Joint Committee on draft Online Safety Bill calls for inclusion of paid-for ads

Posted on: Tuesday 14 December 2021 | IAB UK

New report recommends Government u-turn to include paid-for ads in the scope of the Online Safety Bill

The Joint Committee on the draft Online Safety Bill has published a report advising that the Government includes paid-for digital advertising in the Bill. Its view is that companies that are included in the scope of the Bill - because they provide user-to-user services - have a duty to protect users from ‘harmful’ paid-for ads. At present, the draft Bill states that paid-for digital advertising is explicitly out of scope, though the Government had previously stated that user-generated financial fraud would be added to the Bill. 

It’s significant to note that the regulatory framework for paid-for digital ads is already being reviewed by the DCMS Online Advertising Programme that is examining digital advertising regulation. Additionally, the Home Office Fraud Action Plan is developing coordinated approaches to address financial scams, including where digital advertising is exploited in order to perpetrate financial fraud, and the industry-led Online Fraud Steering Group is increasing dialogue and collaboration between the banking industry, some digital advertising platforms and law enforcement. 

The Joint Committee for the Draft Online Safety Bill was convened in July 2021 and was given until 10 December 2021 to propose ways to improve the Bill. Its report will now go to Parliament for further examination and the Government must respond within 2 months. The Bill is expected to be introduced to Parliament shortly.

The current ASA system already effectively regulates responsible digital advertisers by enforcing rules that are designed to prevent harmful and misleading advertising online

Additionally, at the IAB, we are actively involved with our members in informing both the Home Office Fraud Action Plan and the DCMS Online Advertising Programme. We strongly believe that these provide the best route to build on existing efforts to address the challenge of ads being disseminated by bad actors, and to enable our members and their partners to dynamically respond to these threats. Premature steps to legislate in haste may undermine live Government workstreams designed to fully assess the underlying issues, understand where existing efforts are effective and where further solutions may be appropriate.

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