HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What Public Health Can Teach Internet Security Experts

The tech industry is always promising a "new Messiah" to cure what it sees as a backward health sector. I've tried to make the case that internet firms can learn something from health care (here and here). So I was happy to hear of this talk from Scott Charney, corporate vice president for trustworthy computing at Microsoft, on "parallels between real-life viral epidemics and internet viruses." According to an article on the topic:
[S]topping computer malware from spreading should mirror efforts to collectively protect people from public health risks, said Scott Charney. . . . He made the remarks in one of the opening keynotes at the RSA security conference in San Francisco . . . . That means companies, governments and other entities will have to collaborate to eliminate risks to everyone, rather than just look out for themselves.
Charney urged the government to create a bullet-proof identification system that creates online trust and preserves privacy. Companies should also keep making their defenses more secure. But greater effort should be put into the collective defense of the internet, Charney said.
Developing a "bullet-proof identification system" is a huge challenge today, as secondary (mis)uses of data become more pervasive. But I appreciate Charney's argument that no computer, like no person, is an island. - Frank Pasquale

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