Tag Archives: UK

Further measures to help fight financial fraud in the UK

As part of ongoing cross-industry efforts to help tackle the issue of financial fraud, we recently announced that we were the first major technology firm to join Stop Scams UK. We also pledged $5 million in advertising credits to support public awareness campaigns in the UK, helping to ensure that consumers are better informed about how to spot the tactics of scammers both online and offline.

Today, we are announcing a significant additional measure to protect users and legitimate advertisers, and help prevent scammers exploiting our platforms. The Google Ads Financial Products and Services policy will be updated from 30th August to introduce new certification requirements for financial services advertisers targeting the UK.

Financial services advertisers will be required to demonstrate that they are authorised by the UK Financial Conduct Authority or qualify for one of the limited exemptions described in the UK Financial Services verification page. This new update builds on significant work in partnership with the FCA over the last 18 months to help tackle this issue.

Today’s announcement reflects significant progress in delivering a safer experience for users, publishers and advertisers. While we understand that this policy update will impact a range of advertisers in the financial services space, our utmost priority is to keep users safe on our platforms — particularly in an area so disproportionately targeted by fraudsters.

Here’s what you need to know about the policy update:

  • The policy will be updated on August 30, 2021, and enforcement will begin seven days later, on September 6, 2021.
  • Advertisers must successfully complete the updated verification process by the time enforcement begins in order to show financial services ads to UK users. This will include showing ads to UK users who appear to be seeking financial services.
  • As part of the verification process, advertisers must demonstrate that they are authorised by the UK Financial Conduct Authority or qualify for one of the limited exemptions described in the UK Financial Services verification page. 
  • This requirement covers financial services products both regulated by and not regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority.

This new policy update is only the latest step in our commitment to tackling online financial crime in the UK. Our teams continue to use a mixture of machine learning and human review to analyse user experiences and take action. 

For the last 18 months, we have worked with the FCA to receive notifications when additions are made to the FCA warning list. Based on feedback from the FCA, we have also updated policies, such as our unreliable claims policy. This update restricted the rates of return a firm can advertise and banned the use of terms that make unrealistic promises of large financial return with minimal risk, effort or investment.

Globally, we have also introduced new advertiser identity verification which requires advertisers to submit personal legal identification, business incorporation documents or other information that proves who they are and the country in which they operate. 

We are committed to adapting and collaborating with industry and government organisations to lead on necessary changes to help fight evolving tactics by scammers.

Working together to transform journalism training

Ignoring vowels, removing connecting letters and recording up to 150 words a minute. It’s not the latest algorithmic advance, but instead something many U.K. journalists will recognise as Teeline: a shorthand transcribing skill which forms part of a formal journalism qualification.

Two decades ago, as a journalism student in London, I was taught the importance of law, ethics and editorial values, as well as the technical skills required to be a journalist. While the fundamentals of journalism may not have altered since, it’s clear technology has radically changed how journalists work, not to mention the changing habits of their audiences.

Alongside the shifting landscape, we’re announcing our support for the  Journalism Skills Academy (JSA): an e-learning platform from the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ). This will help digitally transform the way they provide assessments, qualifications and workshops, while also helping how they overhaul their approach to learning and education. 

NCTJ’s CEO, Joanne Butcher, says the new platform means distance learners no longer need to receive materials in the post, but instead can access them with a few mouse clicks. “It’s the latest move to ensure our work remains compelling, relevant and innovative,” she says. The organisation plans to develop a range of new courses and resources over the next 18 months. 

The Journalism Skills Academy website

The Journalism Skills Academy website

In addition, for the fifth consecutive year, we’re also supporting the Journalism Diversity Fund to help the next generation of journalists. As lead sponsor of the fund, we join 20 associations, broadcasters and publishers to provide bursaries to people from underrepresented backgrounds who need help funding their NCTJ journalism training. 

