QuickLinks 145 - 26 February 2000

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Legal and regulatory issues


  • UK - BBC digital levy decision applauded (FT) Commercial television broadcasters and digital television operators celebrated the decision by the culture minister not to allow the BBC to adopt a digital levy. Instead he offered the public service broadcaster an initial £3 ($4.80) increase in the general licence fee to £104.


   Computer crime

  • French credit card hacker convicted (The Register) Serge Humpich, the engineer who discovered flaws in the chip-based security of French credit cards, was sentenced to a suspended prison sentence of 10 months, 12,000 francs (approx. £1,200) in fines, and one symbolic franc in damages to the Groupement des Cartes Bancaires.

  • Internet Scandal in Qatar (Wired) Thousands of Qataris have finally discovered why their Internet access bills inexplicably soared like the price of oil in recent weeks: Their usernames and passwords were being sold on CDs.

   Consumer protection

  • Support for online kitemark scheme gathers momentum (Silicon) Greece has become the eighth European country to back the Consumer Association's Which? Web Trader scheme, as the online kitemark project continues its bid to become a global standard. The accreditation initiative, which last week announced support from Belgium, France, Holland, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the UK, hopes more consumer associations worldwide will follow its model. Last week the initiative received E1.3m (£800,000) from the European Union to support its expansion.

  • Move to resolve net disputes (FT) The European Commission is looking at setting up a European Union-wide system for resolving consumers' disputes about goods bought over the internet as part of a wider initiative to encourage electronic commerce. The system would involve setting up a series of clearing houses in EU countries to direct complaints and consumer requests for redress to the relevant national bodies.

  • Recommendations On Electronic Commerce (TACD - Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue) Third TACD Meeting, 10-12 February 2000, Washington DC

  • USA - AOL's Legal Headaches Continue (InternetNews.com) Washington State residents have joined the growing list of litigants filing class action lawsuits against America Online for releasing its 5.0 software without warning that the installation would change a computer's dial-up networking properties and TCP/IP settings.

   Content regulation

  • Australia - Laws fail to block Net porn (Fairfax IT) A newsgroup posting has been classified as banned material by the Office of Film and Literature Classification. The Australian Broadcasting Authority says it has advised approved Internet filter makers that the portion of the Dejanews archive Web server containing the posting is "refused classification" and should be blocked.

   Copyright, trademarks and patents

  • France - After etoy, Leonardo! (IRSI) Leonardo, a network promoting relationships between the arts and the sciences, is sued by Transasia Corporation, on the grounds of trademark infringement. The company has recently registered the names Leonardo, Leonardo Finance, Leonardo Partners, Leonardo Invest and Leonardo Experts in France.

  • Germany - Nationales Internet (Heise Online) [German music industry wants to block Internet copyright infringements at border] Die deutsche Musikindustrie will mit einem nationalen System zum Schutz von Urheberrechten starten, das aber allgemein zur Blockierung grenzübergreifender Kommunikation eingesetzt werden könnte. see also Kein MP3 für deutsche Surfer? (Spiegel) and Internet Piracy - notice and take-down (IFPI).

  • USA - Amazon patents affiliate programs technology (Associated Press) Internet retailer Amazon.com has patented a technology that lets other Web sites send it customers in exchange for a commission.

  • USA - Lawmakers, IP Industry Representatives Urge Congress Not To Rush Webcast Regulation (E-Commerce Law Weekly) Despite the growing clamor over a Canadian company's retransmissions of U.S. television programming over the Internet, both House lawmakers and copyright industry representatives warned that a rush to regulate webcasting could stifle competition and anger consumers.

  • USA - Universities Ban Napster Downloads (BizReport.com) Dozens of colleges and universities have blocked students from downloading music from pirate Web site Napster because the practice clogs the schools' computer systems.

   Data Protection (privacy)

   Domain names

  • Cybersquatters squeezed (FT) A global online arbitration service to combat "cybersquatting" - the bad faith registration of internet addresses - has got off to a flying start with nearly 90 cases filed since it was set up in December.

   Electronic commerce

  • UK - Online conveyancing to 'slash' delays (FT) Plans to allow online conveyancing, under which time taken to buy a house could be "slashed" from months to days, were announced by the government.

  • UK - Viagra blackmarket thriving (BBC) The anti-impotence drug Viagra is being bought over the internet and then sold illegally at almost twice the price in pubs and clubs in London.

   Information society and Internet policy


   Internet access and use

   IT in education

  • AOL Ups German Access Ante (wired) AOL Europe plans to give all German primary and secondary schools and 900,000 German schoolteachers free access to the Internet.

   Protection of minors

  • USA - Wired Kids promotes safe and valuable use of the Internet (Press Release) The greatest risk our children face in connection with the Internet is being denied access to this wonderful educational and communication tool. Equitable access, effective use of the Internet in education, Internet safety and privacy. WiredKids.org launches on March 29th with a conference held in New York City.

