Do we need to train and license internet users?
Roar’s submission to the Federal Government’s Inquiry into Cyber Crime proposed that people need to be ‘trained’ to certified standards for safe, ethical and responsible use of digital technologies.
Appearing before the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications in Sydney yesterday (Thursday 9 October 2009), the Tasmanian film and multimedia production company argued that skills-based internet safety training, tied to national standards and ‘acceptable use’ agreements, would greatly assist efforts to protect citizens and networked communities from cyber crime.
Speaking for Roar Film in Sydney, Mr Terry Hilsberg said, “Everyday we hear stories about the incidence of cyber fraud, cyber bullying, intellectual property theft and other types of risky behavior associated with internet use. These occurrences are on the increase as we move more parts of our lives online, connect via a greater number of portable devices, and increase bandwidth.
“A major characteristic of this type of risky activity is the impact on other people. For instance, cyber crime by definition involves a victim(s) and a perpetrator, as does much risky social behavior such as cyber bullying. There are direct economic, emotional and social costs borne by those adversely impacted.
“Whilst some cyber risks can be reduced through prohibition – by using internet filters in schools or the diligent monitoring of online transactions by banks – ultimately for many types of cyber risk, the most effective measure is prevention by a skilled, responsible and empowered citizenry.
“Community education is therefore a fundamental component of any cyber risk prevention program, and Roar recognizes the many public and private initiatives in this respect. However, based upon our extensive experience in cyber risk education, we have come to the view that education will remain less-than-effect unless it is tied to agreed national standards for internet user competency.
“There is a need for internet users to complete training to attain agreed skills competencies (through schools, workplaces or community organizations) in order that they may be licensed to connect to the web at these locations … in much the same way as society requires the training and licensing of drivers on our roads,” he said.
Hilsberg said that whilst such a license should not be mandatory to use the internet, it might be required in circumstances where one user could cause harm to another if they did not exercise appropriate skills.
He predicted that such measures particularly would need to be contemplated with the roll out of the National Broadband Network (NBN), which brings with it both great opportunity and heightened risk.