Computer Crime Research Center


Ministers attacked on e-crime response

Date: July 11, 2008
By: Rob Minto

Ministers have been slow to appreciate the scale of lawlessness on the internet, the Lords science and technology committee said yesterday.

In a follow-up to a report in August, the peers said there was still much work to be be done, and they criticised an "unsatisfactory response" from the government. They acknowledged the government had begun to move in the right direction, but suggested the issue of internet security was "more a matter of promises for the future than achievements in the present".

The government's change was attributed to a string of embarrassing data losses. These included the loss by Revenue &Customs of two computer discs containing details from the child benefit database in November, and subsequent losses of data by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and the Ministry of Defence.

The parliamentary joint committee on human rights concluded in March that "it would be wrong to see these errors and lapses as 'one-off' events", describing them as "symptomatic of the government's persistent failure to take data protection seriously".

The peers' science committee argued that the deluge of personal data losses had dispelled government indifference to the issue, forcing it to reconsider its response.

Prior to the data losses, the government response to the committee's report had been that e-crimes were standard offences "facilitated by new technology, rather than new types of offence". The committee said that this missed the point, as e-crimes required particular investigative skills.

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