New laws are needed to protect people from online scams, which ones? warns



he government and regulators must step in and force internet platforms to prevent scams, unsafe products and fake reviews from appearing on their sites, consumer group Which? said.

The consumer champion said it was time to stop asking tech companies to make changes and instead introduce new laws to better protect people.

Who? released a new study which found that more than two-thirds (68%) of respondents said they had little or no trust in companies like Amazon eBay, Facebook and Google were taking effective action to protect them from scams or counterfeit products.

The research also found that while 89% of those surveyed said they used online customer reviews to inform product purchases, only 6% said they had ‘a lot’ of trust in online platforms taking meaningful action to. stop the spread of fake reviews, and 18% said they don’t trust platforms to do it “at all”.

In response, the group launched its #JustNotBuyingIt campaign, which urges the government to hold tech companies accountable for damage to their sites.

Who? said he believed that the current legislation means that platforms do not have enough legal responsibility, and as a result, crooks and criminals are able to sell dangerous products and mislead people, and that there are not enough legal incentives to put an end to these practices.

“Millions of consumers are exposed to scams, unsafe products and fake reviews every day,” Rocio Concha, Which? said the director of policy and advocacy.

“The world’s biggest tech companies have the ability to protect people from harm to consumers, but they just aren’t taking enough responsibility.

“We’re launching our new #JustNotBuyingIt campaign because it’s time to stop just asking these platforms to do what it takes to protect consumers. “

Someone working with a computer (Adam Peck / PA) / AP Archives

In response to Which ?, Amazon said it “strongly disagrees with these statements, which distort the facts,” and that it has invested more than $ 700 million and employed more than 10,000 people to protect customers. and was “relentless” in its efforts and built “robust programs and cutting edge tools” to ensure that products are safe and that reviews are genuine.

“Our powerful machine learning tools and skilled investigators analyze over 10 million review submissions every week, and last year our teams proactively blocked over 10 billion suspect lists for various forms of crime. ‘abuse, including non-compliance, before they are posted to our store. ”Amazon added.

eBay said it had “a long-standing commitment to giving consumers the confidence to shop safely online,” and used an automatic filter to block unsafe ads, which it said blocked “six million dangerous ads” in 2020.

The platform also said it has set up a “regulatory portal”, which allows “authorities, such as Trading Standards, to directly report and remove ads that do not comply with applicable laws and regulations.”

A spokesperson for the Facebook company said the company “is devoting significant resources to tackling the problem of industry-wide online scams” and is working to detect fraudulent ads, block them. advertisers and take legal action against them in certain cases.

“While no application is perfect, we continue to invest in new technologies and methods to protect the people on our service from these scams.

“We have also donated £ 3million to Citizens Advice to implement a UK Scam Action Program aimed at both raising awareness of online scams and helping victims,” ​​Facebook said.

A Google spokesperson said “protecting consumers and legitimate businesses operating in the financial industry is a priority” and that it is working with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to implement new measures.

“After launching new restrictions requiring that financial services advertisers be licensed by the FCA with carefully controlled exceptions, we will vigorously enforce our new policy,” the spokesperson added.

Earlier this week, Google and Facebook suggested that fraud did not fit into the online security bill currently under consideration by MPs and peers, despite calls for its inclusion.

The bill focuses on user-generated content such as child sexual exploitation and terrorism, but activists, including consumer champion Martin Lewis, have argued that the scams should be within its purview.

When asked if they would agree to fraud being covered by the new regulation, Google and Facebook told MPs they thought it would be a ‘challenge’ to make it work because generated content techniques by users and scams were quite different.

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