In the UK from March 1st, 2011 the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) will be empowered by a Digital Remit to ensure that the online presence of all UK businesses are legal, decent, honest and truthful. At Dancemania we have always upheld these values in everything that we say both online and in print. We always value your feedback, comments and testimonials and proudly publish what our customers say about us here in our blog, on our Twitter account and on Facebook. But does that also mean Dancemania will be responsible for what you write about us online? Well, to find out I first had to find the answers to a number of questions:
What is the ASA’s Digital Remit?
The ASA’s jurisdiction will expand to include marketing communications on organisations’ own websites and in other non-paid-for space under their control. The UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (the CAP Code) will apply in full to marketing messages online, including the rules relating to misleading advertising, social responsibility and the protection of children.
This means that anything put online by a UK business, whether it be on their own website or on some other website such as Facebook or Twitter must be legal, decent, honest and truthful. So everything from product descriptions to tweets on Twitter, banner adverts to links on Facebook must comply.
Who has determined what the Digital Remit is?
Advertising within the UK is governed by codes of practice that are designed to protect consumers and create a level playing field for advertisers. These codes of practice are the responsibility of two committees:
These code of practice are then independently administered by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). Together the CAP, BCAP and ASA form the Regulatory System.
What are the penalties for non-compliance
The Regulatory System have emphasised that their primary concern is not to punish advertisers, but to ensure that all advertising is legal, decent, honest and truthful. However, for those companies that refuse to comply a new set of sanctions have been created whereby:
- The non-compliant company will be named and shamed on a special part of the ASA website
- Search engines will be asked to deactivate paid for advertising
- The ASA could place advertisements online highlighting an advertiser’s continued non-compliance
So, will Dancemania be responsible for what customers say online?
Dancemania engages with customers online every day through Facebook, Twitter, this blog, recommendations on product pages, testimonials etc and so long as what is written does not contravene our Terms & Conditions we allow it to be viewed by everyone. Under these circumstances the ASA will not hold Dancemania responsible for what is written. BUT, if Dancemania were to then incorporate the customer’s words in to a marketing message then Dancemania must ensure that what has been written is legal, decent, honest and truthful.
So, you may tell the world that Dancemania is the best shop in the world because it is run by special fairies who magically speed your order to you using pixie dust …but without substantiating these claims we may not!
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