Complaint submitted
to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)
plus the ASA's response


by David Moss

February 2009


Your complaint

Your complaint has been submitted. A summary is below.

If you included your email address you should receive within the next working day an email confirming receipt of your complaint along with a unique reference number. All complainants will be kept informed of our progress.

To find out how the ASA acted on other complaints read our Case Studies.

To read ASA Adjudications on complaints visit the Adjudications section.

Complaint summary

Your details

Title: Mr
Forename/Initials: David
Surname: Moss
Address: xxxxxxxxxx
County: xxxxxxxxxx
Postcode: xxxxxxxxxx
Telephone number: xxxxxxxxxx
Email Address: xxxxxxxxxx
Your company: Business Consultancy Services Ltd

Advertisement details

Type of advertisement: Press release
Where seen: On the internet at
When seen: 29 January 2009

Advertiser and product
Advertiser: The Home Office
Product: The National Identity Scheme

Your complaint:

The press release promotes a Home Office service, the National Identity Scheme. It includes at least 10 misleading assertions, listed in detail at Normington.html and summarised here as follows:

1. The quoted cost of £4,784 million is misleadingly low.

2. The claim that the cost has been reduced by £1 billion is misleading.

3. The claim that 70% of the cost is accounted for by passports is unsupported.

4. It is misleading to suggest that the claim that other countries have a comparable service is a reason for people/consumers in the UK to pay for the National Identity Scheme.

5. The claim that using the service will be entirely voluntary is misleading.

6. The suggestion that Manchester airport and London City airport think the National Identity Scheme is an effective service is misleading – these two airports have been paid to take part in trials, they might not have done so otherwise.

7. The suggestion that the National Identity Scheme will provide more security and convenience than the measures the airlines already employ is unsupported and suggests that the airlines have until now been irresponsible.

8. The claim that the National Identity Scheme is already a reality is questionable, the suggestion that the scheme provides a universal and simple proof of identity is unsupported and the suggestion that only those entitled to them will be able to enjoy the privileges of Britain is unsupported, as is the claim that the scheme will make travel in Europe more convenient.

9. The claim that the National Identity Scheme will provide protection against identity fraud is unsupported.

10. The claim that the National Identity Scheme can lock people to one identity and protect everyone from criminals, illegal immigrants and terrorists using multiple identities is unsupported.

There can be no doubt that the assertions contained in the Home Office press release are misleading:

1. The Office of Government Commerce are on record as saying that the national Identity Scheme is bound to fail and that the planning for it is divorced from reality.

2. The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee examined the Home Office's plans and declared themselves in their report to be concerned, surprised, regretful, sceptical and incredulous at the confusion, inconsistency and lack of clarity of these plans,

It is extraordinary and unacceptable that the Home Office should continue to mislead businesses and the public in this way despite the warnings they have been given over the past six years and more.

The ASA are respectfully requested to insist that the Home Office's promotional material should in future describe the National Identity Scheme accurately so that people can make their minds up about it rationally, without being misled.


Attachments uploaded? No

From: xxxxxxxxxx
Sent: 12 February 2009 15:53
To: xxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Your complaint - A09-85303/KH


Dear Mr Moss


Re: Your complaint about the Home Office website

Thank you for your recent complaint about this matter.

Unfortunately, the ASA is unable to help you as we do not regulate the content of websites because it is not considered to be advertising as defined by our Code. Code clause 1.2q of the CAP Code states: The Code does not apply to website content, except sales promotions and advertisements in paid-for space.

After careful consideration, the Advertising Standards Authority (the ASA) has defined online advertising that is subject to the British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (the Code). The ASA decided that the Code should apply to:

• Online advertisements in “paid for” space, e.g. banner and pop-up advertisements;
• advertisements in commercial e-mails and
• sales promotions wherever they appear online (including in organisations’ websites or e-mails).

The Code does not apply to organisations’ claims on their own websites. We believe that applying the Code to all online claims would go too far into regulating the “relationship” between businesses and the consumer and would, moreover, prove impossible to enforce effectively. Websites are essentially like shops: consumers go to them looking for information, to browse, to buy, and so on, they are virtual premises in other words, sought out by shoppers, rather than advertising created and placed as a means to attract attention.

Furthermore, we cannot consider your complaint about claims made in Home Office press releases as these are not considered to be advertising. Code clause 1.2j states: ‘The Code does not apply to press releases and other public relations material.’ However, if these claims appear within a leaflet which can you receive via the post or within a paid for ad, we may be able to help you. If you see the claims in such material, please contact us again and we can consider your complaint accordingly. We can only suggest you raise your concerns directly with the Home Office using the details listed below:

Home Office
Direct Communications Unit
2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF
Tel: 020 7035 4848
Fax: 020 7035 4745
Minicom: 020 7035 4742

I am sorry that we are unable to take your complaint further on this occasion, but thank you for taking the time to contact us.

Yours sincerely,


Complaints Executive

The Advertising Standards Authority
Mid City Place, 71 High Holborn

Tel: 020 7492 2262

David Moss has spent six years campaigning against the Home Office's ID card scheme.

2009 Business Consultancy Services Ltd
on behalf of Dematerialised ID Ltd