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Netsafe Conference, Westpac Trust Stadium

Delivered on behalf of Hon David Cunliffe by Hon Luamanuvao Winnie Laban, Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector.

Netsafe Conference, Westpac Trust Stadium

Greetings

Talofa lava [Samoa]. Malo e lelei [Tonga]. Fakalofa lahi atu [Niuen] Ni sa bula vinaka [Fiji]. Namaste [Fiji Indian]. Kia orana [Cook Islands]. Ia Orana [Tahiti]. Gud de tru olgeta [Papua New Guinea – Melanesian] Taloha ni [Tokelau], Talofa [Tuvalu] Kia ora tatou [NZ Maori]. Warm Pacific greetings to you all.

A note of introduction - as the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, I am responsible for an important strand of the Digital Strategy: the Community Partnership Fund. This is an initiative designed to further stir-up ICT action in local communities. Digital literacy is an essential life skill, akin to reading and writing, and more often than not a significant factor that allows us to take part in the fullness of community life.

On behalf of the Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Hon David Cunliffe, I would like to start by congratulating Netsafe on conducting this symposium.

Events like this help raise the awareness of net safety issues, so that together, we can find solutions.

Introduction

Ladies and gentlemen, we are in a new age of digital technologies.

With this new age comes a new set of opportunities; e-content, growth in e-commerce, access to global markets for our small businesses, increased exposure for community sector groups and new educational opportunities for our children – just to name a few.

And by and large these new opportunities in ICT are positive.

This Labour-led Government certainly encourages the increased use of ICT – in fact we see the expanded use of digital technologies as mandatory for our economic transformation agenda.

Our national Digital Strategy encourages everyone to reap the benefits of ICT – families, schools, businesses and community organisations.

However, with these opportunities also comes a new set of risks.

If users are to have the confidence to effectively use and benefit from these technologies then the online environment needs to be safe and secure.

Most speeches I give on ICT-related subjects emphasise the positive opportunities.

But today I want to pause to consider the downsides, risks and threats.

ICT in general, and the Internet in particular, expose New Zealanders and their children to a range of risks and these need to be honestly confronted and carefully managed.

Netsafe is at the forefront of this work and I want to recognise the importance of it today.

This sober reflection is not just an academic exercise. Ordinary Kiwis are all too aware of the threats to online privacy and security. For example, a recent survey by the Privacy Commissioner's Office has noted that of eleven privacy issues surveyed, the highest level of public concern related to the security of personal details on the Internet – 84% - exceeding concern over the confidentiality of medical records – 78%.

Today I'd like to talk about:

· What are some of the ICT threats that we are facing; · What the Government is doing in response; · And how should we, as consumers, be safeguarding ourselves.

After all – it is the responsibility of us all - Government action alone is not, and can never be enough.

Cyber-threats

Recent examples of cyber threats include:

· The theft of money from the accounts of a bank customer by someone who had installed key logging software on their home computer – the bank refunded the losses but the customer stated she would not use Internet banking again; · "Phishing" attacks whereby spam emails are sent out, purporting to be from a bank, asking the recipient to confirm their bank security information by responding to a specified electronic address; · The use of "covert filming" using digital cameras and the uploading of images taken on the Internet; · Identity theft where a person's details are stolen so that a criminal can engage in fraudulent activity using the stolen identity.

These are just some of the cyber threats that have been topical in the media lately. At first glance they seem anecdotal – sometimes just plain bizarre. It is easy to under rate them as "out there somewhere" or "just the exceptions that happen to other people".

To do so is to fundamentally misunderstand the systems and nature of these problems; their status as major financial enterprises (both legal and illegal) and the potential for further threats as information technology advances.

Let us consider briefly several emergency categories of challenges:

Spam

It's the most obvious example by volume, often benign in effect but occasionally very destructive. SPAM accounts for up to three quarters of all emails received in unfiltered personal and business inboxes. In recent years it has grown rapidly although as a percentage of total traffic if may have begun to plateau thanks to stronger anti-spam measures.

Our anti-SPAM legislation – the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Bill is at the forefront of our online security measures and is now nearing the end of the Commerce Select Committee stage. Along with technical solutions, user education and international cooperation, it is an important step on the way.

SPAM is big business – a dedicated spammer can wreak havoc across millions of addresses. They only need 'one sucker in a million' to turn a handsome profit.

SPAM is often a cover for more pernicious threats – viruses, worms, and links to objectionable or illegal material – all potentially into every kiwi's personal computer unless we take active steps to stop it.

Mobility Devices

Mobility is great – freedom to pursue business or pleasure anywhere on the globe – right? Right, but not without the risks that go along with that. First, in many countries the use of a mobile phone can allow a person's location to be 'triangulated' to within a few metres and with the addition of GPS this ability will be increased. This can occasionally be very useful to police and other law enforcement authorities.

The need for continued privacy protection is obvious.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

This is a microchip that allows a location to be scanned and responded to by computers. Great for checking stock in and out of warehouses. Great for managing products in a department store.

