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Privacy United States Government Security Politics

Most Americans Want Gov't To Make Internet Safer 439

aicrules writes "Despite the constant prattle of privacy groups and individual privacy advocated, according to a poll reported on by CNN most Americans want the government to be heavily involved in securing the Internet. They want to eat their cake too, though, as those polled also don't trust the governmental bodies charged with such security. They also found that more people trust Microsoft with security. From the article, 'I don't think the public knows what it wants Congress to do, but it wants Congress to do something,...They don't have a lot of confidence that Congress will do the right thing.'"
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Most Americans Want Gov't To Make Internet Safer

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  • by failure-man ( 870605 ) <failureman&gmail,com> on Friday June 17, 2005 @02:59PM (#12844876)
    Right Thing (tm) from the same people who've brought the internet such gems as the DMCA, the PATRIOT act, and software patents.
  • by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <> on Friday June 17, 2005 @02:59PM (#12844881) Homepage Journal
    Ah yes, journalisitc integrity takes another nose dive. The correct headline should be "Most Americans Want the Government to Do Their Job".

    If you read the article, you'll find that the survey was about the FTC and FBI executing the same sort of fraud prosecution that they do with brick and mortar businesses. This is a good thing (obviously) because someone must uphold the laws under which companies do business. Failing to enforce laws just because a company "is on the internet" is silly, stupid, and would lead to economic ruin for all involved.

    The survey, to be released Wednesday, said 71 percent of people believe Congress needs to pass new laws to keep the Internet safe. But Kurtz said Congress and the Bush administration should do a better job enforcing existing Internet laws against hackers, thieves and vandals and offer incentives for companies to improve security.

    The problem with surveys like this is that 95% of people never even read a single law. They are completely unaware of what laws exist to protect them and how those laws may be enforced. Coupled with poor enforcement (up until recently, enforcements agencies didn't understand the internet environment) and you've got a wide open door for bad laws like the DMCA. Which, BTW, isn't that bad of a law itself, but it really didn't bring anything new to the table and created more loopholes for civil and criminal suits.
  • by ivanmarsh ( 634711 ) on Friday June 17, 2005 @02:59PM (#12844884)
    Do we really want a government that can't secure it's own systems to be responsible for the whole system?

    I'll rely on my own security thanks.
  • by b17bmbr ( 608864 ) on Friday June 17, 2005 @03:01PM (#12844905)
    we want the government to do everything. heatlh care. oh, it's a right. retirement. gimme gimme gimme. education. federal takeover. we want prescription drugs, everything paid fo rby the governemnt. we want to use lawsuits to get rich quick, sue anyone for anything. we live in a welfare mentality. fuck if people care about freedom anymore. and freedom means freedom to fail. you want to make it rich, fine. but people want their desert without getting fat. it's sick.
  • by vijayiyer ( 728590 ) on Friday June 17, 2005 @03:01PM (#12844918)
    As usual, people want the government to "do something". Congress will take some reactionary step, and in the process, our freedoms will erode, either directly through laws or indirectly through the requirements of law enforcement (i.e., monitoring). Unfortunately, this mentality seems to be the defining feature of American politics nowadays.
  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Friday June 17, 2005 @03:02PM (#12844923)
    It isn't news, and why democracy can suck so badly sometimes.

  • Most Americans (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Turn-X Alphonse ( 789240 ) on Friday June 17, 2005 @03:04PM (#12844963) Journal
    Most Americans don't have a clue about the Internet. If they did they would relise the Internet is as secure and safe as you make it. If you open random attachments and goto then you deserve all you get.
  • by Leroy_Brown242 ( 683141 ) on Friday June 17, 2005 @03:06PM (#12844985) Homepage Journal
    Most are blissfully ignorant to our government's lagging in the computer technology area. They just want big brother to make things all better.
  • by FerretFrottage ( 714136 ) on Friday June 17, 2005 @03:08PM (#12845013)
    Sure the internet is fully of sleazy stuff we don't want our kids to see and malware that can render our computers useless, but most of these problems wouldn't exist if people knew what they were doing.

    When you are old enough to drive, you can't just get in a car a go (I guess you can, but not legally). You have to take a driver's test, you need insurance, you might have a driver probation period, etc. Why? Becuase you are no taking responsibility for not only something that can harm you, but others as well. SUre there a gov/state regulations with regards to driving, but basically you can drive to/from where you please.

    Well being that a person's PC can now be used to attack others and spread virsus, that person has the responsibility to learn how to keep there PC up to date with security patches and to stay away from nude B. Spears photos. I've purchased many Dells and none of them come with a warning or label that even attempts to mention that "by taking this PC into your home, you are taking on a great responsibility, etc."

