QuickLinks 148 - 18 March 2000

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Legal and regulatory issues

   Access to public sector information / IT in government


   Computer crime

   Consumer protection

  • Regulators concerned over high-tech mania (FT) Financial regulators joined a mounting chorus of public warnings about the dangers of investing in high-technology stocks. The latest warnings reflect rising international concern about the threat to financial stability of the rush into internet shares, particularly by small investors trading on "margin accounts" with borrowed money. see also Flat launch for shares in World Online (FT).

  • Germany - Rechtsstreit um Zuteilung von T-Online-Aktien (Heise Online) Die Anfang März von T-Online bekannt gegebene Bevorzugung von Teilnehmern einer Befragung im Internet bei der Zuteilung von T-Online-Aktien ist nun vom Landgericht Hamburg per einstweiliger Verfügung untersagt worden.

  • USA - Click here ... and lose your rights (ZDNN) The Uniform Computer Information Transaction Act, or UCITA, a controversial 350-page legislative proposal aimed at strengthening licenses on software and digital information, is being presented to the states. But opponents - which include the Federal Trade Commission, Consumers Union and an alliance of 20 companies - warn UCITA will instead undermine consumers' rights and lead to shoddy software development.

   Content regulation

  • Date Rape Site Taken Down (Wired) A Web site advocating date rape was shut down following complaints from outraged feminists. Web hosting company MyInternet.com deactivated Daterape.org, which described itself as "a one-stop shop for all your date rape needs."

  • Geographic Screening (Slashdot) Geographic screening - the restriction of Net access by geography - is the latest nightmare stemming from the culture wars launched by the music and movie industries against a free Internet. This time the firewalls aren't coming from the People's Republic of China, but out of Canada.

  • Germany - Justizministerium will Sex im Internet bekämpfen (tecChannel.de) Das Bundesjustizministerium will Sex-Shows im Internet bekämpfen. Bisher sei nur die Verbreitung pornografischer Darbietungen durch den Rundfunk mit Strafe bedroht, nicht aber eine Echtzeitübertragung per Internet. Auch eine bessere Bekämpfung von Kinderpornografie ist geplant.

  • USA - Libraries Accused of Suppressing Net Porn Data (Newsbytes) The conservative Family Research Council (FRC) will release a report contending that the American Library Association (ALA) has repeatedly ducked information requests pertaining about the availability of pornography on library computers.

  • USA - Pastor accused of running smut site (Associated Press) A Roman Catholic priest accused of launching a sexually explicit Web site for gay priests has been sent to an out-of-state program to decide if he wants to remain in the priesthood.

   Copyright, trademarks and patents

  • New program mimics Napster (ZDNet) A group of software engineers who work for a unit of America Online (AOL) has released an early version of Gnutella, a program that mimics the operation of Napster, the popular Web software that allows for the free trading of music files, including pirated ones. see also Did AOL eat Gnutella for lunch? (Salon).

   Data Protection (privacy)

  • Europe and U.S. Reach Data Privacy Pact (New York Times) The United States and Europe completed the wording yesterday on a data privacy agreement that will put strict new controls on how American companies collect personal information about European consumers. The more complicated issues of how that directive will apply to financial services and cyberspace remain in dispute.

  • EU - Documents adopted by the Data Protection Working Party (Europa) Recommendation 1/2000 on the Implementation of Directive 95/46/EC, Opinion 2/2000 concerning the general review of the telecommunications legal framework, Opinion 1/2000 on certain data protection aspects of electronic commerce

   Digital divide

   Digital signatures

   Domain names

   Electronic commerce

   IT in education

  • Billionaire Plans Online University (New York Times) A 35-year-old software billionaire will spend $100 million to realize his vision of 21st century higher education: a giant free Web site that would provide access to what he calls the "10,000 greatest minds of our time," in lectures and interviews recorded especially for the venture.

  • USA - Online degree courses double (BBC) The number of universities in the United States offering online degree courses has more than doubled in a year.

   Junk mail (spam)

  • USA - One small victory for spammers (ZDNet) A Washington state judge ruled that its anti-spam law, one of the strongest in the US, is unconstitutional and dismissed the first lawsuit brought by the state against an individual who had sent junk emails.

   Liability, jurisdiction and applicable law


  • Bids top £700m in UK auction (FT) Renewed rivalry between Vodafone AirTouch and Orange for the valuable B licence drove bidding above £700m for the first time in the government's mobile phone licence auction.

