It looks as if the days of Internet being freedom personalised and a haven for everybody who had something to say are almost over. The US Federal Trade Commission has approved web-guidelines that would effectively regulate blogging and treat it as any other media. The rules are simple, but profound and mostly deal with bloggers’ responsibilities to disclose any possible conflicts of interest concerning products and services they blog about. The fines could be up to $11,000 and both blogger and advertiser would be seen as violators. Hallelujah, one might think. It is about time bloggers were treated like the rest of the media. And if they are paid to voice their supposedly true opinion about anything that is read by consumers, that is simply not right, and offenders should be exposed and punished. Good thinking it may be, but we have a sneaking feeling that, if it ends in front of the US Supreme Court, it will have difficulties surviving even a light analysis by the judges. Freedom of speech is one of the toughest nuts to crack – especially in the land of free and home of the brave.
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