By Debra Berlyn
Debra Berlyn is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Consumers League. She maintains a Web site and blog at consumerawarenessproject.org. You can also follow her on twitter at @dberlyn.
June is Internet Safety Month and a great time to reflect on the shared responsibility of consumers and their network providers. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have an important role in both protecting their customers and managing the network. While many consumers have seen how malicious users on the network can infiltrate their computers through viruses and spam, there is more that needs to be done to inform all users about how their actions can affect the network.
The safety and security of the network and the protection of users should be a top priority of the Federal Communications Commission. Consumers increasingly rely, both knowingly and unknowingly, on their network providers to reduce the threat of malicious attacks. It is important that we consider both the interests of consumers and the network providers that protect their users, as the Commission considers the best way to approach the issue of network management.
While telecommunications consumers have experienced the benefits of a dynamic industry, the evolution of broadband has presented a series of difficult policy matters. One such issue is the Commission’s proposed reclassification of broadband as a telecommunications service. As the FCC and the legislators that oversee it move forward on this important issue, it will be critically important that the safety and security needs of consumers and the ISPs that serve them are taken into account. While there are a variety of opinions on the efficacy of reclassification itself, there should be no disagreement that consumers need to be protected from the ever-evolving threat of malicious online actors.