The government launched its biggest ever internet safety campaign today in an attempt to make e-commerce safer.
One of the leading lights behind the push is Secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Internet Group and Nottinghamshire MP Dr Nick Palmer, one of the few MPs with hands-on IT experience thanks to his previous career running a multinational intranet.
He took the time to speak to vnunet.com about the challenges facing the public in an increasingly online society.
Why is the government choosing to act on internet safety at this time?
The campaign is being launched around all internet use, not just spyware which I spoke on last week. There's a feeling that we were behind the curve when it came to warning about viruses and worms and we wanted to make sure that we were ahead of the curve this time round.
Will this campaign, and the larger fight to make the internet safer, require new funding for forces like the National High Tech Crime Unit?
It's likely that the expansion of our activities will need some increase in funding for the police investigating online crime. There's a need to be seen to be better than the criminals and we need to move beyond the situation where some feel we're moving a step behind the criminal element.
With spyware, how important is it to protect legitimate operators?
We need to be clear about what is legitimate and what isn't. People who want to operate on the right side of the law need to be supported. But we can't tolerate those who operate outside the law.
Unfortunately those who operate legitimate spyware, code that lets people know exactly what it's doing and why, will find they are less effective than those who don't care about consumers, and illegal operators will fill the gap. So we need to support the ethical and stop those who don't adhere to our guidelines.
How well do you think IT issues are understood generally in government?
The Civil Service is generally very good on IT issues. They have very good specialists who understand the issues and practicalities. In parliament itself there is less expertise.
Out of the 600 plus MPs in the House of Commons there's only a small number who actually have direct IT experience, maybe as few as 20.
And what about the police?
To be frank it varies a lot. The specialist police services are really up to speed on computer issues and have some of the best minds in the business. On local forces it varies a lot but I don't think you can expect every bobby on the beat to be a computer expert. That's one reason why you need expertise centralised.
Comcast's £29.7bn winning bid more than twice the £13.7bn Rupert Murdoch valued Sky at just eight years ago
A nuclear strike has been considered, but Bruce Willis is nowhere in sight
Spray-on antenna could enable seamless integration of antennas with everyday objects
Parker Solar Probe, TESS and GOLD missions will deliver exciting data, claims NASA