FCC may tell ISP’s to fight computer viruses

The U.S. government is considering asking ISP’s to adopt “voluntary” standards to fight computer viruses.   The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) set up a Working Group of the Communications Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council (CSRIC) to create recommendations for securing residential broadband systems.  In December, this working group issued a report identifying “best practices” for the ISP’s.  Reports state that the FCC is mulling over asking the ISP’s to adopt these standards to fight viruses and malicious software.

And remember, the FCC’s authority over Internet access providers is still being debated.  How is this still a lingering argument?  Well, on December 21st the FCC approved new rules regarding Net Neutrality.  As we have talked about, these Net Neutrality rules directs that all websites should be treated the same by ISPs (e.g. Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, etc.).  Additionally, ISPs are forbidden to block websites that may compete with other services the ISP offers.  Well, Verizon has directly challenged the FCC’s authority over the Internet in the federal appeals court in the District of Columbia. Now, while that is pending, several Republican congressmen have come out against Net Neutrality – no sir, they don’t like it one bit.  Rep. Fred Upton (R-Michigan) and Rep. Greg Walden (R-Oregon) assert that the FCC may have overstepped its bounds when it comes to regulating the Internet. [Why are they speaking up now?  Could it be that Comcast was one of several contributors to Rep. Upton’s campaign in 2008, and that both Verizon and AT&T contributed to Rep. Walden’s campaign during the previous election? – thanks to Crunch Gear for pointing this out].  True to form, these House Republicans have said the private sector is better suited to setting rules for the Internet.

Despite the arguments on either side, there is a dire need for some anti-virus/malware standards to be adopted.  According to PandaLabs, Panda Security’s anti-malware laboratory, 43 percent of U.S. computers are infected with malware, compared to 50 percent of total global users.  PandaLabs’ announcement, on February 9, made the Homeland Security’s Daily Open Source Infrastructure Report, which is a summary of open-source published information concerning significant critical infrastructure issues.

These Net Neutrality rules and “voluntary” standards all hinge on the FCC’s right to regulate the Internet.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the federal courts.  Stay tuned.

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