Currys PC World scolded over misleading backup advert

Currys PC World

Currys PC World has been taken to task by Britain's advertising watchdog for misleading customers about its Knowhow Cloud backup service.

The high street retailer landed in hot water after a customer complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about an ad on the company's website. The ad, which was for Currys PC World's cloud backup services, promised that customers' data would be kept safe and secure.

"Once backed up, your files can be accessed whenever you need them, anywhere in the world," the advert read. "All your data is protected and backed up in our military grade encrypted UK-based data centres. You can also secure the files on your computer, so if it's ever lost or stolen your data is safe".

The complaint came from a business customer following a ransomware attack. The attack encrypted their files, at which point they found that although their files were technically recoverable, they could only be restored through a time-consuming manual process.

DSG Retail, Currys PC World's parent company, argued that the claims made by the advert referred to data that had been lost due to device theft, hard drive failure or accidental deletion, rather than virus infection. DSG also stated that, because each file is backed up individually any time a new version is created, there is no way to automatically roll a user's files back to an unencrypted state.

The ASA, however, ruled that the text of the ad in question - specifically, the references to "complete security" and "military grade encrypted UK based data centres" - was misleading, and implied that Knowhow Cloud offered an added layer of protection.

"We acknowledged that the ad did not explicitly state that the product included anti-virus or anti-malware," the watchdog's ruling stated. "However, we considered that the impression created by the ad was not that the product was singularly for cloud storage, but that it provided some sort of additional security.

"Because we understood that the product could not enable consumers to access or restore their data easily and in a practical and timely manner and did not provide additional security benefits, we considered the ad was misleading."

The ASA has ruled the advert should not appear again in its current form, and has instructed DSG Retail to make sure that it does not over-state the performance or security benefits of its products in the future.

A Currys PC World spokesperson told Cloud Pro: "We note the ASA's ruling and the product details are being updated as a priority."

Adam Shepherd

Adam Shepherd has been a technology journalist since 2015, covering everything from cloud storage and security, to smartphones and servers. Over the course of his career, he’s seen the spread of 5G, the growing ubiquity of wireless devices, and the start of the connected revolution. He’s also been to more trade shows and technology conferences than he cares to count.

Adam is an avid follower of the latest hardware innovations, and he is never happier than when tinkering with complex network configurations, or exploring a new Linux distro. He was also previously a co-host on the ITPro Podcast, where he was often found ranting about his love of strange gadgets, his disdain for Windows Mobile, and everything in between.

You can find Adam tweeting about enterprise technology (or more often bad jokes) @AdamShepherUK.