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Politics & Current Affairs

Gagging Bloggers?

The new FTC guidelines for cyberspace advertising not ‘intended to patrol the blogosphere.’

The Federal Trade Commission, which set the blogging world aflame two weeks ago with new guidelines governing truth-in-cyberspace-advertising, “never intended to patrol the blogosphere,” FTC lawyer Mary Engle said at a bloggers’ conference last weekend. According to Publishers Weekly Engle, the FTC’s associate director for advertising practices, said: “We couldn’t do it if we wanted to and we don’t want to.” The gathering of 70 bloggers, who were invited by conference organizer Pam Coughlan, otherwise known as blogger Mother Reader, was organized to help them understand the implications of the new guidelines. “Everybody who talked to me after [Mary Engle] spoke said they felt so much better and that they understood the issues much better,” Coughlan said.


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It’s plain to see that I’m an optimist, sometimes more than is socially comfortable. The ease with which I dismiss the disastrous economic decline above serves as one example of that. I wrote that the recession will benefit our political system, and, before I cut this line, as having “rewarded our company for methodical execution and ruthless efficiency by removing competitors from the landscape.” I make no mention of the disastrous effects on millions of people, and the great uncertainty that grips any well-briefed mind, because it truly doesn’t stand in the foreground of my mind (despite suffering personal loss of wealth). Our species is running towards a precipice with looming dangers like economic decline, political unrest, climate crisis, and more threatening to grip us as we jump off the edge, but my optimism is stronger now than ever before. On the other side of that looming gap are extraordinary breakthroughs in healthcare, communications technology, access to space, human productivity, artistic creation and literally hundreds of fields. With the right execution and a little bit of luck we’ll all live to see these breakthroughs — and members of my generation will live to see dramatically lengthened life-spans, exploration and colonization of space, and more opportunity than ever to work for passion instead of simply working for pay. Instead of taking this space to regale you with the many personal and focused changes I intend to make in 2009, let me rather encourage you to spend time this year thinking, as I’m going to, more about what we can do in 2009 to positively affect the future our culture will face in 2020, 2050, 3000 and beyond.

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