Home
 » ISP News » 
Sponsored

UK Broadband ISPs Risk Legal Sanctions for Running Misleading Adverts

Thursday, November 21st, 2013 (9:44 am) - Score 564

Major broadband ISPs like Virgin Media, BT, Sky Broadband and TalkTalk, which often find themselves in hot water with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for “misleading” service promotions, could risk incurring legal sanctions under a new agreement with Trading Standards.

Previously the ASA’s legal backstop powers resided with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) but, following changes to the law, this has now switched to Trading Standards. The advertising watchdog’s CEO, Guy Parker, has thus wasted no time in warning that, “an advertiser who doesn’t play by the rules will face the consequences.”

ASA Statement

Any advertiser that persists in breaking the rules through misleading, aggressive or otherwise unfair non-broadcast advertising can face referral. Trading Standards can consider taking action against advertisers under consumer and business protection laws.

We’ve agreed new case handling principles [link] and, importantly, the ASA remains responsible for regulating advertising – allowing Trading Standards to focus its resources on other consumer issues.

The talk is tough but what about action? Last year Virgin Media’s various broadband and or phone promotions suffered an almost endless stream of advertising bans, at one point even earning itself a comical feature on the BBC’s Watchdog TV show (here), but it never receive more than a metaphorical slap on the wrists. In fact most of the major ISPs have found themselves in front of the ASA on multiple occasions.

The ASA quite understandably prefers to settle such disputes without resorting to tougher measures and in fairness many companies do make honest mistakes in their advertising, which can often be tricky to adjudicate; especially if it comes down to a complex technicality that is perhaps arguably more likely to occur in the telecoms market (example using Virgin’s TMP policy).

On the other hand it’s sometimes important to draw a line in the sand so that advertisers don’t feel as if they can game the system. But at present it remains unclear what level of activity would be enough to trigger the ASA into using the legal backstop powers.

Add to Diigo
Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
3 Responses
  1. Avatar dragoneast

    Hmmm, with the legal uncertainty (proving an offence under legislation not just the “code” and with the burden of proof) and local authority budgets being slashed, how is this going to be a priority for any particular Council? More money for the lawyers, of course.

  2. Avatar DTMark

    It might be helpful to start with some specific definitions. Then people could advertise truthfully against those.

    There is no such thing as “standard broadband”.

    There is very nearly no fibre-optic broadband in this country.

    (insert descriptor here) fast broadband (super fast, ultrafast) is meaningless.

    Indeed, there’s no meaningful description of what “broadband” is (apart from its technical description which is not useful, since most would think it has to do with speed attained).

    While all of these things remain practically meaningless, I don’t see much scope for improvement.

    Meanwhile I’ll get back to enjoying my superfast fibre-optic broadband delivered over the air by 4G.

Comments RSS Feed

Javascript must be enabled to post (most browsers do this automatically)

Privacy Notice: Please note that news comments are anonymous, which means that we do NOT require you to enter any real personal details to post a message. By clicking to submit a post you agree to storing your comment content, display name, IP, email and / or website details in our database, for as long as the post remains live.

Only the submitted name and comment will be displayed in public, while the rest will be kept private (we will never share this outside of ISPreview, regardless of whether the data is real or fake). This comment system uses submitted IP, email and website address data to spot abuse and spammers. All data is transferred via an encrypted (https secure) session.

NOTE 1: Sometimes your comment might not appear immediately due to site cache (this is cleared every few hours) or it may be caught by automated moderation / anti-spam.

NOTE 2: Comments that break our rules, spam, troll or post via known fake IP/proxy servers may be blocked or removed.
Cheapest Superfast ISPs
  • Hyperoptic £18.00 (*22.00)
    Avg. Speed 30Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: Code: HYPER19
  • Vodafone £21.00
    Avg. Speed 35Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: Amazon Echo Plus
  • Direct Save Telecom £22.95 (*29.95)
    Avg. Speed 35Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Origin Broadband £23.00
    Avg. Speed 35Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • SSE £23.00 (*33.00)
    Avg. Speed 35Mbps, Unlimited (FUP)
    Gift: None
Prices inc. Line Rental | View All
The Top 20 Category Tags
  1. BT (2429)
  2. FTTP (2040)
  3. FTTC (1613)
  4. Building Digital UK (1557)
  5. Politics (1355)
  6. Openreach (1352)
  7. Business (1191)
  8. Statistics (1056)
  9. FTTH (988)
  10. Mobile Broadband (984)
  11. Fibre Optic (948)
  12. Ofcom Regulation (891)
  13. Wireless Internet (873)
  14. 4G (858)
  15. Virgin Media (820)
  16. Sky Broadband (578)
  17. EE (565)
  18. TalkTalk (560)
  19. Vodafone (484)
  20. Security (399)
Promotion
Helpful ISP Guides and Tips
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
Sponsored

Copyright © 1999 to Present - ISPreview.co.uk - All Rights Reserved - Terms , Privacy and Cookie Policy , Links , Website Rules , Contact