Joanne says the NCTJ is “absolutely delighted that we will be able to strengthen further the relationship between our organisations in the years ahead, as we grow these key areas of the NCTJ’s work.”

A group of people in professional attire stand in front of a wall with several Reuters logos.

Recipients of the Journalism Diversity Fund attending an event in London.

Training never stops when you become a qualified journalist. For a second year, the Google News Initiative is supporting the University of Central Lancashire to deliver the Journalism Innovation & Leadership Programme to provide postgraduate training opportunities for mid-career journalists from the U.K. and abroad.

Academics will select experienced journalists who apply to take part in an intensive 30-week course seeking to develop leadership, operational and product thinking skills, helping to connect people and build lasting relationships across the industry. The curriculum is grounded in industry insights tracking emerging trends and relevant themes. 

“It's perhaps never been more critical for those committed to the sustainability of journalism to take time out of the newsroom to think and learn from others as they assess new opportunities and ways of working,” says Dr François Gilson from UCLan. 

At the Google News Lab, we provide online resources on a range of digital tools, and in recent years we’ve trained 14,000 U.K. journalists and journalism students. We’re continuing to work with partners around the world, to find new ways to support personal development, both for staff journalists and freelancers.

A safe space that’s made to measure

Finding a safe and welcoming space to create a bespoke outfit can be really challenging, especially when you have your own vision for your wedding day or another special occasion. While traditional tailors are great, they can sometimes fall short for people who don’t want the usual three-piece suit or long trailing dress. 

But luckily, there’s Orhan Kaplan. 

Orhan London Tailoring is an East-London based business that has carved a niche through its bespoke LGBTQ+ tailoring service. Having founded the business with his wife, Denise, Orhan soon discovered a strong unmet demand within the LGBTQ+ community from people who wanted to choose something other than a standard wedding dress. Recognising the needs of the community has helped shape their product offering, and celebrating their customers’ individuality has made women’s suits and non-binary tailoring a key part of their business. 

As a tailoring and alterations business, being visible and accessible is fundamental for success. With their Business Profile on Google, casual shoppers who need simple alterations are able to find Orhan London Tailoring easily on Maps, while customers who need extended bookings for bespoke creations are able to swiftly organise appointments. 

However, for more specialised services, such as those for their LGBTQ+ customers, Orhan and his team recognised that an often overlooked community needed something else beyond simply being able to find the business online. They needed an indicator so that LGBTQ+ people would know it’s a safe and welcoming place. 

Becoming active allies

Communicating outwardly that Orhan London Tailoring is a safe space with dedicated service for the LGBTQ+ community has since become a top priority for the business. “We want people to know it’s a safe environment,” says Denise. “We want people to know that we can look after you, we understand your needs, and that we know the sort of things you’re going to ask for.''

Activating the “LGBTQ-friendly” attribute on their Business Profile has allowed Orhan to reassure the community that this is a welcoming environment. Sharing photos on their profile has also become an important part of this relationship, as potential customers are able to see other outfits the team have created for other members of the community. The positive reactions from customers, and a 75% increase in the number of women’s outfits ordered over the last three years, has been a testament to Orhan’s inclusive approach. 

An animation showing a Business Profile on Google Maps on a smartphone screen, showing the LGTBTQ-friendly attribute.

Connecting with the community, with help from Google

The LGBTQ-friendly feature gives businesses like Orhan London Tailoring a way to show potential customers they are inclusive and welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community – something which is more important than ever as businesses reopen after the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Stonewall’s 2017 LGBT in Britain research, 1 in 7 LGBTQ+ people report experiencing discrimination because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity when in a shop or department store. With the LGBTQ-friendly attribute, along with other inclusive attributes such “transgender safespace” and “gender-neutral restroom,” businesses are able to visibly signal that they are a safe space to users on Google Search and Maps.

