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How can we build trust in the worldwide digital economy?

worldwide digital economy

With people increasingly using digital platforms and services, we want to ensure they can make the most of new products and have confidence in the growing digital economy.

If you’re like me you’ll have grown up watching Tomorrow’s World reveal the technologies of our not-so-distant future.

It was here that people got their first glimpse of cutting-edge devices such as the pocket calculator, the barcode reader and, most famously, the CD player.

Since it last aired in 2003, things have changed dramatically, and while I still don’t own a ‘hoverboard’, there has been a revolution in digital technology that has transformed the way we live.

Today, with a few taps of a screen, I can order a taxi, book a family holiday in someone’s home, buy a new book that will be delivered the next afternoon, and even borrow a dog for a day.

And if all that tapping feels too strenuous, I can get my devices to put on a Spotify playlist or change the channel at the command of my voice.

Greater good

There is no end to the ways that people’s lives have been enhanced by developments in digital technology.

But if we want to continue to enjoy the various apps, platforms and services we’ve come to rely on, we need to think about how everyone can benefit from them.

Most importantly, people’s confidence and trust are central to the success of the digital economy.

At the same time, if we want to continue to benefit from cutting-edge services, we need to ensure that any approach to regulation focuses on improving people’s experience without limiting new innovations that prove popular.

G20 Consumer Summit

That’s why today, on World Consumer Rights Day, I’m in Berlin for the G20 Consumer Summit, along with other members of the consumer movement from around the globe.

The summit is hosted by the German government, Consumers International and the German consumer association, VZBV. We’ve been working closely with them to come up with 10 recommendations for members of the G20 to look at. These will then be used to help set common guidelines for ensuring consumers’ best interests in the worldwide digital space.

The recommendations cover everything from how countries should approach regulation, to providing people with clear information about digital products in a way that works best for consumers.

The responsibility for ensuring that consumers’ rights are protected online can’t be managed by one country alone. Instead, this will require collaboration with and by governments, international organisations and businesses.

That’s why we’re calling on the OECD, the global body whose aim it is to promote policies that will improve the economic and social wellbeing of people around the world, to be appointed to develop a toolbox of policies, actions and measurement. It would then report back to G20 ministers in 2018.

We also want to hear from you: what digital products or services have you come to rely on, and what is it about them that makes you trust them over another?


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It is very sad that Which? have succumbed to the invasive tracker trend under the pretext of website functionality. They have certainly not placed themselves in a responsible position when it comes to privacy and raising issues with the authorities or companies now or in the future.

Cookies ? who do the help ? not the computer user ? The website that’s all !!
No technology is 100% safe to use ! but many think it is even governments all over the world

I think ‘trust’ is the key word here and perhaps convenience is another. I have been able to renew my car tax on line and when I can not think of a shop to visit, I can buy the required item on line in minutes. Some people bank on line and I’m sure there are very many ways in which the digital world assists us. Joining things, like music sources and players, printers and computers, thermostats and boilers, television and past broadcasts make our digital world seem connected and useful. Social media and personal communication technology have advanced rapidly since the turn of the century. If all this were to disappear there would be a huge hole in many of our lives, even though we managed without these things in the past. The danger is that with these advances have come the criminal element who have, so far, found it easy to exploit weaknesses and make digital life a misery. In addition many people have been able to use our digital age to make money with subscriptions and the selling of digital services. They create a need and then supply it. If it takes off they become wealthy. Fraud, hacking and virus distribution could lead to the end of the exciting time we have been having when new digital ideas have sprung up and become must have items. The more connected everything is, the more it can be disrupted and disabled. Likewise anything digital probably relies on a printed circuit board somewhere in the chain and anything that is made can, and does, break sometimes. The more digital we become the less personal we are and the more reliant on digital logic instead of personal judgement. I use the digital things that are useful to me. These are far fewer than most people use, because I haven’t found an advantage in moving further digitally. From this rather backward perspective, I would like to see a balance being struck. I look forward to a time when we have all the digital technology we need and we crave a healthy desire for humans to interact directly with each other; having control over our human destiny using humanity and not electronics.

I think you raise an interesting point, lots of people really do like many of the products and services that are now available and the options that it gives us. I went on a cheap holiday last year where I stayed in a couple of people’s homes, and in one case it was nicer than any hotel I’d have booked. I can’t imagine doing that even 5 years ago and whilst I was wary at first, I’d do it again for other things – plus I’m probably more inclined to do some more quick holidays knowing it won’t cost a fortune.

Interestingly, I was talking to someone from another country recently who said they really liked AirBnB as a host as there were certain protections in place i.e that they have guarantees if there is ever any damage. Equally, I’ve used Borrow my Doggy as a borrower, and even as a former (and now current) dog owner I felt much more confident about doing it via their system as they have insurance and 24hr emergency vet cover. So things like that, where companies pro-actively put measures in place, make me more confident in using them, compared to others that don’t.

” AirBnB as a host as there were certain protections in place ”
Whilst using airBnB may appear to be fine perhaps the opinion of those who suffer because of it should be considered also. Legislation in at least two major European cities as it distorts the housing market as land lords can get more money than simply letting to a worker.

The abuse of blocks of flats were it has the turnover of a hotel to the discomfort of the residents. I appreciate that for you that is not a problem but surely Which? should be providing information in the round not simply a biased single view?

Fortunately readers can address the imbalance if so minded:
is a very detailed examination and does expose the myth of people simply renting out a spare room.

