Thursday, October 08, 2009

FTC Announces Regulation of Bloggers

Because they obviously don't have enough to do.

This has actually been brewing for a while as I pointed out a few months ago.

My first impression is that I have a hard time seeing how the FTC is going to practically make this work. But as Ann Althouse points out, the enforcement thing seems a little vague and selective:

The most absurd part of it is the way the FTC is trying to make it okay by assuring us that they will be selective in deciding which writers on the internet to pursue. That is, they've deliberately made a grotesquely overbroad rule, enough to sweep so many of us into technical violations, but we're supposed to feel soothed by the knowledge that government agents will decide who among us gets fined. No, no, no. Overbreath itself is a problem. And so is selective enforcement.

Good point. No one really expects the FTC to be able to consistently apply its rules.

But then there's that pesky First Amendment. And the law of unintended consequences.

Since the announcement was made I've received a number of e-mails from folks all asking the same question: what does this all mean?

The more benign explanation is that the FTC is trying to crack down on so-called "pay per post" schemes that could appear misleading to the public. The more conspiratorial line of thinking is that the goverment is trying to suppress free speech.

I'm inclined to side more with the latter explanation. My bet is this will end up at the Supreme Court before it's all over. Meanwhile, ordinary citizens like me will have to figure out how to cope with yet another set of onerous government regulations.

It's enough to make me sick.

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