European Commission Meets With Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft And Alibaba In Crackdown On COVID-19 Scams

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The European Commission is ramping up its campaign against scams touting phony COVID-19 cures and treatments as the continent grapples with another wave of infections and deaths from the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders said in a statement Friday (Nov. 6) that he would be meeting today with executives representing 11 online platforms to discuss the rising number of COVID-19 related scams, Reuters reported.

“We know from our earlier experience that fraudsters see this pandemic as an opportunity to trick European consumers,” Reynders said in his statement.

Reynders and the commission said they will be discussing with the group — which includes Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft/Bing, and Alibaba/AliExpress — “their preparedness to address new scams that could appear during the second wave of the pandemic.”

The European Commission said it first began working with the group — which also includes Allegro, Rakuten, Verizon Media/Yahoo and Wish — in March, resulting in the removal of hundreds of millions in illegal ads and offers.

The fraudsters, in turn, are using the ads and offers for phony COVID-19 cures and products to steal email addresses and passwords from consumers who fall for these ploys, the commission warned.

The crackdown comes as Europe is hit with a devastating second wave of the virus, with countries ranging from Italy to the United Kingdom returning to lockdown measures last seen in the spring in a bid to rein in rapidly rising infection rates.

“We also know that working with the major online platforms is vital to protect consumers from their illegal practices,” Reynders said. “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.”

Meanwhile, in a separate report, the European Commission cited Google, Twitter, Microsoft and TikTok for their actions in battling false information about the coronavirus, but warned that misleading content can still be found online.

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