Big Tech face UK legal duty to prevent fraudulent scams online

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Social media company Facebook is under fire

The government are set to introduce new legal duty on big tech to prevent paid-for fraudulent ads appearing on their services.

The change will improve protections against fake ads, including where criminals impersonate celebrities or companies to steal people’s personal data, peddle dodgy financial investments or break into bank accounts.

As part of the government’s push to make the internet safer and keep up with emerging tech, the new duty will be added to the Online Safety Bill and be forced upon the largest and most popular social media platforms and search engines, like Google, Meta’s Facebook and TikTok.

Under the new changes, harmful or misleading adverts, such as those promoting negative body images, and adverts for illegal activities such as weapons sales, could also be subject to tougher rules and sanctions.

For instance, social media influencers failing to declare they are being paid to promote products on social media could also be subject to stronger penalties. 

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries commented: “As technology revolutionises more and more of our lives the law must keep up. Today we are also announcing a review of the wider rules around online advertising to make sure industry practices are accountable, transparent and ethical – so people can trust what they see advertised and know fact from fiction.”  

Under the current draft of the Online Safety Bill, search engines and platforms which host user-generated content, video-sharing or live streaming will have a duty of care to protect users of their services from fraud committed by other users.

This includes ‘catfishing’ romance scams and fake stock market tips – posted by people in images, comments or videos.  Media watchdog Ofcom will be the regulator,

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