The government is to continue using Internet Explorer 6 as its default browser, despite a petition signed by 6,000 people urging it to upgrade to a more secure version of the browser.
Several European governments warned citizens earlier this year that they should ditch IE altogether after Google confirmed that a hack on its services that it believed emanated from China had been carried out through a vulnerability in IE6.
However, the UK government's response to the petition shows that it has no immediate plans to take any direct action on the issue, citing cost and time as obstacles to any upgrade.
"It is not straightforward for government departments to upgrade IE versions on their systems. Upgrading these systems to IE8 can be a very large operation, taking weeks to test and roll out to all users," it said.
"To test web applications currently used by government departments can take months at significant potential cost to the taxpayer. It is more cost effective to continue to use IE6 and rely on other measures, such as firewalls and malware scanning software."
Dan Frydman, who set up the petition, maintained that the government had failed to address fundamental concerns.
"What I was looking for was a recommendation to upgrade away from IE6. A recommendation isn't hard. It's cheap and easy and isn't an admission of guilt, " he said in a blog post.
"There's no chance we can always get what we want. Sometimes we just need to get what we can. Recommending the move would have been great. Not recommending is short sighted and diminishes ambition at the time when we need it."
The decision marks a different strategy to that of the Department of Health, which released an urgent bulletin in January advising all NHS Trusts using IE6 to upgrade.
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