But the risks to privacy are again obviously magnified as soon as you carry one around or are inadvertently wearing one.

Who knows whose database your movements or purchases could end up in? And in an age of super computers and data mining it is not impossible for a wide range of enterprises (including the department store and the fast food chain) to know more about you than you would have intended. Is this risk manageable with good law and responsible corporate citizenship? Sure, but we need to be proactive to ensure good practices.

The Internet

No longer the domain of 'geeks', the success of Trade-Me was based on the fact that almost one in every three Kiwis has bought or sold something on that mega-site.

The Internet is a fantastic tool for everything from booking a holiday; researching a school project; downloading a weather forecast, or advertising your business via the Internet.

It is also home to all the worst features of human nature. Just as the possibilities for good are magnified – so is the potential for harm.

The risks to privacy from Internet use are pervasive. Most sites will donate an electronic record to your computer. Address harvesting can put your computer on a spam list before you know it. Software, pop-ups, links or auto-downloads can expose users to material they do not intend to access as a result. As a result children surfing the net need a great deal of protection as they learn to catch the 'knowledge wave', while avoiding the rocks.

Netsafe, the Internet Safety Group, is a leading advocate and educator in this area.

Net threats are many. The most grotesque are the sexual predators 'grooming' young kids – now an offence under wider legislation passed by this Government.

There are questions around the widespread influence and effects of the multi-billion dollar 'adult' content industry.

There is an unavoidable tension between the widely held community support of net 'freedom' – the absence of restriction – and the need to protect the vulnerable from the risk of some content. Here again, user education and effective filtering as promoted by Netsafe are essential tools for our communities.

It is often difficult to track the persons who are responsible for these threats because of the anonymous nature of the online environment and its global nature. That is why prevention in the form of technology protection, education and awareness of users, and the putting in place of good security practices is particularly important.

The Ministry of Economic Development has recently produced a discussion paper entitled "A Strategic Consideration of ICT Security and Confidence in New Zealand" which details many of the cyber safety and online security issues that New Zealand is faced with. The objective of the paper was to identify where there may be gaps in the regulatory and institutional framework and the key priorities for further action.

Following the receipt of submissions the key issues for further work have been identified as:

· Improving New Zealand's capability to detect, warn against and respond to computer security incidents; · Promoting good security practices and improving the education and awareness of users to enable them to better protect themselves against online threats; · Ensuring there is the required capability for effective enforcement of cyber-crime laws and monitoring of cyber-safety.

The key insight here, though, is not the individual cyber threats – which could be listed 'ad nauseam' – or the individual response tools that with some lags are starting to come into play. The over arching issue is the realisation that cyber security and privacy is emerging as one of the great issues of our time. As all of the technologies mentioned – from mobility devices to databases, to 'smart net agents', to address harvesting – mature, so too do the risks to overall user confidence and ultimately the commercial and social value of the net itself.

Government Action

The Government will be considering further how these key issues are best addressed.

We are currently progressing a number of legislative initiatives relating to the implications of digital technologies, including:

· The Unsolicited Electronic Messages Bill (currently being considered by the Commerce Select Committee); · The Crimes (Intimate Covert Filming) Bill; and · A proposed amendment to the Copyright Act.

As technologies continue to develop and new threats arise we will need to re-evaluate what further legislative initiatives may be required.

A number of government and statutory agencies have important roles to play in the area of cyber safety and online security.

The Centre for Critical Infrastructure Protection was specifically set up to monitor, detect and warn against online security threats. There are concerns however that many computer security incidents experienced by businesses are going unreported and that there is a need for better resourcing in this area - this is one of the issues the Government will be looking at further.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner also has an important role to play in helping to address the public's concern over the security of personal information that is stored or held electronically. The implications of developing information and communication technologies for personal privacy will continue to need careful monitoring and consideration.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner dedicates a substantial share of its resources to online privacy issues.

Conclusion

I am a passionate supporter of the work of Netsafe. The work Netsafe does in educating users about issues relating to cyber safety and online security while providing effective resources to help address these issues is excellent.

Government agencies have been able to assist with this work with some financial assistance.

Netsafe is recognised internationally for its education work in the area of cyber safety and online security. Its initiatives include the Net Basics programme, the Netsafe kit for schools and the Hector Protector protection facility.

Taking advantage of the benefits of ICT and the potential danger it poses is a balancing act.

This Labour-led government is committed to the vision of New Zealand being a world leader in using information and technology to realise its economic, social, environmental, and cultural goals.

We are implementing a range of tools to achieve these goals; including legislative measures and seed funding to support the Digital Strategy.

To achieve the economic transformation that New Zealand needs to flourish the use of ICT is essential. If e-commerce and the digital economy are to thrive we require fast and affordable broadband and a safe online environment to use it.

And that is why this symposium is so important. It provides us with the forum to discuss the risks of ICT and how we can best address them. It provides us with the forum to talk about the benefits of ICT while increasing awareness of the dangers.

Thank you

ENDS


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