British lawmakers said: Facebook, Google should also be accountable for online fraud

A group of British lawmakers has called for Google, Facebook and other online services to be held accountable to prevent fraudsters from millions of consumers. The MPs said that they should be held legally responsible for the fraud through advertisements on all these types of online platforms. Britain has introduced an online safety law to punish crimes such as child pornography, racism and violence against women. A joint committee of MPs from both the Houses of Parliament said that it should also include paid advertisements which lead to fraud.

“If paid advertisements are excluded from this law, service providers will not attempt to remove harmful advertisements and such content will be carried forward,” the joint committee report said.

The Financial Conduct Authority also wants to include advertisements on social media and search engines. These have been kept out of the draft for the time being. But in the first six months of this year, due to such advertisements, consumers have been cheated of GBP 754 million (about Rs 7560.55 crore). Therefore, the authority now wants to bring them under the purview of the law.

The report also said that cyber flashing, or sending obscene photos or video recordings should also be illegal as recommended by the Law Commission. Such activities are a form of sexual harassment.
The draft law is due for approval in 2022 and the government has two months to say whether it will support the recommendation.

“The era of self-regulation for big technology is over. Companies are clearly responsible for the service they design and make a profit from. They should also be responsible for the decisions they make.” Joint committee chairman Damien Collins said.

The report said that UK’s communications regulator Ofcom should prepare a mandatory code of practice for Internet service providers.

However, there must be strong protections for freedom of expression, including automatic exemptions for accredited news publishers. Britain’s Financial Services Minister John Glenn said last month that he was in favor of including online ads in the bill or any similar action.