In an effort to further help fight coronavirus scams, European lawmakers are urging the region’s e-commerce giants and media platforms to share more data with each other.
Once the pandemic made its way to the West, online advertisements for PPE and even alleged coronavirus cures began to appear online even after Google, Facebook and other platforms banned such types of advertising.
In addition to taking advantage of consumer’s fears surrounding the pandemic, these products could put people at risk by not offering adequate protection against the virus and many so-called coronavirus cures were found to do more harm than good as a cure for Covid-19 does not yet exist.
EU commissioner for justice, Didier Reynders explained in a statement why Europe wants e-commerce and media platforms to work more closely during the second wave of Covid-19 to fight coronavirus scams, saying:
“We know from our earlier experience that fraudsters see this pandemic as an opportunity to trick European consumers. We also know that working with the major online platforms is vital to protect consumers from their illegal practices. Today I encouraged the platforms to join forces and engage in a peer-to-peer exchange to further strengthen their response. We need to be even more agile during the second wave currently hitting Europe.”
Tackling coronavirus scams
According to the European Commission, Reynders recently met with the leaders of a number of online platforms including Amazon, Alibaba, eBay, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Rakuten and Yahoo to discuss new trends and business practices linked to the pandemic in order to avert a new wave of coronavirus scams.
Back in March, the consumer protection authorities of EU Member States adopted a common position on the issue and since then, the European Commission and consumer protection enforcers across the EU have been in regular contact with these online platforms regarding how to tackle coronavirus scams.
These measures have resulted in platforms reporting the removal of “hundreds of millions” of illegal offers and ads according to the European Commission. There has also been a “steady decline” in the number of new coronavirus-related listings which shows that working together with online platforms has been successful in preventing new coronavirus scams.
At the same time, European Commission EVP Margrethe Vestager recently gave a speech in which she said that the Digital Services Act (DSA) will require online platforms to play a larger role in dealing with illegal content and dangerous products.
A second wave of Covid-19 is a serious matter on its own that will only be made worse by fraudsters trying to take advantage of consumer fears. Hopefully by continuing to work together with online platforms, the EU can help further reduce the number of coronavirus scams online.