For Joseph Crouch, Marketing Manager at Orhan London tailoring, these small actions are powerful markers to those who are looking for them, and have encouraged more LGBTQ+ customers to come in-store: “It’s these little things that give our customers the confidence to come and make the step.”

Our commitments for the Privacy Sandbox

We all expect a more private and secure web. The Privacy Sandbox initiative aims to help build it by developing new digital advertising tools to protect people’s privacy and prevent covert tracking, while supporting a thriving ad-funded web. From the start of this project, we have been developing these tools in the open, and sought feedback at every step to ensure that they work for everyone, not just Google. As many publishers and advertisers rely on online advertising to fund their websites, getting this balance right is key to keeping the web open and accessible to everyone. 

So when the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced its formal investigation of the Privacy Sandbox in January, we welcomed the opportunity to engage with a regulator with the mandate to promote competition for the benefit of consumers. 

This process has also recognized the importance of reconciling privacy and competition concerns. In a first-of-its-kind review involving converging regulatory authorities and expertise, the United Kingdom’s privacy regulator, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), is working collaboratively with, and providing direct input to, the CMA on Google’s approach.

Today we are offering a set of commitments — the result of many hours of discussions with the CMA and more generally with the broader web community — about how we’ll design and implement the Privacy Sandbox proposals and treat user data in Google’s systems in the years ahead. The CMA is now asking others in the industry for feedback on these commitments as part of a public consultation, with a view to making them legally binding. If the CMA accepts these commitments, we will apply them globally. 

The commitments

Consultation and collaboration  

Throughout this process, we will engage the CMA and the industry in an open, constructive and continuous dialogue. This includes proactively informing both the CMA and the wider ecosystem of timelines, changes and tests during the development of the Privacy Sandbox proposals, building on our transparent approach to date. We will work with the CMA to resolve concerns and develop agreed parameters for the testing of new proposals, while the CMA will be getting direct input from the ICO.  

No data advantage for Google advertising products 

Google has always had policies and practices to safeguard the use of people’s data. And we have explicitly stated that once third-party cookies are phased out, we will not build alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web, nor will we use such identifiers in our products. 

Building on this principle, the commitments confirm that once third-party cookies are phased out, our ads products will not access synced Chrome browsing histories (or data from other user-facing Google products) in order to track users to target or measure ads on sites across the web. 

Further, our ads products will also not access synced Chrome browsing histories or publishers' Google Analytics accounts to track users for targeting and measuring ads on our own sites, such as Google Search. 

No self-preferencing

We will play by the same rules as everybody else because we believe in competition on the merits. Our commitments make clear that, as the Privacy Sandbox proposals are developed and implemented, that work will not give preferential treatment or advantage to Google’s advertising products or to Google’s own sites. 

What’s next

We appreciate the CMA’s thoughtful approach throughout the review and their engagement with the difficult trade-offs that this process inevitably involves. We also welcome feedback from the public consultation and will continue to engage with the CMA and with the industry on this important topic. We understand that our plans will be scrutinized, so we’ll also continue to engage with other regulators, industry partners and privacy experts as well. 

We believe that these kinds of investments in privacy will create more opportunity, not less. The Privacy Sandbox seeks a way forward that improves people’s privacy online while ensuring that advertisers and publishers of all sizes can continue to succeed.

Source: Google Chrome

Rediscover your city through a new Lens this summer

With warmer weather upon us and many places reopening in the U.K., it’s the perfect time to go out and reconnect with your surroundings. Whether it’s soaking up that panoramic view of a city skyline that you’ve really missed, or wondering what that interesting tree species was that you pass every day on your park walk, many of us feel ready to reconnect with our cities in new ways.

British cities are especially ripe for rediscovery. As the country emerges from a long lockdown and people start to reintegrate with their cities this summer, we’re launching a campaign called Behind the Lens with Google Pixel, which aims to help people rediscover their cities using Google Lens on Pixel. We’ll do that through a series of events over the coming weeks, alongside some very special guests in London, Bristol and Liverpool.

