FTC creates blog to chronicle series on Internet tools

Tech-ade Blog

The Federal Trade Commission has created a blog to chronicle an upcoming series of FTC hearings about new Internet tools and has absolved itself of all responsibility for the site's content.

An anonymous recent college graduate who is a member of the FTC’s Honors Paralegal Program in the Bureau of Consumer Protection will serve as the blog's main narrator leading up to and during the event, dubbed Tech-ade.

The FTC is holding these hearings, which are open to the public, to learn about likely changes that will affect the consumer marketplace in the next decade.

FTC officials are not disclosing the identity of the blogger, said FTC spokeswoman Jackie Dizdul. The blogger has been posting entries under the user name FTC Blogger since Oct. 5.

Dizdul could only say that FTC officials picked "somebody who would be able to give his/her time to make sure that this is truly a blog" with frequent updates and fresh perspective.

FTC officials felt the person’s name was not critical information, she added. The significance of the individual lies in his/her background as a member of the Internet generation who is not a member of the government administration, Dizdul said.

This caveat appears at the close of each entry: "Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are those of the blog authors. They do not necessarily represent the views of the Federal Trade Commission or any individual commissioner."

The FTC has invited experts from the fields of technology, marketing, product development, finance and other related disciplines to speak at the hearings.

FTC Blogger will be posting interviews with the experts about changes they anticipate in demographics, business practices and technology and how those changes will affect consumers.

The hearings are free and will be broadcast on the Web. From time to time, guest bloggers may also be featured.

According to FTC Blogger's first entry, the blog format is particularly appropriate for Tech-ade because it is a way for the agency to "experiment firsthand with a communications tool that has grown in popularity over the past few years and may well become even more prevalent in the next Tech-ade."

The public can comment on each entry, and several people already have.

There are rules for participating in the FTC's online community. All comments must be reviewed before they are posted, at the moderator's discretion. FTC employees are screening for inappropriate language and personally identifiable information, not the subject matter of the comments, Dizdul said.

When a comment is posted, the commentator's username is visible. Blog visitors need not use their real names when they comment. Any series of letters and numbers will work.

Visitors cannot create their own entries, or threads.

The Tech-ade blog will continue after the event is over, according to the site. The blog will remain active for some time after the hearings conclude, FTC Blogger said, adding that he/she may post follow-up entries on issues raised during the event. The public is also encouraged to submit feedback following the event.

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