Becoming an ODA member
*this page is currently being updated
Why is there a need for the ODA?
Online dating has 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.
For these reasons online dating has a high media, regulatory and political profile and there is a responsibility on providers to manage services to a good standard. This is particularly true in relation to a set of core issues around privacy and data protection, user safety and marketing and, membership.
In summer 2013 a group of dating site providers in the UK decided that it was right to create a body that would allow the sector to work together on standards and speak as one voice with regulators, law enforcement agencies and others. Simply put, these services had come of age and need to take some shared responsibility for the wellbeing of the sector and its users – and not just rely solely on the framework of privacy, data and consumer law to protect the market and those in it.
We, like other sectors, saw the need to give such regulations “life” and to draw out, highlight and give meaning to those that particularly matter for online daters. A Code of Practice and our advice for the public on the best and safe use of services was published in December 2013. The Code was short, simple and outcomes-based. It focused 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.
In 2018 we reviewed the arrangements in place and decide that to be as inclusive as possible we should move from a Code to a system of standards and best practice that can be used by anyone in any market or country. We feel this is the best approach to raising standards across the board and assuring state regulators that this is a sector that takes its responsibilities seriously.
Eligibility for membership
A decision was taken that the ODA should be focused on online dating services that are designed to help people find new relationships, friendships and love. We believe there is a difference between such services and adult services where the primary purpose is some form of sexual entertainment or sexual contact. This is generally evident from the marketing material, site format and the profiles permitted. The ODA position is not making a moral judgement with this decision but recognising the fundamentally different characteristic and purposes of services. For now, the ODA does not think it appropriate to have adult sites and services within membership and for its logo and support to be presented on such sites. But we realise that some providers offer both adult and mainstream products separately and we have welcomed such firms into membership in relation to their non-adult business.
Membership is open to entities based anywhere in the world, although the initial focus with the Code etc was on those offering services to UK users. Member companies include businesses based in the US, Continental Europe and Australia.
Services interested in becoming an ODA members should have been operating a service for a minimum of nine months before applying for membership.
The membership process
Decisions on membership are taken by the ODA board based on recommendations from the Executive. The decision is based on an assessment of the information provided by prospective members on the ODA application form If you are interested in joining the ODA we are happy to discuss any aspect of membership with you prior to completing this form.
Membership payment is through an annual fee. The ODA fees are based on income from online dating. Fees are set for different bands of turnover.
Membership fees are reviewed annually. Fees that represent a small fraction of one percent of turnover are thought to be a valuable and affordable investment in a healthy market.