CCPA and ASCI join hands to strengthen Advertising Regulation in India

Chennai: The Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA) and The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) both operate with a mutual goal of protecting consumer interests. This objective is central to the missions of both ASCI and the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) when it comes to the issue of misleading advertisements.

It is noteworthy that ASCI’s code and associated guidelines in the area of advertising are harmonious with several guidelines enforced by the Central Consumer Protection

Authority. These encompass guidelines concerning misleading advertisements, dark

patterns, influencer guidelines, coaching institutes, greenwashing and more.  In light of this alignment, the CCPA has recognized that any violation of ASCI’s code pertaining to misleading advertisements may potentially contravene the Consumer Protection Act of 2019 and its related guidelines.

Therefore, 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.

This collaboration comes amidst the growing complexity of the advertising landscape, especially with respect to digital advertising. Commenting on this development, Shri Rohit Kumar Singh, Secretary DoCA said, “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.”

Manisha Kapoor, CEO and Secretary-General ASCI said, “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 specialization 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.

DoCA and ASCI have, in recent times, held joint consultations and collaborations on several issues surrounding advertising such as Influencer Guidelines, Greenwashing, Dark Patterns and Surrogate Advertising, creating greater dialogue and alignment between industry, civil society and regulators. Advertising self-regulators around the world work closely with the governments in models of co-regulation in formal and informal ways. Given the complex nature of advertising today and the borderless nature of the online space, issues like disguised advertising, deepfakes and scams are coming to the fore, such partnerships gain significance in effective advertising regulation.

About the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI)

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), established in 1985, is committed to the cause of self-regulation in advertising, ensuring the protection of consumer interests. ASCI seeks to ensure that advertisements conform to its Code for Self-Regulation, which requires advertisements to be legal, decent, honest, and truthful and not hazardous or harmful while observing fairness in competition. ASCI looks into complaints across ALL MEDIA such as Print, TV, Radio, hoardings, SMS, Emailers, Internet/website, product packaging, brochures, promotional material and point of sale material etc. In January 2017, the Supreme Court of India in its judgement affirmed and recognised the self-regulatory mechanism as an effective pre-emptive step to statutory provisions in the sphere of advertising content regulation for television and radio in India. ASCI’s role has been acclaimed by various Government bodies including The Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA), the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the Ministry of AYUSH as well as the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB). MIB issued an advisory for a scroller providing ASCI’s WhatsApp for Business number 77100 12345, to be carried by all TV broadcasters for consumers to register their grievances against objectionable advertisements.

In August 2023, the ASCI Academy, a flagship program of ASCI was launched to build the capacity of all stakeholders in creating responsible and progressive advertising. ASCI Academy aims to raise standards of advertising content through training, education, outreach, and research on the preventive aspects of advertising self-regulation.

On the international front, in 2023, ASCI CEO and Secretary General, Ms Manisha Kapoor was re-elected as one of the four Vice-Presidents on the Executive Committee of the International Council on Ad Self-Regulation (ICAS). Among several awards bestowed by the European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA), ASCI bagged a Gold Global Best Practice Award for the Mobile App “ASCI online” (2016), special recognition for its “Guidelines for Celebrities in Advertising”; at the first-ever ‘Global Awards for Effective Advertising Self-Regulation’ hosted by the ICAS (2019). In 2021, ASCI also won two ICAS awards, one for the ASCI scroll telecast across television in the ‘Best Awareness Raising Initiative’ and for its extensive digital suo-moto monitoring through the NAMS initiative, in the ‘Special Category’. It also got a special mention in the ‘Best Sectoral Initiative’ category for its efforts and regulatory recognition of its Gaming Guidelines. ASCI received the ICAS Global “Inspiration Award” in April 2023 for successfully promoting ASCI as a thought leader and developing impactful engagement with various stakeholders.

The Advertising Standards Council of India  Avian WE
Manisha Kapoor – CEO & SG, ASCI

Suman Das Sarma| M: +91 98200 51946

Hilda Macwan| M: +91 966 5050 812

Aniket Singh Chandel| M: +91 9987572883