But laws and regulations have to deal with the generality of industries and businesses to which they apply and our statutory regulators are often thinly stretched and not able to do much other than react to consumer harms.We, like other sectors, saw the need to give regulations “life” and to draw out, highlight and give meaning to those that particularly matter for online daters.
Our Code of Practice and our advice for the public on the best and safe use of services was published in December 2013. It focuses on the core issues for users: the clarity and honesty of the services offered, the protection of user’s personal information, the proper operation of services and the advice and help we give users to make dating as enjoyable and safe as possible. The group has national and international providers as well as specialist/niche operators and others brands who wish to offer their customers a dating service through partnership and out-sourcing arrangements that can account for thousands of individual sites.Online dating in the UK had moved from being a niche activity to a part of everyday life.It is enjoyed daily by millions and is the largest single source of new relationships.Proving dating services online has some exciting, stimulating but also challenging and sensitive issues.People are, by definition, looking to make new contacts, new friendships and new relationships.This can create uncertainties, vulnerabilities as people hopefully move into those new friendships and relationships.
The feeling within the sector in the last few years was that it was time we took some collective responsibility for our market and our users as well as exercising responsibility as individual service providers.
In summer 2013 a group of dating site providers took and acted on the advice that this is a market where players should not rely solely on the framework of privacy, data and consumer law to protect the market and those in it.
The law and regulations applicable to the sector clearly matter and should be respected.
The founders were a diverse bunch serving different urban and rural communities as well as religious and ethnic communities.
They accounted for a significant proportion of the UK market but by no means all of it.
There was and is no wish to run the ODA as a closed shop.