Vibrant orange and purple flower shown on a Google Pixel 5 using Google Lens, which has identified the flower as a bird of paradise. The result shows information about the plant: “Strelitzia reginae, commonly called a crane flower or bird of paradise, is a genus of perennial plants, native to South Africa…”

Vibrant orange and purple flower shown on a Google Pixel 5 using Google Lens, which has identified the flower as a Bird of Paradise.

Behind the Lens with Google Pixel encourages people to search what they see using the magic of Lens, and rediscover some forgotten pockets of their city using its updated features. Identifying the species of that bird you keep seeing in the communal gardens of London has never been easier, while discovering new, secret ingredients at a farmer’s market in Liverpool can also be done in a snap. Or, perhaps you’ve always wanted to know more about that forgotten landmark from a viewpoint in Bristol. Lens can give you on-the-spot information about a subject with a single long tap on the Pixel camera viewfinder, which is handy since we often have our cameras open and ready to capture the moment. 

With restrictions being lifted in the U.K. this summer, Search trends reveal that there is an opportunity to rediscover our cities through the interests we have acquired over lockdown. From March 23, 2020 through April 21, 2021, Google searches incrementally increased for new skills and classes: Hiking trails near me (+200%), Online gardening courses (+300%) and Online cooking classes (+800%). 

This suggests not only that some of the hobbies the nation nurtured during lockdown are still very much of interest, but also now people can rediscover these within the backdrop of their city, alongside their communities and friends. 

Within Google Lens, the Places filter is selected and the view is showing a clock tower against a bright, cloudy sky. Lens identifies the clock tower as Big Ben and gives results, including a star rating, two alternative views of the tower and an option to search Google.

Within Google Lens, the Places filter is selected and the view is showing a clock tower against a bright, cloudy sky.

A new tool for rediscovery

Google Lens is now used over three billion times per month by people around the world, and with many ready to explore this summer and rediscover their cities, we’re officially launching the new Places filter in Lens. Now available globally, the Places filter makes it easy to identify buildings and landmarks using your phone camera, combining 3D models from Google Earth and Lens’ powerful image recognition technology to create an in-depth, real-time AR experience, similar to Live View on Google Maps.

The Google Lens app Places filter is open on a black Google Pixel 5, showing a view that scans the River Thames and settles on a large bridge with two towers. Upon identification of the structure as Tower Bridge, Lens results show the star rating, alternative images of Tower Bridge to scroll through, and the option to search Google for more information.

The Google Lens app Places filter is open on a Google Pixel 5, showing a view that scans the River Thames and settles on a large bridge with two towers.

Just open the Google app on your phone and tap the camera icon in the search bar to open Lens. Then, switch to the Places filter and point your camera at notable places around you.

We hope Lens makes rediscovering and learning about your city even more enjoyable.

Helping Mulberry bag more customers during COVID-19

Something struck solutions architect Neill Randall in the first week he joined the iconic British fashion brand Mulberry. The company had access to an impressive amount of data, but it wasn’t being fully exploited.

Renowned for its leather craftsmanship, Mulberry’s made-to-last accessories are sold across 25 countries via 120 stores and its digital network. The brand’s diverse physical and online touch points meant it was producing data through many different channels. And yet it didn’t have a central solution to bring all this information together. It was against this backdrop that the company turned to Google for a solution.

“All the data at Mulberry was coming in at different times, from different silos, in different formats, into different systems, making it impossible to gain end-to-end visibility,” Neill explains. “To create a global view of our stock, products and customers, we needed to bring all that information together. Google Cloud made that possible.”

With a centralised data solution on Google Cloud, Mulberry was able to connect the dots between data that was previously scattered across different systems. This extra capability would be useful at the best of times, but it proved to be even more lucrative when the brand had to shut its doors during the UK’s lockdown in March 2020. 

