Paid bloggers face punishment for false advertising in proposal

The China Post news staff

The China Post news staff–Bloggers paid by manufacturers or businesses to “recommend” products will not be able to freely “share their experiences” in their posts after the passage of a proposed amendment to the Fair Trade Act yesterday.

An amendment to Article 21 of the Fair Trade Act, approved by the Legislature’s Economic Committee, includes recommendations by bloggers in the law’s definition of advertisements.

Under the amendment, bloggers who offer baseless recommendations will also be held liable, as advertisers who put out false advertisements already are. In the future, however, only paid bloggers, not unpaid amateur bloggers, will be fined and the civil damages liabilities of bloggers, whether they are paid or not, will be capped at 10 times of the amounts they are paid.

Speaking at a meeting of the committee, Chairman Wu Shiow-ming (吳秀明) of the Executive Yuan’s Fair Trade Commission said the expression of views on goods by bloggers in their blog posts are considered advertisements of a recommendatory or testifying nature. Current administrative regulations impose fines on people who run exaggerative advertisements under an innocent facade and those who are found to be “collaborators” with advertisers. Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲), a committee member from the opposition the Democratic Progressive Party, pointed out a gray area. If an employee of the advertiser gratuitously shares his own experiences, which are found to be false advertisements, it would still be difficult to penalize him or her, Huang said. Whether or not he or she is held collaterally liable will have to decided by a civil court, Wu said in response to Huang’s comments.