Our relative nascent understanding of the Internet coupled with the immediate transmission of digital data and outdated regulations has created an environment ripe for cybercriminals and other bad actors to exploit. We cannot stand by and watch values being eroded by these few bad actors.
Governments have a role in setting and enforcing legal standards of behaviour and commerce in the online community as they do in the offline environment. The borderless nature of the Internet may blur these lines of responsibility and accountability, but it should not detract from the governments role of promoting and maintaining the safety of its netizens. Over-regulation can stifle innovation, but by not comprehensively addressing consumer cyber-risks and assuming that the marketplace will find the answer to the problems, is irresponsible governance. But responsibility should not solely lie with government.
The Internet community has to live within a clear set of rules and we all have to be accountable. There are some very wealthy and powerful technology conglomerates who have monopolized businesses within the Internet ecosystem. With such wealth and power should come a greater sense of accountability and responsibility…. and not solely to its shareholders. We need to continually remind them of the ethical responsibility that comes with such power and influence. They too have a responsibility in keeping the Internet safe, transparent and accessible.
- • The technology industry has a role to play in being more transparent in the features they offer consumers, making them easier to understand and providing a simple opt-out functionality should it any consumer feel uncomfortable. Consumers have a right to know when their privacy and personal information is being traded, as for example when they download a “free” application, plug-in or other service. They should not have to wade through copious legal pages of a terms and conditions document to find out they are contractually agreeing to become a data point.
- • Search engines, social media companies and user generated content platforms should be held more accountable for displaying advertisements on pages that distribute, promote or encourage illegal activities, especially when they share the advertising revenue with the website owner or uploader of the illegal content. If a technology company’s algorithms or bots prove ineffective in identifying such bad actors, then human resources should be employed to enable workable policies and preventative measures to be put in place. Nobody expects technology companies to police the Internet but they could become a more proactive participant in a neighborhood watch team that protects their users
- • Videos or messages that threaten or endorse terrorism are already in breach of the usage rules of mainstream social media companies. No responsible social media company would want to promote such violent extremism. Yet such content is still easily found. Many technology companies sit back and rely on governments to identify the problem and propose a solution rather than outreaching to governments and explaining what could be done. After all they are the ones who know their platforms the best and what technical solutions would be the most effective.
Health and safety has always been a key component in the design and production of consumer products. Why should it be any different in the online environment. If it’s connected then it should be protected.