Transforming its closed bricks-and-mortar stores into warehouses for online sales, Mulberry was able to add all products still out on the shop floors to the company’s digital channels.

The benefits quickly made their way to customers, who now had an even larger selection of products to choose from when shopping online. Better still, with an improved view of each order status, issues were easier to resolve and customers received their favourite Mulberry items faster than expected.

Full stock visibility coupled with fewer order issues and faster shipping led to a 25% boost in sales. Some of Mulberry’s stores even got back to their normal sales levels, despite COVID-19.

That wasn’t the only benefit the brand enjoyed thanks to our partnership. With more than 2.7 million customers and 5,000 products, Mulberry gains valuable insights from each purchase. Now, having established a centralised data view, Mulberry could take the customer relationship to the next level by using this data to tailor marketing campaigns and offer hyper-personalised product recommendations. 

As a result, the company saw an increased click-through rate by 37%, which led to an 110% increase in return on ad spend in general.

For Niell and the team, simplicity was high on the shopping list. “We managed to get up and running within days, and began to see the benefits quickly,” he recalls. “We are basically self-taught, which is a testament to how easy to use Google Cloud is.”

With the tools to make its products even more fashionable to customers, we’re excited to see what Mulberry does next. 

Google Career Certificates launch in the UK

Today, we’re launching U.K.-wide Google Career Certificates in partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). 

With people in the U.K. gaining the opportunity to explore new freedoms each week, we know that many people, through both necessity and personal drive, are looking for ways to grow skill sets to prepare for the jobs of the present and the future. 

Technology and automation were already fundamentally changing the way we work, a trend only accelerated by the additional upheaval of jobs markets due to the pandemic. In fact, research conducted by Google and The McKinsey Global Institute before COVID-19 shows that, to ensure job creation, more than 90 million workers may need to develop significant new skills by 2030.

Our Search data in the U.K. suggests we’re already looking to get ahead of this with an increase in Searches for ‘information technology online course’ up 780%, ‘business management course online’ up 296% and ‘online courses with certificates’ up 259% in just the last week alone. 

On top of this, people are turning to the internet to ask their most pressing questions about ‘skills' with some top-ranked questions in Search being ‘How to improve leadership skills?’ ‘How to improve problem solving skills?’ and ‘How to improve communication skills?’

To support the need to learn these new skills, we’re distributing 9,500 Google Career Certificate scholarships in the U.K. through government partnerships with the DWP (9,000) and Camden Council (500). We’re also providing grant funding to The Prince’s Trust and INCO Academy via Google.org to ensure that an additional 1,500 young people from underrepresented and disadvantaged communities across the U.K. can take advantage of the training opportunity.  

Those who sign up to Google Career Certificates can select any number of the four courses available to help grow the necessary skills to support a career in technology. The courses available include IT Support, Data Analyst, Project Manager and UX Designer. Typically learners take up to six months to complete the course, no degree level experience is needed and they’re recognised by industry experts and employers, including Google. 

We know that technology is only becoming more important for the U.K. economy. The amount technology contributes to the UK economy has grown on average by 7% year on year since 2016. And U.K.-based venture capital investment is third in the world, reaching a record high of $15 billion in 2020, despite the challenging conditions. 

As the U.K. embarks upon the biggest recovery challenge in recent history, technology must help everyone, no matter their location, race, age or education level. We must harness the opportunity to prepare people across the country for the jobs of the not-so-distant future. We hope that with these new efforts and the support of our public sector partners, even more people can develop the skills to thrive and continue growing their careers through technology.

Improving online storytelling for blind and low vision readers

It’s a fact that we all enjoy a good story, right? Human beings consume storytelling like nothing else. From daily news articles, to movies, music and books, we are voracious consumers of stories. Through them, we make sense of ourselves and our place in the world. We articulate our experiences, share them and connect with others through them.  So what if those stories weren’t easy to access?

What if there were blockers that stood between you and the news, and storytelling, which help you make sense of the world? 

