New laws to tackle soaring levels of financial fraud have been proposed in the UK government’s draft online safety bill, threatening social media sites and dating apps with huge fines unless they do more to protect people from losing life-changing sums of money.

In draft legislation published on Wednesday, ministers outlined plans to clamp down on investment fraud and romance scams, even though these were not originally expected to fall under the scope of the bill.

Ofcom, the media regulator, would be given the power to fine companies up to £18m or 10 per cent of their annual global turnover — whichever is the greater — if they fail in their duty of care, and would have the power to block access to sites.

Under the proposals, social media sites, websites and apps that host “user-generated content” or allow people to talk to others online would be required to “remove and limit the spread of illegal and harmful content”….

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