FTC Gives Ann Taylor A Pass In First 'Blog Disclosure' Investigation
from the disclose-everything dept
We expressed some serious concerns with the somewhat ambiguous FTC disclosure rules directed at blogs and new media that went into effect last year, and we've been waiting to see how the FTC enforces those rules. We found it odd that the FTC apparently felt that celebrities could be held to different standards. There have been some questions about different activities -- for example, Viacom's actions in trying to make authorized uploads look as if they were bootlegs certainly appears to run afoul of the rules. And, more recently, there were some concerns over the NY Times' lack of disclosure concerning its relationship with Apple when reporting on the iPad.
What strikes me as interesting here is that the FTC investigation focuses on the advertiser's actions, rather than the bloggers'. That is, most of the concerns about the program were about whether the FTC would take action against bloggers. But, here, it was focused on the advertiser and its actions. That does make more sense, but does leave open a questionable loophole: if an advertiser tells a blogger to disclose some information and then the blogger does not do so... is the advertiser still liable? In this case, the FTC even mentions that one of the reasons it's not taking action is because many (though not all) of the bloggers, who wrote about the event, disclosed the gift cards. But if they had not -- even though Ann Taylor had told them to -- then is Ann Taylor to blame?