David Finn holds a PhD in Law from Harvard University and an expert in cybersecurity. He was a federal prosecutor in New York and for 16 years led teams to fight cybercrime at Microsoft. He is now the executive director of CleanApps.org, an organization that promotes the responsible development of apps.
Is it possible to build a "clean and safe" Internet?
It is possible and also it is necessary to be more secure. The way we live on the Internet is not sustainable. We know that what we are doing does not work, but I believe that there is a road ahead that offers prospects for success. First, you need clear rules and policies about what makes something acceptable and easy for users to handle. Then there must be compliance with the legislation, that people can know what is dangerous and does not work and causes harm and that there are measures that are applied to prevent that from being there.
And what is penalized?
There must be accountability and clear consequences and in the area we are talking about, this basically means that what is dangerous on the Internet is eliminated. The solution that arises here is that there have to be very clear rules and all cybersecurity companies have to be able to work together, get together, and in some way that has to end in those dangerous "apps" being eliminated of computers so that people are safe.
Is that the philosophy of 'CleanApps.org'?
We are a non-profit organization and our philosophy is that all responsible companies should be able to come together and work together to achieve a balance between getting benefits and protecting the consumer.
A study published by the Spanish Data Protection Agency sees "risks to the privacy" of users in software pre-installed on Android devices …
That would be a bit one of the objectives that could be achieved if all the cybersecurity companies could work together to get all of them to block those "apps" and make people safe.
It is said that when using a free service, the user is the product. Are we aware of it?
Each time a little more. People start to wake up and be more aware and realize that the internet is not such a safe place because they begin to see how their data, their privacy, all their information, somehow, is stolen or appropriate.
Tim Berners-Lee, father of the Word Wide Web, claims on its 30th anniversary that user data are not treated as merchandise because they are rights or that their use for political purposes is prohibited. What do you think?
There has to be a very necessary debate in this regard. You have to define a series of standards, but what are those standards? You have to work to try to define them globally.
What do you think is the most vulnerable group: children, with mobile phones at younger and younger ages, or older ones?
There is a large part of the population that is very vulnerable, especially the elderly and children, who are perhaps the most affected by these "apps" that can be fraudulent or deceptive. I think it would be very important to teach in schools or to improve consumer education, so that people would be able to perceive the risks behind pushing that free installation button or whatever.
Soon there will be elections in Spain. Can a case in Spain like Cambridge Analytica happen? Can you influence voters through social networks and WhatsApp?
It is undoubtedly a giant problem with many expansions and can potentially affect Spain and elsewhere.