LONDON (Reuters) – Britain said on Tuesday it would force Google, Facebook, Twitter and other online platforms to stop fraudulent paid ads after calls from regulators and consumer groups for a tougher crackdown on scams.
The government said its Online Harm Prevention Bill would include requiring big platforms to improve protection against criminals impersonating celebrities or companies to steal personal data, peddle investments dangerous financial assets or breaking into bank accounts.
Communications regulator Ofcom will check whether platforms have systems in place to prevent and remove false advertising. The watchdog could block services or impose a fine of up to 18 million pounds ($24 million) or 10% of annual turnover, the government said.
“These changes to the upcoming Online Safety Bill will help stop fraudsters scamming people out of their hard-earned money by using fake online advertisements,” Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said in a statement. a statement.
Online scams from advertisements on Google, Facebook, Twitter and other social media have surged as more people went online during lockdowns to combat COVID-19.
A British record £754 million was stolen in the first six months of 2021 in bank scams, up nearly a third from the same period in 2020, according to data from UK Finance, a body of the banking sector.
In response to pressure from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), some online services are limiting advertisements for financial products to firms regulated by the FCA, which has called for stronger powers.
“This could make a huge difference in stemming the tide of false and fraudulent social media and search engine advertising that is causing devastating financial and emotional harm to innocent victims,” said Anabel Hoult, Group Chief Executive. consumer campaign Which?
The government has announced that it is also launching a public consultation on tougher rules for the online advertising industry, either by strengthening the current self-regulatory approach or creating a new watchdog.
Harmful or misleading advertisements, such as those promoting negative body images, and advertisements for illegal activities such as the sale of weapons could face stricter rules and penalties, he said. declared.
Influencers who don’t say they’re paid to promote products on social media could also face stiffer penalties, the government said.
(Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Mark Potter)
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