Who: Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS)
Where: United Kingdom
When: 9 May 2022
Law stated as at: 23 May 2022
DCMS has published its report on influencer culture. This is part of its inquiry launched in March 2021, which examined the power of influencers on social media, how influencer culture operates, the absence of regulation, and the positive role that an influencer can play.
The report considers the benefits and challenges of the influencer industry and regulatory gaps that need to be addressed. In particular, it focuses on issues around diversity and lack of employment support and protection for influencers; how the rapid expansion of the influencer marketplace has outpaced existing regulation; and concerns around the lack of protection for children both as consumers of influencer content and influencers themselves.
As such, the report includes an array of proposals for the UK government, including:
- undertaking a market review of the influencer ecosystem and challenges for participants, including diversity issues around pay;
- setting an influencer marketing code of conduct;
- giving the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) the power to fine for breaches of consumer law (which appears to be in motion following the Queen’s Speech 2022);
- giving the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) the ability to enforce the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code);
- the ASA monitoring influencer compliance annually; and
- working better to protect child influencers.
In addition, there are suggested amendments to the CAP Code, including:
- not requiring brand control for a post to be within scope of existing requirements;
- watermarking virtual influencers (that is, computer generated image characters); and
- mandatory enhanced disclosures for children.
Why this matters:
The influencer industry continues to grow rapidly with an increasing number of individuals involved as influencers or consumers of influencer content. The issue is under constant review by the CMA and ASA, but the inquiry and report from DCMS is likely to trigger legal change beyond the current regime.
Advertisers using influencers should continue to ensure that influencers are aware of and comply with the existing applicable rules.