The Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA) and the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) will be working closely to strengthen advertising regulation in the country.

The collaboration will focus on the mutual goal of protecting consumer interests. Globally, self-regulatory advertising bodies are known to work with the governments in models of co-regulation in formal and informal ways especially at a time when complex issues of disguised advertising, deepfakes and scams have emerged.

The collaboration aims to protect consumer interests, aligning with global advertising self-regulatory bodies, amidst rising concerns of disguised advertising and scams.

Growing complexity

“The CCPA has requested ASCI to forward any advertisement that is non-compliant with the ASCI Code and could potentially violate the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, along with its accompanying guidelines, to CCPA for appropriate action. Any such case escalated by ASCI concerning misleading advertisements will be promptly addressed and handled in strict accordance with the Consumer Protection Act 2019 by the CCPA,” the statement added.

ASCI said tht this collaboration comes amidst the growing complexity in digital advertising landscape.

“The alignment between ASCI’s code and CCPA’s guidelines highlights a collective effort towards promoting transparency and fairness in advertising. With similar objectives, CCPA and ASCI can work in complementary ways to ensure that any infringements are addressed effectively. New challenges are being created by digital advertising and keeping pace demands a collaborative approach with like-minded bodies. Regulators working closely with self-regulators is an established best practice and we hope that with this partnership, regulation of Indian advertising keeps getting more effective. Where voluntary compliance with the CCPA guidelines is not forthcoming, or in the case of repeat offenders, the CCPA has the powers to impose fines and penalties. We will not shy away from enforcing the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act as needed,” said Rohit Kumar Singh, Secretary DoCA.

“We have been working closely with DoCA and CCPA on several issues and we are truly delighted to deepen this relationship. ASCI has deep expertise and specialisation in advertising regulation and we thank CCPA and DoCA for their trust and their collaborative approach. A robust self-regulatory system helps all stakeholders and this partnership is a positive step in taking self-regulation to the next level,” said Manisha Kapoor, CEO and Secretary-General ASCI.

Joint consultations

In recent times, DoCA and ASCI have held joint consultations and collaborations on several issues surrounding advertising such as Influencer Guidelines, Greenwashing, Dark Patterns and Surrogate Advertising.

ASCI said its code and guidelines are ‘harmonious’ with several guidelines enforced by the CCPA. This includes guidelines concerning misleading advertisements, dark patterns, influencer guidelines, coaching institutes, greenwashing among others.

In light of this alignment, the CCPA has recognised that any violation of ASCI’s code pertaining to misleading advertisements may potentially contravene the Consumer Protection Act of 2019 and its related guidelines, ASCI added in its statement