The Annual Report 2016
reveals how our work has changed and how ASA adapted to a fast changing advertising landscape where nearly half of the work now involves regulating online ‘advertiser-owned’ ads , material that just five years ago wasn’t covered by
2016 marked the five year anniversary of the ASA and CAP extending the advertising rules to cover companies’ and other organisations’ own ad claims on their own websites and social media spaces, for example on You Tube, Facebook and
Twitter. The Annual Report reveals the impact of that change. In the last five years:
The ASA has resolved 41,383 complaints about 36,872 online ‘advertiser-owned’ ads
Those ads accounted for 1 in 3 complained about to the ASA
88% of complaints about online ‘advertiser-owned’ ads were about misleadingness, compared to 73% for complaints across all media.
The report highlights the regulatory challenges the changing advertising landscape poses, with the lines between offline and online and between paid-for, ‘owned’ and ‘earned’ advertising becoming increasingly blurred. And the
report shows how technological change has influenced the ASA’s strategy to have more impact and be more proactive.
Key figures for 2016 included:
The ASA resolved 28,521 complaints about 16,999 ads
4,824 ads were changed or withdrawn as a result of ASA and CAP action (a record year and a 5% increase on 2015)
CAP delivered 281,061 pieces of training and advice to industry to help companies and organisations get their ads right (another record year and a 10% increase on 2015)
The ASA and CAP delivered strong enforcement, with 8 websites taken down, one successful prosecution of an alternative therapy provider following referral to our legal backstop, Trading Standards, and two arrests pending prosecution
The Russian government is preparing to scale-up its war on people accessing blocked webssites by hitting services that provide workarounds. A new bill
developed by the government requires VPNs and other anonymizing services to stop providing access to blocked domains. If they do not, they themselves will also be blocked. Search engines also face sanctions for linking to banned sites.
When it comes to blocking websites, Russia is quickly emerging as a world leader. Tens of thousands of sites are now blocked in the country on copyright infringement and a wide range of other censorship grounds.
Of course, Russian citizens are not always prepared to be constrained by their government, so large numbers of people regularly find ways to circumvent ISP blockades. The tools and methods deployed are largely the same as those used in the West,
including VPNs, proxies, mirror sites and dedicated services such as Tor.
To counter this defiance, the Russian government has been considering legislation to tackle sites, tools and services that provide Internet users with ways to circumvent blockades. According to local news outlet Vedomosti , that has now resulted in a
tough new bill.
Russia's plan is to issue a nationwide ban on systems and software that allow Internet users to bypass website blockades previously approved by telecoms watchdog Roskomnadzor. This means that if a VPN, proxy or similar tool unblocks torrent site
RuTracker, for example, it will be breaking the law. As a result, it too will find itself on Russia's banned site list.
The publication says it has confirmed the bill's existence with a federal official and several Internet service provider sources.
As previously reported , Russia also has search engines in its sights. It wants to prevent links to banned sites appearing in search results, claiming that these encourage people to access banned material. The new bill reportedly lays out a new framework
which will force search engines to remove such links. Failing to do so could result in fines of up to $12,400 per breach, clearly a significant issue for companies such as Google and local search giant Yandex.
A video ad on the online drinks retailer 31Dover.com's website and on Youtube, seen in February 2017, opened on a blurred background and title text The Karma Shotra appeared. Bar paraphernalia including glasses, bottles and a variety of alcohol
products were then shown with doodle drawings such as arms and faces overlaid on them. These characters were shown smiling and touching each other in a sexual manner. Subtitles appeared throughout such as The Cork Screw and The Rim Job ,
each followed by the characters engaging in sexual activity.
Two complainants, who believed the ad strongly linked alcohol to seduction, sexual activity and sexual success, objected that the ad was socially irresponsible and breached the Code.
ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld
The ASA considered that the video as featured on the advertiser's own website and on their YouTube channel was an ad which fell within the remit of the CAP Code. The video featured alcohol products and referred throughout to the website URL where
products could be purchased and was therefore clearly directly connected with the supply or transfer of goods and services provided by 31Dover.com.
We considered that the ad strongly linked alcohol to sexual activity. The ad plainly features sexual innuendo, sexual references and sexual activity in association with the promotion of alcohol products and 31Dover.com. We did not consider that because
there was no human and alcohol interaction and there were no specific alcohol products or brands featured that this impression would have been eclipsed. Because the ad linked alcohol with sexual activity, we concluded it was socially irresponsible and
breached the code.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 18.1 18.1 Marketing communications must be socially responsible and must contain nothing that is likely to lead people to adopt styles of drinking that are unwise. For example, they should not encourage
excessive drinking. Care should be taken not to exploit the young, the immature or those who are mentally or socially vulnerable. and 18.5 18.5 Marketing communications must neither link alcohol with seduction, sexual activity or sexual success nor imply
that alcohol can enhance attractiveness. (Alcohol).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told 31Dover.com to prepare future advertising in a socially responsible way and not to link alcohol to sexual activity in their future marketing communications.
