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The UK plans to task Big Tech in determining which advertisers are scams

Part of the upcoming Online Harms Bill.
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The UK government plans to force social media companies to fight online scams by making them liable if they allow fraudulent ads. The government plans to add the provisions in the upcoming Online Safety Bill.

During the pandemic, online scams have increased because lockdowns and restrictions have forced more people online. In the first half of 2021, the UK recorded an all-time high of £754M lost in banking scams, which was an almost 30% increase from the same period in 2020.

This week, the UK government said it would include requirements for social media platforms to prevent criminals from impersonating celebrities or well-known companies to sell unsafe financial investment advice and steal personal data.

It would mean that tech platforms have to find a way to work out which of the advertisers on their platform are scams.

Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, will be given the authority to check if platforms have put in place measures to prevent fraudulent ads. Failure to comply with the law could result in a platform being blocked, or a fine of up to 10% of annual revenue or £18 million ($24 million).

“These changes to the upcoming Online Safety bill will help stop fraudsters conning people out of their hard-earned cash using fake online adverts,” Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said in a statement.

The government also said it was considering toughening the online advertising laws, tougher laws for the advertising of misleading or harmful products, and tougher penalties for influencers who do not inform viewers that they are being paid to advertise.

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