XS4ALL, one of the major Internet service providers in the Netherlands, has established a professorship for the coming three years at TU Delft that will focus on Internet safety and privacy issues.

Professor Milton Mueller of the iSchool of Syracuse University (New York) is the first professor to fill this post."For the past fifteen years, Internet‘s been playing an increasingly important role in our society. Its insertion in our daily lives has important social, economic and technological consequences. In order to understand and steer these consequences, scientific research is needed and we therefore decided to sponsor a professorship," says Niels Huijbregts, head of public affairs at XS4ALL.Internet facilitates the development of new social structures, which raise questions about privacy and identity verification, according to Huijbregts. These developments leave governmental institutions, users and firms that provide Internet services in a realm of uncertainty about how to act with respect to privacy and security matters.Last December, Mark Zuckerberg, founder of the social networking site Facebook, apologized to users for the way it launched the advertising system Beacon. Facebook users complained that Facebook was invading privacy, because it used web-shopping information on partner sites outside Facebook - information that Facebook users had not willingly provided.XS4ALL, established in 1993, was the first Dutch Internet service provider for the general public. The company has a track record in protecting privacy rights and promoting Internet security. In 2005, for example, XS4ALL lobbied against the so-called 'save-obligation' at the European commission and parliament. This decree, which was finally enacted by the European Court, obliges Internet providers to save data such as the exact time and place of the telephone and Internet traffic of their users. For XS4ALL, the creation of the chair at TU Delft is a logical extension of the importance it attaches to the issues of privacy and security.The chair, which is also going to focus specifically on security and privacy related to mobile Internet, is located in the ICT section of TU Delft's Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management (TPM). Professor Dr. Milton Meuller, of the iSchool (Information Studies) of Syracuse University, is the first professor to fill this important position. Professor Mueller is renowned for his work on the political economy and governance of ICT.According to Mueller, a specific focus on mobile Internet is necessary, because it raises a host of new privacy issues by virtue of the fact that it reveals the location of the individual. "Locational information can both magnify surveillance concerns and be a great convenience to users," Mueller says. "Wireless internet access also can raise more challenging security problems, because, relative to closed, fixed networks, one cannot always easily control access to wireless signals."Cybercrime The most familiar and notorious form of Internet criminality is spam. But cybercrime goes beyond just spam. Other forms of Internet criminality are pishing, which is a form of acquiring sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords and credit card details. Often this is done by criminals presenting themselves to a potential victim as a trustworthy organization, such as banks and online markets such as eBay. In the Netherlands ABN AMRO and Postbank haven been common targets.The fight against felonies such as pishing and spam, but also terrorist activity, is in principle the responsibility of the police and public prosecutors. In the Netherlands, the police have established the so-called 'Cyber Crime Reporting Website'. Here Internet users can tip-off the police about child pornography and sexual behavior towards minors, as well as of extremist and terrorist postings that they find on the Internet.Mueller points out that scientific research is needed to identify the technical, economic and institutional conditions that encourage or diminish various forms of cybercrime. And by doing that, support the fight against cybercrime. Mueller: "Spam for example is widely understood as a byproduct of the specific techno-economic characteristics of email, such as the flat usage-insensitive cost structure of Internet access, the extremely low cost of forging addresses and the general lack of identity authentication."These characteristics make it worthwhile for some criminals to send spam. "Research is also necessary to better understand the efficiency or inefficiency of various enforcement strategies and the cost-benefit tradeoffs," Mueller adds. During his three-year tenure focus, Mueller will specifically focus on, among other things, questions that relate to the issue of security governance through informal and often trust-based relationships among Internet users. "What role do formal laws, treaties and legally binding contracts play in this regime? And how often do mistakes or outright abuses of these informal types of authority occur, and what kind of procedural or legal recourse exists when it does?" Mueller identifies as questions the chair is keen to answer.Terrorism Professor Mueller however warns against giving away privacy completely for the sake of safety. He argues that Internet security and privacy are two sides of the same coin, and therefore a trade-off should constantly be made. Mueller: "Europe's experience with fascism and totalitarian communism shows very clearly the dangers of giving too much surveillance power to the state. In the United States, the abuses of the FBI against civil rights movement leaders during the late 1960s are another example."The 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City’s Twin Towers and the train and subway attacks in Madrid and London respectively have, however, made terrorism a real threat for many Europeans and Americans. Many people are therefore prepared to sacrifice their right to privacy. In the Netherlands this feeling has especially gained momentum after the murder of the film director Theo van Gogh by a Muslim fundamentalist in 2004.Spying on known terrorist and other violent criminals is justified, according to Mueller. "But one should not treat all members of society as prospective terrorists," he warns."Terrorism cannot be solved or eliminated through surveillance unless one is willing to abandon the very freedoms and political values that make a society worth defending against violent terrorists," Mueller believes. "Civil society must be presumed innocent until there are strong suspicions of guilt, not the other way around."Professor Milton Mueller (Photo: De Beeldredaktie)

