A parliamentary committee wants to stop Google from making money out of online fraud after the introduction of pension freedoms left regulators “playing catch-up” against scammers.
The UK Work and Pensions Committee warned that pension scammers have increasingly moved online, leaving regulators powerless to hold search engines and social media businesses accountable for hosting scam adverts as they do traditional media.
Stephen Timms, chair of the committee, said that while the Pension Freedoms Act 2015 has given savers more options on how to use their pension pots, it has also opened up a plethora of web-based risks.
“The result is an online free for all, where scammers can advertise with impunity while the tech giants line their pockets from the proceeds of their crimes,” Timms said.
“With global firms such as Google being increasingly influential as providers of information, consumers looking for financial advice are being let down by not being afforded the same level of protection they receive from adverts which appear on television or in a newspaper. There must now be parity across the media to ensure all adverts are regulated and the government should use its Online Safety Bill to act.”
The chair also argued for the introduction of a new Pension Scams Centre, improved enforcement capabilities of the Financial Conduct Authority and extra support for victims.
“The government and the regulators have been left playing catch-up following the pension freedom reforms and must now act quickly to protect savers and their hard-earned money,” he said.
The news comes just weeks after Google faced criticism for its lack of action against fake reviews on its platform.
Last week, the CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, as well as the founders of Facebook and Twitter were grilled by US politicians about the spread of lies, disinformation and fake news on their platforms.