The Internet — and its reach — both socially and commercially, have grown exponentially over the last 25 years. This is mostly due to the fact that few barriers have been placed in its path.
The Internet has been largely unhindered by regulation or laws.
While this incredible rate of growth is largely a good thing, the standards employed in administering the safety and use of American consumers’ private information has thus far mostly been handled by the largely multi-purpose bureaucracy, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
That has created internet hazards that have become all too familiar and distressing.
It’s also raised a question: While the FTC can be effective in helping to develop rules to “ensure a vibrant marketplace,” educating consumers and businesses about their rights and responsibilities and reviewing business practices that could harm consumers, is the FTC fully equipped to protect consumers when it comes to the Internet, especially with the expansion of the so-called Internet of Things?
Isn’t the Internet an area where additional measures, and new approaches, are required to ensure consumer and data safety? The Facebook scandals and explosion of privacy and security breaches certainly suggest that we’re in dire need of fresh solutions and improved ways to protect society.
In a recent piece in the Financial Times, Duke University Fellow and former Deputy U.S. Treasury Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin, discussed a new way forward.
She pointed to an approach that combines “consumer protection standards and engineering expertise,” and leverages the expertise of the world’s leading cyber security companies — Symantec, McAfee, Trend Micro, Sophos, Panda, Kaspersky, Enigma, ESET, Avast, Avira, BitDefender, Webroot, and Microsoft.
Raskin’s argument is that with these companies applying heightened standards for what makes an app safe for consumers, they can protect consumers from harmful and misleading apps in a remarkably new, swift, and efficient way.
The method she described hinges on the commitment of both the cybersecurity companies — who have the ability to remove misleading and potentially harmful apps from consumer machines — and responsible app makers, who have come together in a non-profit group, CleanApps.org, and agreed to comply with heightened consumer-oriented standards.
Those standards were created by AppEsteem Corporation, a certification company that has developed enhanced requirements for industry compliance.
Without AppEsteem and CleanApps.org, consumers’ fate could remain largely in the hands of tech giants. Up to now, online users have depended on companies like Facebook to self-police.
The old playbook has been tech behemoths determining how best to safeguard ensure consumer privacy and security. This overreliance on a few to protect the many is plainly not working. For example, one data breach discovered in September of 2018 exposed the information of 50…