Government 'must step in on e-security'



Insurance giant Direct Line has called on the Government to play its part in putting consumers' fears over e-commerce security at rest.

Despite a string...



Insurance giant Direct Line has called on the Government to play its part in putting consumers' fears over e-commerce security at rest.

Despite a string of suppliers and consultants insisting that using a credit card on the Internet is as safe as giving it to a restaurant waiter, consumers continue to cite security as the biggest factor preventing them buying on the Internet.

Now, Oliver Prill, the newly-appointed managing director for e-commerce at the Croydon-based insurer, wants the Government and financial watchdogs such as the Financial Services Authority to ensure consumer confidence in the Web is not undermined. His call is likely to capture the interest of new e-envoy Alex Allan.

"There is a lot of confusion out there," said Prill. "It has to be made clear that there are three threats to security. The first is interception of credit card details; the second is hacking into the systems of a third party; and the third are engines on the Web that can randomly generate a credit card number, without a cardholder knowing anything about it."

Prill heads Direct Line's efforts to invest £2m in a three-month e-commerce blitz at the start of 2000 to market its Web site directline.com. He added that although there has been a great amount of discussion over the Government's Electronic Communications Bill, little has centred on educating the public.

"We are prepared to play a part in being the consumer's champion on this. We have a pledge to support our customers," he said.

Prill, who joined Direct Line from management group McKinsey in October and will report direct to group chief executive Ian Chippendale, wants to push Direct Line to achieve 15% of motor insurance being bought online by 2003. The group, which made its name with direct selling by telephone, expects to launch new online products in each of the first three months of this year.

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