Written evidence submitted by CIFAS (OSB0051)
‘Are there any types of content omitted from the scope of the Bill that you consider significant e.g. commercial pornography or the promotion of financial scams? How should they be covered if so?’
The inclusion of user-generated fraud in the Bill is a welcome step forward in protecting the UK public and the business community from one of the most prevalent online harms. There are however other aspects of online fraud excluded from the Bill, such as advertising, emails and paid-for adverts. We hope that those excluded areas will be effectively tackled through the Home Office Fraud Action Plan, and we understand that work to address paid-for adverts is being scoped as part of the Online Advertising Programme (OAP).
The OAP is however at an early stage, and we would therefore highlight the need for care in timing and coordination between this Bill and the OAP, to avoid simply displacing online fraud from user generated content to paid-for adverts. More specifically, if this Bill leads to more effective regulation of user generated content on social and search engine platforms before paid-for adverts are more effectively regulated, then criminals will simply switch their focus to paid-for adverts. If that occurs, then the fraud provisions within the Bill will not have met the Bill’s key objective of making the UK a safer place to be online.
Coordination between the Online Safety Bill and the OAP will also be crucial to
20 September 2021