The Advertising Standards Association (ASA), the watchdog tasked with ensuring advertisements in the UK are fair and accurate is to widen its remit and will soon be sniffing out the claims and assertions made by businesses on the world wide web.

From 1st March 2011, the web will be subject to the same strict advertising rules as traditional media and the ASA will have the power to ban marketing statements on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. We don’t expect it will have any impact on the extravagant claims made in spam and junk email but it should certainly tighten up some of the business practices employed presently on the internet.

The ASA report that they received over 4,500 complaints since 2008 about internet-based advertisements but they could not deal with half of them because they then fell outside of its remit. With modern day consumers rarely able to differentiate between adverts on TV or online the increase of their jurisdiction will ensure that any statement on a website that is intended to sell products or services will be subject to the same strict scrutiny of those in traditional media.

The ASA powers online will include the ability to remove paid-for search advertising and replace it with its own advertisements highlighting an advertiser’s non-compliance.

The change comes following an agreement by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) the UK’s self-regulatory body that writes and enforces The CAP Code. The CAP Code is the rule book governing the content and placement of non-broadcast marketing communications in the UK. The system will be funded by a standard 0.1% levy on paid-for advertisements appearing on internet search engines through media and search agencies – an extension of the existing funding mechanism in other media that pays for the ASA. The online contribution will be supplemented initially with seed capital from Google.

Do you agree with more rules governing the ‘un-regulated’ internet?