UK ministers urged to blame tech giants for scams | Publicity


A coalition of organizations including the City of London Police and consumer protection agency Which? calls on the government to hold tech giants like Google and Facebook legally responsible for bogus and fraudulent ads.

In a joint letter to Home Minister Priti Patel, the 17 organizations urged ministers to force search engines and social media sites to monitor all ads they post to protect the public from harm. “Avalanche” of scams involving investments and other financial offers.

They want the government to include online scams in its online safety bill, which is expected to be presented to Parliament in the Queen’s Speech on May 11.

Scams and frauds have escalated over the past year, with stranded consumers spending more time online. Some end up losing money after using search engines to research investments in an era of record interest rates, while others have been deceived by ads on social media sites. Many scams involve cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin or systems that claim to offer early access to pension funds.

Scammers employ an array of tricks such as using fake Bear Grylls TV adventurer and Martin Lewis, founder of, to lure victims, create bogus websites and masquerade as legitimate sites.

Official figures from Action Fraud show £ 1.7bn was lost to scams last year, while banking organization UK Finance said there was a 32% increase . in cases of investment scams in 2020.

David Postings, Managing Director of UK Finance, said: “It’s not fair that the web giants are actually profiting twice – once from marketing scams by criminals on their platforms, and again from organizations out front. announce fraud warnings to consumers. “

The Financial Conduct Regulator is not one of the signatories to the letter, but it has made similar appeals – and has repeatedly criticized Google on the matter.

In a speech in June of last yearFCA President Charles Randell said a framework was needed to prevent tech giants from promoting inappropriate investments and scams to ordinary consumers, adding: “It is frankly absurd that the FCA is paying hundreds of thousands of books to Google to warn consumers. against investment ads from which Google already collects millions in revenue. “

Last September, the FCA again verified by name of google and said he believed there was a strong case for including fraud in online safety legislation, “given the FCA’s limited power to remove advertising from those who seek to rip people off via Internet”.

Coincidentally, Google on Friday announced new measures in this area, saying it would develop and roll out new restrictions on financial services advertising. in the UK over the next few months. Details were not disclosed, but it may require an advertiser to be FCA registered.

Google has also pledged $ 5million (£ 3.6million) in advertising credits to support public awareness campaigns by UK industry organizations and government bodies that target financial scams, and the company has joined Stop UK scams, a group created last year by 12 telecoms and banks.

The letter from the 17 organizations – which also includes and the charity Age UK – said online platforms’ play a central role in enabling criminals to reach and defraud internet users by hosting, promoting and targeting bogus and fraudulent content on their sites, including advertisements from which they make significant profits ”.

The letter says tech giants must have a legal responsibility to prevent, identify and remove bogus and fraudulent content on their sites.

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