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Press Release | ADIF urges MeitY for better regulation to prevent online fraud through search ads in India
ADIF highlights a major concern of tech firms, such as Google, charging hefty fees to host these fraud ads and making profits from them.
New Delhi, May 12, 2022: The Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF) has written to Alkesh Kumar Sharma, Secretary at the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, highlighting the rise of online scams due to fraudulent ads on Google search and urging adequate regulation of false advertisements to ensure the safety of Indians on the internet.
There have been several incidents of false advertising on Google where searches for the helpline numbers of certain companies throw up false and misleading ads at the top of the search results. Some of the instances we could identify where a search of a company on Google leads to fraud ads are Mobikwik, Paytm, and Bajaj Finserv.
The topmost result of a Mobikwik helpline number on the search engine is, in fact, a fraudulent link – through which scamsters ask for UPI transfers or send UPI pull requests – meant to swindle help seekers.
ADIF further highlights a major concern: tech firms, such as Google, charge hefty fees to host these ads and make profits from them.
Calling attention to the fact that the problem is not simply financial losses but also of mental stress and trauma inflicted yearly on Indians, the letter noted that these fraudulent ads contribute a significant part of the revenue of these tech firms all the while exposing users to high risks.
Sijo Kuruvilla George, Executive Director of ADIF, said:
“The blatant misuse of their platform by big tech firms is going unchecked and Indian citizens are paying a price for it – what is more is that the tech giant is using this to make profits. A major concern is the lack of adequate regulation of false advertisements and there’s an urgent need to protect the safety of Indians on the internet.”
Through their letter, ADIF has requested an audience with the MeitY secretary to help develop a robust mechanism for making a safe internet space accessible in the country.
Below is the letter sent to the Minister for Electronics and Information Technology.