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ISPs should police the Internet says select committee

Amid growing fears of online fraud, identity theft and Internet “grooming”, a House of Lords select committee has called on Internet Service Providers to take more responsibility when it comes to Internet safety.

Michael Phillips, product director, said, “The committee’s recommendations are logical, however there is currently no legislation in place to back them up. In the meantime, Internet users need to take responsibility for their own internet safety by ensuring that they use secure websites and never respond to phishing emails or download from an unknown source.

“The committee needs to careful not to push ISPs to block all unknown sites in fear of legal action, as this would curb innovation and make the internet difficult to use,” Phillips added.

The Science and Technology Select Committee has said that since ISPs can see when a customer’s computer is infected and sending out spam or viruses to other internet users, they should be legally liable for any damage to third parties resulting from a failure to isolate the affected machine.

Phillips explains, “Many ISPs already offer free anti virus software as part of their broadband packages, as well as monitoring traffic in order to detect spam and other malicious codes that could spread the viruses that lead to fraud and identity theft.

“The Personal Internet Safety report which was published on Friday stated that ‘customers cannot be held entirely responsible for the security of their computers’. But until new legislation is put into place for ISPs to be held accountable, customers need to be aware of the precautions that they can take to combat fraud, malicious websites and identity theft. They can either sign up with a suitable ISP or buy a reputable anti virus software from someone like Norton or McAfee - and make sure that they regularly update their security settings,” Phillips concludes.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.