Lords slams government response to cyber crime inquiry

Lords slams government response to cyber crime inquiry

The UK's House of Lords has slammed the government for ignoring its recommendations on fighting cyber crime and improving Internet security and has accused MPs of putting their heads in the sand.

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee reported on its inquiry into personal Internet security in August.

The report criticised the "laissez-faire attitude" towards Internet security displayed by a number of groups, including the government, ISPs and hardware and software vendors. The government was also criticised for its insistence that individuals are responsible for their online security, an approach described as "inefficient and unrealistic".

The committee put forward a number of measures following the inquiry, including an increase in resources available to the police and criminal justice system to catch and prosecute e-criminals. The report also called for the establishment of a data security breach notification law to provide an incentive to banks and other companies trading online to improve the data security.

Other measures included the establishment a centralised and automated system, administered by the police, for the reporting of Internet crime and the introduction of a security "kite mark" for Internet services.

The report received whole-hearted support from the Children's Charities Coalition on Internet Safety. But the government's response, which was presented to parliament on 24 October, made no commitment to accept any of the major recommendations.

In a statement released by the committee, The Earl of Erroll, a member of the committee that undertook the inquiry, says the government's response is a "huge disappointment".

"We heard compelling evidence of substantial amounts of e-crime and we were entirely persuaded that individuals were unable, on their own, to continue to keep themselves secure," says Erroll. "The Internet relies on the confidence of millions of users, and that confidence is in danger of being undermined unless we can reverse the trends that our witnesses told us about.

He adds: "We don't know quite how bad things have become today - there are no reliable figures for e-crime. We recommended that the Government set up a group to develop a scheme for recording all forms of e-crime.

"The reply just says that the Government 'do not see that there is a need' for this. If you have no idea of the scale of the problem, how can you design solutions?

"Throughout our inquiry we tried to think outside the box, to look ahead ten years at what the Internet might be like, taking into account the emerging risks and challenges today. That's why our recommendations concentrated on incentives - we must ensure that everyone is motivated to improve security. Unfortunately, the government dismissed every recommendation out of hand, and their approach seems to solely consist of putting their head in the sand."

The committee's original report can be found here

The government's response can be found here

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