Calls continue to grow for paid advertising to be included in the Online Safety Bill

Calls for paid-for advertising to be included in the Online Safety Bill have continued to grow following a survey that found four in 10 people do not feel that social media platforms and search engines protect them from scam adverts.

The research, conducted and published by Which?, found that only a fifth (20 per cent) of people felt protected from scam adverts.

Eight in 10 people said they had seen or been targeted by a scam, according to the research, while around one in six had seen or been targeted through social media.

More than half (58 per cent) had seen or been targeted by a scam via email, while 53 per cent and 47 per cent had seen or been targeted by texts and calls, respectively.

Following its findings, Which? Has called for the Online Safety Bill to be amended to include paid-for advertising before it is published in the “coming weeks”.

‘It’s no surprise that consumers don’t feel adequately protected by social media sites and search engines,” said Which? director of policy and advocacy, Rocio Concha.

“These companies have some of the most sophisticated technology in the world, and yet are failing to protect their users from online scams on their sites.

“The government must include paid-for advertising in the Online Safety Bill so that consumers finally get the protection they need from fraudsters who will stop at nothing to target potential victims online.”

Also responding to the research’s findings, B&CE, provider of The People’s Pension, director of policy, Phil Brown, backed the call to include paid-for adverts in the bill.

“Pension fraud is arguably the cruellest of all financial crimes, causing misery to victims often left without enough to live on in retirement,” he stated.

“In the 30 years I’ve worked in the pensions industry, I’ve heard devastating stories of people who’ve been scammed out of their life savings, have had to sell their homes to survive, and in the saddest of cases have taken their own life, feeling they had nowhere else to turn.

“Our research suggests that more than £14bn may have already been stolen from pension savers in the UK, but, sadly, ruthless criminals will only want more and with £2.5trn of pension savings at risk, there is plenty for them to target.

“That’s why we’re supporting the Which? #JustNotBuyingItCampaign as including paid for advertising in the Online Safety Bill will help protect thousands of people from pension fraud.

"If the government fails to act now, it will create a digital loophole for scammers to jump through, helping line their pockets while hard workers lose out.”

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