‘Make social media companies legally chargeable for tackling fraud’

Social media companies should be held legally responsible for removing fraudulent advertisements from their networks and protecting users from fraud, the chief of a police department said.

James Thomson, chairman of the City of London Police Authority Board, will tell an audience including Security Secretary Damian Hinds on Thursday that tougher measures to combat cyber fraud should be included in the online security bill.

He also wants fraud to be a national priority for all local police forces in the UK, just as tackling drug gangs has been a priority in the counties in recent years.

Mr Thomson is expected to say: “Not only does fraud affect millions of UK citizens each year, some of whom are at great risk, it also weakens our economies and threatens our international reputation as a safe place to do business.

“It is critical for online platforms like social media companies to take legal responsibility to detect, remove and prevent false and fraudulent activity on their websites.

“Unfortunately, they have not done this effectively so far, so it is imperative now to put in place the right regulatory framework.”

Mr Thomson will call for fraud to be a priority under the Online Security Act and for legislation to include measures to combat the paid advertising on social media that scammers use to attract victims.

His views echo those of consumer advocate Martin Lewis, whose picture and name have been used repeatedly by fraudsters and who has long advocated stricter rules on fraud advertising.

Martin Lewis’ picture and name have been repeatedly used by online scammers (Kirsty O’Connor / PA)

Earlier this year, Mr Lewis reacted angrily when scams were not included in the government’s online security plans, as outlined in the Queen’s speech.

The calls were also made by the consumer rights organization What? supports.

Rocio Concha, which one? Director of Politics and Advocacy, said: “There has been a devastating increase in fraud since the pandemic began, but despite the emotional and financial impact on the victims, tech giants are failing to adequately protect their users.

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“The case for including fraud reports in the Online Security Act is overwhelming as law enforcement agencies, businesses, regulators, consumer groups and many MPs all agree that urgent action is needed. It is vital that the government seize the opportunity to act now. “

The City of London Police is the national fraud control center and the Police Authority Board oversees its work.

It is estimated that fraud accounts for around a third of all crime in England and Wales, and Mr Thomson will say that around 80 percent are classified as cybercapable using the internet and digital devices.

A government spokeswoman said, “We have added user-generated fraud to the scope of our new online laws to help protect people from the devastating effects of fraud.

“The move is only part of our plan to fight fraud in all its forms. We continue to track fraudsters and fix the vulnerabilities they have exploited, help people identify and report scams, and we will review shortly whether tighter regulation of online advertising is needed as well. “

She said the government will hold a consultation on paid online advertising rules later this year.

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