No technology is yet 100% safe or 100% reliable as some people seem to think I use technology for many things that I do but I know of the risks in doing so .It might be the easiest way but remember there are big risks involved when do do so

I don’t think I ‘trust’ any specific aspect of the internet at all; it’d be more accurate to say I distrust some parts more than others. I do, for instance, have fairly high confidence in my banking, because the system is fairly robust and requires two-step authentication, one of which is divorced from the internet itself. But I also know that no system is totally secure. It’s a bit like the situation pre-internet, when people were talking about making things ‘idiot-proof’. That falls down because there’ll always be a better idiot and the same applies to the internet.

Having said all that, some companies still make amateur mistakes. Leaving laptops with unencrypted password information on a train or bus is but one example. Only this week an NHS worker was found having removed hundreds of confidential medical records from the hospital and taken them to a friend’s home ‘for safekeeping’, so when this sort of thing is happening as frequently as it would appear, hackers don’t really have to exert themselves all that much.

For many of us using the internet is a great convenience and money-saver. Banking, energy supply, on-line payments, shopping……….But with this comes the problem of “understanding” what we do and the consequences. Most of us do not know this and rely upon the robust nature of major institutions. They need to provide secure services by law, with redress if they fail – their responsibility. Our responsibility is to use those services correctly. When we stray into uncharted internet territory, my advice would be – if you don’t understand what you are doing, don’t do it. Just like investments. As for “smart” devices, are they a novelty or essential to us? Is it worth the security risk for the “benefits” they are sold on? I’m a dinosaur so play safe.

My greatest worry about using the internet is just how easy it is for scammers to pose as legit companies when placing ads online as there seems to be no requirement for companies listing these ads to ensure they’re genuine. Facebook are particularly bad in this respect. As many ads I see seem to be scams. I assume anyone listing a website whose registration details are anonymous is a scam.
Rules need to be in place to ensure people / companies placing ads online are using a verified postal address/ a verified email address etc. And I don’t believe the regulators we have in the UK are fit for purpose. I still see companies quoting 0845 no. with no mention of access or service charge nearly 2 years after OFCOM issued new guidelines. I’ve complained about sky ads breaking these rules 3 times and still they’ve not been fined.

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I’m not worried for me, I usually just leave sarcastic comments on them. I’m more concerned for the majority who have zero knowledge of things world wide web related.
And I know full well that facebook don;t care who they run ads for. So it’s down to govts to make them, but sadly they won’t

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Very useful site, that, Duncan. EFF are a worthy bunch.

I have grown accustomed to having a computer, a smartphone and a smart TV and I find them convenient, I enjoy having them, but I can’t say I trust them, or truly rely on them. I’m old enough to remember life without them, not that long ago. Talking from a home and not a work point of view, I’ll get rid of them before I get rid of my washing machine.

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When this sort of thing is a fairly regular occurrence, what price trust?


Smart TV’s the easy route into your home network.

“The proof-of-concept exploit for the attack, developed by Rafael Scheel of cyber security firm Oneconsult, uses a low-cost transmitter for embedding malicious commands into a rogue DVB-T (Digital Video Broadcasting — Terrestrial) signals.
Those rogue signals are then broadcast to nearby devices, allowing attackers to gain root access on the Smart TVs, and using those devices for nasty actions, such as launching DDoS attacks and spying on end users.
Scheel provided a live hacking demonstration of the attack during a presentation at the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) Media Cyber Security Seminar, saying about 90 percent of the Smart TVs sold in the last years are potential victims of similar attacks.”

Digital trust … sure thing.

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Duncan, latest news from BBC Radio 4 just now was that the attackers used bugs first discovered and exploited by US security agencies. These were also fixed by Microsoft a few months back.

However those patches do not seem to have been installed on the affected NHS systems. It was also reported that some of those systems still use XP, for which no fix may have been available.

It also seems the attack has just persuaded MS to release patches for its “unsupported” OSes, including XP.

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Duncan, I think the gist of your story is all over the UK newspapers, just as it was on Radio 4 this morning.

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Not as such, but mention was made of the NSA origin of the tool used to distribute this malware.

Also, the general proposition that the NSA spy on everyone is now old news. Some bloke called Edward Snowden got into trouble in 2013 for letting this be known. Indeed this is such old news that a Hollywood movie about it was recently released for UK DVD sales.

Hence, I’d argue that this point could now be help as common knowledge, on which basis it is not very relevant as “breaking news” within the details of the current cyber attacks.

Wonder whether M$ could be sued for not maintaining their old OSes?

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I’m sure they’d argue that, given their “free upgrades” to W10 and end-of-life warning messages on Vista and XP, they had taken reasonable steps to protect customers.

From a UK SOGA perspective, most consumers don’t buy Windows directly from M$, so have no contractual relationship with them.


Other software vendors also follow the practice of not supporting old OSes.

It has been reported that patches capable of preventing this attack were released by M$ in March, in which case poor system maintenance is likely to have been a major contributory factor and something that M$ cannot be blamed for.

“Please dont bring up the “bogyman ” – its “terrorists” to blame , a good excuse for removing citizens freedom and rights and turning a country into a police -state.”

I didn’t and I wasn’t going to.

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This has been doing the rounds for about five months, Duncan. It’s possibly down to the use of WebKit (layout engine software component for rendering web pages in web browsers) which is used by a lot of things, including Linux Safari, Chrome and more. That may be why the reports of User Agents are currently appearing showing erroneous connections.

I;m not sure what you mean by “Chrome/Chromium browsers are connected IP wise”. They’re detected as being that variant of Webkit, certainly, but they don’t use common IPs as far as I know.

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This comment was removed at the request of the user