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Since 1st March 2011, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) extended the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (the CAP Code) to include all marketing messages online, including the rules relating to misleading advertisingsocial responsibility and the protection of children. Journalistic and editorial content and material related to causes and ideas – except those that are direct solicitations of donations for fund-raising – are excluded from the remit.

This Digital Remit is designed to apply the same high standards as are expected of other media within the United Kingdom. This will cover:

  • Any advertiser’s own marketing messages on their own websites or email communications.
  • Any marketing communications in other non-paid-for space under the advertiser’s control, such as social networking sites.
  • Any marketing communications on all UK websites, regardless of sector, type of business or size of organisation.

You need to ensure that your online copy reflects your requirements, and that tit complies with the rules. Our sister businesses can help you with a health-check. Check out – (opens a new window).

This new legislation covers information on and from any business registered in the UK or trading with UK consumers. It only relates to advertisements and other marketing communications. If your users add content to your website, you will only be judged if you reuse illegal content, for example in endorsements.

The basis for the new law is to ensure that marketing communications remain legaldecenthonest and truthful. There are no catches, and it shouldn’t be a burden, but it is designed to stop those companies that set out to defraud consumers.


The ASA can use its current sanctions to ensure compliance, but also have the following, extended remit:

  • A name and shame policy – listing details of an advertiser and the non-compliant marketing communication on a special part of the ASA website.
  • Removal of non-compliant paid-for search advertising – adverts that link to the page hosting the non-compliant marketing communication may be removed with the agreement of the search engines.
  • ASA paid-for search advertisements – the ASA could place advertisements online highlighting an advertiser’s continued non-compliance.

Website content should be designed to avoid liability under this Act; there is a wealth of guidance online about how this should be done. (all links open a new window)

  • CAP – the CAP website
  • ASA – the ASA website

Glossary: Advertising, Advertising Standards Authority, Astroturfing, Awareness, Blackhat SEO, Branding, Can-Spam, Comparative Advertising, Digital Marketing, Direct Marketing, Email Marketing, e-Marketing, Flaming, Grey Marketing, Marketing Communications, Mobile Marketing, Netiquette, Paid Placement, Pay-per-Click, Personalisation, Search Engine Marketing, Smartphone, Social Networks, Spam, Troll, Trust, Website, White Hat SEO

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