    Maybe something like that is needed because we [Americans] want the government to do everything for us, oh, but don't raise our taxes....just print more money
  • by scotty777 ( 681923 ) on Friday June 17, 2005 @03:09PM (#12845033) Journal
    lower taxes

    more services

    more control over folks that seem threatening

    more privacy for themselves.

    the thing is: most Americans are pragmatic; they settle for a good beer and cheap cable tv

  • by Shadow Wrought ( 586631 ) <shadow,wrought&gmail,com> on Friday June 17, 2005 @03:14PM (#12845119) Homepage Journal
    Because, no matter how you cut it, freedom==responsibility. We, as a culture, are trying our utmost to avoid responsibility, be it at a government, corporate, or individual level.
  • Scary? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wolf31o2 ( 778801 ) on Friday June 17, 2005 @03:15PM (#12845122)

    This sort of thing scares the shit out of me. Besides being an American and working on a faily predominant open source project, I am also a Systems Engineer at a telecommunications company, working on the ISP side of the house. I've seen what government regulation can do on the telco side of the house, and it is truly scary to think that people would actually want the government getting involved in their Internet connection. Without even going into the political aspects of this, how the hell would they possibly be able to do anything on a global, distributed network such as the Internet? Are we going to have the "Great FireWall of America" right along with the Chinese? Better yet, who's going to protect us from ourselves?

    While I can understand people believing that Microsoft is the answer to their prayers, I respond with this. Microsoft should be! They should make sure that their systems have reasonable defaults. They should do more to secure their OS. This isn't just something Microsoft is liable for, everyone producing software should be making their software as safe as possible, out of the box. One thing we definitely do not need is a bunch of fat cat politicians who don't understand nor care about the problem making more laws controlling how things are done on a network that isn't bound by political boundaries, who are only working on the behalf of their "constituents" and "special interests" and not us, the American people.

    Also, who are we to tell other countries what to do? And if we don't tell other countries what to do, then how the hell can the government do anything that would actually be beneficial?

    Perhaps more work needs to be done at the ISP level to ensure customer safety. Perhaps more work needs to be done by the software vendors to ensure customer safety. However, I know for sure that the government really needs to stay the hell out of it. They've proven time and time again that technology is not something that they understand. Couple that with the fact that technology changes much mroe rapidly than a slow-moving government is capable of handling, and I think we all can see where this is going.

    Then again, Joe Sixpack thinks it is a good idea, and they seem to be the guys actually out there running this country, so maybe it is time I start looking at other countries to reside in, rather than allow my personal liberties to be eroded by Joe AOLuser can't figure out to turn on the fscking firewall.

  • by Morganth ( 137341 ) on Friday June 17, 2005 @03:16PM (#12845135) Journal
    Noam Chomsky once said the first amendment says you have to allow for free speech for everyone, not just "free speech for ideas you like."

    If "securing" the Internet means making it less easy for crackers to break into systems, then I'm all for it, but doubt the government will be much help. For that, we should probably be looking at the work done in security research in Universities across the land.

    If securing the Internet means preventing little Johnny from learning about crime ae and murder and sex, well then there is a very simple solution: prevent your child from accessing the Internet.

    Little Johnny can just as easily find those things by wandering around town, entering restaurants, stores, parks and local hangouts. But that doesn't mean we should ban speech in public places. It just means if you want to protect your children from ideas you don't like, then protect them, god damnit. Understand that browsing the web is just like walking around town without parental supervision. Don't blame the publishers: blame yourself!

    I just met a few parents who let their kid browse the web for hours on end. Eventually, they found out this 13 year old girl was sending naked photos of herself to random 40 year olds online with her webcam. So what did they do? Tried to sue the website that allowed her to do that (, of course! Did she ever think that she might be at fault, for allowing her daughter to browse around the web without any inkling of what is Right and what is Wrong in her innocent mind?

    America: land of irresponsible but accusatory parents, who'll shred our constitution if it means they can watch their shitty network TV ("CSI is on!") while their children entertain themselves any way they can, so long as it is state-controlled and state-monitored.
  • by abb3w ( 696381 ) on Friday June 17, 2005 @03:21PM (#12845218) Journal
    There is nothing that the governemt can do except for foceing all ISP to Virus Check the emails that they recieve, and keep their virus scanner up to date.

    How about more aggressively pursing internet based fraud, such as identity theft?

  • by brontus3927 ( 865730 ) <edwardra3&gmail,com> on Friday June 17, 2005 @03:26PM (#12845297) Homepage Journal
    I think it's a perfectly logical statement.

