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While it's not perfect, the Web is not a wild west (laws do apply and people don't run riot) but it makes for a nice generalisaton and, along with Peter Mandelson's belief that half of Web traffic is piracy, it puts the blame on the technology and users rather than misunderstanding and poor application of the law. Technology is not out of control - the law has been slow to adapt and evolve. Different jurisdictions, annonymity and social media have highlghted the weakenesss. The current law is not defunct but the effectiveness has been questioned and it needs an updating. Crime is crime, surely? Yes and no, we call it cybercrime because it sounds cool and there are still areas which aren't dealt with properly. The distinction is made because there may not be a real world equivalent or some virtual crime is seen to be less serious. You need the right tools to address the problem, not keep applying the traditional methods. Harassment is an example which casts a wide net when applied online and is not clearly defined in regards to social media.
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There was a 2009 Cyber Securtity Report which sought to set up the Office of Cyber Security (OCS) and a Cyber Security Operations Centre (CSOC) to provide 'strategic leadership' and to monitor cyberspace. Collaboration, knowledge and regulation was at the heart of the report. This sounds familiar to the current proposals. Europe have frequently stressed the importance of co-operation, international efforts have shown to work but information flow will not be limited because of national security concerns. Even if the barriers are broken down, the risk is that you end up with virtual territories and access would be restricted to minimise potential threats and this runs contrary to the idea of an open Web. The practicalities of monitoring web traffic appear to be a huge hurdle and technologies implemented to maintain security may restrict how individuals access the Web in the future.
Educating users to be more aware and responsible may help with certain crimes, such as fraud - this is more important as social engineering is a popular method to obtain information.The Government should protect users from threats beyond their control, hackers and cyber-terrorists are examples of what an individual, no matter how talented, cannot prevent. However, checking bank details is something which should be encouraged and greater vigilance can reduce the likelihood of fraud. Taking precautions and educating oneself is necessary and may require a change in the perception of what the Web is and taking ownership of one's own time in cyberspace.
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The Tories are not breaking new ground, it is all a step in the right direction but not quite a roadmap, more like a compass and vague sketching of the destination and the rest should, with the help of a hopeful Government, fit into place. We've seen it before and before that - so it's a struggle to fight the cynicism. Niall Ferguson has stolen my idea of using the phrase 'killer app' so I'll end with this. Web 1.0 was the beginning, 2.0 is the current version of user driven content, 3.0 may be the turn of the Governments to shape the Web.