That’s the reality for 300 million blind and low vision readers, for whom it can be challenging to access even basic news headlines online, due to the inaccessibility of website designs.

All websites should adhere to accessibility standards, but the vast majority (97% of homepages) do not. Even when accessibility guidelines are followed, there’s a big difference between creating a website that’s accessible for assistive technologies, and enjoyable human storytelling for blind and low vision readers.

The question is: How do we create online content that is genuinely engaging for everyone, whether you rely on your sight, or not?

That’s the question we set out to answer with Auditorial — an experiment in storytelling that adapts to suit the reader, co-created by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), The Guardian and Google.

The landing page of the Auditorial experience, welcomes readers to 'an experiment in storytelling that adapts to suit the reader'.

It’s a piece of storytelling that is completely customisable, to offer those with visual disabilities an experience that is as comfortable, rich and creative as any other reader.

So if you’re blind and have sensitive hearing, for example, you can listen to the story but remove background noise to enable you to focus on the narrator. If you have photophobia, a light sensitivity, you can flip the story into dark mode, and all the animations take on a darker form. If you have a motion sensitivity, you can flip a switch that turns all moving images into keyframes. If you have faded colour vision you can enhance all the imagery. And so on and so forth.

A screenshot from online stoytelling experience Auditorial shows an image of Bernie Krause kneeling down beside the ocean, recording the waves. Closed captions at the bottom of the screen read 'He's recorded whales and how difficult it is for them to communicate when loud ships pass by'.

This project is intended to pose a question about how much more accessible the world’s information could be, if you could simply tailor every website to suit your personal sensory needs and preferences. Through it, we hope to provoke a discussion about how the web at large might become a more inclusive place for people with disabilities, simply by offering different modes of interaction rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach.

We captured key learnings from our collaborations with the blind and low vision community in the Auditorial Accessibility Notebook, to help other publishers of all shapes and sizes understand the simple tips and tricks that can open up online storytelling to millions of blind and low vision users.

By sharing these learnings, our hope is that more people than ever will be able to discover the stories that make us laugh, help us learn and open our minds.

And it starts with the adaptable story of The Silent Spring, written by the Guardian, for Auditorial.

How The FA used tech to get the ball rolling

For millions of football fans across the U.K. and around the world, the return of live matches in the English Premier League was a long-awaited milestone in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Enter Project Restart: the nickname given to the Premier League’s attempts to resume the season while ensuring the safety of players and fans. But with self-distancing as one of the key preventive measures against COVID-19, how could the safety of players be ensured when they’re interacting on the pitch? We at The Football Association (FA) were proud to have partnered with the Premier League to help in this aspect of the project.

A critical area addresses the challenge of ensuring players can interact at peak levels while observing the self-distancing norms still recommended by health authorities. To do this, we created a new analysis of thousands of hours of match play, and used machine learning technology to tell us about contact risk during a 90-minute football match.

We looked at all 380 games from the 2018/19 Premier League season, and the 288 pre-lockdown games from the 2019/20 Premier League season. Incredibly, this showed us over 40 billion interactions between players, captured in 100 million video frames which collectively made up 10 terabytes of data. Even the longtime players, coaches, and fans among us were staggered by how much goes on, even in one game.

Our system tracked players on the field at a rate of four-one hundreths of every second, ensuring we could analyse every interaction for concern about possible exposure. We employed the Exponential Model, developed by Danish public health academics, which at the time was considered the most accurate modelling of virus transmission during a football match. 

The model focuses on the 1.5 metre radius around each player, paying strict attention to the two second rate of decay, or half life, that COVID particles typically have in infecting a person in certain environmental conditions. Staying on the safe side, we employed a simplified model, which considered a player that is within two metres of an infected player during the half-life of the virus to be 100% exposed. 

