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FCCPC indicts Google over defaulting online money lending banks, to use US law enforcement

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Babatunde Irukera

The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has blamed Google for the inability to trace the owners of some defaulting online money lending banks over consumer rights violations.

This indictment is coming 2 weeks after the commission had ordered Google and Apple to enforce the withdrawal of these money lending applications from their stores where evidence of inappropriate conduct or use of the application in violation of the rights of consumers has been established.

This was made known by the Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of FCCPC, Mr Babtunde Irukera, while speaking at a collaborative engagement with journalists on Thursday in Lagos.

Irukera said that he considered the development a potential threat to key national interest, adding that once Google uses its play store as a platform for that kind of app to operate, there is a problem.

Executive Vice Chairman of FCCPC insists on holding Google responsible

Irukera said, “No company, no matter what benefit they bring should have that prerogative or opportunity of being that anonymous.

“And that is the problem we are dealing with. So, we must hold the big ones who are making a tonne of money from our citizens responsible.

“If we can hold them responsible and they become liable for that kind of conduct, then we can cascade down and we can talk to Instagram that if anyone is going to sell stuff on your platform, there must be certain information that must be available.

“You cannot provide those platform, make your money and look the other way while people who come on that platform exploit people and people are stuck.

“There has to be a level ground for everyone. In the absence of that, even your business itself is an exploitation. If you are not the exploiter, you are at least ceding the platform to exploiters to exploit people.”

FCCPC to work with law enforcement in the United States on this

  • Irukera noted that it is easier to hold Google responsible for those individuals behind the online money lenders.
  • He said the commission might need to work with law enforcement in the United States, to get them come up with the information needed to get those behind the digital lenders.
  • The FCCPC boss said, “We have our counterparts there and we will use our counterparts to say to Google that you are not welcome in this country if we cannot find you; that a regulator cannot engage you when your platform is used to exploit people.
  • “No! You are not welcomed. You are absolutely unwelcomed if your platform can be used to exploit the people and the regulator could not prevent that exploitation.
  • “Therefore, you are absolutely unwelcomed. And I have absolutely no apologies for saying that about Google.”

Inability to contact Google

Irukera expressed frustration over the inability of the commission in contacting Google while trying to pull out apps from the Google Store.

He said, “I find that extremely reprehensible and shameful of a company the size and magnitude with Google, that you are hardly where you can be found.

“It is the height of reckless irresponsibility. That a company with a brand and a name like Google and so I intend to hold Google accountable.’’

In case you missed it

  • Recall that on March 11, the Federal Government in a raid through its joint committee investigating rights violations and unfair practices shut down some illegal online money lending banks for not registering with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and engaging in activities against the rights of Nigerian consumers.
  • These online banks charged interest rates that violate the ethics of how lending is done and were involved in naming and shaming which is a violation of people’s privacy with respect to how these lenders recover loans, among other violations
  • The lending companies offer short-term loans to help subscribers meet urgent needs, but resort to unprofessional measures of harassment, cyberbullying, and breach of data privacy of their customers who may have defaulted in loan repayment.
  • Some of the affected online money lending banks include; GoCash, Okash, EasyCredit, Kashkash, Speedy Choice and  Easy Moni.

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Indian Regulator SEBI Proposes Banning Public Figures From Endorsing Crypto Products

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sebi

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has reportedly proposed banning public figures, including celebrities and sportsmen, from advertising and endorsing crypto products. The regulator also proposed that public figures be held liable for any law violations when promoting crypto products.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the country’s securities and commodity market regulator, has proposed prohibiting public figures, including celebrities and sportsmen, from endorsing crypto products, Businessline reported last week. In addition, the regulator proposed requiring advertisers to disclose possible law violations.

SEBI recently shared its view on the subject with India’s Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance when it was questioned about various crypto issues, sources told the publication. The regulator subsequently submitted a detailed written response to the committee.

The Indian Ministry of Finance also asked SEBI to give its view on the crypto advertising guidelines published in February by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI).

SEBI reportedly wrote:

Furthermore, the securities regulator proposed that public figures be held liable for endorsing crypto products, which could violate certain laws, including the Consumer Protection Act.

In addition, SEBI suggested adding the following statement to the ASCI disclaimer: “Dealings in crypto products may lead to prosecution for possible violation of Indian laws such as FEMA, BUDS Act, PMLA, etc.”

ASCI’s crypto guidelines, which went into effect on April 1, state: “Since this is a risky category, celebrities or prominent personalities who appear in such advertisements must take special care to ensure that they have done their due diligence about the statements and claims made in the advertisement, so as not to mislead consumers.”

Meanwhile, the Indian government is working on the country’s crypto policy. Finance ministry officials have met with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to discuss crypto regulation. India’s finance minister recently said that the decision on crypto regulation will not be rushed. Crypto income is currently taxed at 30% in India.

What do you think about SEBI’s view on prohibiting public figures from endorsing crypto products? Let us know in the comments section below.

Image Credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons

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Sanwo-Olu Promises Justice for Sound Engineer David Imoh

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David Imoh Sound Engineer

By Modupe Gbadeyanka Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has promised to ensure that the late Sound Engineer killed by a mob in the Lekki area of the state last week gets justice. The Governor gave this assurance through the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, in a statement issued on Monday night. […]

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