News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
SUNDAY, APRIL 17, 2005


Time for innovative efforts to secure Web

Security breaches are hampering Internet commerce with a frequency that calls for a solution, even if that solution is governmental.

Most recently, security breaches at NexisLexis and Choicepoint Inc. may have disclosed personal information of 450,000 of their customers.

We hesitate to propose federal legislation to solve any problem. Politicians regularly document their unique ability to make a mess of the simplest task, and this problem is not simple.

We hope that the industry would arrive at standards that a nonprofit group — like an Underwriter's Laboratories, but for Internet security — would control. The idea seems workable, but efforts have not attracted widespread acceptance.

The goal would be for consumers to place enough value on the endorsement that those Web-based companies without such an endorsement would have an incentive to improve.

It may be time for an ultimatum. Either the industry develops standards and agrees upon a nonprofit auditing entity to approve Internet security features, or the federal government will step in.

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