Microsoft moots digital healthcare tax

March 3, 2010 | 13:16

Tags: #botnet #infection #malware #tax #taxation #virus #windows #windows-security

Companies: #microsoft

Microsoft has proposed an interesting method for dealing with the damage caused by malware-infected - and most commonly Windows-powered - PCs on the 'net: general taxation.

As reported over on ITworld, Microsoft's corporate vice president for trustworthy computing - no, that's his actual job title - Scott Charney spoke to the RSA security conference to suggest a "health care model" for infected PC control.

Under such a model, malware infection would be treated in much the same was a viral infection in humans: a public education programme would alert people to the dangers and offer advice on avoiding infection, while a central service would offer free checkups and disinfection to those computers finding themselves part of the botnet du jour.

The biggest issue with such a solution is, of course, cost. With a programme such as that suggested by Charney likely to cost a significant amount, the suggestion of funding the project like the NHS - with all Internet-connected citizens paying a 'digital healthcare' tax to protect and treat the sick - and treating it as "a public safety issue and [using] general taxation."

With ISPs themselves unwilling to foot the bill to clean customers' computers - despite having their bandwidth eaten up by spam trojans, distributed denial of service attacks, and virus propogation - Charney may have a point: as the Internet become an integral part of every day life for many, the importance of keeping users safe can never be underestimated.

The idea won't be without its problems, however: chief amongst them will be the feeling that, as the majority of botnet members out there are infected due to security issues with the Windows operating system and related products, Microsoft itself - a company which made a profit of $4.17 billion (£2.8 billion) in the financial year ending on the 31st of December 2009 - should be footing the bill, rather than the consumer.

Charney's entire speech can be found on Microsoft's press site.

Do you agree that malware infection needs to become a public safety issue in the same way as general healthcare, or is taxation the wrong solution for this problem? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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