The UK public is unsure where the balance lies between free speech and the level of involvement the government should have protecting citizens online, says new research.
Of those polled, 49% said they felt their freedom of speech was inhibited because they felt they were being “watched” online.
Furthermore, 59% of respondents said free speech in cyber space was curtailed by libel laws, while 58% suggested that free speech may not even exist online.
“Our survey reveals the inherent battle between the rights of citizens and the need for government to uphold the law in this increasingly digital age,” claimed Malcolm Marshall, KPMG’s global lead partner for cyber security practice.
“People support the government in some ways, but not in others. Again, this demonstrates the need for states to work with the public in terms of communication as far as possible where threats lie, while also encouraging their citizens to take action where they can to protect themselves,” he added.
The torn attitudes the UK public hold were revealed when 76% of participants said they felt the government needed to do more to protect online privacy and 55% believe it should be responsible to keep the Internet running – but 54% of these also said government should not interfere in the operation of the web.
Those surveyed strongly felt the government should be tackling cyber warfare and crime, with 82% claiming it needs to be better prepared for online warfare and 58% said more was needed from Whitehall to tackle Internet crime.
Collaboration with other governments was popular option, with 60% of respondents saying that this would help for more effective tackling of cyber-crime than countries tackling the issue alone.
“Cyber warfare is a very real threat. Governments need to be able to protect citizens against the ever increasing threat to national and private security,” claimed Marshall.
“However, to do this requires a very careful approach where digital users are aware of the rationale when governments take tougher action of cyber breaches.
“To work effectively, governments need to work with the public to identify, tackle and mitigate threats. We are all vulnerable and therefore all responsible,” he added.