“Internet advertising offers consumers and businesses many advantages. It gives consumers access to a rich source of information that can help them to compare products and prices and can lead to more informed purchasing decisions. It also grants businesses the benefits of access to a global market and can provide smaller firms the opportunity to compete on an equal footing with larger firms. While the number of companies advertising on-line and consumers shopping on-line has risen considerably over the past several years, underlying concerns about the potential for falling victim to false or misleading representations or deceptive marketing practices can undermine consumer confidence. The Act applies equally to false or misleading representations regardless of the medium used. The same basic rules that govern truthfulness in traditional advertising and marketing practices apply to on-line representations and on-line marketing practices. The relevant provisions of the Act address the substance of a representation rather than the means by which it is made.”
(Competition Bureau, Enforcement Guidelines, Application of the Competition Act to Representations on the Internet)
The federal Competition Act, which is one of the key sources of regulation for advertising in Canada, does not contain specific provisions relating to online or Internet advertising (i.e., websites, social media, etc.).
The general misleading advertising provisions of the Competition Act, however, generally apply regardless of the medium used (i.e., to print, oral and online/Internet and social media marketing and advertising).
The Competition Bureau also has specific enforcement guidelines for online/Internet advertising (Application of the Competition Act to Representations on the Internet) and periodically conducts Internet enforcement sweeps for online misleading advertising, in recent years in conjunction with ICPEN (an international consumer enforcement network).
Internet advertising and marketing can also be governed by privacy laws, provincial consumer protection legislation, Canada’s new anti-spam legislation, Criminal Code fraud offences and common law defamation rules.
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