In July, I wrote the US Federal Trade Commission asking for it to review whether search engines are complying with paid listing disclosure guidelines it created in 2002, since it appeared these were being ignored. After two months, I finally got a response. The FTC is aware of the issues but didn’t have more to say at the moment.
The Commission staff is aware of the issues you raise, and we have carefully reviewed your letter, including your recommendation that we update our 2002 letters, as well as articles you’ve written on search engines’ changes in presentation of search results.
At this time, however, I am not able to provide you with any more specific information about our activities.
The FTC also apologized for the delay. Apparently, different departments within the agency thought another department was getting back to me. Instead, no one did.
I’m delayed myself getting this update posted, as I was off for part of August plus swamped with some other stories. But that’s the news so far. I did try to get more information, in particular:
- Are there plans or discussions to actually review the guidelines or the current state of disclosures?
- Is there a current sense of whether disclosures are properly being done?
I was told there was no further information that could be provided.
I also owe a follow-up survey of the various search engines out there, to see if they support an FTC review. I know Google does (as the second article below covers), but others have been silent so far. Stay tuned — I’m working my way back to it.
My previous stories on this topic:
- A Letter To The FTC Regarding Search Engine Disclosure Compliance
- After A Month, Silence From The FTC On Search Engine Disclosure