QuickLinks 143 - 12 February 2000

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Legal and regulatory issues

   Access to public sector information / IT in government

  • UK - Blair Takes to Web for Internet Broadcast (Reuters) Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair broke with tradition and gave his first Internet broadcast from his Downing Street office. The broadcast was on education and Blair, once a self-confessed computer dunce, detailed reforms since he came to office.

  • USA - Electronic-Archiving Lawsuit (Government Computer News) The Supreme Court could decide by Feb. 18 whether to hear a case concerning agencies' handling of electronic records and whether they can delete electronic records as long as they have made copies in some format.


   Computer crime

   Consumer protection

  • Cybersex Addiction Checklist (APBNews) If you have one to three of these symptoms, you may need to discuss your online activities with a friend or family member. Consider counseling with someone trained in the treatment of addictive disorders and, perhaps, a support program if you have four or more symptoms.

  • USA - Net Auction Fraud Task Force (Newsbytes) The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will announce the creation of a three tiered federal-state, public-private initiative to crack down on fraudulent Internet auction sites.

   Content regulation

   Copyright, trademarks and patents

  • Judge imposes injunction on iCraveTV (Reuters) A federal judge imposed a preliminary injunction effectively preventing the Canadian-based Web site iCraveTV.com from showing copyrighted U.S. television programs on the World Wide Web, at least for now.

  • MP3 files suit against Recording Industry body (zdnet UK) Less than a month after being sued by an industry association, music Web site MP3.com said it had countered by filing a law suit against the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

  • USA - Court Zaps Copyright Case Over Sony Software (The Recorder/Cal Law) Software manufacturers may use copyrighted material to create a non-infringing final product, the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled. In a case closely watched by the software industry and the legal community, the court concluded in Sony v. Connectix that the process of "reverse engineering" a copyrighted product to make a non-infringing emulation constitutes "fair use."

  • USA - Tough Court Fight Expected Over DVD Code (New York Times) After losing the first round in an important legal fight over DVD technology, lawyers for three men who have become targets of Hollywood's ire are preparing for a full-blown trial. But they concede that they face an uphill fight in the courtroom of Judge Lewis A. Kaplan.

   Data Protection (privacy)

  • USA - Critics Press Legal Assault on Tracking of Web Users (New York Times) DoubleClick, a company that tracks consumers as they make their way around the Web, has never been popular with privacy advocates. In recent weeks, though, mere tension has grown into all-out war with the announcement that the company has begun adding information about consumers' offline behavior to its vast database.

  • USA - Do You Yahoo? (Texas Lawyer) The fear of a cyberspy watching a Web surfer's every move is leading to litigation in the untested legal realm of Internet privacy. A suit filed in Dallas against Yahoo! and broadcast.com seeks class-action status for some 50 million subscribers or users of those Web sites and contends they're being illegally monitored.

  • USA - Feds, States Grow Receptive to Privacy Legislation (The Industry Standard) Even as Congress struggles to come to grips with whether and how to regulate online privacy, federal agencies show no signs of slowing down their duties as cyberspace traffic cops.

  • USA - FTC probes Amazon's data system (Bloomberg) The Federal Trade Commission is investigating Amazon.com's software unit that collects information about how people use the Internet.

  • USA - New Complaints on Tracking of Web Surfers (New York Times) In two separate efforts targeting Internet companies that quietly collect personal information about Web surfers, a privacy group asked federal regulators to investigate a major online advertiser and a senator introduced a bill that would regulate such tracking technology, known as "cookies." see also Senate bill to target Web cookies (ZDNN).

  • USA - Privacy issues raised (Silicon Valley News) Internet experts and civil liberty advocates are raising concerns that the recent rash of Web-site attacks may provoke the kind of technological fixes that could make the online world more secure at the expense of damaging individual privacy.

  • USA - Now It Is EBay's Turn to Face Government Scrutiny (New York Times)

   Digital signatures

  • Der digitale Europäer (Spiegel Online) Die Finnen bekommen ihn bereits, und auch die restlichen Europäer müssen nicht mehr lange warten: Der digitale Personalausweis soll in der EU zum Standard werden. Doch, so fragen Experten, sind derartige Chipkarten wirklich unentbehrlich?

  • EU - Electronic Signature Directive (EC Official Journal) Directive 1999/93/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 1999 on a Community framework for electronic signatures. OJ No L 13 p.12 19/1/2000.

   Domain names

  • Austria - Link zum Ku-Klux-Klan (Spiegel Online) Die rechtspopulistische FPÖ hat Konkurrenz bekommen. Unter www.fpo.at findet sich eine fast identische Kopie der Parteiseiten, einschließlich einiger Neonazi-Links. Jörg Haider spricht von "Cyberterroristen".

