September 27, 2022
By Huw Jones

LONDON: Google, Facebook and other online services should be held legally accountable for advertisements on their platforms in order to prevent fraudsters scamming millions of consumers, a cross-party group of British lawmakers has said.

Britain has proposed a landmark online safety law to punish abuses such as child pornography, racism and violence against women, but a joint committee of lawmakers drawn from both houses of parliament said on Tuesday it should go a step further to cover paid-for adverts.

“Excluding paid-for advertising will leave service providers with little incentive to remove harmful adverts, and risks encouraging further proliferation of such content,” the joint committee report said.

The Financial Conduct Authority also wants adverts on social media and search engines, currently excluded from the draft law, to be included after 754 million pounds ($999.65 million) was stolen from consumers in the first six months of this year.

The report also backed a Law Commission recommendation to make cyberflashing, or the unsolicited sending of obscene images or video recordings, which are often a feature of sexual harassment, illegal.

The draft law is due to be approved in 2022 and government has two months to say if it will back the recommendation, along with several others which lawmakers say are needed to “call time on the Wild West online”.

“The era of self-regulation for big tech has come to an end. The companies are clearly responsible for services…

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