The UK Government has reached what it calls a “world first” agreement with big name tech giants to block and remove fraudulent content from their websites.

The government in its announcement pointed out that fraud is the most common crime in the United Kingdom, and signatories to the new agreement to tackle the online aspect of it include Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Google, Instagram, LinkedIn, Match Group, Microsoft, Snapchat, TikTok, X (Twitter) and YouTube.

These eleven tech companies signed an agreement called the Online Fraud Charter, where they pledged to step up their efforts to tackle online fraud, which can include online scams, fake adverts and romance fraud.

Online Fraud Charter

The firms committed to bring in a raft of measures to help protect people from fraud and scam content when using their sites.

These actions include verifying new advertisers and promptly removing any fraudulent content. There will also be increased levels of verification on peer-to-peer marketplaces, and people using online dating services will have the opportunity to prove they are who they say they are.

The charter will be supported by tough action to crack down on illegal adverts and ads for age-restricted products, such as alcohol or gambling, being seen by children.

“Fraud is now the most common crime in the UK, with online scammers targeting the most vulnerable in society,” said Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak. “We have already taken action to go after these unscrupulous criminals, launching our Fraud Strategy and deploying a National Fraud Squad made up of 400 dedicated officers, all backed by £400 million.”

“For the first time, we are beginning to see a drop in fraud cases, but we must do more,” the Prime Minister stated. “By joining forces with these tech giants we will continue to crack down on fraudsters, making sure they have nowhere to hide online.”

Fraud accounts for around 40 percent of all crime in England and Wales, with data from UK Finance showing almost 80 percdnt of all authorised pushed payment fraud originates from social media or a fake website.

Big Step

“The Online Fraud Charter is a big step forward in our efforts to protect the public from sophisticated, adaptable and highly organised criminals,” added Home Secretary James Cleverly.

“An agreement of this kind has never been done on this scale before and I am exceptionally pleased to see tech firms working with us to turn the tide against fraudsters,” said Cleverly.

The agreement saw the he Home Secretary and Anti-Fraud Champion Anthony Browne met with senior representatives from these firms to sign the charter at Lancaster House on Thursday.

The agreement has come following extensive discussions between the government, the private sector and law enforcement, spearheaded by Security Minister Tom Tugendhat and Anti-Fraud Champion Anthony Browne.

In addition to clamping down on scam posts offering goods and services, each signatory has pledged to work closely with law enforcement in their efforts to target fraudsters.

The government said that tech firms will also commit to running direct routes for law enforcement to report suspicious activity taking place on the services, making it easier to quickly identify and remove fraudulent content and protect users.

Voluntary agreement

“We are in the midst of an epidemic of scams, which not only devastate people’s financial lives, but their mental health and sense of self-esteem too,” said Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com.

One of the Facebook scam ads featuring an image of Martin Lewis. Image credit: Martin Lewis

“I’ve long called for regulation and law changes to make these big tech firms step up to the plate and deny these scammers the oxygen of publicity,” said Lewis. “So I am pleased at the signing of this voluntary agreement, which is adopting many of the scam ad protection measures we’ve been calling for – such as 2 click reporting, and advertiser and site destination verification.”

“We will be watching closely to check these companies work hard, and work together to make good on their promises,” said Lewis.

All signatories of the charter, which is a voluntary commitment, have pledged to implement the measures which apply to their companies within 6 months.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

Recent Posts

MWC 2024: BT To Switch On Stand-alone 5G Network In 2024

Stand-alone 5G network in the UK, without a 4G core or anchor, will be switched…

20 hours ago

Judge Signals Elon Musk May Lose Lawsuit Against Non-profit

Elon Musk's high profile lawsuit against a hate speech non-profit may be in trouble, after…

23 hours ago

OpenAI Sued For Unauthorised Use Of Journalist Content, Again

Three US online news outlets sue OpenAI, alleging the AI pioneer used thousands of their…

2 days ago

Microsoft Investment In Mistral AI Prompts EU Scrutiny Calls

European lawmakers call for investigation after Microsoft this week made small investment in French startup…

2 days ago

Apple To Disclose AI Plans This Year, Says Tim Cook

CEO Tim Cook once again indicates Apple will open up about its generative artificial intelligence…

2 days ago