    Group x scored higher in a poll on security than group y. Ergo, more people trust group x (than group y)

  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday June 17, 2005 @03:26PM (#12845304) Homepage
    Actually, most Americans want an intact Constitution.

    Well, with less than 50% voter turnout [] and about half of them voted for Bush (who clearly doesn't want an intact Constitution) I'd say only about 25% actually want that.

    The rest want American Idol, McDonalds, and 19" rims with spinners.

    How can the "public" know what it wants to do when most people don't even know how congress WORKS?

    Indeed. And that includes having a clue about the state of the constitution.

  • by MattW ( 97290 ) <> on Friday June 17, 2005 @03:28PM (#12845323) Homepage
    Only 70% of americans know how many stars are on the flag []

    60% of people cannot name the three branches of American government, 37% could not even name one branch, and 89% don't realize the Patriot Act allows secret search & seizures by the government []

    30% of americans do not know that plants produce most of the Oxygen on earth; only 11% can describe radiation and only 13% know what a molecule is []

    Only 38% of *investors* know what a "no-load" fund is [] (Which I suppose goes to show that just because Americans get involved with something doesn't mean they bother to actually know anything about it)

    Only 50% of Americans know how long it takes the Earth to circle the sun []

    Frankly, we need to stop encouraging people to go vote. If you don't know why it is important to vote, then stay the hell home, because you probably don't know enough to intelligently cast a vote anyhow. "Get out the vote" campaigns are at best drives to sign up supports and at worst just base demagoguery.
  • by FerretFrottage ( 714136 ) on Friday June 17, 2005 @03:33PM (#12845377)
    To answer your question, I can do part of the diagnosis, but I can't fix it...

    But what I was trying to say is that as more and more people get on the 'net, they should become educated on the basic "do's and don'ts". The firewire is a perfect example. Should they be expected to know how to configure it like a certified Cisco, but they should be aware that they *should* have one and be prepared to pay someone to set on up or read a few pages of the user's guide to get it working in the first place. They should be aware that browsers, like unlocked cars, can easily be "stolen". They need not become an IT specialists, but they should know how to "drive" the net properly and as safely as possible. Accidents will happen, but if you keep your car/pc well tuned and stay alert, you are at least doing your part to minimize the chance.

  • by KDR_11k ( 778916 ) on Friday June 17, 2005 @03:34PM (#12845389)
    My money is on those 95% sitting on their couch/in front of their computer complaining about the gov and deciding that "someone should overthrow it". Of course they are too busy to do it themselves and one guy can't do that anyway.
  • Safer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mchappee ( 22897 ) * on Friday June 17, 2005 @03:36PM (#12845418)
    Of course Americans want the government to make things "safer". "Safer" is a good thing. Now ask if they would like the government to read their e-mail, access their browser history, listen in on their VOIP calls, and know their passwords. You'll get a very different response. That's why government misbehavior is given names like "The Patriot Act", and "The Children's Internet Protection Act". Like the word "Safer", If you oppose those things you sound like you're unpatriotic, or a danger to children. It's pretty stupid. They know that they can get away with just about anything as long as it has a pretty bow around it (or mentions 'terrists').
  • by MikeFM ( 12491 ) on Friday June 17, 2005 @03:36PM (#12845423) Homepage Journal
    People would rather pass laws that take away our freedoms than take the personal responsibility of learning to protect themselves. It's how we end up with bonehead ideas like local cops, the FBI, Homeland Security, etc and no doubt they'd love to create a China-like situation where the Internet is kept safe at the mere expense of liberty.

    End-users have the responsibility to protect their computers and themselves when they go online. If they can't do it, or haven't the time, then it's their responsibility to hire outside help.

    I do think companies should be held legally accountable. Software producers should be open to lawsuits for not providing quick, free, and easy security updates to all their products. Companies that don't bother using those updates, not choosing better products, or not otherwise maintaining their security should also be open to lawsuits and possible criminal charges if they work with sensitive data or their compromised systems are used to attack other systems. In the majority of companies I've worked for security was an issue that was totally swept under the carpet. I think that is the #1 reason the Internet has so many security problems.

    Those that won't be responsible by choice should be punished instead of the rest of us constantly cleaning up after them. I like ISPs that disconnect end-users that are detected to be compromised. I'd like to see that built directly into the protocols that define the Internet. That is where these issues should be fixed - not at the government level or even the software level.
  • by h0ts4uc3 ( 886948 ) on Friday June 17, 2005 @03:41PM (#12845478) Homepage
    "Most americans", it doesnt happen to mention cant check their email without someone holding their goddamn hand through the whole experience.

