MPs attack Government scare tactics on cybercrime
The Government needs to refocus its cybercrime message to educate the public instead of using scare tactics, according to MPs.
The Science and Technology Select Committee said the Government needed to improve public awareness of how to stay safe online rather than play up fears over crime.
“Despite the increasing use of malware, the internet is still a reasonably safe place to go about one’s business, provided users take a few sensible precautions,” said Andrew Miller MP, chair of the Commons Science and Technology Committee.
“Government departments need to realise that better public information about computer safety could save huge numbers of people the hassle of having their personal details stolen – it should focus on raising awareness of how to stay safe online, rather than scaring people about the dangers of cybercrime.”
Much of the information about internet security that does exist online is often technical or jargon filled
The committee bemoaned the fact that there is no first point of contact for citizens looking for IT advice. According to Miller, the Government should be putting money into a TV campaign. “Currently there is no single first point of advice and help for consumers and much of the information about internet security that does exist online is often technical or jargon filled,” the MPs found.
The committee called for more emphasis on existing campaigns such as Get Safe Online, and raised concerns that schemes to get more services and benefits online would be of greater use in protecting the Government against welfare fraud than the individual user against crime.
Software safety standards
Ominously for software manufacturers, the committee also mooted the idea of placing safety regulation on software, in a move that would align software with other industries.
“It would be possible to impose statutory safety standards on software sold within the EU, similar to those imposed on vehicle manufacturers,” the MPs said.
Although they would prefer effective self-regulation, the MPs believed that if the industry failed ”the Government should investigate the potential for imposing statutory safety standards”.