Bloggers were scrambling for clarification after the FTC announced its new rules on how disclosure of freebies or endorsements would have to be done. The FTC wants to clean up the way bloggers do business when it comes to being paid or receiving freebies by companies. But what struck home was the ‘$11,000’ fine that made everyone stand up and take notice. The question was how will the FTC handle the fining procedure? The FTC has clarified the fining procedure and in a recent article stated the following information:
We asked a few other prominent bloggers what their biggest concerns were about the news, then we solicited responses to those concerns from Richard Cleland, assistant director, division of advertising practices at the FTC. (You can read the full report at ftc.gov.)
“That $11,000 fine is not true. Worst-case scenario, someone receives a warning, refuses to comply, followed by a serious product defect; we would institute a proceeding with a cease-and-desist order and mandate compliance with the law. To the extent that I have seen and heard, people are not objecting to the disclosure requirements but to the fear of penalty if they inadvertently make a mistake. That’s the thing I don’t think people need to be concerned about. There’s no monetary penalty, in terms of the first violation, even in the worst case. Our approach is going to be educational, particularly with bloggers. We’re focusing on the advertisers: What kind of education are you providing them, are you monitoring the bloggers and whether what they’re saying is true?”
So it would appear that if a blogger is contacted by the FTC, he or she will be able to resolve the situation without being fined. It also seems that fining is a last resort.
What do you think? Will this be good for consumers or as one reader commented recently, be impossible for the FTC to monitor?