  • Children warned against net predators (BBC) Canadian pupils are getting a computer game that teaches them how 'predators' use the internet to lure children away from home.

   Racism and xenophobia

   Rating and filtering

  • Firm rolls out secure private network for children (vnunet.com) Silvertech has launched ekids, a safe, secure network for children on the internet. Ekids will provide parents with a safe, fun and educational environment for children to play, learn and communicate in cyberspace. The service will go live on 1 March. The network does not contain any advertisements and is funded by a $12 per month subscription fee.

  • Scheuklappen für Surfer (Neue Zürcher Zeitung) Jugendschutz und Informationsfreiheit im Internet.

  • USA - Michigan city rejects placing Internet filters at library (The Nando Times) Voters in Holland, a conservative Michigan city, voted against requiring the public library to install Internet filters to keep youngsters from looking at pornography. It was the first such ballot measure in the nation.

   Security and encryption

  • Chat Networks Identify With Attacked Web Sites (Washington Post) Internet Relay Chat networks' visibility in the hacker community has made them "testing grounds" for new attack strategies like the new "distributed denial of service" method that took down more than a dozen popular World Wide Web sites.

  • Educate, Don't Regulate (Newsbytes) Computer experts asked Congress to forestall any legislation that would unnecessarily regulate cybersecurity, and instead advocated the role government could play in educating its members and the public about Internet security.

  • German Interior Secretary Announces Anti-Hacker Task Force (internet.com) Interior Secretary Otto Schily is setting up a Task Force to deal with the hacker threat following a spate of recent attacks on popular US Web sites. The committee is intended to clarify the hacker potential in Germany and take measures to strengthen and coordinate the fight against such attacks.

  • Web hackers strike again (BBC) Several more leading websites are reported to have been attacked by hackers. Among the latest victims of the electronic vandals are the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Microsoft. see also Web attacks? The ISPs strike back! (ZDNN).

  • USA - Prof Can Post His Crypto (Reuters) The United States will allow a computer scientist to put instructions for writing a powerful computer data-scrambling program on his Web site, but his high-profile lawsuit challenging U.S. export restrictions on encryption may continue.

   Self-regulation / codes of conduct


  • EU - Réexamen 1999 (Communications Review) (ART) Synthèse de la réponse de l'Autorité de régulation des télécommunications à la communication de la Commission du 10 novembre 1999 "Vers un nouveau cadre pour les infrastructures de communications électroniques et les services associés - Réexamen 1999 du cadre réglementaire des communications" see also Provisional list of comments on the Communications Review '99 (ISPO).

  • France - ADSL (ART) L'avis de l'Autorité de régulation des télécommunications au Conseil de la concurrence sur la demande de 9 Télécom relative aux pratiques de France Télécom sur le marché de l'Internet à haut débit.

Market & Technology

   Electronic commerce

  • A Valentine's Day fiasco (FT) One of the biggest failures in the brief history of e-commerce occurred this week, with hardly a mention in the mainstream press - the millions of users of electronic greetings card web sites whose sweethearts did not receive Valentines Day cards.

  • Automakers Form Online Venture (New York Times) General Motors, Ford and DaimlerChrysler will set up the world's biggest online marketplace, a giant auction site like eBay that they plan to use for buying the nearly $250 billion worth of auto parts and other goods that they need each year.

   Internet access and use


  • Ask Jeeves scuttles spin-off plans (CNET News.com) After months of internal debate and a domain-name buying spree, Ask Jeeves has scuttled a proposal to spin off its sex-related answers to a separate Web site.

  • Global One Wins EU Contract (Total Telecom) Telecoms operator Global One has won a $40 million contract to install a network allowing data to be transmitted easily between European Union institutions and governments in the 15 member states.

  • MP3 Won't Destroy Music Industry (computer currents) The existing structure of the music industry will not be fundamentally changed as digital downloading and supply become commonplace, according to an executive at one of the companies driving the industry toward digital distribution.

  • Online kids ... tomorrow's opportunity (ZDNN)

   Quality of service

  • Airline Reservation System Crashes Briefly (Reuters) The world's No. 1 computerized airline reservations system went down for about two hours, making life miserable for airlines, travel agencies and the traveling public.



  • CeBIT 2000: What's hot at this year's show (zdnet UK) Mobile devices, MP3 players, Bluetooth-enabled products and Linux-dedicated solutions are just some of the hot items you can expect at this year's CeBIT.

  • Wireless all the talk at Cebit (vnunet) Wireless is taking a starring role at this year's Cebit. Europe, which usually plays second fiddle to the US in hi-tech, is looking to seriously advance its lead in mobile phones and wirless internet access.

   Who' s who

  • Strains on special relationship (FT) The personal rapport between Thomas Middlehoff, the man who has since become chief executive of Europe's biggest media business and the Steve Case, chief executive of America's largest internet company has had repercussions for both the businessmen and their businesses.


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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