    The government is the last thing that needs to be involved with making the internet safer, USERS need to be EDUCATED on how to PROPERLY keep themselves SAFE by using ANTIVIRUS, FIREWALLS, GOOD PASSWORD TECHNIQUES and *gasp* COMMON SENSE
  • by michaelbuddy ( 751237 ) on Friday June 17, 2005 @03:54PM (#12845645) Homepage
    This isn't a CNN story, they are just re-reporting it. The Associated Press in Washington reported it. Who knows where it came from. The most annoying thing is that since it comes from "AP" there is no author attached to comment to, contact or flame. As far as anyone knows, a government lobbyist group could be cracking into the AP feeds, sending God knows what over to CNN, which then becomes news.

    Then, later on, some politician will use it to his / her advantage like for example, an invasion of Iraq.

    These non-issues, are trumped up all the time, and it's scary and sad. AP contributors have little responsibility I think despite how quickly their reported news gets circulated around the f--ing world. Like 10 minutes the entire world gets the report that maybe totally bogus.

    You know how Iraq was invaded? Bush and crew went around lobbying for it until their phone "polls" were high enough that they thought they would get away with it. Too bad the people polled didn't even know the difference between Saddam and that other guy.
  • by Dun Malg ( 230075 ) on Friday June 17, 2005 @04:12PM (#12845860) Homepage
    "I don't think the public knows what it wants Congress to do, but it wants Congress to do something,...They don't have a lot of confidence that Congress will do the right thing."

    This short utterance perfectly encapsulates the main problem not only in governing the internet, but in governing in general. Once people get the dumb idea in their heads that the government is in charge, they start expecting it to do everything for them, including the impossible, forgetting (or not caring) that it's the taxpayer who's footing the bill. Honestly, if it's unreasonable to expect the government to pay for a mechanic to fix my car, why is it reasonable to expect the government to pay for a doctor to fix my broken leg?

  • Here's an idea! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Wicked187 ( 529065 ) on Friday June 17, 2005 @04:15PM (#12845887) Homepage
    Why don't we ask the government to do less? They suck at most everything they do, they spend too much doing it, and perhaps I would like to be able to do decide what I do instead of making more laws and regulations that hurt our people and our economy. ISPs can offer filtering services, if we wish to use them, or we can buy software or security hardware, if we choose. Heck, PC makers could offer "secure" products, where the PC has all the extra stuff in it from purchase. Just keep the government out of my life! Next thing you know, this will be the Soviet States of America.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 17, 2005 @04:25PM (#12846019)
    Well without looking into their method of sample selection there's no way to vouch for the accuracy, but if you knew anything about statistics at all you would know that a sample doesn't have to be insanely huge for it to be representative of a larger population.
  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Friday June 17, 2005 @04:26PM (#12846029) Homepage Journal
    Because, no matter how you cut it, freedom==responsibility. We, as a culture, are trying our utmost to avoid responsibility, be it at a government, corporate, or individual level.

    Well, OK that's a sentiment I can admire, but some of the details are a bit unclear to me.

    Let's look at some hypothetical situations.

    Suppose I buy a TV set at a big box store, and pay for it with a credit card. Naturally, this puts my identity, address and credit card information into the store's database. Now that store offers real time checking, through a remote application server, to the store's system, so that people can check the web to see if an item is in stock before driving over. It happens the application server is poorly secured, and the store's local systems trust the app server. Black hats penetrate the app server, and use the trust to steal my credit card and other identity information.

    Now, are you saying it is my responsibility to investigate the security practices of a store before buying anything with a credit card there? And that if there were a federal law holding the store responsible for using my information responsibily, or even establishing minimal security practices for handling such data, are you saying this would make me less free?

    How about this. I had an account with a local bank, that was swallowed up by a bigger regional bank, that was in turn swallowed up by Bank of America. One of the things BOA really, really wants me to do is to do my banking transactions on line; to pay my bills etc. Stands to reason, it's much more profitable for them than handling a paper check, and I'm perfectly willing to go along. Now to set up my account, it turns out all I have to do is go to their web site and enter some stuff from my paper statement, and they set up a login for me, from which I can send money to anybody or any place from any place with just a web browser.

    This should give anybody with half a brain the heebie jeebies, because (1) if I didn't set up the account, somebody who snitched my statement could. (2) My money and identity is sitting on the server connected to the Internet, even if I hadn't decided to set up the online account. Even if I didn't opt in, I'd still better pray for BOAs guys to be ahead of the bad guys 100% of the time.

    Now, am I more free because BOA can treat my identity and money this way? Is it my responsibility to audit their security policies? Or -- since I as an individual have absolutely no way to do this even if I had the expertise, does having the huge responsibility of guessing which bank is lying the least when they boast about their security, does that mean I'm proportionally freer? Freer than if I could simply go by the security rating awarded to them by some future Bank Data Security board?

