Saturday 25 September 2021 / 8:02 AM Jo Stevens

Conservatives putting the public at risk as they waste opportunity to make online fraud illegal

Labour will accuse the Government of putting the public at risk as they refuse to include online fraud and scams part of the Online Safety Bill.  

This comes despite calls from victims, campaigner Martin Lewis and the City of London Police.  

Last year £2.3bn was lost to online fraud and scams hitting hundreds of thousands of families with 413,553 instances reported. And the problem has soared during lockdown.  

Online fraud rose by up to 70 per cent during the pandemic as families turned to online shopping and banking making it the most common crime.  

Fraudsters’ most common tactic was setting up fake websites, mobile apps or social media ads, either mimicking trusted retailers with familiar logos and slogans, or faux e-stores which then failed to deliver ordered goods. 

As well as the financial hardship, victims have been left devastated by the experience suffering from stress and other mental health problems. While many more people curtail their use of online shopping and banking because of their fear of being scammed.  

 

Shadow Digital, Culture and Media Secretary Jo Stevens will tell Labour conference on Sunday [26th September]:  

“We have an epidemic of online scams. But the Government refuses to include protection for people in this Bill. 

“Campaigner Martin Lewis has called for it, victims have called for it, the City of London Police have called for it, but the Conservatives say no – refusing the opportunity to protect the public and instead standing up for scammers. 

“Well Labour will do what the Tory Government won’t.”  

Labour will build a broad coalition in Parliament for better legislation that protects people against the scammers. 

That puts a proper, effective legal duty of care on the social media companies about what they host on their platforms. And unlike the Government, we will fight for criminal penalties for senior tech executives who repeatedly breach the new law.” 

 

She will add: “We’ve got a weak and watered down Online Safety Bill four years after the Conservatives promised legislation that doesn’t even fulfil the basic duty of government – to keep its citizens safe. 

“Big social media companies have been left unchecked and unregulated, whilst their platforms host increasing levels of child abuse, self-harm and suicide content, dangerous anti-vax misinformation, discrimination, hate speech and more. And those companies make a lot of money out of it. 

“The Tories’ Bill legislates for the companies to self-regulate. To mark their own homework. And the good, responsible businesses in the tech sector acknowledge we need clear regulation. We will continue to work with them to make our lives safer online. Especially for children.”