Law tackling social media scams introduced to parliament

A new set of laws, which include measures to address social media scams, are to be introduced in parliament today.

The government will launch what it describes as a set of "world-first" online safety laws, which will force the biggest tech companies - including Facebook, Instagram, and Google - to prevent paid-for fraudulent adverts featuring on their platforms.

UK Finance, which has long been calling for the change, welcomed the move. The trade association, representing around 300 UK-based financial services firms, said that including social media scams was particularly important because the majority of authorised push payment (APP) fraud begins online, with criminals often posting fake adverts to try and trick victims.

Under the new rules, regulator Ofcom will have the power to fine companies failing to comply up to ten per cent of their annual global turnover, force them to improve their practices, and block non-compliant sites.

Executives who fail to cooperate with Ofcom information requests could also face prosecution or jail time within two months of the legislation becoming law, instead of two years as it was previously drafter.

“The internet has transformed our lives for the better,” said digital secretary Nadine Dorries. “It’s connected us and empowered us.

“But on the other side, tech firms haven’t been held to account when harm, abuse and criminal behaviour have run riot on their platforms. Instead they have been left to mark their own homework.”

She added: “We don’t give it a second’s thought when we buckle our seat belts to protect ourselves when driving. Given all the risks online, it’s only sensible we ensure similar basic protections for the digital age. If we fail to act, we risk sacrificing the wellbeing and innocence of countless generations of children to the power of unchecked algorithms.”

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