Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries wants to make UK the ‘safest place to go online’

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries wants to make UK the ‘safest place to go online’

Culture secretary Nadine Dorries told the advertising and media industry today that reforms to online advertising regulation will help make the UK “the safest place in the world to go online”.

Speaking at today’s RENEW Conference in London, Dorries told delegates: “We want to ensure today’s ad world is as accountable as yesterday’s. We’ve got robust regulation for adverts on traditional media like TV and it’s time to ensure that there are robust rules for the online sphere too.”

This would involve empowering regulators to take action on “trickier issues”, she said, thereby reducing the need for government involvement.

In closing her speech this morning, Dorries said:  “I want to thank everyone here today and across the industry for your work on both [the Online Safety Bill], and on the Online Advertising Programme.

“Both will help us make the UK the safest place in the world to go online. That will be good for users, and it’ll be good for advertisers, too.”

Dorries explained she wants to “go further as a government” to regulate online advertising.

Speaking about the Advertising Standards Authority’s (ASA) development of its online platform and network standards, Dorries added: “I’m pleased to confirm that we will be consulting on the online advertising programme in Spring and that we will use that consultation to review the entire regulatory framework of online advertising, including the content placement and targeting of those ads.”

She said that the government will use the online advertising programme to tackle transparency in the online supply chain which is currently “too opaque”, going on to describe it as “a complex, often automated system, where highly personalised ads are delivered at speed and at scale”.

Dorries warned against online ads targeting children and vulnerable groups and went on to say she wanted to focus on the role of online platforms and intermediaries and how they can take greater responsibility for how they “disseminate advertising online”.

Stephen Woodford, CEO of the Advertising Association responded to Dorries speech by saying: “The Advertising Association will be active in making robust contributions to the debates about online advertising regulation to dispel misconceptions and address the root causes of any problems.”

He added: “It is also vital that the DCMS review of online advertising acts in concert with other areas of digital policy, such as the Plan for Digital Regulation, being pursued by government to deliver a coherent and joined-up approach. The best way to achieve effective regulation will be to work together with our industry.”

In response to Dorries’ speech, Jon Mew, CEO of IAB UK said: “It’s also essential that we recognise that digital advertising is robustly and comprehensively regulated by the ASA – the same body that regulates advertising in all media in the UK.

“Meanwhile, cross-industry collaboration and technological developments have helped to improve supply chain transparency in digital advertising and advertisers’ control over where their ads appear. There is more to do, but progress is proactively being made.”

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