XS4ALL, one of the major Internet service providers in the Netherlands, has established a professorship for the coming three years at TU Delft that will focus on Internet safety and privacy issues. Professor Milton Mueller of the iSchool of Syracuse University (New York) is the first professor to fill this post."For the past fifteen years, Internet‘s been playing an increasingly important role in our society. Its insertion in our daily lives has important social, economic and technological consequences. In order to understand and steer these consequences, scientific research is needed and we therefore decided to sponsor a professorship," says Niels Huijbregts, head of public affairs at XS4ALL.Internet facilitates the development of new social structures, which raise questions about privacy and identity verification, according to Huijbregts. These developments leave governmental institutions, users and firms that provide Internet services in a realm of uncertainty about how to act with respect to privacy and security matters.Last December, Mark Zuckerberg, founder of the social networking site Facebook, apologized to users for the way it launched the advertising system Beacon. Facebook users complained that Facebook was invading privacy, because it used web-shopping information on partner sites outside Facebook - information that Facebook users had not willingly provided.XS4ALL, established in 1993, was the first Dutch Internet service provider for the general public. The company has a track record in protecting privacy rights and promoting Internet security. In 2005, for example, XS4ALL lobbied against the so-called 'save-obligation' at the European commission and parliament. This decree, which was finally enacted by the European Court, obliges Internet providers to save data such as the exact time and place of the telephone and Internet traffic of their users. For XS4ALL, the creation of the chair at TU Delft is a logical extension of the importance it attaches to the issues of privacy and security.The chair, which is also going to focus specifically on security and privacy related to mobile Internet, is located in the ICT section of TU Delft's Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management (TPM). Professor Dr. Milton Meuller, of the iSchool (Information Studies) of Syracuse University, is the first professor to fill this important position. Professor Mueller is renowned for his work on the political economy and governance of ICT.According to Mueller, a specific focus on mobile Internet is necessary, because it raises a host of new privacy issues by virtue of the fact that it reveals the location of the individual. "Locational information can both magnify surveillance concerns and be a great convenience to users," Mueller says. "Wireless internet access also can raise more challenging security problems, because, relative to closed, fixed networks, one cannot always easily control access to wireless signals."Cybercrime The most familiar and notorious form of Internet criminality is spam. But cybercrime goes beyond just spam. Other forms of Internet criminality are pishing, which is a form of acquiring sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords and credit card details. Often this is done by criminals presenting themselves to a potential victim as a trustworthy organization, such as banks and online markets such as eBay. In the Netherlands ABN AMRO and Postbank haven been common targets.The fight against felonies such as pishing and spam, but also terrorist activity, is in principle the responsibility of the police and public prosecutors. In the Netherlands, the police have established the so-called 'Cyber Crime Reporting Website'. Here Internet users can tip-off the police about child pornography and sexual behavior towards minors, as well as of extremist and terrorist postings that they find on the Internet.Mueller points out that scientific research is needed to identify the technical, economic and institutional conditions that encourage or diminish various forms of cybercrime. And by doing that, support the fight against cybercrime. Mueller: "Spam for example is widely understood as a byproduct of the specific techno-economic characteristics of email, such as the flat usage-insensitive cost structure of Internet access, the extremely low cost of forging addresses and the general lack of identity authentication."These characteristics make it worthwhile for some criminals to send spam. "Research is also necessary to better understand the efficiency or inefficiency of various enforcement strategies and the cost-benefit tradeoffs," Mueller adds. During his three-year tenure focus, Mueller will specifically focus on, among other things, questions that relate to the issue of security governance through informal and often trust-based relationships among Internet users. "What role do formal laws, treaties and legally binding contracts play in this regime? And how often do mistakes or outright abuses of these informal types of authority occur, and what kind of procedural or legal recourse exists when it does?" Mueller identifies as questions the chair is keen to answer.Terrorism Professor Mueller however warns against giving away privacy completely for the sake of safety. He argues that Internet security and privacy are two sides of the same coin, and therefore a trade-off should constantly be made. Mueller: "Europe's experience with fascism and totalitarian communism shows very clearly the dangers of giving too much surveillance power to the state. In the United States, the abuses of the FBI against civil rights movement leaders during the late 1960s are another example."The 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City’s Twin Towers and the train and subway attacks in Madrid and London respectively have, however, made terrorism a real threat for many Europeans and Americans. Many people are therefore prepared to sacrifice their right to privacy. In the Netherlands this feeling has especially gained momentum after the murder of the film director Theo van Gogh by a Muslim fundamentalist in 2004.Spying on known terrorist and other violent criminals is justified, according to Mueller. "But one should not treat all members of society as prospective terrorists," he warns."Terrorism cannot be solved or eliminated through surveillance unless one is willing to abandon the very freedoms and political values that make a society worth defending against violent terrorists," Mueller believes. "Civil society must be presumed innocent until there are strong suspicions of guilt, not the other way around."Professor Milton Mueller (Photo: De Beeldredaktie)