by Richard Steel

Should councils sell adveritsing on their websites?

Jun 18, 20082 mins
IT Strategy

OK, I know I may not be the smartest kid on the block, but I’ve been saying this for ages… Internet doomed unless everyone switches to IPv6 – you’ve read it here before!

My concerns and attempts to rally lobbying have been met with such a wall of silence that I was beginning to think I’d got it wrong, so I’m heartened to read that much brighter people than I are now saying the same things. What’s not said in this article is that I understand that you need IP4 addresses available to facilitate the move to IP6 (which is also fundamentally more secure than IP4) – so waiting until they run out most certainly is not an option. Also reported this week was Lincolnshire County Council’s decision to sell advertising on its web-site. It will not allow advertising on the Trading Standards section, as this is not appropriate. I assume that it has also established an ethical code that prohibits advertising of some products, such as booze, especially on sections of the site that may be seen by minors – but how should items such as pay-as-you-go ‘phones be categorised?

I would guess that commercial exploitation of web media by Councils to defray costs and support efficiency goals is inevitable, but Local Authorities s have a duty of care to their communities written into their legislative remit. They cannot control the accessibility of their web-sites, unlike advertising hoardings, for example, close to schools.

Lots of advertising doesn’t have obvious harmful connotations – such as smoking and alcohol on health – but can be quite predatory – tempting young, vulnerable or desperate people into debt and bad deals, for example. Don’t Councils have a responsibility to consider these issues in relation to their web presence?