ASA: Misleading Crypto Adverts “Red Alert” Priority in UK

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  • Crypto adverts are being targeted by the UK’s advertising watchdog as a “red alert” priority
  • The ASA is using artificial intelligence to detect adverts that fall foul of its rules
  • Only a minority of UK residents buy cryptocurrency based on adverts

Cryptocurrency adverts are a “red alert” priority for the UK’s advertising watchdog the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), who will this month begin a major crackdown on what they see as potentially dangerous inducements to buy cryptocurrencies. The agency’s director of complaints and investigations, Miles Lockwood, told the Financial Times that taking down misleading or irresponsible cryptocurrency advertisements was an “absolutely crucial and priority area” for the ASA, who are using artificial intelligence to identify adverts they think cross the line.

ASA Took Down Luno Adverts in May

The ASA has already been involved in taking down cryptocurrency adverts after banning a series of adverts for Luno on London’s transport network in May which advised the general public that it was “time to buy Bitcoin”. According to the ASA, adverts like this don’t adequately explain the risks associated with cryptocurrency investments, which as the UK’s financial watchdog the Financial Services Authority has stated many times include the loss of all your funds.

Artificial Intelligence Used to Find Rule Breakers

In the past the ASA has relied on individuals complaining about adverts before taking action, but the rise in cryptocurrency adverts has apparently prompted them to take a different approach, using artificial intelligence and web scraping to detect adverts that fall foul of the rules and “crack down hard and fast” on them.

Research from the FCA themselves has found that only a minority of people buy cryptocurrencies based on advertisements, but this is apparently enough for the ASA to focus on the cryptocurrency sector throughout July and into August.