London assembly member calls for ban on crypto ads in trains and buses

Sian Berry, former co-leader of the Green Party of England and Wales and current member of the London Assembly, is looking to crack down on crypto advertisements on public transport.

According to a Nov. 14 Twitter post, Berry said she would be recommending the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, ban all crypto advertising in the city’s transport network, including many rail and bus services. The assembly member’s call to action comes following token project Floki Inu announcing it would conduct an “full-out assault on the London public transportation system” with posters on Underground trains and buses.

“Where the advert says ‘this is completely unregulated, you may lose all your money’, they ought to have had second thoughts,” said Berry in an interview with the Guardian. “I don’t think cryptocurrency ads should be on the network. They’re unethical.”

The U.K. capital is no stranger to crypto advertising, being home to a number of exchanges and projects. Tokens including Richard Heart’s HEX have previously targeted the city for ads in newspapers, on public transportation, and even during sporting events. Last year, Binance blanketed the city in ads in advance of the launch of its U.K. arm.

Though many of these campaigns have gone forward without incident, Berry’s concerns seem to be focused on possible “pump and dump” schemes, in which advertising for a project could potentially cause a large number of Londoners to buy tokens and only a few investors profit by selling their holdings when the price rises. The United Kingdom’s Advertising Standards Authority blocked a campaign by crypto exchange Luno in May by claiming the firm’s “it’s time to buy” statement on ads could give the impression that investing in Bitcoin (BTC) was “straightforward and accessible.”

“I want to clean up ads on the tube in various ways, including removing ads for cars and airlines,” said Berry. “Risky financial products, like gambling, are part of that policy. I don’t want to ban cryptocurrencies outright and have no power to do so.”

Related: UK advertising watchdog classifies crypto ads as ‘red alert’

Berry added that she wasn’t specifically targeting Floki in the push for this crackdown, but rather as one of three crypto advertising campaigns in London. However, she noted that members of the Floki Army — i.e. supporters of the token on social media networks — had inundated her with messages “making it appear more like a cult than a scam.”

In Floki’s case, the ads seem to be contributing to a rise in the token price. According to data from CoinMarketCap, the price of the token surged more than 500% between Oct. 26 and Nov. 4, when it hit an all-time high of $0.0003406.

Cointelegraph reached out to Sian Berry, but did not receive a response at the time of publication.