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Business Law

FTC Guides Apply to Bloggers

Effective December 1, 2009, the FTC updated its Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, including among the changes a requirement that “bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.”

The Guides are administrative interpretations intended to help people comply with Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act  (15 USC §45) concerning endorsements and testimonials in advertising.  Bloggers were up-in-arms that the guides seem to require bloggers to disclose these connections while other writers who might endorse a product (say in the print newspaper) are not required to do so. What is it that would make, for example, a favorable book review on a blog more misleading than a print review? See the discussion by Edward Champion (Reluctant Habits), and the guides themselves:

The Commission acknowledges that bloggers may be subject to different disclosure requirements than reviewers in traditional media.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) sent an open letter to the FTC claiming that the Endorsement Guides are unconstitutional; the FTC did not back down.

What do you think? Should bloggers be held to a different standard? Are the Commission’s arguments compelling?

© The Regents of the University of California, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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