FTC educates public on internet safety

WASHINGTON: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has begun an aggressive campaign to inform everyone from corporate CEOs to grandparents about internet privacy and security.

WASHINGTON: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has begun an aggressive campaign to inform everyone from corporate CEOs to grandparents about internet privacy and security.

"We want to educate people about a very serious problem," said FTC commissioner Orson Swindle. "We have become very dependent on information systems and networks. There are kids sitting down at computers more powerful than what we've got on the space shuttle. And linked together the way we are, either directly or indirectly, from the Defense Department to electrical grids to small businesses, it's essential everyone understands how to protect themselves."

To give voice to this education effort, the FTC is introducing "Dewie the Turtle," its internet safety mascot.

"I wanted this to be memorable and catchy," explained Swindle. "I wanted a Smokey the Bear. I remember Smokey the Bear. I took him to heart, and the nation took him to heart. I wouldn't put Dewie on the same lofty pedestal as Smokey the Bear, though. Not yet."

Through outreach to groups such as the media, advocacy organizations, and public school systems, along with a dedicated website, the FTC is preaching the importance of being proactive when it comes to anti-virus software, firewalls, spam, online banking and shopping, and protecting children online.

"People need to realize that, whether they like it or not, they are in a position of personal responsibility when they go online," said Swindle.

"If everyone used basic, safe computing practices, such as setting up a firewall or using anti-virus software, it would be a quantum leap in dealing with these problems.

"We have a massive education challenge in front of us," Swindle continued.

"We have jumped into the internet with such gusto and glee. It has changed the way we live, the way we do business, the way we shop. But we've gotten ahead of ourselves, as we haven't brought security along with us."

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