Scam advertising must be included in Online Safety Bill, says City of London Police

online safety bill

The Government’s decision to include fraud as a ‘priority harm’ in the Online Safety Bill has been welcomed by the City of London Corporation’s Police Authority Board and the City of London Police.

But the City of London’s policing chiefs say that paid-for advertising must also be included in the draft legislation to stop people from becoming victims of fraudulent online advertisements.

The City Corporation’s Police Authority Board, which sets policing priorities for the City of London and ensures that the City of London Police runs an effective and efficient service, has been campaigning with the force and a range of industry bodies for fraud and paid-for advertising to be included in the Bill.

Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Police Authority Board, James Thomson, said: “We are very encouraged to see that fraud will be included as a priority harm in the forthcoming Online Safety Bill, which will help tackle this invidious and fast-growing crime, which can often have a devastating impact on victims.

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“It is an important step in ensuring that social media and technology companies have a duty of care to prevent their platforms from being used to commit fraud, and to ensure that they are pro-active in tackling it.

“However, it is our firmly held view that paid-for advertising must be included within the scope of the Bill to help protect people from scam adverts.

“Not only would failure to do so risk undermining the benefits of including fraud as a priority harm, it would give the green light to fraudsters to continue targeting victims via this route and may lead to a significant increase in this harmful content.”

Assistant Commissioner Pete O’Doherty said: “We are delighted that the Government has listened to our calls for fraud and money laundering to be included as a priority harm in the Online Safety Bill, as fraud accounts for almost 40 percent of all crime.

“These crimes are devastating to victims, and we know that, in 2020/21, almost one in five instances of fraud reported into Action Fraud used at least one social media and communication platform to perpetrate fraud.”

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