These problems emanate from more fundamental issues which keep haunting the digital world. The Internet was never meant from the outset to serve as a medium allowing for diverse transactions between multiple actors. The digital world as we know it today carries virtually no means for supporting traceability and validation of data. Even more fundamentally, digital information is organized around databases and institutions, not around people. In cyberspace, individuals basically have no defined rights or obligations. As the digital world is structured and managed, there is no adequate match with the conditions which human beings have experienced in the physical, non-digital, world.
The work of international organizations and national authorities to develop standards and regulations for the digital world has not, in effect, included any proper representation of the individual human being, or of civil society. Developing a framework that starts out with the user, not with the institution, is a prerequisite for repairing the fundamental flaws of the Internet, and to put in place the basic requirements needed for orderly authentication, privacy and integrity. Such a framework will represent a public good, of tremendous societal as well as commercial value, to the benefit of all nations and all mankind. With cyberspace falling between the national jurisdictions, and with markets unable to develop such a framework in a coordinated manner, however, no actor has so far taken on the task.
The Global Trust Center (GTC) has been established to fill this gap. The GTC is an independent, internationally operating, non-profit organization and network that acts to link government, the private sector and civil society in the development of an orderly user-centric framework for the digital world. The GTC has been set up to act as a think-tank and platform for the exchange of experience and the identification of best practice, and to serve as a forum for the formulation of the conditions required for enabling the individual’s status to be reaffirmed in the digital world, by specifying a policy framework, operational mechanism and practical tool to allow for the establishment of trust in the digital world, and to enable seamless transition both ways between non-digital and digital space.
..:: The presence of outstanding issues
The Internet has produced a borderless society that enables ever-growing improvement in our means for communication and undertaking transactions. A global inter-related village is being created. Yet, the menace of cyber-crime grows ever more sophisticated as the ability to enter, control and destroy our electronic and security systems intensifies at an equivalent rate. Information and services provided on the Internet which can be utilized by any person(s) with access bring to the fore the concept of governance. In the case of governments’ self-regulation, Internet content regulatory powers weaken across national borders. In the case of privatised policing organizations, derived from the Internet industry, their acceptability to act as judge and jury over the suitability or illegality of Internet content is open to different interpretations.
Despite a plethora of Internet-related legislation, cyber-crime is a growing stigma on e-society. It is evident that Internet usage requires guidance that is able to cross national boundaries and span multiple legal systems. At the same time, Internet laws and regulations should be designed so as to reflect national values for national issues, and international values for international issues. Suitable organizations should be set up to ensure that online organizations adhere to all legislations covering their operations wherever possible.
Responsibility for developing, evaluating, enhancing and safeguarding the Internet and its related activities should lie with the International digital community. It should also be the e-community’s responsibility to specify the need for and the extent of required legislation, since it’s members will be the ones directly affected by it. Necessary evaluation frameworks should be developed to assess the suitability and applicability of new laws, acts and directives issued. Government and non-government bodies and organizations can only contribute in laying the foundations, developing the strategies and overseeing the developments in terms of compatibility with general policies and national and international legal frameworks. It is a challenge for the rapidly increasing global digital community, to specify, modify, dictate, evaluate and safeguard sound legislation and standardisation in ways to allow for efficient and socially responsible use of the digital world.