Bruce Schneier talks cyber law

Make ISPs liable


RSA Europe 2005 ISPs must be made liable for viruses and other bad network traffic, Bruce Schneier, security guru and founder and CTO of Counterpane Internet Security, told The Register yesterday.

He said: “It’s about externalities – like a chemical company polluting a river – they don’t live downstream and they don’t care what happens. You need regulation to make it bad business for them not to care. You need to raise the cost of doing it wrong.” Schneier said there was a parallel with the success of the environmental movement – protests and court cases made it too expensive to keep polluting and made it better business to be greener.

Schneier said ISPs should offer consumers “clean pipe” services: “Corporate ISPs do it, why don’t they offer it to my Mum? We’d all be safer and it’s in our interests to pay.

“This will happen, there’s no other possibility.”

He said there was no reason why legislators do such a bad job of drafting technology laws. Schneier said short-sighted lobbyists were partly to blame. He said much cyber crime legislation was unnecessary because it should be covered by existing laws – “theft is theft and trespass is still trespass”.

But Schneier conceded that getting international agreements in place would be very difficult and that we remain at risk from the country with the weakest laws – in the same way we remain at risk from the least well-protected computer on the network.®


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