Advertising Standards Authority gains powers to police the web


Advertising Standards Authority gains powers to police the web

Warwick Ashford

The UK's Advertising Standards Authority now has the power to oversee all claims made by companies on websites and social networks, not just paid-for ads.

From 1 March 2011 online marketing and ads from UK firms will be subject to the same strict advertising rules as traditional media, policed by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The Cloud Industry Forum has welcomed the ASA's internet powers. The Cloud Industry Forum says it is essential to build trust online by making operations transparent.

For the first time, the ASA can police what companies say about themselves online in any statement that can be interpreted as marketing.

This includes Twitter feeds, Facebook profiles and any other online space under the control of a UK firm, according to the BBC.

Now, as with paid-for advertising, no marketing statements are allowed to harm, mislead or offend. Companies will be forced to take down any non-compliant text.

The ASA says its powers will help tackle a growing number of complaints about the way companies sell themselves online.

The watchdog claims that since 2008, the ASA has received more than 4,500 complaints about statements on websites that it could do nothing about.

In preparation for the greater workload, the ASA has increased the number of staff in its complaints and investigations unit by 10%.

The extra cost of the ASA's expanded remit will be met by an initial £200,000 contribution from Google and an extension of the 0.1% voluntary levy on paid-for advertisements that currently funds the ASA.

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