UNITED STATES Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Tom Wheeler has told internet service providers (ISP) that they should step up their efforts in ensuring the security of the web.
Speaking at an event at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, he told delegates that the FCC's role should be advisory with private companies taking the initiative, and that the FCC would push through compulsory regulation if the industry did not succeed in doing so itself.
However, far from denying FCC responsibility, Wheeler declared, "The FCC cannot abdicate its responsibilities simply because the threats to national security and life and safety have begun to arrive via new technologies."
"If a call for help doesn’t go through, if an emergency alert is hijacked, if our core network infrastructure goes down, are we really going to say, ‘Well, that threat came through packet-switched IP-based networks, not circuit-switched telephony, so it’s not our job?'"
Ironically, Mr Wheeler's comments come at a time when the Commission is accepting consultations on Net Neutrality, and one of the backbones of that debate is echoes the question of whether or not it is appropriate for internet services to be regulated in the same way as telecoms, with Wheeler squarely believing that no, they should not.
A new FCC task force headed by head of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, Admiral Dave Simpson, will assist the private sector in working alongside government with aims of building the tools to protect IT systems, combating threats and monitoring their effectiveness at keeping the net safe.
One specific aspect which they will be asked to look at is the way that information regarding threats is shared between different organisations. The FCC has promised it will examine the practical and legislative issues that might hinder it, especially the fear that badly regulated information sharing processes could lead to unwanted sharing of personal data. µ