The internet must be policed more aggressively if we are to encourage more people to take part in e-government, says an EDS security specialist.
EDS justice sector executive Bill Bogart, whose brief covers security, says if citizens see an internet full of websites with illegal and dubious content, sites to facilitate hacking and distribute viruses, and emails seeking to entrap them into fraudulent investment schemes, they will not be keen to let the medium into their home. So those citizens will miss out on the benefits of electronic democracy and the country will be the poorer for it.
We need to close down those “bad” websites and stop the fraudulent emails, says US-based Bogart. He acknowledges this is a tough issue fraught with technical difficulties and differences in legislation, but says countries are increasingly concurring on the kind of internet activities that are undesirable and agreeing that such developments as “sites that assist you to make up and print fraudulent drivers’ licences” should be fought internationally.
He accepts that international cooperation to combat problems such as these is also increasing. “A few years ago, would you have seen a Russian hacker lured to London, arrested and put on trial in New York? Now that has happened.”
There is a need for a central coordinating point for information on and reporting of e-crime, he says. Discussions have been held on forming such a body in New Zealand (see E-crime group eyes integrated approach) and according to EDS NZ chief Robert Gray, firm plans to form such a body are near, perhaps bringing an announcement this week.
Another pleasing development, Bogart says, is the introduction of “computer etiquette” into school IT classes, making young people aware of the consequences, personal and for commerce or government, of what they might see as a game of hacking.
Bogart has been in Australia and New Zealand attending the world IT Congress in Adelaide, and speaking to EDS and clients in both countries, as well as attending an Australian forum preparatory to the congress. He is described on the programme as being responsible for EDS’s business development in law enforcement and public safety, which also includes courts, immigration and customs.
Told of the delays to New Zealand’s Crimes Amendment Bill No 6, criminalising hacking and the Electronic Transactions Bill, he says New Zealanders and local businesses should press government to get on with enacting such vital measures.
On the more physical front of terrorism protection, IT can do much to improve and speed border controls, Bogart says. Ben Gurion airport, in the Israeli capital Tel Aviv, now has a kiosk system for low-risk passengers.
An intending frequent passenger, such as Bogart, gives basic information including a digitised fingerprint, to the airport authorities and permits a check on his/her history. If there is nothing suspicious, the passenger is classed as low-risk and given an electronically readable card. This is inserted in the kiosk, which verifies the passenger’s identity and fingerprint. Check-through takes as little as 15 seconds, and is much preferable to being questioned and frisked by an Israeli soldier, says Bogart.
Similar systems have been introduced on the Palestinian border for day-workers crossing into Israel, and at several major US airports. Overseas citizens intending to visit the US frequently can apply from their own countries for “pre-clearance”, he says.
Security is often seen as having trade-offs with privacy, but it can actually enhance a citizen’s privacy, Bogart claims.
If you give sensitive information once to a single body, anyone else who wants to check on you often wants just a simple yes or no: “Does this person have a good credit record?” Thus the detail of the information is safeguarded.
Having spent 25 years in the US military, Bogart admits he inclines more towards a perception of the need for security than an overly sensitive attitude to privacy protection. But the balance is a controversial question, he acknowledges.