Thirteen of the UK’s leading dating sites will launch an industry standards body called the Online Dating Association in the autumn.
The association is designed to give consumers informed choices about which sites to join, following high-profile controversies in the industry.
The companies who sign up, which currently include eHarmony, Match, Guardian Soulmates and My Single Friend, will commit to standards set out by a Code of Practice.
This Code will be built on ensuring sites keep to rules on consumer protection, data privacy and other existing laws and regulations.
Their core principles are:
- Being honest and clear in what you offer
- Meeting expectations and deliver what you promise
- Protecting people’s data and their privacy
- Protecting our users from harm, deception and loss
The emergence of this standards body follows a number of controversies surrounding the use of fake profiles, that have been the subject of BBC and Channel 4 exposes.
George Kidd, a former Cabinet Office Director who dealt in regulation, risk and compliance policy in Whitehall, will be the CEO of the association.
He said: “It is now increasingly normal for people to find their partners online and our role in identifying best practice across the industry will make it easier for people to know what to expect.
“Consumers will be able to look out for the ‘hallmark’ logo which verifies that the site is a member of the association and operating to these industry standards”.
The Chairman of the association will be Duncan Cunningham, managing director of The Dating Lab.
He said: “Part of our commitment to helping consumers make informed choices between dating sites is to have as much of the industry as possible involved. We are looking forward to talking to other businesses and giving them the opportunity to become members”.
The association is finalising the Code of Practice and developing the website, aiming to go live before the end of October – when it will start to coordinate with government departments and regulators.
They stress that nothing should be assumed by the lack of membership of any sites or companies at this stage, as some may be in discussions and would prefer not to be named for now.