Web users are growing increasingly alarmed at the many intrusions
into their privacy, and the increasingly sophisticated use of their
personal data, whether by companies or by governments. Widely publicised examples
include recent revelations of mass surveillance by spying agencies,
the growth of ever-more sophisticated hacking, the “profiling” of
individuals through their net use, and questionable use of commercial data-mining
The net result is that users’ trust is being deeply undermined.
What is urgently needed, is a global initiative – since there are
no frontiers in cyberspace – to improve user protection and security
in which governments and industry work together.
States need to draw up and enforce powerful laws to ensure
data is moved, stored or intercepted only in ways which are compatible
with the European Convention on Human Rights – which has long protected
each person’s “private life and correspondence”. Encryption, filtering,
virus-protection and authentication tools should be automatic in
new devices and services. Providers of “cloud” services or Wi-Fi
hotspots should face special oversight. Service providers need to
be identifiable, transparent and up-front about their policies. Employers
should be expected to respect their employees’ data.
Finally, Internet governance needs to move towards greater
equality between all stakeholders, including governments, with technical
standards laid down by the International Telecommunications Union
that are based on United Nations and Council of Europe standards.