Banned iPhone advertisement highlights regulators’ (mis)understanding of the internet

If you haven’t heard, the Advertising Standards Authority, (the UK’s advertising watchdog), has banned this ad in response to 2 viewer complaints:

The judgement states the ad was banned because the statement that “all the parts of the internet are on the iPhone” was deemed misleading because the iPhone does “not support Flash or Java, both integral to many web pages.”

This judgement hightlights the fact that regulators don’t often truly understand the internet, even if they are sometimes required to regulate it.  If we take the ASA‘s ruling at face value then nobody can advertise any computer as being able to access “all the parts of the internet” since most computers ship without Flash or Java plugins installed.   To take that arguement even further, since most computers that are sold run Windows, and windows comes with Internet Explorer, and IE, in it’s current form, is not 100% standards-compliant, so all of the Internet is not available computers either, at least not out of the box.

Granted, the iPhone is much more difficult to add a Flash or Java plugin to, (I believe it is impossible right now), but governments and regulators seem to pass strange, mis-informed judgements sometimes.  On the other hand, we’re really wanting some regulation when it comes to net neutrality.

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