  • Spain announces 3G winners The Spanish government has awarded four potentially lucrative 3G licences to develop Universal Mobile Telecommunications services (UMTS) technology which will allow users to receive, and deliver, internet data and video images on their cellular handsets. Three licences were earmarked for Spain's trio of existing mobile operators. The fourth was awarded to the Sonera/Vivendi "Xfera" consortium which also includes Orange, the UK carrier owned by Mannesmann.

   Racism and xenophobia

  • USA - HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo Targets Internet Hate (Inter@ctive Week) The Department of Housing and Urban Development - together with a coalition of Internet, civil rights, religious and community organizations, and members of the business community - will lead a national effort to fight hate and discrimination on the Internet.

   Rating and filtering

  • Australia - Nannies' nasties Web filter leaves residue of outrage (Sydney Morning Herald) The [New South Wales] Government's Internet nannies have cut off Parliament House access to Web sites dealing with criminal skills, dating, extreme or obscene sites, gambling, games, hate speech and sex, prompting outrage from State MPs and a normally mild-mannered Parliamentary Librarian.

  • Praying for Muslim Kidz.net (Newswire) Kidz.net is developing a Muslim version of its restricted child-safe Internet product with communications company e-Phone.

  • Software Co. Sues Hackers (AP) Microsystems Software which makes Cyber Patrol, software to block children from pornographic Internet sites, filed a lawsuit for a temporary restraining order against two computer experts who developed a method for kids to deduce their parents' password and access those Web sites. see also Judge issues injunction against alleged Cyber Patrol hackers (vnunet.com).

   Security and encryption

  • German university pulls down 'zombie' server (PC Week) The distributed denial-of-service mystery is starting to unravel. A German university found an agent for the Tribal Flood Network hacking tool on one of its servers and quickly took the server offline.

  • WebTV's 'Non-Virus' Virus (Wired) Parent company Microsoft is working on a patch of its service to counteract malicious programming code that overloads WebTV newsgroup discussions with fake postings.

Market & Technology

   Convergence of telecommunications, media and information technology

  • TV-Sender drängen ins Internet (Heise Online) Der Fernsehsender RTL präsentierte gestern seine Pläne für eine groß angelegte Internet-Offensive. Die Firma bündelt in Zukunft die Bereiche Internet, Teletext, WAP und den elektronischen Programmführer (EPG). Einen besonders hohen Stellenwert für RTL Newmedia habe die Verschmelzung von Internet und digitalem TV.

  • USA - Tribune-Times Mirror merger a sign of megamedia times (Reuters) Ostensibly an "old media" merger of two of America's biggest papers - the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times - the union really reflects how the news business is evolving in an era of high-profile "new media" mergers.

   Electronic commerce

  • AOL, Sears to team in cross-marketing effort (CNET News.com) Online giant America Online and retailer Sears, Roebuck will team in a joint marketing alliance and will develop a version of AOL's software for Sears' customers. Under the agreement, AOL products and services will be marketed to Sears customers nationwide.

   Internet access and use


   Multilingual content and software

  • Yahoo Gallops Across the Pampas (The Industry Standard) A half-million Argentinians already use the Yahoo en Español directory, so Yahoo aims at expanding that audience by launching a full-fledged portal there - its third Latin American site, after Brazil and Mexico.

   Portals, browsers and search engines

  • Microsoft backs RealNames (Reuters) Microsoft is buying a 20 percent stake in RealNames, a developer of an Internet keyword address system that aims to challenge a similar feature developed by America Online.

  • Risque web photos lay bare notions of property (FT) The ease of reproducing information on the internet is posing a challenge to conventional copyright ideas.


  • RealNetworks Listens to MS (Wired) RealNetworks has licensed Microsoft's Windows Media software development kit to enable its users to listen to content stored in Microsoft's competing format. Microsoft also announced that portal Yahoo is licensing the Windows Media audio technology, which has been jockeying with RealNetworks to become the de facto standard for streaming and downloading music and information.



  • I.B.M. Makes Breakthrough in Memory for Computers (New York Times) A group of I.B.M. scientists said yesterday that they had achieved a technological breakthrough that could result in disk drives capable of holding more than one trillion bytes of data -- more than 100 times the capacity of today's most typical hard drives.


  • Flaming end for satellites (BBC) Bankrupt US phone firm Iridium is to send 66 satellites worth $6bn out of orbit to burn up in the earth's atmosphere. The satellite phone company ran out of time in its hopes of finding a rescuer for its ailing business.


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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QuickLinks is edited by Richard Swetenham richard.swetenham@cec.eu.int - Contributors: NewsNow UK, MediaGrok, David Goldstein, Gerhard Heine