The Portnam Group is a drinks industry panel which investigates complaints about the marketing of alcoholic drinks. The latest
A complaint about the packaging of Old English Gin promoting excessive drinking has not been upheld by the Independent Complaints Panel (Panel).
The complainant believed that due to the fact that the product is sealed with a wine-style cork it is less practical than a more usual spirit closure --.and will encourage purchasers to drink the bottle more quickly than they would otherwise
The Panel were presented with the bottle of Old English Gin sealed to gauge if it could be opened easily. The Panel proceeded to open the bottle and reseal it with the cork. Whilst disappointed with the Company's short response, the Panel found that the
bottle was straightforward to reseal; with the brand name etched upside down on the cork so that when it was inserted into the neck the writing on the cork was the right-way up. The Panel noted this design feature and that the product was unlikely to
deteriorate quickly and therefore would not encourage consumers to drink the product more quickly. The Panel therefore concluded that the product did not breach the Code.
Triple Six Horror Festival
27th-28th May 2017
AMC, Great Northern Warehouse, Manchester, UK
Set in the iconic Great Northern Warehouse in Manchester, AMC is a 16-screen, state of the art cinema complex.
Soon, 2 of the UK's most established horror websites, UK HORROR SCENE and THE SLAUGHTERED BIRD, will be taking it over for 2 days to bring you the best in independent horror.
Join us at Triple Six Horror Fest!
The Triple Six Horror Film Festival have announced that their first special guest will be the groundbreaking director Richard Stanley who will be with them for the entire weekend. PLUS they will be showing his debut feature Hardware (1990) on 35mm
followed by a full Q&A with Richard.
Hardware is a totally unique, visually stunning feature that needs to be seen on the big screen. Aesthetically compared to Gilliam & Jodorowsky and with a real 1990's man vs machine mentality that summed up the age when technology was becoming an
essential part of life not a luxury, along with a stunning industrial score, Hardware is a mix of horror, sci-fi and much more. Rarely seen on the big screen ,especially in 35mm, this will be an amazing one-off experience !!
The full line-up is as follows
Hardware (1990) in 35mm followed by live Q&A with Richard Stanley.
An email from Selfridges, seen in January 2017, showed a model standing side on in a long blue dress.
A complainant, who believed the model looked unhealthily thin, challenged whether the ad was socially irresponsible.
ASA Assessment: Complaint not upheld
The ASA acknowledged that while the image did emphasise the model's slenderness through pose and the style of clothing, she appeared to be in proportion. We considered most people, including young children and women, would interpret the ad as focusing on
the design and fit of the dress, rather than on desirable body image. We considered that, although the model was slim, she did not appear to be unhealthily thin or significantly underweight and therefore concluded that the ad was not irresponsible.
After watching two broadcasts of Music Hall (1934), one in the morning and one late at night, on the Talking Pictures TV channel. I
noticed that certain words were blanked out of the performance by GH Elliott.
After a small bit of research I realised that the word coon had been removed twice on both occasions.
Being a fan of music hall I was rather disappointed.
Does this mean that language other than swearing will be regularly removed whether shown before, or after the Watershed, whether in context, or not?
I have written to Ofcom to complain, but as you are aware they very rarely write back.
Tesco has apologised for any offence from a beer advertisement that claimed Good Friday
just got better .
The ad ran in some newspapers to promote great offers on beer and cider in the run-up to Easter.
Vicar and broadcaster, the Reverend Richard Coles, claimed the advert was extraordinarily and unnecessarily ignorant and causes unnecessary offence to many. It didn't need to.
Michael Wakelin, a former head of BBC religious programmes, chipped in
Tesco got it badly wrong with the crass advert. It was also a decidedly poor way of treating such a holy day.
I'm sure there was no attempt to offend, I'm sure that wasn't in their mind. It is just religious illiteracy; ignorance if you like, around what religious people hold dear, and that is my main concern.
A Tesco spokesperson told the BBC:
We know that Easter is an important time of the year for our customers. It is never our intention to offend and we are sorry if any has been caused by this advert.
New Zealand film censor surveys feminists, anti-sex work campaigners, police and academics to find that child protection issues re sexual violence in the media can be mitigated by extending film censorship to the internet
New Zealand's film censors of the OFLC are calling for the extension of their remit to internet streaming services such as Lightbox and Netflix.
Currently, apart from some one-off cases, the New Zealand censor has no influence over the labelling and warnings that come with streamed content.
Deputy chief censor Jared Mullen claimed that the public wanted such services too be censored by the OFLC:
Forty-seven percent of New Zealanders are now accessing streaming services regularly - that's at least weekly. So I think it is becoming more a part of New Zealanders lives and parents and young people are telling us the same thing. Their expectations
for content labelling are high, they want more specific information and they want that before they watch the show.
Ninety-two percent of Kiwis who are responsible for choosing entertainment for children actually use the classification and labels, which is an extraordinary number.
