Disclosure Statements: An Afterthought from Devil’s Advocate

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David Weinberger and John Palfrey, among others, have posted impressive general (as opposed to specific) disclosure statements on their weblogs. Currently, I think that’s a good way to address some of the credibility issues related to weblogs. Probably I should follow suit, although this blog (and blogger) is certainly much less of interest than the two mentioned above.

In any event, let me play devil’s advocate for a moment: What’s down the road if we take general (as opposed to specific, case-by-case) disclosure as an approach seriously and compare it to areas of practice where we’ve been working with somewhat similar approaches? Do we face a future where disclosure statements (only imagine such statements from some of our highly networked colleagues!) get as long and complicated as package inserts of drugs, end user license agreements, or terms of services? Will we one day click on “I agree” boxes to accept disclosure statements before we read a blog? Or will we build aggregators collecting and analyzing disclosure profiles of bloggers, where one can check boxes to exclude, for instance, RSS from a philosopher’s blog who does consulting work beside? If the importance of disclosure statements increases under such a scenario, are we likely to see in the long run (as in traditional media law) legislation and regulation establishing disclosure rules and/or standards?

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