The UK government has announced further changes to the scope of the Online Safety Act. These changes are intended to protect people from advertising scams.
The online safety law requires social media companies like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and search engines like Google to protect people from user-generated scams and fraudulent prepaid ads.
Nadine Dorries, UK Foreign Secretary for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, said in a statement that the UK government has taken these steps to make advertising industry practices responsible, ethical and transparent.
“They bet a lot on this account,” said Pedram Tabibi, a partner at law firm Meltzer Lippe. “It could be the start of additional regulation and a sign of greater control in the digital space.”
The current bill protects online users from fake advertisements that collect user data. Social media platforms and search engines will have to adapt proportionate systems and processes to prevent the publication and/or display of fraudulent advertisements on their service. They will also have to remove ads when they become aware of fraudulent ads. Romantic catfishing scams and fake stock market tips that people post through photos, videos, and comments also fall under the bill’s amendments.
This account includes additional ad verification and reviews to ensure it is not a fraud. This could delay the introduction of some ads to the market, as David O. Klein, managing partner of Klein Moynihan Turco, told Adweek.
Advertisers are expected to have a higher price list due to the cost of reviewing ads. A legitimate advertiser may end up paying more to be whitelisted by an agency to speed up ad review. When a legitimate ad is reported to be fraudulent, the advertiser may incur additional charges.
The Online Safety Act has been in the works for several years and is the UK government’s measure to regulate online content and voice.