    I do have a few friends who opt out of all this. They don't have credit cards, and they cut up their ATM cards when their bank sends one to them. They do business with one of the last local banks in existence, which has a handful of branches around town. They're not technological illiterates either, quite the opposite. They've just chosen to opt out of any consumer financial convenience that has become common since, oh, 1970. They live in a world of paper check registers, savings pass books, and bank tellers who know them by name.

    Is this what true freedom and responsiblity look like?

    Low transaction costs and rapid movement of money are a public good. Security is a public good. Everyone benefits from these things. But private industry is not in the business of providing public goods. In practical terms, this means a private entity has a choice between handling data in a way that a client should trust, and creating the impression that is doing these things, it will take the option that maximizes its profits. The reason having the fox guard the chicken coop is a bad idea is not that foxes are evil, it's just that we're asking the fox to do something w
  • by prell ( 584580 ) on Friday June 17, 2005 @04:26PM (#12846031) Homepage
    Couldn't we just have companies that will, as a feature of their service, heavily monitor traffic and block or restrict things? Asking someone to control the entire internet is similar to asking someone to control every boat, airplane, car, book, movie, sound wave, ocean tide, and light wavicle that crosses some arbitrary boundary. How would they even control it? What's good and bad?

    So, I think people should either protect themselves, or get some independent group to serve as a filter between them and everything else. Like a religion! ;-)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 17, 2005 @04:37PM (#12846181)
    The telephone survey of 1,003 likely voters was funded by the Washington-based Cyber Security Industry Alliance, a trade group that has lobbied the Bush administration to pay greater attention to Internet security.

    Enough said.

  • by That's Unpossible! ( 722232 ) * on Friday June 17, 2005 @05:50PM (#12846944)
    Now, are you saying it is my responsibility to investigate the security practices of a store before buying anything with a credit card there?

    No. However, it is your responsibility to:

    (1) assess the risks of handing someone your credit card to be processed.

    (2) becoming aware of your rights and obligations under the terms of your credit card contract.

    (3) understanding and acting on your right to sue the store if they mishandled your information.

    Now, am I more free because BOA can treat my identity and money this way?


    Is it my responsibility to audit their security policies?

    No. It is your responsibility to stop doing business with them immediately if you do not like how they are doing business. If action on their part leads to losses for you, you also have the right to sue them for damages in a court of law.

    But private industry is not in the business of providing public goods.

    This is a fallacy pushed by people in love with government and growing government.

    In practical terms, this means a private entity has a choice between handling data in a way that a client should trust, and creating the impression that is doing these things, it will take the option that maximizes its profits.

    Only an extremely short-sighted company would do this. The kind that go out of business in a blazing glory of lawsuits because they opted for the quick buck.

    Let me give you an example.

    Disney World has an amazing safety record on their rides. These rides are ridden MILLIONS upon MILLIONS of times, and have had only a handful of accidents through the years. An even tinier portion of those have been deaths (some of which may not have even been due to the ride, but just coincidence).

    Yet after a recent accident where a 4-year old died while riding a hugely popular ride, you hear calls for government to standardize the rides, to provide more oversight.


    Disney World doesn't need any more incentive to keep its rides safe. If the rides are not safe, people will not come to Disney World. If the people do not come to Disney World, they will go out of business.

    When treating our data with unconscionable laxity is no longer profitable or an acceptable risk, companies will find a better way to cut costs or increase revenue, ways that will benefit us, the public instead of pulling the wool over our eyes.

    Man, you're so close. What you say is right, but you are assuming the only way to get their is with government oversight. WRONG. The free market can apply the pressure necessary for them to do the right thing, eventually.

    Here's another real-world example of this very thing. Vonage and some of the other voip providers have recently come under threat of lawsuits, because their 911 service is, to put it bluntly, quite shitty. These lawsuits provided the impetus necessary to get their ass in gear, and in the next few months they will be rolling out a much improved 911 service that compares to land-line 911 service.

    No government oversight needed. Free market applied pressure, and the results are coming.
  • by drxray ( 839725 ) on Friday June 17, 2005 @09:43PM (#12848558) Homepage
    "I am strongly in favour of using poison gas against uncivilised tribes." - Churchill

    Churchill was a useful wartime leader, but wasn't someone who you should base your personal philosophy on. He was quite an interesting character though, and you might enjoy looking him on on google/wikipedia/etc...

Solutions are obvious if one only has the optical power to observe them over the horizon. -- K.A. Arsdall