Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Personal Internet Security: follow-up House of lords report

I've been meaning to not this from Richard Clayton for a couple of weeks:

"The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee have just completed a follow-up inquiry into “Personal Internet Security”, and their report is published here. Once again I have acted as their specialist adviser, and once again I’m under no obligation to endorse the Committee’s conclusions — but they have once again produced a useful report with sound conclusions, so I’m very happy to promote it!

Their initial report last summer, which I blogged about at the time, was — almost entirely — rejected by the Government last autumn (blog article here).

The Committee decided that in the light of the Government’s antipathy they would hold a rapid follow-up inquiry to establish whether their conclusions were sound or whether the Government was right to turn them down, and indeed, given the speed of change on the Internet, whether their recommendations were still timely.

The written responses broadly endorsed the Committee’s recommendations, with the main areas of controversy being liability for software vendors, making the banks statutorily responsible for phishing/skimming fraud, and how such fraud should be reported.

There was one oral session where, to everyone’s surprise, two Government ministers turned up and were extremely conciliatory. Baroness Vadera (BERR) said that the report “was somewhat more interesting than our response” and Vernon Coaker (Home Office) apologised to the Committee “if they felt that our response was overdefensive” adding “the report that was produced by this Committee a few months ago now has actually helped drive the agenda forward and certainly the resubmission of evidence and the re-thinking that that has caused has also helped with respect to that. So may I apologise to all of you; it is no disrespect to the Committee or to any of the members.

I got the impression that the ministers were more impressed with the Committee’s report than were the civil servants who had drafted the Government’s previous formal response. Just maybe, some of my comments made a difference?"

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