The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is hosting a workshop today on “native advertising” – the practice of blending ads with news and other content in such a way to make it difficult to distinguish paid and unpaid content. The agency will tackle issues concerning the popular marketing tool’s blurred lines between advertising and editorial content. Public Citizen’s President Robert Weissman, alongside industry representatives from Buzzfeed, The Wall Street Journal and others, will speak on the panel addressing best practices in transparency and disclosure.
The use of native advertising and sponsored content – content created by or on behalf of the advertiser that “runs within the editorial stream [and] integrates into the design of the publisher’s site” – has become increasingly pervasive, as companies seek online marketing tools that are not obvious attempts to sell goods and services. A marketing research firm predicted that spending on sponsored content would rise by 22 percent between 2012 and 2013, up to $1.88 billion.
Because marketers pay for, and often create, sponsored content, and the end goal is commercial, it should be clearly labeled as advertising, pursuant to FTC disclosure rules. (Marketing industry leaders claim that sponsored content is not always advertising, so it should not be labeled as such.)
A New Jersey man who was left legally blind after supposedly botched lasik eye surgery decided to criticize his surgeons online to inform others of his dissatisfying experience. He ran into more trouble than he anticipated, though, after sticking the surgeons’ names in the domain name.
The surgeons, Herbert Nevyas and Anita Nevyas-Wallace, who have offices in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, sued the patient for trademark violation. Public Citizen attorney Paul Alan Levy, who is representing the patient in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, says that argument doesn’t fly.
“The domain names in question do not violate the Nevyases’ rights under trademark laws, and their efforts to obtain the names constitute reverse domain name hijacking,” he said. “The Nevyases’ attempts to close the website stifle [the patient’s] free speech rights.”
Find out why.
How much of your personal information is Google willing to turn over to a third party without a fight? We’ve asked a California federal court to unseal a report that would give customers of the world’s largest Internet company an answer to that question.
Google handed the report in question over to a judge in September to comply with a restraining order requested by Rocky Mountain Bank. The bank requested the order after it mistakenly sent the bank records for more than 1,000 customers to the wrong Gmail account. In the order granted by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco, Google was told to deactivate the Gmail account and to provide contact information about the user of the Gmail account and whether he or she had read the e-mail. Google and the Gmail account holder also were told they couldn’t read the email, download the records or forward them to anyone.
A Gmail user who did nothing wrong had his or her account shut down because of the bank’s monumental screw up. And Google, a company that basically prints its own cash, didn’t lift a finger to protect the rights of one of its users. I love my Gmail account but this is a good reminder that there is