Users question need for Whitehall action

Users have reacted cautiously to calls from Scott Charney, chief security strategist at Microsoft, and other IT industry leaders...

Users have reacted cautiously to calls from Scott Charney, chief security strategist at Microsoft, and other IT industry leaders for greater government involvement in making the internet secure.

In last week's edition of Computer Weekly suppliers said they could not guarantee the security of systems and called on Whitehall to join with the industry in a concerted security effort.

But users said this was easier said than done.

Kevin Lloyd, chief technology officer at Barclays Bank, said, "Further regulation could be introduced, such as the current debate about the adequacy of the Computer Misuse Act, but the threat is largely propagated by the less ethical, less regulated ISPs."

Red tape would be heaped on ISPs and jurisdictions that are not really the problem, he added.

Roger Ellis, chairman of the IT directors' network, said, "It is right for the government to set the direction. Boards will listen to government but I do not think many companies want the government mandating what they should and shouldn't do."

Pete Smith, IT manager at satellite communications company Inmarsat, said the IT industry could create products that reduced the risk in using the internet. The telecoms industry could also make public networks more resilient and lower the cost of more secure private networks.

Ray Titcombe, chairman of council at the IBM Computer Users Association, said the government had been too slow to deal with e-commerce fraud over the past five years. However, he added that ministers were in a no-win situation about imposing legal restrictions on the web.

"They will be damned if they do and damned if they don't," he said.

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