Online security bill ‘doomed’ unless it includes fraudulent ads, warn Martin Lewis and activists


“UK faces epidemic of fraudulent advertising”

Commenting on the research, Martin Lewis, founder of and the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, said:

“The UK is facing an epidemic of fraudulent advertising. This is in part due to a systemic failure both to properly fund police services and to put in place proper regulation. Our advertising rules were established to control soap makers making false claims of cleanliness, not to tackle sophisticated, psychologically clever, digital organized crime based around the world. This has left many crooks undetected, uninvolved and unpunished. Many get away with these crimes.

“So it is ludicrous that the government is excluding fraudulent advertisements from the online safety bill. While protecting democracy from fake news is important – as the bill will – the Westminster bubble seems to ignore the more prosaic but devastating impact crooks have on people’s lives.

“Unless they change their approach, ministers’ efforts to tackle online fraud are doomed, and millions of consumers are still at risk of losing money and personal information, or of losing their personal information. suffer medical harm from false advertising. We need to prevent fraudsters from reaching the public and prevent big tech from taking advantage of scams.

“The only bright spark is that user-generated scams will be included in the bill. However, the idea that you can distinguish between content and advertisements is the thinking of the 1980s. This would mean that the law covers someone who posts a fraudulent message, but not if they pay to promote the same content. . This is an absurd and inapplicable distinction in the age of social media.

“The government is telling me instead that it will eventually come up with a plan to tackle fraudulent advertising by changing the regulation of advertising. Yet it’s a plan no one has seen, and will have to go through a long process of consultation, lobbying, and drafting of laws – likely in the face of fierce opposition from the powerful advertising industry. Meanwhile, huge swathes of people will see their financial and mental health destroyed after being victimized.

“Instead, we need to insert fraudulent ads into the Online Safety Bill, which will soon be considered by MPs and Lords, and will already force online platforms to deal with user-generated scams. . The government says it is serious about making a real commitment to tackling online fraud, but it is ignoring fraudulent ads. I wonder if the crooks thought the Prime Minister’s face was trustworthy enough and started using it in their ads, the government would still say that is not a priority.


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