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ASA: Greenpeace donations site ‘encouraged anti-social behaviour’

ASA: Greenpeace donations site ‘encouraged anti-social behaviour’
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ASA: Greenpeace donations site ‘encouraged anti-social behaviour’1

Fundraising | Celina Ribeiro | 16 May 2012

Greenpeace has been warned against using its advertising to encourage anti-social behaviour after the Advertising Standards Authority upheld a complaint about its website which solicited donations for direct action against a coal power plant.

The advertising regulator received one complaint about a donation option on the greenpeacegiving.org.uk website which asked for an £80 donation to ‘redecorate a power station chimney’.

The marketing presented the donation as a restricted gift for direct action against a proposed new coal power plant in Kingsnorth, Kent. “Shutting down dirty power stations is just one of the ways Greenpeace is working to secure a clean energy future, but painting down the side of giant chimneys cranks up the political pressure and throws a vital spotlight on one of the greatest threats to our climate,” the website read.

The ASA agreed with the complaint that the advertisement, in asking for donations for protestors to paint the chimney with an anti-coal slogan, encouraged and condoned anti-social behaviour, which “would in some circumstances be illegal”.

“We concluded that the ad was harmful and irresponsible,” the regulator said in an adjudication published today.

Greenpeace has been told not to publish the ad again and warned to make sure that in future its advertising does not encourage or condone anti-social behaviour.

A spokeswoman for Greenpeace said that soliciting donations from individuals was critical to the charity’s independence and ability to go to the “front-line of environmental damage”.

“We're going to keep doing that, whether it's stopping climate change pollution at its source, or sailing to the Arctic to stop oil drilling. But we certainly didn't set out to flout any law or regulation on our website, so we took down the advertisement,” she said.

The ASA has only had the power to adjudicate on marketing on organisations’ websites since last March, when its remit was substantially expanded. The regulator's remit also extends to Facebook and other social networks.

Barry Johnston
16 May 2012

This is another worrying erosion of Britain's beleaguered civil liberties. The ASA adjudication against Greenpeace UK means that not only is everyone in the United Kingdon banned from promoting non-violent civil disobedience via all media covered by ASA (ie broadcast, print and internet, even Twitter) but that under ASA rules peat transgressors can even be banned by advertisers from even accepting material such as "demonstrate at XXX place" tweets, if the demonstration is not pre-authorised or may deliver civil disobedience. This repressive decision potentially prevents the "Arab Spring" from ever happening in UK. Please alert people to this erosion of civil liberty.

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