New FTC guidelines would allow government to scrutinize content of websites, “patrol what bloggers say and do”
The Federal Reserve refuses to disclose where trillions of dollars in bailout money went and yet the FTC is more concerned about snooping into the financial affairs of bloggers who make a few bucks off affiliate relationships, according to new guidelines set to be introduced later this year that would give the government a foot in the door to regulate and shut down blogs for making “false claims”.
“New guidelines, expected to be approved late this summer with possible modifications, would clarify that the agency can go after bloggers — as well as the companies that compensate them — for any false claims or failure to disclose conflicts of interest,” states an Associated Press report.
Furious that struggling families are supplementing their income by having housewives write blogs about cooking, or individuals posting political opinions and funding their operation by carrying affiliate links to Amazon books, the new FTC regulations would ensure that “Any type of blog could be scrutinized, not just ones that specialize in reviews,” according to the report.
The proviso that “any type of blog could be scrutinized” frames this assault on free speech in a wider context that just individuals making claims about products advertised on their websites.
The proposed guidelines (PDF) state that “deceptive speech is not protected by the First Amendment,” and that “The Supreme Court has repeatedly stated that the government can restrict, or even ban, such speech.” Of course, the issue of whether such speech is deceptive will be decided by the government itself.
The definition of “false claims” is so loose that it could hand the feds the power to shut down any website on a whim based on the flimsiest of pretexts. The AP report notes that the new guidelines would create a system to “patrol systematically what bloggers say and do online”.
As the Cryptogon website points out, in reality this has little to do with the FTC’s concern for fair business practices and everything to do with the government getting a foot in the door for their overarching agenda to regulate and control blogs and free speech on the Internet.
“What has happened is that bloggers have blown the support columns out from underneath traditional media and the people who run the show don’t like that.”
“The fact that some of us are able to survive by maintaining blogs must have come as an incredible shock to fat bastards in boardrooms across the land. That we are not “regulated” is unthinkable in the Soviet hive mind that governs the political economy of the United States.”
This is all about creating a chilling atmosphere and preventing people from creating their own websites by establishing a mountain of red tape and bureaucracy around the currently simple process of writing and maintaining a blog.
The ultimate endgame is to mimic the Chinese Internet system of total government regulation and censorship via the implementation of a registration process whereby every blogger will be assigned a number and given permission to blog by the government. If the blogger expresses an opinion deemed unsavory by the authorities then their registration credentials will be terminated and their ability to login to their own blog will be removed.