For the first time, the ASA can police what companies say about themselves online in any statement that can be interpreted as marketing.
So, as with paid-for advertising, no marketing statements are allowed to harm, mislead or offend. Companies will be forced to take down offending text.
The extra cost of the expanded remit will be met by an initial £200,000 contribution from Google and an extension of the 0.1 per cent voluntary levy on paid-for advertisements that currently funds the ad regulator.
The ASA says its powers will help tackle a growing number of complaints about the way companies sell themselves online.
The watchdog claims that since 2008, the ASA has received more than 4,500 complaints about statements on websites that it could do nothing about.
In preparation for the greater workload, the ASA has increased the number of staff in its complaints and investigations unit by 10 per cent.
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