The FTC, Regulating Speech by Bloggers — A Horrible Plan

Walter Olson at, who helped create the genre of legal blogging, has thoughts about the Federal Trade Commission’s proposal to regulate the social media to force disclosure of economic relationships. From “Required FTC blogger disclosure“:

Publishers sometimes send me books in hopes I’ll review or at least mention them. I occasionally attend free advance screenings of new movies (typically law-related documentaries) that filmmakers hope I’ll write about. This site has an Amazon affiliate store which has from time to time provided me with commissions after readers click links and proceed to purchase items, though it’s been almost entirely inactive for years. I get invited to attend the odd institutional banquet whose hosts sometimes give away a free book or paperweight along with the hotel meal. I’ve been sent “cause” T-shirts and law firm/support service provider promotional kits over the years, pretty much a waste of effort since I don’t much care for wearing such T-shirts and am not exactly famed for posts that sing the praises of law firms or their service providers.

Under new Federal Trade Commission guidelines in the works for some time, I could apparently get in trouble for not disclosing these and similarly exciting things. In addition, the commission’s scrutiny will extend to areas less relevant to this site, such as targeted Google advertising and results-not-typical testimonials.

With many more links to commentary on what appears to us an aggressive effort by a federal agency to regulate for the sake of regulating.  Our question: What is the terrible threat that warrants this government attack on free speech?

UPDATE (1:40 p.m. Friday): More from Walter, with reaction to this remarkable photo taken by the blogger WhiteCoat at the American College of Emergency Physicians. No, no reason for bloggers to fear overregulation by government.

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