UK Metropolitan police commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has advised banks not to offer compensation to victims of online fraud, arguing that the increased risk will encourage people to better protect themselves against cybercrime.
Speaking in an interview with The Times, Mr. Hogan-Howe suggested that by removing the safety blanket of compensation, internet users would think twice before making bad decisions online.
“The system is not incentivising you to protect yourself,“ said the commissioner, who has occupied the post since 2011. “If someone said to you: ‘If you’ve not updated your software I will give you half back,’ you would do it.”
As reported by The Stack, the issue has gained increased attention in recent months due to the imminent inclusion of cybercrime figures into the UK’s general crime statistics. The move could invite scrutiny on the British Police, as the distinction between cybercrime and ‘real-world’ crimes is blurred.
The commissioner’s comments were the source of some controversy, with many commenters noting that criminals, not victims, are the ones who should be punished for cybercrime. Writing for the Guardian, Which?’s Richard Lloyd also accused banks of “dragging their feet” when it came to cases of fraud.
“The commissioner is right that online fraud is a massive problem,” said Mr. Lloyd, before arguing that the answer is not to weaken protection for consumers that are “vastly outgunned” by fraudsters.
“Instead, he should be ensuring the police put more resources into cracking down on a difficult 21st-century phenomenon. And instead of blaming victims, he should be calling for powerful financial institutions to do much more to prevent fraud and help their customers when they get conned.”
This sentiment has been echoed in the past by ESET’s senior security researcher Stephen Cobb, who wrote in 2014 about the dangerous precedent of blaming the celebrity victims of iCloud hacks.