FIA members need strong and effective protection from online fraud which is robbing both genuine fundraisers of much-needed revenue and donors of their desire to help the causes they support. Online fraud is a growing problem which is damaging to all fundraising organisations.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) reported on 16 January 2020 that its Scamwatch program had picked up notifications of 425 scams since the start of the bushfire season in September the previous year. The ACCC particularly warned donors to beware of fake charity websites and social media sites. A similar trend emerged at the start of the COVID-19 crisis with the ACCC warning consumers to check the authenticity of crowdfunding appeals before making donations. Fundraisers have harnessed the internet and social media for beneficial purposes, but the digital revolution has enabled fraudsters to exploit new technologies for criminal ends. So far, fundraisers have had no avenue of redress.
To combat fraud and prevent theft of funds intended for charitable purposes, FIA seeks the introduction of the necessary regulation based on the powers the technology regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), already has to shut down illegal online gambling sites and take legal action against perpetrators.
In its 2020 submission to the Bushfires Royal Commission, FIA outlined a detailed plan for introducing the necessary regulations based on ACMA’s existing powers to shut down illegal gaming sites (Interactive Gambling Amendment Act 2017). That legislation gave ACMA new powers to:
• require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block access to illegal online websites, and
• bring criminal charges and fines as well as seek significant civil penalties.
Section 313 of The Telecommunications Act gives ACMA the power to shut down websites. It is also used by other regulators, including the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), the financial watchdog.
Our proposed plan
- FIA to advocate and lobby for the introduction of the necessary powers the technology regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), already possesses to shut down illegal online gambling sites and take legal action against perpetrators.
- Now that the recommendations of the Bushfire Royal Commission have been made published, FIA will make direct representations to the minister responsible for ACMA and the Assistant Treasurer, calling for immediate action on this pressing issue.