In its response to consultation on the bill the Government has omitted to include online investment scams despite many experts asking for these to be included.
The government says it is very concerned about the growth of online fraud but that this is best tackled by other legislation.
The Online Harms Bill will be mostly used to target toxic websites and social media used to promote child sexual exploitation, terrorist content, self harm and other issues but a number of key ‘harms’ will be left out.
Journalistic websites will also not be covered and online investment scam fraud is not currently included.
In its response to consultation on the Bill the Government said: “The government is deeply concerned by the growth, impact and scale of online fraud, recognising the devastating harm these types of fraud can cause.
“The government has determined that the fraud threat will be most effectively tackled by other mechanisms and as such the legislation will not require companies to tackle online fraud.
“We are working closely with industry, regulators and consumer groups to consider additional legislative and non-legislative solutions.”
The government is looking at further regulation of online advertising to reduce online harms, including fraud. However, most forms of advertising, fake websites and data and cyber-security breaches are not in the scope of the online harms regulatory framework.
Chris Cummings, chief executive of the Investment Association, said the government has missed an opportunity.
He said: “Organised criminals seek to use Covid-19 uncertainty to steal millions from ordinary savers through investment scams. The lion’s share of these scams reach the general public through sponsored ads on social media sites and search engines.
“While we welcome the Government’s ambition to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online, not including online investment scam adverts within the scope of the Online Safety Bill is a missed opportunity. Tech companies should be required to run checks on advertisers to confirm they are who they say they are and ensure consumers are protected.
“Alongside a coalition of other interested parties, we encourage the Government to reconsider this position when the Bill goes through Parliament.”