As you may have guessed, all of this work involved gathering and analysing a tremendous amount of data from multiple sources, on some of the most advanced computing available. Working with Google Cloud, we used Google BigQuery to store the data and run a built-in machine learning model based on the simplified Model. BigQuery looked at an average of 145,000 rows of data per game analysed, examining every frame of tracking data for distance between all pairs of players on the pitch throughout an entire match. This fast and powerful toolset was critical to our success. 

What we concluded was good news: During a 90-minute football match, players spent on average a total of 90 seconds within a two-metre proximity of each other. Include goalkeepers into the calculation, and the average time decreases to 70 seconds. 

In other words: the risk factor of exposure to players was considered low, and we therefore determined that it was safe to keep the ball rolling. To be sure, players continue to be tested for symptoms of COVID infection before games, but this interaction data provides us with a critical level of reassurance.

It's great news, but it also reminds us that vigilant awareness and rigorous analytic insight help ensure not just a successful return to play, but a broader sense of confidence about the future of Premier League Football. We're building on a proud heritage of innovation, camaraderie and looking out for each other — the true heart of sport. 

The end result - we were able to keep the ball rolling

The end result - we were able to keep the ball rolling

Helping protect people from financial fraud in the U.K.

Over the last few years, people in the U.K. have been targeted by increasingly sophisticated scammers on and offline. According to UK Finance, in 2020, total fraud loss was £1.26 billion. Criminal gangs are using multiple malicious methods, including phishing emails, spoof phone calls and texts, shopping scams and impersonation scams, as well as scam advertising on social media and search engines.

Joining efforts to collaborate across industries

Tackling the scale of this problem requires collaboration across government, the financial services industry, the telecommunications industry, the tech industry and law enforcement. To play our part in this effort, we have become the first major technology company to join Stop Scams UK and will develop and share best practices with existing members from financial services and telecoms industries.

We also understand the importance of ensuring people are informed about how to spot the tactics of scammers and avoid falling victim to fraud, which is why we have pledged $5 million in advertising credits to support public awareness campaigns. The ads credits will be offered to cross-industry organisations already campaigning on this issue, as well as government bodies undertaking awareness campaigns.

Strengthening measures to protect U.K. consumers

As well as better equipping people to spot a scam, we know how vital it is to protect people from fraud. Over the next few months we will be developing and rolling out further restrictions to financial services advertising in the UK to protect consumers and legitimate advertisers.

The new measures build on significant work we have done to date to help stop financial scammers in the U.K., working closely with the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority):

  • In early 2020, we worked with the FCA to receive notifications when additions are made to the FCA warning list. There are more than 4,000 websites on the warning list.
  • Over the past year, we introduced several verification processes to learn more about the advertisers and their business operations. During the verification period, we pause advertiser accounts if their advertising or business practices are suspected of causing harm. We are currently requiring all UK financial services advertisers to complete these programs in order to run ads.
  • We updated our unreliable claims policy to restrict the rates of return a firm can advertise and ban the use of terms that make unrealistic promises of large financial return with minimal risk, effort or investment. 
  • We recently undertook a review of user experiences that tend to be targeted in the UK by bad actors and have introduced further restrictions, preventing ads from showing on those searches.

Globally, Google has also introduced new advertiser identity verification and rolled this out across the U.K. beginning earlier this year. Advertisers now need to submit personal legal identification, business incorporation documents or other information that proves who they are and the country in which they operate. This means Google can more effectively determine bad actors in the ecosystem from the start.

Ready to respond to evolving scammer tactics

At Google, thousands of people work around the clock to deliver a safe experience for users, creators, publishers and advertisers. Our teams use a mix of technology, including sophisticated machine learning, and human review to enforce our policies. This combination of technology and talent means policy violations can be spotted and action can be taken to remove bad ads.

Our teams are working hard on this issue because we all want U.K. consumers to feel safe and protected when they are managing their finances. Even as attempts by scammers evolve, we will continue to take strong action and work in partnership with others to help keep consumers safe.