Online bloggers and 'influencers' should not be allowed to advertise in a "false and misleading" way and circumvent the laws that apply to conventional retailers and advertisers, the Dáil has heard.
No prosecutions or enforcement actions for breach of consumer protection laws by online influencers have been made in Ireland to date.
Concerns were raised today by Fianna Fáil's Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation spokesperson Billy Kelleher after the Advertising Standards Authority (ASAI) upheld a complaint about a social media blogger for misleading advertising for the first time last week.
The ASAI said it received a complaint that influencer Rosie Connolly's face had been filtered and photoshopped while advertising a make-up product. The complainant argued that people, who might purchase the same Rimmel foundation, could think they would achieve the same results.
Mr Kelleher said: "There is a need to look at how we protect consumers when you have people who have huge followers on social media, bloggers who are key influencers in people's purchasing habits and whether or not we have legislation in place to protect that."
Pat Breen, the Minister of State for business, said the 1997 Consumer Protection Act gives protection from false advertising from online bloggers and influencers.
He also stressed the importance of the system of online self-regulation as outlined by the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland.
Mr Kelleher said he was raising the issue because of a complaint, upheld by the ASAI. He said: "The complaint said that the blogger had photoshopped and filtered her face while advertising a Rimmel foundation."
He said: "It is important that if key influencers of people's purchasing habits are able to circumvent and advertise in a false and misleading way, it can and does undermine the integrity of the system."
He asked Minister Breen if he was satisfied that there are enough powers in the area of consumer protection to ensure that online bloggers and influencers are obligated to comply with the standards that high street retailers are subject to.
Mr Breen also pointed out that the EU has assessed our consumer protection law and concluded that there is an effective framework in place.
He said the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) which enforces the Act, received three calls to its consumer helpdesk about the activities of online influencers and those callers were provided with the relevant consumer protection advice.
He said the law is there and is adequately addressed by the CCPC.