Advertising watchdogs are to start policing Internet advertisements and websites for the first time.
The Advertising Standards Authority is currently developing an online complaints service which will go live next year. The extension of the ASA's role is in reply to the increasing number of complaints about Web adverts.
Until now, the ASA has dealt only with print and poster advertising. By 2002, however it is estimated that around 40 per cent of consumer shopping will be done online.
The ASA does not have statutory powers over advertising. Instead it relies on co-operation from within the UK's print media industry.
It will be looking for the same working partnership with Internet companies. The ASA's online complaints service will enable the public to email images of ads they have found on the Internet and want to complain about.
The ASA may also introduce an encrypted copy of the logo so that sites cannot use it without authority. It would also go some way to showing consumers that companies advertising on the Internet have agreed to certain regulations.
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