Microsoft exec pitches Internet usage tax to pay for cybersecurity

A top Microsoft executive on Tuesday suggested a broad Internet tax to help defray the costs associated with computer security breaches and vast Internet attacks, according to reports.

Speaking at a security conference in San Francisco, Microsoft Vice President for Trustworthy Computing Scott Charney pitched the Web usage fee as one way to subsidize efforts to combat emerging cyber threats -- a costly venture, he said, but one that had vast community benefits.

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"You could say it's a public safety issue and do it with general taxation," Charney noted.

Ultimately, Charney was only offering one suggestion during the RSA security conference; not a precise policy prescription.

But his idea has already riled many in the computer world, some of whom have since charged Microsoft and its historically vulnerable Windows operating system are responsible for countless, worldwide cybersecurity problems.

Still, Charney implored those in his own industry to focus more on "social solutions" to growing Internet security concerns. He described the importance of cybersecurity in terms of national healthcare, noting that computer ailments and hacks, like preventable diseases, travel to and incapacitate other, connected units -- not just the infected user's home computer.

"Just like we do defense in depth in IT, we have to do defense in depth in... response," he later added.