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Commission leads moves for a safer Internet

A series of policy recommendations have been made by the European Commission to make use of the Internet safer, including using research from the forthcoming Sixth Framework programme. A new Commission communication addresses the issues raised at the Stockholm European Counc...

A series of policy recommendations have been made by the European Commission to make use of the Internet safer, including using research from the forthcoming Sixth Framework programme. A new Commission communication addresses the issues raised at the Stockholm European Council on 23 and 24 March, which concluded by saying that 'the council together with the Commission will develop a comprehensive strategy on security of electronic networks including practical implementing action. This should be presented in time for the Goteburg European council.' One of the main issues which is addressed in the communication is the need to have policy measures which can 'reinforce the market process and at the same time improve the functioning of the legal framework.' Tackling cybercrime, network and information security, data protection and hacking are some of the major initiatives proposed in the communication. Commenting on the move, European Commissioner for Enterprise and Information society, Erkki Liikanen, said: 'Internet has become a truly global network. Its openness has been the source of its success. But this openness also entails certain risks and that is why we need a strategy at European level to tackle existing and emerging security threats.' The specific measures mentioned include raising awareness of the issues involved, which should not just help the public gain more knowledge on the subject, but also make them aware of the best practices in addressing them. For example, one of the problems already encountered is that encrypting is only valid if the software involved is used by both sender and recipient. More information is needed on what the standard anti-virus and anti-hacking software should be. In response to this issue, the Commission is setting up an inventory of national measures which have been taken in accordance with Community law. Member States will be encouraged to support free circulation of encryption products and the Commission will propose legislation on cybercrime. On technological support, the communication makes clear that the work carried out on Internet security in the forthcoming Sixth Framework programme will be key, with a link to a broader strategy for improved network and information security. The use of the Internet in government will need to be tightened up according to the communication. Member State governments will need to introduce electronic signatures when offering public services and incorporate interoperable security solutions. The Commission will do likewise with its systems as well as fostering better links with other international organisations on network and information security. Interoperability is one of the most important elements discussed in the communication. It encourages European standardisation organisations to accelerate work on interoperability and says that the Commission will assess the need for a legal initiative on the mutual recognition of certificates. Finally, the communication urges Member States to strengthen their computer emergency response teams and provide greater communication between them. While the next stage for the proposals contained in the communication is discussion at Member State and European Parliament level, feedback from both industry and user sources has been invited (at the e-mail address below) by the end of August 2001.