  • EU - EC-POP - 17 Feb meeting (European Commission) The next meetings of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will take place in Cairo 7-10 March 2000. The European Community Panel of Participants (EC-POP) and the Commission will host an open consultation meeting in Brussels on Thursday 17 February 2000. Mr Erkki Liikanen, European Commissioner for Information Society and Enterprise, will address the meeting and participate in the discussion.

  • France - Altavista récupère son .fr juste avant sa sortie (ZDNet France) [Altavista settles dispute over altavista.fr domain name out of court shortly before opening a French service]

   Electronic commerce

  • EU - Caching, Monitoring, Hosting, Piracy (E-PING!) The next meeting of the new discussion forum for Internet issues is being held on Wednesday 1st March at the European Parliament, Brussels 1.30pm until 3.00pm. The discussion centres on the Draft Directive on certain legal aspects of electronic commerce. Presentations from the EP rapporteur Ana Palacio MEP; Meryem Marzouki, IRIS Imaginons un Réseau Internet Solidaire; Hanne Thorbøll, IFPI, Martin Atherton, ETNO.

  • USA - Public Interest Group Challenges Internet Wine Sales Restrictions (E-Commerce Law Weekly) A libertarian public-interest group has filed a lawsuit in federal court in New York that claims that New York's state-law prohibitions of direct wine sales, including Internet sales, violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

   Employment and social issues

   Information society and Internet policy

  • EU embarks on computer literacy drive for workers (FT) All European Union workers are to be given the chance to become computer literate by 2004, in a bid to close the information technology jobs gap with the US. An 18-point plan will link every school to the internet by the end of 2001 and ensure that all teachers are computer-literate by 2003. An EU-wide network of public internet access points will also be established. see also Europe's Net Generation: Catching up with the US? (RAPID)

  • Net, la guerre des contenus (Libération - Bernard Spitz) N'en déplaise à Pierre Bourdieu, à l'heure de la révolution numérique, plutôt que de se dérober, la France et l'Europe doivent prendre leur place sur le marché.


  • EU - An appraisal of technologies of political control (STOA) Development of Surveillance Technology & Risk of Abuse of Economic Information: 1/4 Economic Risks of Electronic Interception 1999 2/4 Legality of Interception of Electronic Communications 1999 3/4 Encryption/Cryptosystems in Electronic Surveillance (FR) 1999 3/4 Encryption/Cryptosystems in Electronic Surveillance (EN) 1999 4/4 Interception Capabilities 2000

  • EU - Echelon vor dem Europaparlament (Telepolis) Am 22. und 23. Februar findet im Europäischen Parlament eine Anhörung zum Datenschutz statt. Durchgeführt wird sie vom Ausschuss für Freiheiten und Rechte der Bürger. Besondere Aufmerksamkeit verdient sie, weil sie sich erstmals mit dem Echelon-Überwachungssystem befasst.

   Internet access and use

   IT in education

   Liability, jurisdiction and applicable law

   Protection of minors

  • USA - Florida Bills Take Aim at Kiddie Cyberporn (APBnews.com) One measure before the Florida Legislature would criminalize posting "lewd or lascivious" material that can be viewed by minors, and the other would mandate the reporting of computers housing child pornography.

   Rating and filtering

   Security and encryption


  • USA - F.C.C. Denies Request to Modify Digital TV Standard (New York Times) By a 5-0 vote, the Federal Communications Commission denied a petition from the Sinclair Broadcast Group asking the commission to modify the nation's digital television standard so that stations could choose to use a transmission technology that is being used in Europe and that had shown that it worked better in many circumstances.

   Taxation and tariffs

  • EU - Brussels may put VAT on virtual goods (FT) The European Commission is studying a proposal to impose value added tax on music, software and other "virtual" goods bought over the internet. The proposals, due to be announced soon, will bring the sale of music and software into line with the sale of tangible goods such as CDs and books, for which suppliers are required to register for VAT in the European Union.

  • USA - Internet success spins web of taxing issues (FT) While entrepreneurs dismiss any prospect of internet tax, a powerful lobby of state governors is pushing for its slice of the taxation cake.


  • EU - Roaming Bills Draw Europe's Attention (Total Telecom (registration required)) The high perceived cost of mobile roaming has triggered an investigation under European Union competition rules. The European Commission has sent out more than 200 formal requests for information to national competition authorities, telecommunications regulators and mobile network operators and service providers. see also Commission launches sector inquiry into mobile roaming (RAPID).

  • EU - Verrue Lists Trimmed Down Telecoms Directives (Communications International) Robert Verrue, director general of DG XIII of the European Commission has specified five directives that he proposes would replace the existing "complicated toolbox" of 22 telecommunications-related directives. General Principles, which would encompass access-based and cost-based principles of Open Network Protocol; Cost-based access and interconnection; Protection of private data in e-commerce; Universal service; Licensing, general authorisation, rather than individual licensing.

