Cloud storage provider rapped by ASA for "misleading" ads


Cloud storage provider Carbonite has hit out at the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for describing its offer of "unlimited online backup" as misleading to consumers.

US-based Carbonite had claimed on its UK site that end users could backup as much data as they liked using its "unlimited online backup storage" service.

The ASA was alerted to the claims by an unknown third party and ruled, in an adjudication published on its website, the wording was misleading.

We hope the ASA may reconsider their decision.

The claims also breached five sections of the Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP Code) regulations, said the ASA.

The company also breached another part of the code by allegedly choosing not to help the ASA with its investigation, the adjudication added.

"Although unlimited amounts of data could be uploaded, we noted that if data uploads exceeded 200GB, less bandwidth would be available resulting in slower back up," stated the ASA document.

"Because it did not make this clear, we concluded the ad was likely to mislead."

The adjudication goes on to request that Carbonite stop using the advert in its current form, and insists it makes clear that large data backups will take longer to upload.

In a statement to IT Pro, Carbonite said it respects the ASA, but disagrees with its ruling, claiming it was not consulted "in their review or decision process."

"We are reaching out to the ASA to explain that Carbonite's approach considers the customer's full backup experience, and focuses on the speed with which all files are restored after a data disaster," said the statement.

"The Carbonite Home service is unlimited as we offer unlimited backup space. We don't offer or claim to offer unlimited bandwidth [and] we hope that with more information on Carbonite's backup processes the ASA may reconsider their decision."

Speaking to IT Pro, Luke Scanlon, a technology-focused lawyer at legal firm Pinsent Masons, said firms that don't comply with the ASA's rules can have their cases referred to the Office of Fair Trading.

Although, the ASA has powers to request that search engines remove paid-for ads that contain misleading claims, and order firms to pay for further ones to correct their position.

"The greater risk, though, is that - if they have a misleading ad out there and there has been a adjudication put in place by the ASA, [but a] consumer relies on their service and suffers loss or damage of some kind, that customer could lodge a civil claim," explained Scanlon.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.