The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) governs and regulates advertising in South Africa. It is an independent body set up by the marketing communications industry to regulate advertising through a system of self regulation. The Code of Advertising Practice is the guiding document of the ASA. The Code binds the advertiser, the advertising practitioner and the medium involved in publication of the advertiser’s message to the public.

The ASA does not distinguish between advertising on the Internet and advertising through other mediums. The Advertising Rules of the ASA also apply to Internet advertising. However these rules only apply to Internet advertising on South African based websites.[private]

The Wireless Application Service Provider’s Association (WASPA) also regulates advertising via SMS and on websites. WASPA is an industry body which represents the interests of its members and consumers with its own Code of Conduct, and seeks to enforce good practices established by the Code.

Advertising Rules referred to as “advertising guidelines” have been published pursuant to section 6 of the WASPA Code of Conduct.These Advertising Rules regulate the following aspects of advertising placed on Internet websites:

  • Rules for Cost and Terms and Conditions – must be displayed in full.
  • Advertisements that have a subscription service component – must include certain specified information.
  • Adult content and age restricted services – must implement an adult verification process. age restricted services – regulated

The Consumer Protection Bill referred to in 2 above, will also regulate advertising (including advertising over the Internet) once enacted. The provisions of the Bill seem to be based on the general principles of the ASA.

Reproduced with permission from Law Business Research. This article was first published in Getting the Deal Through – e-Commerce 2009, (published in August 2008 – contributing editor Robert Bond). For further information please visit