ICC draws up new code of international online advertising

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PARIS -- The International Chamber of Commerce has drawn up voluntary guidelines on interactive marketing and advertising designed to promote worldwide consumer confidence and minimize the need for regulatory intervention.

The ICC Revised Guidelines on Advertising and Marketing on the Internet cover such ethical issues as protection of users' personal data, messages directed at children and the different sensitivities of global audiences. The new international code updates existing advertising guidelines already in use.

Recommendations to marketers include revealing their identity when posting a message; disclosing the reason for collecting personal information on users; not sending unsolicited commercial messages to those who request not to receive them and providing information to parents on ways to protect children's online privacy.

The guidelines also caution marketers to ensure their messages are not perceived as pornographic, violent, racist, sexist or otherwise offensive. Online advertising and marketing should be conducted according to the laws of the country from which the message originates, the ICC code stipulates.

"If business successfully adheres to this set of guidelines...we may well preclude the imposition of restrictive bureaucratic legislation at the national, regional and global levels," says John Manfredi, executive vice president at Nabisco Inc and chairman of the ICC Commission on Marketing, Advertising and Distribution, which drafted the guidelines. "Failure to do so will obviously foster the reverse consequence."

Secretary General Maria Livanos Cattaui says the ICC expects ad associations around the world to incorporate the main provisions of the new guidelines into their codes covering online advertising.

Details of the guidelines can be accessed from the ICC Web site (www.iccwbo.org). The ICC has thousands of member companies and business associations in more than 130 countries and claims to be the only representative body that speaks "with authority" for businesses from all sectors in every part of the world.

Copyright April 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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