Consumer protection rules clarified for online marketers

A new consumer protection law designed to clarify the way online marketers can target and interact with consumers came into play in May this year.

The new law prohibits advertisers from indulging in any practice that is deemed to be misleading, aggressive or unfair, according to the Internet Advertising Bureau.

It lays out 31 methods of advertising that are now blacklisted, including creating fake blogs, spamming and use of the word 'free' if any payment is necessary.

Companies and individuals found to be breaking the regulations can be punished by up to two years in prison or substantial fines.

While the focus of the new laws is on online advertising, they are "technology neutral", which means that any practice, digital or otherwise, that is found to be in violation is a punishable offence.

Meanwhile, the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations recently put into practice the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive in the UK on 26 May.

Online marketers may also be interested in a new search service from Google, which allows businesses to customise their Google-hosted search results.

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