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Underpinning the success of the Internet is the confidence of hundreds of millions of individual users across the globe. But there is a growing perception, fuelled by media reports, that the Internet is insecure and unsafe. When this is set against the rate of change and innovation, and the difficulty of keeping pace with the latest technology, the risk to public confidence is clear.
The Government have insisted in evidence to this inquiry that the responsibility for personal Internet security ultimately rests with the individual. This is no longer realistic, and compounds the perception that the Internet is a lawless "wild west." It is clear to us that many organisations with a stake in the Internet could do more to promote personal Internet security: the manufacturers of hardware and software; retailers; Internet Service Providers; businesses, such as banks, that operate online; the police and the criminal justice system.
We believe as a general principle that well-targeted incentives are more likely to yield results in such a dynamic industry than formal regulation. However, if incentives are to be effective, they may in some cases need to be backed up by the possibility of direct regulation. Also, there are some areas, such as policing, where direct Government action is needed. So Government leadership across the board is required. The Committee's recommendations urge the Government, through a flexible mix of incentives, regulation, and direct investment, to galvanise the key stakeholders.
External resources Edit
- House of Lords, Science & Technology Committee, Personal Internet Security, Vol. 2: Evidence (Aug. 10, 2007) (full-text).