Mullen said the participants involved in new research generally agreed that content regulation laws should be extended to cover increasingly popular streaming services. However this is hardly surprising when noting that the surveyed group were feminist
campaigners, anti-sex work campaigners, police and feminist dominated academia.
Mullen noted that the groups were canvassed:
On their views of firstly what they're seeing in terms of sexual violence portrayal in entertainment media, and how they are seeing it effect young people. The concern across all of those groups is the portrayal of sexual violence... is often
unrealistic, it can be sensationalised and is often portraying some really harmful myths about sexual violence which don't accord with reality.
Asked about the legal practicalities of extending film censorship to the internet, Mullen said there were half a dozen pieces of legislation that would need changing:
Relatively easy amendments - there's a range of regulations that would need to change, but other than that, no - it's not difficult.
The German broadcasting authority, the Landesmedienanstalt , has issued a temporary ruling requiring streamers using services such as Twitch and YouTube
to obtain a broadcasting license to avoid penalties. This license, known in German as the Rundfunklizenz , can cost anywhere from 1000 to 10,000 euro to obtain.
The news comes after popular Twitch streaming channel PietSmiet said it was told it will need a license by April 30 if it wants to continue streaming. The changes apply to all online streamers with a very low threshold of 500 or more followers.
More than a dozen state legislatures are considering a bill called the " Human Trafficking Prevention Act
," which has nothing to do with human trafficking and all to do with one man's crusade against pornography at the expense of free speech.
At its heart, the model bill would require device manufacturers to pre-install "obscenity" filters on devices like cell phones, tablets, and computers. Consumers would be forced to pony up $20 per device in order to surf the Internet without
state censorship. The legislation is not only technologically unworkable, it violates the First Amendment and significantly burdens consumers and businesses.
Perhaps more shocking is the bill's provenance. The driving force behind the legislation is a man named Mark Sevier, who has been using the alias "Chris Severe" to contact legislators.
According to the Daily Beast
, Sevier is a disbarred attorney who has sued major tech companies, blaming them for his pornography addiction, and sued states for the right to marry his laptop. Reporters Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny uncovered a lengthy legal history for Sevier,
including an open arrest warrant and stalking convictions, as well as evidence that Sevier misrepresented his own experience working with anti-trafficking non-profits.
The bill has been introduced in some form Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming. We recommend that any legislator who has to consider this bill read the Daily
But that's not why they should vote against the Human Trafficking Prevention Act. They should kill this legislation because it's just plain, awful policy. Obviously, each version of the legislation varies, but here is the general gist.
Manufacturers of Internet-connected devices would have to pre-install filters to block pornography, including "revenge porn." Companies would also have to ensure that all child pornography, "revenge pornography," and "any hub
that facilitates prostitution" are rendered inaccessible. Most iterations of the bill require this filtering technology to be turned on and locked in the on position, by default.
This is terrible for consumer choice because it forces people to purchase a software product they don't necessarily want. It's also terrible for free speech because it restrains what you can see. Because of the risk of legal liability, companies are more
likely to over-censor, blocking content by default rather than giving websites the benefit of the doubt. The proscriptions are also technologically unworkable: for example, an algorithm can hardly determine whether an item of pornography is
"revenge" or consensual or whether a site is a hub for prostitution.
To be clear, unlocking such filters would not just be about accessing pornography. A user could be seeking to improve the performance of their computer by deleting unnecessary software. A parent may want to install premium child safety software, which
may not play well with the default software. And, of course, many users will simply want to freely surf the Internet without repeatedly being denied access to sites mistakenly swept up in the censorship net.
A Censorship Tax
The model bills would require consumers to pay a $20 fee to unlock each of their devices to exercise their First Amendment rights to look at legal content. Consumers could end up paying a small fortune to unlock their routers, smartphones, tablets, and
Anyone who wants to unlock the filters on their devices would have to put their request in writing. Then they'd be required to show ID, be subjected to a "written warning regarding the potential dangers" of removing the obscenity filter, and
then would have to sign a form acknowledging they were shown that warning. That means stores would be maintaining private records on everyone who wanted their "Human Trafficking" filters removed.
The Censorship Machine
The bill would force the companies we rely upon to ensure open access to the Internet to create a massive censorship apparatus that is easily abused.
Under the bill, tech companies would be required to operate call centers or online reporting centers to monitor complaints that a particular site isn't included in the filter or complaints that a site isn't being properly filtered. Not only that, but the
bill specifically says they must "ensure that all child pornography and revenge pornography is inaccessible on the product" putting immense pressure on companies to aggressively and preemptively block websites to avoid legal liability out of
fear of just one illegal or forbidden image making it past their filters. Social media sites would only be immune if they also create a reporting center and "remain reasonably proactive in removing reported obscene content."
It's unfortunate that the Human Trafficking Prevention Act has gained traction in so many states, but we're pleased to see that some, such as Wyoming, have already rejected it. Legislators should do the right thing: uphold the Constitution, protect
consumers, and not use the problem of human trafficking as an excuse to promote this individual's agenda against pornography.