Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Brief Discussion of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) & the Internet

The internet.  We all know it, and walk the fine line between having love and hate for it.  It is a network of networks that connects us to wonderful resources, like JSTOR and online publications, and social networking sights, which can be helpful in connecting/reconnecting with friends, finding do-it-yourself (diy) projects or procrastinating.  While on this trip, it has helped me stay connected with friends across the pond, and it has kept me abreast of trending topics, like Amer Estes’ recent satirical article and her rebuttal to her internet “enthusiasts.” 

Love it or hate it, it is here, and I don’t foresee it going anywhere anytime soon.  It has become a new means of retrieving and verifying the news, and it has become another arena for the interactions of producers and consumers. 

On top of all this, the internet is, in a relative sense, unfiltered.  Depending on how you utilize this resource, it can connect an individual with mass quantities of unfiltered information. 

As consumers, we encounter countless advertisements, daily, whether we realize it or not, but granted the avant garde nature of advertisements and sensationalized images promoting health warnings that are so prevalent here in the UK, this can be a scary thought for families.  At any twist or turn, a child “surfing the web” could happen upon an inappropriate advertisement, unless his or her parent employs safe searching locks provided by certain search engines.  Fortunately, for those who are less tech savvy, the UK has a response—the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). 

To learn more about this organization, go to their webpage: 

Although this is not a complete answer to the problem of child protection in internet searching, as it mainly applies to advertisements, it certainly helps close the gap, keeping in mind certain social constraints and ethical dilemmas.

It would be interesting to open this discussion to scale the internet, as a whole, and research more about other measures that have been taken towards this effort in regulating the media, as well as compare it to measures taken in the States.  Could it, and to what end would it, be argued that this is a breach of first amendment rights, or is this a necessary measure in the information age?   What rights should an individual have, in terms of access to information, and should information be parsed by age, as it is in movies and suggested in literature?  

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