Parliament Sitting on 9 November 2016

QUESTION FOR ORAL ANSWER

*1. Mr Saktiandi Supaat: To ask the Minister for Communications and Information (a) what has been the trend in complaints about misleading and derogatory advertisements on the Internet over the past three years; and (b) what action has been taken against such advertisers and media owners.

Answer:

The advertising industry is self-regulated. The Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS) administers the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice (SCAP), which helps to ensure that advertisements are legal, decent, honest and truthful. The SCAP has been endorsed by organisations representing the advertisers, advertising agencies and the media, and ASAS reviews it periodically to ensure its consistency with community values and changes in the advertising landscape.

2 From 2013 to 2015, ASAS received a total of 124 complaints against misleading online advertisements and 5 complaints against derogatory online advertisements. ASAS investigated these complaints, which included examples such as unsubstantiated product claims and racially discriminatory advertisements, and took action against breaches of the SCAP, including contacting the company or website responsible to amend or remove the problematic advertisements. In cases of egregious or repeated breaches, ASAS may also impose sanctions such as requiring local media owners that are members of ASAS to withhold advertising space from errant advertisers.

3 In response to the growing use of online marketing, ASAS issued the Guidelines for Interactive Marketing Communication and Social Media in August this year to clarify its expectations of how advertisers and the parties they work with should design and manage their digital and social media marketing communications, so as to enable consumers to make informed choices about the products and services advertised online.   

4 The Government supports the advertising industry’s efforts to strengthen self-regulation. However, the Government will also not hesitate to act against online advertisements that contain egregious content such as those that threaten racial or religious harmony, public morality, or are against national or public interest. Consumers can also play an important role, such as by exercising caution against offers that appear too good to be true.

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