SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


FTC cracking down on bloggers
Scripps Howard News Service


October 07, 2009

Beginning Dec. 1, the Federal Trade Commission will require bloggers to disclose if they received free products or payments for hyping products online, an interesting twist on the new journalism.

Many consumers interested in a product now are doing the Google dance and finding all kinds of blogs and online "news stories" about various products, drugs and miracle weight-loss products. The trouble is, many of these are basically paid ads or the writers were given free products and never disclosed that fact to the reader.

Some blogs hide behind disclaimers that results written about were "not typical." Beginning in December, those bloggers could face lawsuits if they hype products and don't disclose their relationship to the manufacturer and don't disclose real-world results. (If you're a personal blogger and write about a free sample you got in the mail, don't sweat it. The rules are aimed at commercial bloggers who do this for a living.)

Microsoft blocked access to tens of thousands of Hotmail accounts after users responded to "phishing" attempts that gave up their user information, which was then posted on the Web. "Phishing" is a social-engineering tactic that encourages users in some way to give up information, such as passwords or account information, either via a false e-mail, an attachment or other method.

It is a huge problem worldwide because people are falling for fake Web sites, fake e-mails and other things at a dramatic pace. The answer is to be skeptical of every e-mail or Web site you visit. Most current Web browsers will even change color in the tab to red if you are at a known phishing site, but don't rely on a browser to save you because a 14-year-old kid in Romania is going to figure out a way to bust that security, too.

Just don't enter any passwords into any form -- basically ever -- unless you have personally typed the address or used a bookmark. That goes triple for a bank site or any site into which you plan to type a credit-card number. Your bank or brokerage will never e-mail you asking for anything. They know better. Do you?

The International Telecommunications Union, the U.N. agency, warned this week that World War III could be fought on the Internet, which brought to mind rogue nations e-mailing millions of videos of cats to each other until their servers died from "cute."

The all-too-serious concept of global telecom war is out there, of course, with nations launching coordinated denial of service and other communication terrorism on each other. Whether that leads to global extinction is anyone's guess, but as long as Wii Sports and Mafia Wars on Facebook is still up, it's all good.


James Derk is owner of CyberDads, a computer-repair firm and
a tech columnist for Scripps Howard News Service.
His e-mail address is jim(at)
Distributed to subscribers for publication by
Scripps Howard News Service,

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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska

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