QuickLinks 141 - 30 January 2000

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Legal and regulatory issues

   Access to public sector information / IT in government


   Content regulation

  • UK - Watchdog moves to curb racist websites (Guardian) Internet sites which publish criminally racist material are to be targeted for the first time in Britain by the internet watch foundation under plans backed by the government's e-commerce minister, Patricia Hewitt, and Whitehall's e-envoy, Alex Allan.

  • Censor to face High Court test (Australian IT) Opponents of Australia's Internet censorship law will mount a High Court challenge to test its validity, as the Australian Broadcasting Authority begins issuing take-down orders to remove offensive content.

  • China clamps secrecy rules on Internet (Reuters) China has clamped new controls over the Internet to stop web sites from "leaking state secrets", and an official newspaper said curbs on news content were on the way. Under rules published in the People's Daily, web sites are required to undergo security checks. See also Can governments control the internet? (BBC).

   Copyright, trademarks and patents

  • USA - Courts enjoin sites that publish DVD decryption (E-Commerce Law Weekly) Two judges granted preliminary injunctions against defendants who operated websites that distributed information about copying DVD-ROMs.

  • Stamping Out Pirated Tunes (Wired) Copyright Control Services (CCS) tracks, documents, and shuts down Internet sites and communication channels containing illegal files.

  • Germany - Webspace-Abmahnungen sind "unzulässig" (Spiegel Online) Auch Serienabmahner scheinen irgendwann einmal an ihre Grenzen zu stoßen. Das Landgericht München hat nun eine Klage des Inhabers der Marke "Webspace" abgewiesen, weil sie "zum alleinigen Zweck des Geldverdienens" diente.

  • USA - Authors, Photographers Sue National Geographic for Copyright Infringement (Law News Network) The National Geographic Society is facing multiple copyright infringement suits filed by writers and photographers furious over a CD-ROM that compiles works from more than a century of the organization's prestigious magazine.

  • USA - eToys Drops Lawsuit Against Artist Group (New York Times) EToys, the Internet's leading toy retailer, agreed to drop its trademark-infringement lawsuit against etoy, a group of online conceptual artists in Europe.

  • USA - MP3.com's move to copy CDs stirs debate (CNET News.com) MP3.com may have taken one step too far when it launched two new services offering customers access to their CD collections online. Some observers say that MP3.com committed a grave mistake by failing to deal with the recording industry before the launch and moving ahead without discussing licensing conditions.

  • USA / Canada - Broadcasters win battle against iCraveTV.com (CNET News.com) Internet-based television company iCraveTV.com lost a key legal battle, as a U.S. judge ordered the company to pull its TV services offline. The Canadian Web start-up is the target of a full-bore legal attack by American broadcasters and sports leagues.

   Data Protection (privacy)

   Electronic commerce

  • EU looks for way to escape 'damaging' ecommerce law (Silicon) Four European commissioners are to meet to discuss alternatives to the Brussels Convention - a European law that observers claim could have disastrous consequences for ecommerce.

  • EU: Brussels to pass e-commerce laws (FT) The European Commission has agreed an ambitious agenda to push through all remaining electronic commerce legislation by the end of the year to try to help the European Union catch up with the US on the internet economy.

  • Germany - Gericht erklärt Internet-Versteigerung für ungültig (Reuters) Das Landgericht Münster hat einem Autohaus Recht gegeben, das sich weigerte, einen beim Online-Auktionshaus Ricardo.de ersteigerten Neuwagen auszuliefern. Das Gericht hat entschieden, dass kein verbindlicher Kaufvertrag im Sinne des Bürgerlichen Gesetzbuches (BGB) geschlossen worden sei.

  • USA - Super Bowl Fuels Online Gambling (AP) Football fans wagering on Sunday's Super Bowl over the Internet will have plenty of company: Online gambling is on the rise despite questions about its legality in the United States.

   Electronic democracy

  • U.N. sets up web site to link business, protesters (Reuters) The United Nations has added to its burgeoning Internet sites with a new program that seeks to link its own agencies, corporations and voluntary groups on the environment, job security and human rights. The "global compact"web site is designed to be interactive so opposing groups can communicate with each other and exchange data.

  • Germany - Ab 0:00 Uhr kann geklickt werden (Spiegel Online) Die Forschungsgruppe Internetwahlen um den Osnabrücker Soziologen Dieter Otten ruft Anfang März zur ersten rechtsverbindlichen Wahl an die virtuellen Urnen.

   Information society and Internet policy

  • USA - Little Progress Expected on High-Tech Legislation (New York Times) Congress returns this week to a host of issues that are of pressing concern to the high-tech industry. But with lawmakers' on-and-off schedule in this election year, bills related to the Internet and e-commerce may get more talk than action. Digital signatures, privacy, Internet taxes, visas for skilled foreign workers and trade relations with China are likely to dominate the high-tech debate. Also likely are a renewed focus on legislation to regulate junk e-mail, efforts to get minority groups and the poor online and new initiatives to battle cybercrime.


  • USA - FBI phone-snoop regs challenged by Net privacy groups (The Register) A coalition of Internet privacy groups has filed a brief in federal court seeking to block Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations which would enable the FBI to track the physical locations of cellular phone users and potentially monitor Internet traffic.

   Security and encryption

Market & Technology

   Data Protection (privacy)

  • Web Dropouts (PC Magazine) Consumers have plowed billions of dollars into e-goods during the holiday shopping season alone. But concerns about online privacy may be bringing the show back down to earth.

   Electronic commerce

  • Creating Marketplaces for Business-to-Business Transactions (New York Times) The Uniform Code Council, the nonprofit organization that created the bar code system, has chosen AppNet, an Internet consulting company, to build what it called "the largest electronic marketplace for business-to-business transactions."

  • Slow start in net race (FT) According to Larry Ellison, chairman of Oracle, the biggest barrier to e-commerce in Europe is the high cost of telecommunications. The continued dominance of former state monopolies is restricting development of low-cost telephony and internet access.


   Security and encryption

  • Hack Takes Aim at AOL Clients (Wired) A security breach on AOL Instant Messenger put the privacy of AIM users at risk. The breach, first reported in Salon, allows subscribers to link new AOL accounts to AIM names that already exist.

  • Japan fights 'cyber-terrorists' (BBC) The Japanese Government has called an emergency session to boost computer security after hackers broke into official websites. The hackers placed a link to a pornographic site on the Science and Technology Agency homepage, and posted messages attacking Japan over the 1937 Nanking massacre.

  • NEC Claims World's Strongest Encryption System (IDG.net) NEC has developed a new encryption technology, CipherUnicorn-A, which it claims to be the strongest in the world. The technology is based upon common key encryption - in which a single key is used for both the encoding and the decoding functions.

  • Sicherheit wird klein geschreiben (Spiegel Online) Rund einen Monat lang konnten Kunden der Internet-Bank X.com Geld von anderen Konten ganz einfach auf das eigene überweisen. Und das ohne Wissen der eigentlichen Eigentümer.



  • Security 'passport' developed (FT) Sonera SmartTrust, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Finnish international telecommunications operator, has developed technology that can turn any mobile phone into the electronic equivalent of a passport or identity document.


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QuickLinks is edited by Richard Swetenham richard.swetenham@cec.eu.int - Contributors: NewsNow UK, MediaGrok, David Goldstein, Alan Reekie, Rupert Selzer