UK Govt Must Stop Dragging its Feet Over Online Harms Bill

On Black Friday and ahead of the Christmas shopping period, the SNP has urged the UK government to bring forward the delayed Online Harms Bill to make the internet safer for all and prevent consumers from online scams.

The consultation on the Online Harms White Paper closed in February of this year but the UK government has failed to bring draft legislation before Parliament – and there are fears that MPs may not see the details of the bill until the end of 2021.

The SNP’s Consumer Affairs spokesperson has said that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) must “get the ball rolling” on the Bill as we head into the festive period when millions of people will be shopping online due to limited retail hours and closures due to the pandemic.

The SNP has said that the bill must not allow tech giants to shirk their responsibilities when it comes to the prevention of scam content proliferating on their sites.

Earlier this month, Advice Direct Scotland in partnership with the Scottish Government launched a free tool called ScamWatch to protect Scots from scammers – after it emerged almost one in 10 people have fallen victim to online scam ads via social media sites or search engines.

Commenting, Patricia Gibson MP (pictured) said:

“The financial consequences for those affected by scams can be devastating, but so too is the lasting emotional impact the incidents can have – and with online shopping being the only available option for many the number of people affected could rise significantly.

“The UK government must stop dragging their feet on a Bill that could prevent millions of online users – of all ages – from harm and being scammed out of thousands of pounds.

“The Scottish Government is doing what it can with its limited powers but we need concrete action from the Tories at Westminster.”