A House of Lords Select Committee has called on the government to take urgent strong measures to protect internet users against crime.
Describing the internet as "the playground for criminals", the Lords Science & Technology Committee recommended measures to:
● Increase the resources and skills available to the police and criminal justice system to catch and prosecute criminals.
● Establish a central, automated system, administered by law enforcement, for reporting e-crime.
● Introduce a data security breach notification law.
● Establish legal liability for damages resulting from security flaws.
● Encourage a "kite mark" for secure internet services.
The call for more police resources came days after Computer Weekly reported that the Association of Chief Police Officers' e-crime unit wanted private sector help to find £4.5m to launch a team to co-ordinate responses to e-crime.
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The committee said that the government should review, "as a matter of urgency", its decision that victims of online fraud report first to their banks, rather than to the police.
Committee chairman Lord Broers said, "We are firm believers in the internet. It is a huge force for good. But it relies on the confidence of millions of users.
"You cannot legislate for better internet security. But the government can put in place incentives for the private sector to up their game. And it can invest in better data protection and law enforcement."
Jeremy Beale, head of e-business at the Confederation of British Industry, said, "We strongly support the committee's call for a better-funded and more joined-up government approach to boost public awareness of internet security threats."
But he called for caution on introducing new rules such as a data security breach notification law, or increased liabilities on internet service providers and software providers.
"Such catch-all legislation is not guaranteed to work. It could also impose a disproportionate burden on businesses already struggling to develop effective security practices in the complex world of internet commerce."