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City of London Police are among 17 bodies that have signed an appeal to include scams in the UK Government’s proposed law against ‘online harms’. Anabel Hoult, CEO of consumer campaign group Which?, said: “The biggest online platforms have some of the most sophisticated technology in the world, yet they are failing to use it to protect scam victims who are suffering devastating financial and emotional harm due to the flood of fake and fraudulent content posted online by criminals.
“The time for self-regulation is over, as clearly it has not worked. The case for including scams in the Online Safety Bill is overwhelming and the government must take the opportunity to act now. Online platforms must be given a legal responsibility to prevent, identify and remove fake and fraudulent content on their sites so that their users are better protected.”
And Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, said: “It beggars belief that the government’s Online Safety Bill could ignore the epidemic of scams that the UK faces – but that’s the plan. Scams don’t just steal people’s money, they can take their self-respect too and those with mental health problems are three times more likely to be affected. The policing of scams is critically underfunded, leaving criminals to get away with these frauds with impunity. The government has a chance to at least deny them the ‘oxygen of publicity’ by making big tech responsible for the scammers adverts it is paid to publish.
“I plead on bended knee for the government to take that opportunity, by putting scams in the Online Safety Bill. Failing to do so will betray its promise to create world-leading online protection and will leave vulnerable people defenceless against online crime in the midst of a global pandemic.”
The 17 signed a joint letter to the Home Secretary Priti Patel, and Digital Secretary at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), Oliver Dowden.