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ASA clarifies its online remit

8 October 2010

Last month we reported that the ASA plans to significantly extend its online remit. Our opinion was that this would bring much new material into their territory, and that your competitors may start complaining to the ASA if they feel there is potentially misleading information on your website.

This issue has clearly now been picked up by the ASA and CIPR. The ASA have clarified that “online public relations”, defined as “press releases, other public relations material and editorial content”, are not covered. The ASA will be concerned only with marketing communications, including advertising, sales promotion and direct marketing.

In our view, the boundaries of the above definition are currently insufficiently clear to prevent an influx of complaints once the new system gets underway. However CIPR will be giving further guidance, including examples of common types of activities considered as “public relations”– whether this will resolve the issue remains to be seen.

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