Membership was opened in December 2013 to all online dating service providers in the product categories covered by ODA (See “Scope of ODA Membership” below).
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.
The ODA aims to pre-empt and prevent problems by testing members against our Code of Practice before they can come into membership – and afterwards.
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.
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.
Membership is open to all those who commit themselves to the principles in the ODA Code of Practice and who can demonstrate this commitment to our policies and processes.
Online dating in the UK had moved from being a niche activity to a part of everyday life.