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1999 Archives

Advertising Watchdog Group to Focus on Internet
News Service Story

ADVERTISING regulators are to extend their role to policing Internet commercials on websites for the first time. The online complaints service is under development and will be launched next year to reflect the growing number of complaints about adverts on the Internet.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has made the move in readiness for the expected explosion in e-commerce that has forced it to take steps to police new media. The ASA has no statutory powers but generally secures cooperation from the advertising industry within the United Kingdom print media and hopes to extend this role to the Internet.

Chris Reed, ASA external affairs manager, said: "We are working on drawing up a complaints form to deal with Internet advertising and expect to begin accepting complaints from next year. The massive scale of the web means we do not want to launch the service until we have some idea of the scale of the task.

"The idea is that we will be able to accept e-mail complaints so that the public can send us an image of the actual ad. This way we intend to get around the problem that adverts and websites on the Internet can change so quickly. We do not envisage too many problems tracking down the advertisers as we have become very expert at the task over the years."

The ASA deals with about 12,000 complaints about traditional advertising every year and it upheld 30 out of 92 complaints about Internet advertising last year.

Mr Reed said that pan-European agreements between advertising watchdogs are likely to extend to the Internet so that any advertisement on the web would be dealt with by the authority in the country of origin.

For more information:
Advertising Standards Authority
Brooke House, Torrington Place, London, United Kingdom, WC1 7HJ
Telephone: +44 171 580 5555

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