ImageThere have been a few stories in the last few days that have made me smile but only one made me want to cry.

Apparently, if Labour was to win the next election, it would make identity fraud a specific criminal offence and consider tougher penalties for cybercrime.

The first thought that springs to mind is, finally, cybercrime is being taken seriously and something is being done about it. However, while that’s to be applauded – I don’t think it should matter who has the keys to 10 Downing Street to keep me safe and my money in my account! And it certainly shouldn’t be used to score points and win seats in Parliament.

As an aside, there is the little voice at the back of my head that screams ‘organised crime on the internet existed when you were in power and you didn’t worry about it then’ but that’s for others to debate. I’ve long accepted that it doesn’t matter who’s in charge the shadow government always believes it could do better. But then I suppose that’s true of most things.

But seriously, the problem isn’t a joking matter – in fact it’s a billion pounds a year matter. According to a report, commissioned by the Cabinet Office in 2011, it’s estimated that cyber crime costs Britain £27 billion a year – including more than £3 billion to individuals and more than £2 billion to the government. Assuming that’s about right, give or take a few quid, that means businesses are losing over £20 billion pounds a year to criminals. That’s huge!

And it’s not as if businesses aren’t taking the matter seriously. A PWC report found that UK businesses are continuing to increase budgets for protective measures against cyber attacks.

However, if the criminals aren’t sufficiently prosecuted where’s the incentive for them to stop?

Rather than argue over who’s going to do what ‘when they grow up’, I want all parties to do what they should be doing now – protect the innocent by penalising the guilty.

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