December 14, 2021

Coalition of organisations, including Carnegie UK, welcomes Joint Committee recommendation to include paid-for digital ads in Online Safety Bill

By Carnegie UK

Carnegie UK and a coalition of consumer groups, charities, policing leads and financial services industry bodies, including Which?, UK Finance, and MoneySavingExpert among many others* has today welcomed the recommendation by the Joint Committee on the Online Safety Bill that paid-for digital adverts be included within the scope of the Online Safety Bill.

Following the recommendations published today by the Joint Committee on the Online Safety Bill the coalition issued the following joint statement:

“We welcome the Committee’s call for paid-for scam advertising to be included in the scope of the draft Online Safety Bill, and we urge Government to act now. This will be vital in safeguarding the public from the epidemic of scams perpetrated by online criminal gangs. 

“As a coalition of consumer groups, charities and industry bodies, our view remains that the Government’s current proposed approach to tackling online fraud in the draft Bill is flawed. Including measures to combat user-generated fraud, whilst leaving fraud facilitated via paid for digital adverts out of scope will only lead to complex and muddled legislation, creating loopholes for criminals to exploit and a poor outcome for consumers. 

“Fraudsters will be able to continue to exploit people online by posing as legitimate businesses or using fake celebrity endorsements to steal from the public. The coalition is by no means alone in this view. The FCA, Bank of England, City of London Police, Work and Pensions Committee and Treasury Committee have all called for fraud carried out via paid-for advertising to be brought in scope of the Bill.

“Fraud is far from a victimless crime. It is the most common criminal offence in the UK, and the majority of it is committed online. Victims of fraud can lose their entire life savings, which more often than not has a devastating impact on their mental and even physical health. Yet while life changing sums are being lost by victims, platforms are profiting from the paid-for content that facilitates this type of criminal activity. 

“We have said time and again that the tactics used by scammers are now so sophisticated that anyone can fall victim to such criminal activity, losing huge sums of money that can be impossible to recoup. We call on the Government to accept the Joint Committee’s recommendations to include paid-for digital advertising within the scope of the draft Bill and ensure the public are properly protected from this illegal activity.”

*The organisations that have signed the statement include:

  • Age UK
  • The Association of British Insurers
  • Carnegie UK
  • Innovate Finance
  • James Thomson, Chair of the City of London Police Authority Board
  • The Investment Association
  • Money and Mental Health Policy Institute
  • MoneySavingExpert
  • Personal Investment Management & Financial Advice Association (PIMFA)
  • B&CE Ltd, provider of the People’s Pension
  • TheCityUK
  • UK Finance
  • Victim Support
  • Which?