—are particularly peeved. Colleen Padilla, who blogs at, often reviews products she receives for free. She told ABC News that she would probably consult a lawyer to navigate the confusing new rules. 

NEXT: 25 Years Ago in reason

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  1. Well, there you go, that’s net neutrality. One of the last places one could find anything resembling relative freedom from big brother is the on internet. It was great while it lasted.

  2. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won’t get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there’s more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I’m not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It’s just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight…the Bible’s books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on…the Bible’s books were written by people with very different mindsets…in order to really get the Books of the Bible, you have to cultivate such a mindset, it’s literally a labyrinth, that’s no joke

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