Insights IAB UK expresses concern at Government decision to announce changes to Online Safety Bill on fraudulent advertising at same time as consultation on Online Advertising Programme


The CEO of IAB UK, Jon Mew, has welcomed the Government’s consultation on its Online Advertising Programme (OAP), saying that the UK digital advertising industry “wants to play its part in restricting, detecting and disrupting scam ads”.

However, Mr Mew says, “the regulatory coherence that we believe the OAP can deliver on this and other issues is undermined by provisions on ‘fraudulent advertising’ being added to the Online Safety Bill (OSB)”. In Mr Mew’s view, the decision to cover the issue of scam ads in two ways at the same time “creates unnecessary regulatory fragmentation and risks constraining proper policy development” and “undermines the purpose of the OAP and could pre-empt its outcomes”.

IAB UK is also concerned that the widened scope of the Bill has not been subject to industry consultation and that it could have unintended consequences for legitimate advertisers, particularly small businesses, if it is applied across the board. “The approach set out today seems at odds with the principles set out in the Government’s Plan for Digital Regulation, which emphasises the importance of drawing on industry expertise to develop effective regulation, and of a coherent and streamlined regulatory landscape”, Mr Mew says.

IAB UK also says that to successfully build an effective, proportionate regulatory framework that supplements the existing system of self-regulation, the OAP should meet five key principles:

  1. recognition of and support for the value of the ad-funded business model and its crucial role in the digital economy;
  2. recognition of the place of self-regulatory mechanisms and open standards in any new framework;
  3. a clear vision that brings coherence and alignment to all relevant policy and regulatory workstreams, aligned with the Digital Regulation Plan;
  4. an evidence-based approach with robustly justified proposals; and
  5. emphasis on cooperation between industry, law enforcement and regulators to target criminal actors.

To read IAB UK’s press release in full and for more information on the five key principles, click here.