- The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) has recently issued guidelines to prevent false or misleading advertisements.
Central Consumer Protection Authority:
- CCPA is a regulatory body established in the year 2020 based on the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
- CCPA works under the administrative control of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs.
- To promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers as a class.
- Investigating consumer rights violations and making complaints/prosecutions.
- Ordering the return of unsafe goods and services, the cessation of unfair trade practices and deceptive advertisements.
- Penalizing the producers/exhibitors/publishers of misleading advertisements.
Non-misleading and legitimate advertisements:
- Advertising can be considered non-misleading if it contains a true and honest representation of the object and does not exaggerate accuracy, scientific validity or practical utility or potential.
- In case of an inadvertent omission, the advertisement may still be considered valid if the advertiser has taken prompt action to notify the consumer of the deficiency.
- “Surrogate Advertisement” means the advertisement of an article under the guise of other goods.
- Like advertisement of tobacco under the guise of pan masala.
- No surrogate advertising or indirect advertising shall be created for goods or services that are otherwise prohibited or restricted by advertising law.
- To circumvent such prohibition or restriction and portray it as advertising of other goods or services shall not be permitted.
Ads targeting children:
- Advertisements that may be dangerous to children or take advantage of children’s inexperience, credibility or sense of trust, etc., that encourage, induce behavior or improperly imitate them are banned.
- It is clear that advertisements influence children’s shopping behavior and encourage them to consume unhealthy items or develop negative feelings towards healthy items.
Disclaimer in Ads:
- The Guidelines also introduce a requirement of “Disclaimer in Advertisements” to clarify, qualify or address ambiguities made in such advertisement so as to explain such claim in more detail.
- In addition, the advertiser must not “attempt to conceal material information in respect of any claim made in such advertisement, the omission or absence of which is likely to mislead the advertisement or conceal its commercial intent”.
- The guidelines also require manufacturers, service providers and advertising agencies not to make claims or make comparisons in advertisements that are not based on objectively detectable facts.
- In addition, advertising should be designed to gain the trust of consumers, and not to “abuse the trust of consumers or take advantage of their lack of experience or knowledge”.
Importance of Guidelines:
- Guidelines are pioneering because they fill important consumer protection gaps by clearly outlining the duties of an advertiser.
- The guidelines also try to discourage the promotion of irrational consumerism aimed at children.
- The problem of misleading, tempting, surrogate and child-targeted advertising has been going on for a very long time without any break.
- The guidelines do the essential job of bringing the Indian regulatory framework at par with international norms and standards.
- Guidelines are important to empower customers against misleading advertisers.
- The guidelines refer to terms defining an advertisement as “non-misleading and legitimate” rather than defining a misleading or invalid advertisement.
- The challenges faced in implementing the existing advertising regulations have also been made punishable through the guidelines.