From 1 March 2011 the Advertising Standards Agency will be taking over responsibility for the regulation of online marketing communications, and this week they launched a cross-media ad campaign (outdoor, radio, press, online) to make sure you know about the change. The campaign, running up until 27 February will inform …
The ASA is telling everyone in the UK that "It's alright, everything on the internet is truthful now" while never having even the possibility of being able to enforce anything, ever; as well as scaring reputable players shitless with fuzzy rules that no doubt 'consultants' will offer to decipher for a suitably large wad of cash.
How could this possibly go wrong?
Well now if that isn't another ingenious way to manufacture jobs for useless bureaucrats.
Thanks for that...
...I can already go to the OFT.
Worse than useless.
OOOh look I can buy pills that make my todger bigger. The ASA must have passed it so it must be ok...
Different bunch of enforcers
The Medicines (Advertising) Regulations 1994 and The Medicines (Monitoring of Advertising) Regulations 1994 cover drug advertising. The MHRA are the ones with the big stick.
Not that it generally comes to it but its criminal law and you can get two years in jail if convicted.
Repeat after me ...
... the internet is not like other media. It is simply not amenable to the same levels of control, censorship or regulation. The only thing that needs to be done about this is that people need to realise that it is simply not amenable to the same levels of control, censorship or regulation. It seems that politicians and bureaucrats are significantly behind the curve where this realisation is concerned.
"the ASA has no legal remedies in such a case"
In other words, they're a toothless watchdog who can do nothing more than wag a stern finger at a an advertiser and say "tut, tut, that's naughty".
'Twas ever thus
The ASA is a figurehead of self regulation of advertising in the UK. By having the ASA, advertisers can show that they are by and large responsible, and therefore the really big spectre of Government control is avoided. Its worked in the past that there has been a gentlemans agreement between press, TV/Radio and the ASA, that if something has been banned the traditional media are informed and shouldn't carry it in future.
Does it work? Tolerably well to a point, but often gets wrong footed after the equine has long since left the accomodation area at high velocity
Will it work for the internet? Well for the big branded players who have a high street reputation to uphold, yes it probably will, but in reality they're not the worst offenders.
Will it stop Barnum and Bailey flogging snake oil by mail out of moose-butt Idaho? Not a hope in hell!
I believe it's a good move
You're right but generally the ASA are a very easy group to work with as a consumer. Firstly they always respond and they always act and they always tell you what they did. I've used them to take down numerous pieces of misleading advertising for snake-oil. Now I will be able to do the same not just for adverts in emails but claims on their websites.
Previously I had to go through the OFT for the latter which is fine but the OFT have no requirement to tell you what actions they take so you're not always sure if they did anything.
The ASA will refer complaints to the OFT and the ASA has a simple webpage for you to register your complaint, unlike the OFT. Makes the process that much easier for the consumer.
It also means another avenue of 'attack' for campaigns. For example the Chiropractic complaints that recently led to some 25% of all practitioners in the country being placed under investigation for misleading claims could now also be referred to the ASA. A three pronged attack via the ASA, OFT and Regulatory body generates three times the paperwork for the snake-oil vendor to deal with. The BCA apparently had to take on new staff just to deal with the volume of complaints they received and it could have been so much more work!
And while the ASA might not have any teeth of their own it's at least better to have a regulator that is respected than no regulator at all.
toothless and useless
And even the CAP is useless - the ASA have definitely been known to disagree with their interpretation and find against an advertiser after the CAP approved the ad!
"The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form." ...
Anyway, the ASA already police ads on websites and suchlike.. What's new here?
ASA - trade association
So the ASA is (again) annoucning that it will "regulate" internet advertising despite having no legal powers to regulate anything - including print, radio and TV adverts.
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