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UK Government acts on online advert scams

UK Government acts on online advert scams

The UK Government has confirmed that a new legal duty will be added to the Online Safety Bill requiring the largest and most popular social media platforms and search engines to prevent paid-for fraudulent adverts appearing on their services.

An initial version of the Online Safety Bill disappointed banks, regulators and campaigning organisation by pledging to legislate againt user-generated scams only, and not paid-for adverts.

The change will improve protections for internet users from the potentially devastating impact of fake ads, including where criminals impersonate celebrities or companies to steal people’s personal data, peddle dodgy financial investments or break into bank accounts.

Security minister Damian Hinds says: "The changes that we are announcing today mean that online and social media companies will have to acknowledge these issues and take robust action to combat the scourge of online fraud, and take more responsibility to protect their users from this high-harm crime. Innocent victims must not be taken advantage of and conned online by fraudsters."

The regulator Ofcom will set out further details on what platforms will need to do to fulfil their new duty in codes of practice. This could include making firms scan for scam adverts before they are uploaded to their systems, measures such as checking the identity of those who wish to publish advertisements, and ensuring financial promotions are only made by firms authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

David Postings, UK Finance chief executive welcomed the move: " We strongly welcome the government’s announcement that it will expand the scope of the Online Safety Bill to include advertising on social media and search engines. UK Finance, alongside a number of other bodies, has long been calling for the government to make this change."

Separately, the government is launching a consultation on proposals to tighten the rules for the online advertising industry. This would bring more of the major players involved under regulation and create a more transparent, accountable and safer ad market.

Comments: (2)

Ray Wilson
Ray Wilson - Montran - London 09 March, 2022, 14:411 like 1 like

This is long overdue butnonetheless a welcome step forward. Social media platforms need to respect their users and not adopt a Caveat Emptor approach. 

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 10 March, 2022, 16:07Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

After witch hunting banks with Open Banking, APP Scam, and other regulations for so long, I'm glad the regulators are shifting their focus to other industries. I wish they fulfill my long standing wish for mandating that Amazons and LinkedIns of the world to share customer data with banks and other third parties.