Market & Technology

   Convergence of telecommunications, media and information technology

  • AOL Europe to offer mobile phone access (FT) AOL Europe, the internet service provider, has linked up with two of the world's largest mobile phone manufacturers, Nokia and Ericsson, to allow subscribers access to its online services from their handsets.

  • Do Viewers Even Want to Interact With TV? (New York Times) The companies working to bring interactive television to the United States are endlessly optimistic that the big breakthrough for their industry is just around the corner, despite nearly 50 years of miscast experimentation and failure.

   Data Protection (privacy)

   Electronic commerce

  • Nokia And Visa Ally On Wireless Payment System (Total Telecom (registration required)) Nokia is working with Visa to develop ways of making it easier to pay for goods and services over a mobile phone. The two have reached an agreement to look for simple, "click-through" payment methods for use with the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP). The two companies will be working to "open standards".

  • Japan - Store wars in cyberspace (FT)

   Internet access and use

  • All wired up and nowhere to go (FT) Singapore has spent S$340m (£123m) over the past few years wiring every home, school and office to a super high-speed internet service. Yet, in spite of impressive statistics showing six out of every 10 homes in Singapore have personal computers and one in two has access to the internet, only 14 per cent of internet users have bothered to connect to the world's first nationwide broad-band network.

  • NTT slashes online access charges (FT) NTT, Japan's leading telecommunications group, slashed its internet access charges after criticism that they were hindering internet use.

  • Germany - Echte Flatrate bei T-Online (Spiegel Online) Die rund 4,2 Millionen Online-Kunden der Deutschen Telekom werden das Internet künftig zu einem monatlichen Pauschalpreis rund um die Uhr ohne zeitliches Limit nutzen können. Die "Full Flat Rate" für T-Online werde weniger als 100 Mark pro Monat kosten.


  • BBC flexes muscles with sports website launch (BBC) The BBC will launch a dedicated sports service on the internet as part of plans drawn up by director general Greg Dyke to make better sporting coverage a top priority of his early days in office.

  • LEXIS-NEXIS Acquires Online Services from the U.K.ís FT Group (Information Today) LEXIS-NEXIS has acquired three online services from the U.K.-based FT Group. The acquisition is one more step in the ongoing consolidation of the information industry, and was no doubt triggered in part by the recent joint venture between Dow Jones and Reuters.

  • Market for intellectual property set up on web (FT) Several of America's largest corporations have sponsored the creation of an online marketplace where intellectual property can be bought and sold, in an attempt to stimulate the market for under-utilised assets such as patents.

  • Australia - ABC could be in the box seat (Sydney Morning Herald) Article about the Web presence of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and other Australian TV broadcasters, and ABC's agreement to supply content to Telstar.

  • Germany - Telco to delay cable network sale (FT) Deutsche Telekom, the German telecommunications group, is considering delaying the sale of its highly prized cable network to take advantage of government plans to scrap German capital gains tax.

  • UK - BSkyB and NTL both woo Sports Internet (FT) NTL and BSkyB, fierce rivals in the race to negotiate a new broadcasting deal with football's Premier League, are competing against each other to form an alliance with Sports Internet, the sports web site and online betting company.

  • UK - BSkyB expects rapid digital service growth (FT) British Sky Broadcasting intends to have signed up 5m mostly digital television subscribers by as early as the end of this year. The aggressive target for digital take-up is likely to prompt BSkyB, the pay TV group controlled by Rupert Murdoch, to accelerate its timetable for switching off its analogue services. see also BSkyB unveils $400 million Net strategy (Reuters).

  • UK - Vodafone in £30m Man Utd tie-up (BBC) The world's largest telecoms company Vodafone has signed a £30m sponsorship deal with Manchester United. The four-year deal will put Vodafone's logo on the team kit. Manchester United supporters, meanwhile, are promised special deals on mobile phone and wireless internet services, and access to club news "anywhere, anytime".

  • Jurisline.com Suit Could Shift the Underpinnings of the Online Legal Marketplace and Beyond (InformationToday / T.R. Halvorson)

   Security and encryption

  • Les droits d'auteur en filigrane (Le Monde) [Using steganography for protected of copyrighted images] Pour les photographes, Internet est à la fois une formidable opportunité et un terrible danger. Comment se protéger contre la menace de piratage, surtout si les photographies sont retouchées ? La technologie de la stéganographie peut apporter son aide.


  • For Extra Cheese, Ctrl+Pizza (New York Times) Net appliances offer instant, pain-free access to e-mail and the web. But can a special key for pizza make up for not having a hard drive?


Links to news items about legal and regulatory aspects of Internet and the information society, particularly those relating to information content, and market and technology.

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