Digital advertising rules and regulations in Australia

July 17, 2018 – 10:18 am | by Steve
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While buying and selling on the internet seems like a pretty straightforward business, there are quite a few hiccups that happen along the way, which necessitate the presence of a regulatory framework that effectively protects consumers, while still encouraging a free market environment. Read on to find out how Australia’s rules and regulations on digital advertising affect your business.

Digital Rules and Regulations in Australia

Digital advertising in Australia is mainly regulated by a few state agencies and federal laws, with quite a bit of self-regulation thrown in there for good measure. For example, to prevent companies and brands from publishing misleading information about their products online in order to increase sales, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) oversees the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) which has been put into place to specifically regulate digital advertising content.

The introduction of the Spam Act of 2003 on the other hand, protects consumers from unscrupulous email marketing by demanding that businesses must first get permission from the customer before they send any type of electronic communication. The Act further states that a business must properly identify itself while ensuring that consumers are aware that they can unsubscribe from the  email messages at any time. This Act is enforced by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), and also includes regulation on instant messaging, SMS and MMS communication on a commercial level. And what is the yardstick for commercial communication, you may ask? Well, according to this law, it is any electronic message that offers, advertises or promotes a particular supplier of goods and services.

The state has also passed the Privacy Act of 1998, which necessitates complete transparency from business owners with respect to how they handle their customer’s data. This law also makes recommendations on the contents of privacy laws and other data security obligations to be followed by businesses.

Then there’s the Competition and Consumer Act of 2010, whose main objectives include promoting competition, fair trade and consumer protection, while prohibiting uncompetitive behaviour as well as the exploitation of power. So, this means that a company may not make claims about certain attributes of their products that are false or misleading to the customer, especially through their digital advertising content and platforms. Omitting certain details about a product because it would change costumers’ perceptions is also considered a contravention of this law, and it applies to all types of media delivery, digital technology and devices. Therefore, app developers and publishers should also be aware of these laws and make sure that all claims made on their websites and apps are an accurate representation of the actual offering and its capabilities.

The Regulators

In case you’re wondering who exactly oversees the proper implementation of these laws:

  • Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC): The ACCC is there to encourage an environment of fair trade and competition that equally benefits the consumer, businesses and the broader community. Essentially, the commission’s main job is to make sure that businesses and individuals alike act in accordance with the Competition and Consumer Act’s laws, which pertain to consumer protection, fair trade and competition. The commission is also responsible for overseeing the implementation of a section of the Australian Consumer Law that deals with factual disclosure and transparency obligations, especially when it comes to businesses that are advertising their goods and services through digital infrastructure. This body regulates digital advertising platforms such as internet banking, pricing displays, online auctions, and social media advertising, online shopping, and managing online reviews, online group buying, unfair practices and false or misleading claims.
  • Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA): The ACMA regulates the digital behaviour of those businesses that are affected by this law on a day-to-day basis, especially when it comes to aspects of the law that are governed by the Department of Communications (DC). This means handling complaints, prescribing compliance standards, providing general guidance and adjudicating enforcement for situations that are associated with all means of electronic communication, including but not limited to, internet security and malware, internet content and advertising content

 Repercussions of Non-compliance

So what happens when businesses or individuals fail to comply with even a tiny segment of these laws?  Well, depending on the particular law you broke, you could face a formal warning, an injunction from the federal Court and a fine of up to $1.8million, which is not uncommon for repeat offenders that send more than one email after being warned not to. Obviously none of this bodes well for the reputation of any business, so it’s best that you align yourself with a digital marketing company whose practices comply with the latest in digital advertising rules and regulations.

Businesses like Fm Digital Group Australiahave systems in place to comply with all digital advertising regulations while still putting out kick-ass digital advertising content and advertisements in the form of LCD digital signage and LED rental displays.

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