Posted by Julie Inman-Grant
Director, Privacy and Internet Safety Outreach, Trustworthy Computing

The explosive growth of cloud computing services and Internet-connected mobile devices is creating exciting opportunities for users to connect, share common interests and access information.

However, as the sheer number of individuals interacting and accessing content via the cloud increases, the odds of exposure to online safety risks such as fraud, harassment and inappropriate content also inch higher.

Microsoft’s ongoing efforts to help protect individuals online are detailed in a new white paper, “Personal Online Safety in the Cloud,” published in conjunction with Safer Internet Day events taking place in more than 65 countries. The paper discusses online safety features built into Microsoft products and services, our work with online safety partners around the globe and the role of public policymakers in promoting a safer online environment. The paper also contends that the fundamental safety principles, practices and tools that have evolved over the past two decades to help protect Internet users remain effective in the cloud computing realm.

Supporting global education and awareness events like Safer Internet Day is just one way that governments, non-governmental organizations and companies can work together to help raise awareness about how best to stay safer online. Governments around the world can further step up their efforts to protect users in the cloud and deter cybercriminals by considering the following actions:

• Strengthen online safety laws, particularly with regard to defining child pornography, and criminalize the possession and distribution of child-abuse images.

• Work with the technology industry to establish self-regulatory frameworks and principles for online safety that enable companies to address risks, and demonstrate compliance while allowing innovation to flourish and encouraging technology adoption.

• Promote the integration of Internet safety education into school curricula and teacher training programs.

• Commission studies and fund research to help identify online safety risk factors, and work to dispel myths that could lead to misplaced efforts.

As cloud computing services continue to grow, bringing users even richer content and greater value, exposure to the unsavory and at times dangerous aspects of the online world will likely also increase.

Microsoft believes that minimizing these risks and building greater online trust and safety can be achieved through a combination of educational resources, technology tools, internal policies and practices, legislative approaches and law enforcement partnership.

For more information on Safer Internet Day, read this Feb. 8th post on the Microsoft on the Issues Blog.