In blocking a FoE cinema ad, the ASA opened up the debate over regulating Net sites. Edited by Mairi Clark

In blocking a FoE cinema ad, the ASA opened up the debate over

regulating Net sites. Edited by Mairi Clark

In the light of Friends of the Earth placing a banned cinema ad on the

Internet, do you believe the Net should be regulated? If so, how could

this be implemented?

Friends of the Earth has never accepted that the Advertising Standards

Authority’s judgment was justified, and placing the ‘banned’

advertisement on the Internet was an effective way of getting around the

ASA’s restrictions and continuing to publicise our campaign to as wide

an international audience as possible. FoE does have concerns about the

uncensored nature of the Net. However, my personal view is that it

should remain self-regulating. This is the best way for it to continue

to stimulate debate, provide a wide range of information and, even more

importantly, to present an issue from all sides - not just the one that

the media, or a regulating body, feels fit to present.

Athena Lamnisos, Friends of the Earth,

If the Net is to have any credibility as an advertising medium, those

who control access to it in this country must embrace the advertising

industry’s effective system of self-regulation. An advertisement may be

at the cutting edge of online, interactive creativity, but it is not

going to win any effectiveness awards if, ultimately, the consumer does

not trust it, for whatever reason. The advertising industry has already

extended the ASA’s codes to cover non-broadcast electronic media, and

our copy advice team regularly offers counsel to advertisers and

agencies before they go online. The ASA is also actively monitoring

advertising sites. It has already dealt effectively with complaints

about online ads and has the power to generate punitive negative

publicity. Plans are currently underway to help the medium to police

itself effectively.

Grahame Fowler, Advertising Standards Authority,

The Net is already regulated - but it is the ad hoc regulation of

corporate nervousness. On the whole, people have been very responsible.

This is mostly because regulators could step in at some point and they

will then face costly legislation. Groups such as FoE can exploit the

legislative vacuum. But no-one sees their advertising unless they want

to and if anyone’s seriously troubled by it they can always sue. There

are far more disturbing things available if you look in

Russell Davies, Leo Burnett,

Regulating the Net is an impossible task. It is like trying to regulate

what people are allowed to imagine. The raw material of the Net is ideas

and thoughts, and human beings can stretch these from the heights of

genius to the depths of depravity. Nevertheless, there will always be

some people who want to decide what we can, and cannot, think and

imagine. Traditionally, we have dealt with these people by putting them

in a big building on the banks of the Thames and letting them believe

they are running the country. This method is tried and tested and has

worked well in this country for hundreds of years. I’m sure the Net can

incorporate a similar type of system.

Dave Swindlehurst, the Hub,

The Net is already served by current legislation. The challenge facing

society results from the medium knowing no boundaries. There is a lot of

confusion about how national laws should be put into effect when data

traffic crosses borders. The floodgates are opening to allow information

to move easily around the world and be picked up by anyone who wants to

consume it. This is fundamentally democratic and positive.

Paul Syrysko, Stream, paul@stream.cityscape.

The desire to regulate should be held in abeyance, unless there is very

strong evidence to show that existing laws are insufficient to prevent,

or punish, commercial misuse of the Net. Fraudulent use of the Net is

covered by legislation.

Andrew McIntosh, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO,

Become a member of Campaign

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to, plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events.

Become a member

What is Campaign AI?

Our new premium service offering bespoke monitoring reports for your company.

Find out more

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an alert now

Partner content