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ISPA Calls for Support - Not Regulation (Security)

Posted: 30th Oct, 2006 By: MarkJ
The UK Internet Services Providers’ Association (ISPA) has called on the government to support, but not regulate, ISP's when dealing with online security threats (spam, fraud etc.):

Responding to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee investigation into personal Internet security, ISPA says that regulating ISPs is not the answer to online security threats such as viruses, spam and phishing. ISPA supports the current legislative framework with key components including the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) and the Computer Misuse Act (CMA) but would welcome more stringent remedies against online criminals including spammers. ISPA also stressed the important role ISPs are playing through the provision of safety tools, guidance and education.

Jessica Hendrie-Liaño, the Chair of the ISPA Council, said, “Many ISPs offer safety features such as spam and virus filters. Users can set their individual preferences to increase the effectiveness of the filter systems. All users and particularly those with children should make their Internet connection as safe as possible.”

The UK Internet industry has an excellent track record of making the ‘net safer through self-regulation. If ISPs were further regulated, it would only serve to stifle the innovation of ISPs in providing users with appropriate products, services and education programmes to protect themselves online.

Jessica Hendrie-Liaño said, “Just like the offline world, the online world has its hazards. Many online security threats are very similar to offline consumer threats. ‘Nigerian letter’ or ‘419 scams’ originated by letter and fax before emerging in email form, and ID theft can occur by simply taking letters out of a dustbin rather than just through phishing attacks.

ISPs must be supported by effective implementation of existing laws which enable them to act to better protect their users’ security. It is also important that the nature of the Internet is understood and the success of the industry’s hard work to date is acknowledged. Personal Internet security must be a joint effort between the Internet industry, the Government and its agencies and importantly end-users.

The ISPA makes a good point for keeping UK Internet access free from tedious regulation, although at the same time it is not able to address the many providers that fail to include even basic anti-virus filtering on e-mail servers.

Sadly tackling SPAM is an altogether different ballgame, with filters tending to attack both legitimate and illegitimate messages, causing problems. The government would do well to remedy its failed anti-SPAM laws first.
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