Additional content requirements introduced by the amendments to the Advertising Law require specific attention be paid to protecting individual's privacy. The amendments expressly provide that an advertisement must not, among other things, endanger personal safety or the safety of property, or disclose the "privacy affairs" of an individual. The amended law was promulgated on 24 April 2015 and will come into effect on 1 September 2015.
The amendments further provide that "advertisements", which include advertisements sent by electronic means or via the Internet and so would include electronic marketing such as promotional newsletters or eDMs, must only be sent to individuals with their consent or at their request. Additionally, an advertisement sent by electronic means should include the sender's true identity, contact details explicitly stated and an unsubscribe facility provided.
"Pop-up" advertisements - commonly used by website operators to draw attention to promotions or to encourage "sign ups" - were also subject of the amendments which now require that such "pop-ups" should have the "close" sign clearly indicated so as to ensure that the user may close the advertisement by just "one click".
Advertisers in breach of the consent or content requirements or the pop-up advertisement rul, will be subject to a rectification order and a fine between RMB 5,000 to RMB 30,000 (approximately US$800 to $4,800).
While it remains to be seen what constitutes advertisements that "disclose the 'privacy affairs' of an individual" and the efforts which the authorities may make in enforcing the consent and content rules, advertisers should review their current advertisement campaign development and placement process to ensure that:
- a vetting procedure is in place such that content that may infringe a person's privacy right will not be included in an advertisement,
- advertisements are only sent to individuals with their consent,
- certain information needs to be provided in an advertisement sent by electronic means, and
- consumers can close any pop-up advertisements on websites at ease and with just one click.