The British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has been granted extended remit to police online advertising.
Previously the ASA only covered bought advertising space and sales promotions on web sites but starting from the 1st of March 2011, the full "Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing" (CAP) code will apply to non-paid content.
The change means that advertising and marketing material run on web sites by the owners of the web sites will now fall under the umbrella of the advertising watchdog. The ASA said 4,500 complaints couldn't be acted upon due to the previous rules.
"Extending the online remit of the ASA has been a top priority for UK industry over the last couple of years. Our aim has been to extend further in the online world the principles that are already well established in our system, namely those of effective consumer protection and fair competition," said CAP chairman Andrew Brown.
The new code means that content published by companies on other sites such as Facebook and Twitter would also be covered so long as a company maintained control over the content.
The ASA is urging British web sites operators and agencies to sign up to CAP Services to "receive guidance and training to help ensure their sites comply with the new rules," they said.