Europe’s lawmakers are under pressure to stall on the new
regulations that may force advertisers to shun the internet for fear of
walking into a legal minefield.
Industry lobbyists fear the changes could expose advertisers to the
threat of legal actions for unwittingly falling foul of laws in European
Union member countries.
Now the Advertising Association is calling on the European Council of
Ministers to delay rubber-stamping the rules, due to be implemented
early next year, until the problems are sorted out.
Lionel Stanbrook, the AA’s deputy director-general, warned: ’If these
rules go through it will mean that only the biggest companies could
afford to trade off websites in Europe.’
The crisis has been caused by EU moves to update a 1968 inter-government
agreement called the Brussels Convention on Jurisdiction and bring it
under the EU’s wing.
In an effort to tighten up rules on so-called directed communications,
the EU proposed that website advertisers should be subject to local laws
rather than those of their own country of origin.
The plan has alarmed bodies such as the Direct Marketing Association
which fears that a website advertiser with a discount promotion could
face prosecution in Germany where such offers are illegal. Publishers
are also worried that they may be caught out by libel laws which vary
between EU member states.
The AA has raised the matter with the Department of Trade and Industry,
the Lord Chancellor’s office and front bench spokespeople.
’This could be a very costly error,’ Stanbrook said. ’Not so much for
big advertisers but for a lot of the smaller businesses.’