The European Commission has published a communication on online platforms and the digital single market. The communication outlines a targeted, principles-based approach to fix problems flagged by respondents to the Commission’s September 2015 consultation on online platforms.
The key principles the Commission has applied are:
- that it should create a level playing field so that comparable digital services are subject to the same or similar rules;
- ensure that online platforms act responsibly;
- foster transparency and fairness to maintain user trust and safeguard innovation; and
- keep markets open and non-discriminatory.
The Commission is encouraging online platforms to undertake coordinated EU-wide self-regulatory efforts to curtail exposure to illegal and harmful content. The Commission says that it will consider whether to provide guidance for online platforms on their liability when putting in place voluntary, good-faith measures to fight illegal content online, since some online platforms had expressed concern about how the exemptions in the E-Commerce Directive would apply in such cases.
Other actions include taking steps to deal with ensuring that online ratings and reviews are trustworthy and that online platforms do not mislead consumers. In this regard, the Commission has published a revised Consumer Protection Cooperation Regulation and revised guidance on the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive.
Native advertising is advertising which combines advertising with editorial content.
The Internet Advertising Bureau in the UK (IAB) has published a short guidance document on native advertising. Its aim is to help brand owners, publishers and marketing practitioners comply with the CAP Code and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (CPUT) and provide more clarity to consumers who engage with different forms of native distribution formats online.
The guidance contains three principles of “good practice” which the IAB recommends that brand owners, publishers and marketing practitioners follow when they enter into an agreement with a third party to publish marketing content on their behalf through a native distribution format. It recommends that all parties must agree to:
- Provide consumers with prominently visible visual cues to enable them to understand, immediately, that they are engaging with marketing content that has been compiled by a third party in a native ad format and is not editorially independent.
- Ensure that the publisher or provider of the native ad format uses a reasonably visible label showing that a commercial arrangement is in place.
- Ensure that the content of the “marketing communication” within the native distribution format adheres with CPUT and the CAP Code.
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