MPs push technology giants on online fraud policies

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Technology giants Microsoft, Twitter, Snapchat and TikTok have been asked by MPs to provide details on how they combat scams and protect consumers as part of an ongoing inquiry into online fraud.

Treasury Committee chair Mel Stride has asked the companies for details on the revenue they receive from adverts around investment opportunities, and what policies are in place to compensate scam victims.

The letter also asked whether platforms insist that firms must be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in order to advertise on their sites.

The request comes as the committee continues its inquiry into economic crime, and follows a similar request to Google, Facebook, Amazon and eBay for more details on their plans to tackle online fraud.

Mr Stride said: “Online platforms have changed the way we live, work and socialise. However, it’s clear that fraud is rapidly rising and ruining people’s lives. Scammers seem to act with impunity online and their actions can have devastating consequences.

“As a committee, we are investigating the causes, scale and effects of economic crime. We want to gain a clearer understanding of the actions tech companies are taking to combat fraud and protect consumers online.

“That’s why I have today written to Microsoft, Twitter, Snapchat and TikTok to request information on how they are preventing their users from falling victim to scams.”

The request also comes as MPs and peers continue to scrutinise the draft Online Safety Bill, with some calling from online fraud to be placed within the scope of the proposed legislation, which would see platforms penalised for failing to protect users from harmful content.

Mr Stride added: “It is also imperative that the Government takes further action in this area. We have long suggested that including fraudulent advertisements within the scope of the Online Safety Bill would be a good place to start.

“Without co-ordinated action, I fear many more people will sadly fall victim to these scammers.”

On Thursday, Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries told the Draft Online Safety Bill (Joint Committee) that she wants to beef up the penalties proposed in the new legislation by accelerating the introduction of personal liability sanctions for company managers to spark a faster response to the threat of online harms.

Alongside large fines and blocking site access, the draft Bill includes personal criminal liability sanctions for executives which can be introduced two years after the implementation of the Bill, but Ms Dorries told the committee she is looking to bring this forward to between three and six months.

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