Social media companies should be legally responsible for removing fraudulent ads from their networks and protecting users from fraud, the head of a law enforcement agency said.
James Thomson, chairman of the City of London Police Board of Directors, told an audience on Thursday, including Security Secretary Damian Hinds, that tougher measures to tackle internet fraud should be included in the online security bill.
He also wants fraud to become a national priority across all UK local police forces, in the same way that tackling drug gangs in the counties has been at the center of attention in recent years.
Mr Thomson is expected to say: ‘Fraud not only affects millions of UK citizens every year, some of whom are very vulnerable, but it weakens our economy and threatens our international reputation as a safe place to do business.
“It is essential that online platforms, such as social media companies, take legal responsibility for identifying, removing and preventing false and fraudulent activity on their websites.
“Unfortunately, this is something they have failed to do effectively to date, so it is now essential to introduce the right regulatory framework.”
Mr Thomson will call for fraud to be listed as a priority harm in the Online Safety Bill, and that the legislation include measures to tackle paid social media advertising that crooks use to lure victims.
His views echo those of consumer champion Martin Lewis, whose image and name have been used repeatedly by scammers and who has long advocated for stricter rules around fraudulent advertising.
Earlier this year, Mr Lewis reacted angrily when the scams were not included in the government‘s online security plans, as noted in the Queen’s Speech, saying the omission left criminals ‘s’ get away with it “.
The calls were also supported by the consumer rights organization Which ?.
Rocio Concha, which one? director of policy and advocacy, said: “There has been a devastating increase in scams since the start of the pandemic, but despite the emotional and financial impact on victims, the tech giants are failing to scale up and to adequately protect their users.
“The case for including fraudulent advertisements in the online safety bill is overwhelming, with law enforcement agencies, businesses, regulators, consumer groups and many MPs all agreeing that action is taken. urgent is needed. It is vital that the government seizes the opportunity to act now.
The City of London Police are the main national law enforcement force and the Police Authority Board oversees their work.
Fraud is estimated to account for around a third of all crime in England and Wales, and Mr Thomson will say around 80% are classified as cyber-enabled, involving the use of the internet and digital devices .
A government spokesperson said: “We have included user-generated fraud within the scope of our new online laws to increase protection for people from the devastating impact of scams.
“This decision is only part of our plan to fight fraud in all its forms. We continue to pursue scammers and shut down the vulnerabilities they exploit, help people spot and report scams, and will be looking into whether tighter online advertising regulations are needed as well.
She said the government would hold a consultation on the rules for paid online advertising later this year.