In the past week, the biggest news is that the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) released a report and will send letters to several search engines (AltaVista, AOL Time Warner, Direct Hit Technologies, iWon, LookSmart, Microsoft and Terra Lycos) clarifying the FTC’s position on the issue of paid or sponsored listings appearing in search results. The FTC is responding to a complaint filed by Commercial Alert requesting that the agency investigate whether certain search engines are violating Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act. The FTC takes the correct position that a search engine should be held to standards similar to any other information resource and clearly indicate which content is sponsored or paid and which content is not. (See Clear and Conspicuous Disclosures in Online Advertisements [PDF]). Basically, the FTC instructed the major search engines to make it clear which search results are paid listings and which are actual search results. However, the FTC has not taken any action further than sending a letter to the search engines.
You can read the full report here: United States of America Federal Trade Commission
Bureau of Consumer Protection
June 27, 2002
Re. Complaint Requesting Investigation of Various Internet Search Engine Companies for Paid Placement and Paid Inclusion Programs
The report includes a copy of the letter sent to the search engines.
Also read the AP story on the subject: FTC: Disclose Paid Search Listings
Fri Jun 28, 4:34 PM ET
By D. IAN HOPPER, AP Technology Writer
Another very important story is the outcome of ICANN’s deliberations, though the implications are in no way clear. The ICANN Board of Directors unanimously agreed that there will no longer be regionally elected board members. Their stated reason was that the change is necessary to insure that board members have the technological expertise to do their jobs.
Internet Oversight Body OKs Overhaul
Fri Jun 28, 2:11 PM ET
By ALEXANDRU ALEXE, Associated Press Writer
Internet Name Body Set for Landmark Vote This Week
Wed Jun 26, 6:54 PM ET
By Bernhard Warner, European Internet Correspondent
Microsoft and Overture have announced a 90-day extension of their agreement whereby Overture provides sponsored listings in the MSN search results. Seems they are having a difficult time coming to an agreement.
Microsoft, Overture extend arrangement
Fri Jun 28, 3:42 PM ET
If you haven’t heard of Gator yet, you are very lucky. Gator is what is known as spyware. In the guise of helping Internet users to quickly and easily fill out all those forms when they shop, Gator gathers information about users’ browsing and shopping behaviors and serves pop-up banners while they use their computers. The good news is that Gator is being sued, finally. Several large web companies complain that Gator is serving up ads when web users visit their websites, and is even making public claims that it is better to by Gator ads than it is to approach the website owners themselves.
Gator sued over pop-up ads
Thu Jun 27, 7:38 PM ET
If you’re a tech fan, you may want to try out Teoma’s new toolbar. Scarlet Pruitt wrote a story about it. You can download it here: Teoma Toolbar (http://sp.ask.com/docs/teoma/toolbar/). It enables you to search the Teoma database from your web browser. But then again, why would you want to do that? The Google Toolbar is so much better. By the way, you can install and run both if you like.
Search Upstart Teoma Posts Toolbar
Scarlet Pruitt, IDG News Service
Tuesday, June 25, 2002