FTC Seeking Your Guidance on Disclosure in Online Advertising

The FTC is formally asking people just like you and me (the public) for advice and guidance when it comes to disclosure in online advertising. Now is your chance to help the FTC decide the rules. The FTC will seek public comment for 45 days, beginning today and continuing through July 11, 2011.

Back in October 2009, you might recall the huge uproar over the fact that the FTC said that bloggers must disclose their advertisers and sponsors or face stiff penalties or maybe even a huge fine. Here is part of what I said:

“This is the “first time that FTC rules have covered bloggers. This is significant because the US Government is actually acknowledging bloggers as being a source of information that apparently needs guidelines. It’s another step in the “acceptance” of blogging and blogs–which is a good thing.”

The FTC, back in 2009, said in a press release:

“Under the revised Guides, advertisements that feature a consumer and convey his or her experience with a product or service as typical when that is not the case will be required to clearly disclose the results that consumers can generally expect. In contrast to the 1980 version of the Guides – which allowed advertisers to describe unusual results in a testimonial as long as they included a disclaimer such as “results not typical” – the revised Guides no longer contain this safe harbor. ”

Since the FTC first published their dot com disclosures in 2000, the FTC says that the “online world has changed dramatically since the original guidance was published in 2000, and the FTC is seeking public comment about how it should be modified to reflect these changes.”

I totally agree. The online world now, in 2011, is not what it was in 2000. So, now, the FTC is looking for public comment, and you have 45 days to do it:

The FTC will seek public comment for 45 days, beginning today and continuing through July 11, 2011. You can submit written comments electronically or in paper form. You can go here to submit it electronically or hard-copy comments should be mailed or delivered to: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Room H-113 (Annex I), 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580.

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  1. Lex says

    I think they should keep it simple, you either have to put (affiliated) or (no affiliation) next to the link. But I imagine it’s going to be tricky to enforce… a little like the file sharing scenario where a minority of people get hit hard, and the majority get away with it.
    Especially now that services like clickbank have a facebook ‘like’ button that allows you o pust a FB like with a direct affiliate link…. people have been doing this like crazy, and I’ll bet that none of them discloses.