news & Things

Tech Giants Must Reimburse The Scammed, Says MPs

07th Feb 2022

A lack of regulation has made social media a prime avenue for criminals to scam victims.

 

MPs have said social media is too easy a platform for criminals to defraud people, under existing regulations.

 

The government have been appealed to by British lawmakers to ensure tech giants are made more accountable and to reimburse people for money lost due to fraudulent advertising on their platforms.

 

The argument put forth is that current inadequate regulations are making it all too easy for criminals to defraud people on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

 

It’s hoped by the lawmakers that by enforcing this regulation and making sure victims are reimbursed by tech firms like Meta and Google, then it will force their hand in a way and make them take the issue seriously, and work to eliminate fraud in their platforms.

 

“The government should look at some kind of arrangement that makes the polluter pay,”

“Online platforms are hosting this stuff, not really putting enough effort into weeding it out, and indeed financially benefiting because they’re getting the advertising revenues,”

Mel Stride, Chairman of the UK parliament’s Cross-Party Treasury Committee

 

The Treasury Committee released the finding of a report on economic crime this week, calling for more accountability from Big Tech.

 

Cybercrime is an epidemic of its own which needs to be curbed, having only increased throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, with UK citizens losing more than £2.3 billion to cyber scams between April 2020 and April 2021 – bear in mind that this is only the reported number. The true number of online fraud could be significantly higher.

 

The financial crime watchdog monitor, Action Fraud, reported a staggering 36% increase in fraud last year, with 420,000 identified offences.

 

In May, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) stated that a surge in coronavirus-themed cyber-crime since the beginning of the pandemic has led to the agency recording a hefty 15-fold increase in online fraud removal in 2020 when compared to 2019.

Communications regulator Ofcom agrees that scams and data hacking is the top concern for adults accessing the internet.

 

A form of online scam that internet users should be aware of is fraudulent advertising, which either features endorsements from celebrities, pushes items for sale on fake websites, or touts schemes that offer early access to pension pots or cryptocurrencies.

 

In an April study conducted by consumer group Which?, it was discovered that Facebook and Google were left lacking when it came to removing online scam adverts, despite numerous reports from fraud victims. Which? Found that the process of reporting was often complex or not straightforward, despite tech giants claiming to have improved their reporting functions.

 

A criminal case has been launched against Facebook by Australian billionaire Andrew Forrest, who claims the company has failed to remove scam adverts that’re using his image to promote scam investments.

British lawmakers are also pushing the government to pass legislation immediately requiring financial service providers to refund victims of “push payment scams”, which cost victims £479million last year.

This type of fraud is used by criminals to trick victims into sending money to them

The Treasury Committee’s report recommends that adequate resources are placed into law enforcement to address the scale of the issue. It highlighted that there is a “bewildering” amount of agencies tasks with combating economic crime and fraud and suggests a single body would be more effective.

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