• English
  • Deutsch
  • Technology

    As a lot of countries around the world still fail to protect our personal data in the internet through binding online rules and regulation laws, cyber security firms could bring and provide us the fastest global solution

    March 2019

    The internet in my opinion is broken and needs serious fixing. The search for any kind of solution so far has focused on breaking up Big Tech, massive government intervention or relying on the big companies, such as Facebook and Google, to regulate them and rescue consumers.

    There is another way forward that combines consumer protection standards with engineering expertise. This in my opinion truly global solution demonstrates the power of an alliance and promises swift enforcement.

    For years, users who downloaded free apps on their computers were engaging in a form of digital Russian roulette. They might get what they sought, but they also risked receiving harmful malware or being tricked into buying something they didn’t want. In 2004, the US Federal Trade Commission already tried to address these chronic harms. Yet 15 years later, consumer groups had to ask the FTC to investigate further, because the problem had worsened.

    At that point, the world’s leading cyber security companies – Symantec, McAfee, Trend Micro, Sophos, Panda, Kaspersky, Enigma, ESET, Avast and Microsoft via its Defender product – come together to develop heightened standards for what makes an app for a PC safe for consumers, and what makes it potentially harmful and misleading. The collaboration was a big step forward for two reasons. First, 2 billion people already trust these companies to act as their “computer security guards” and keep them safe. Second, the groups already have remarkable technical abilities – under-appreciated by many outside the world of cyber security – to disable misleading apps and prevent malware from being installed on customer devices at all.

    As the cyber security companies took increasingly unified steps to disable misleading apps and malware, responsible app makers responded. Sick and tired of competing with dishonest companies, they formed a non-profit group called CleanApps.org, which strengthened the collective movement towards compliance. The organization helps align the economic interests of responsible app makers with enhanced privacy and security for consumers. The power of such standards could be the sheer speed at which consumers could be protected if practiced on larger scale and supported with the right legal environment. Once an app has violated the standards, the cyber security companies immediately disable it, protecting close to 2 billion computer users in an instant. By tapping into the technical capacity of the cyber security companies, we help tame the wild internet, make responsible business thrive and consumers safer. Stricter standards would allow participating cyber security companies to use their engineering expertise to provide swifter and more substantial consumer protection. When app makers would also agree to follow such rules, the ecosystem has the potential to get cleaner day by day. This model is at the same time also flexible. As methods of deceiving consumers morph, cyber security companies act quickly and publish enhanced data privacy standards. Responsible app makers adapt accordingly. If they don’t, their apps are disabled. This makes cyber security companies the first responders as the rule of law sweeps through this part of the internet. Now let us imagine if there were clear global standards for apps on mobile phones, hate speech, misinformation, fraudulent websites, false advertising or anything else that victimizes web users. The cyber security companies could work together to protect billions of users quickly, efficiently and globally. We wouldn’t need to depend on one company to protect us. Or on lethargic legislative solutions. Or on stressed out consumers to fend for themselves in this incomprehensible jungle. At a time when the internet is becoming increasingly toxic for the public. This is an irresistible and immediate way forward.