QuickLinks 149 - 26 March 2000

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Legal and regulatory issues

   Access to public sector information / IT in government

  • Judge Allows Delivery by E-Mail (AP) Dozens of electronic messages carried what's believed to be an unprecedented payload -- a subpoena and other documents approved by a judge warning that the recipient's Web site may be violating a federal court order.


  • France - L'Assemblée vote la réforme de l'audiovisuel (AFP) L'Assemblée nationale a adopté en deuxième lecture, le projet de réforme de l'audiovisuel qui vise à renforcer la place du secteur public et à définir un cadre juridique pour le développement de la télévision numérique hertzienne. Il doit être transmis au Sénat pour une deuxième lecture.


  • Commission authorises the participation of BSkyB in KirchPayTV (RAPID) The European Commission has cleared the concentration between Kirch and British Sky Broadcasting Group plc ("BSkyB"). Through this operation the parties will obtain joint control over KirchPayTV. Two sets of undertakings have been offered. The first will enable providers of digital interactive television services to establish their own technical platform and to compete with Kirch by giving them access to Kirch's pay-TV services. It will also be possible to manufacture decoder boxes using Kirch's conditional access system in combination with other conditional access systems. The second set of undertakings will enable providers of digital interactive services to run their services more easily on Kirch's technical platform.

  • EU - Commission opens full investigation into the Microsoft/Liberty Media/Telewest concentration (RAPID) The European Commission has decided to open a full investigation into the proposed acquisition of joint control by Microsoft Corporation (Microsoft) with Liberty Media Corporation (Liberty) over Telewest Communications plc (Telewest).

  • UK - NTL/C&W deal cleared (FT) The Competition Commission has cleared the way for the proposed acquisition by NTL of Cable & Wireless Communications' cable interests, dismissing concerns about the deal by Stephen Byers, trade and industry secretary.

  • USA - Disney seeks to block AOL Time Warner merger (ZDNet UK) Walt Disney, fearing that its programming won't get fair access to America Online's (AOL) Web sites, is quietly lobbying Congress to warn against the online company's planned merger with Time Warner.

  • Commission clears the acquisition by CLT-UFA of News' stake in the German TV channel VOX (RAPID)

   Computer crime

   Consumer protection

   Content regulation

   Copyright, trademarks and patents

  • USA - Can Feds Keep Up With E-Patents? (New York Law Journal) The growing number of patent applications being filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by e-commerce companies is prompting some technology executives to question whether the PTO has the resources and staff to keep up.

   Data Protection (privacy)

  • Genetics Scandal Inflames Iceland (Wired) Icelanders are accusing their government of taking huge payments from the company licensed to create a genetic database of the country's entire population.

  • USA - Privacy Caucus Holds First Hearing (Newsbytes) The bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus (CPC) met for the first time. see also Privacy Pervasive in Policy (Wired).

  • USA - TRUSTe Cracks the Whip (The Industry Standard) TRUSTe, the online privacy program is sending a sending a cease-and-desist letter to health-product site MotherNature.com, which continues to display the TRUSTe seal of approval even though its license expired in January, and has posted a public notice of MotherNature's expired license on its Web site.

   Digital divide

   Domain names

   Electronic commerce

   Information society and Internet policy

   IT in education

   Junk mail (spam)


   Rating and filtering

  • Filtering firm employs copyright law against Webmasters (CNET News.com) What began as a rallying cry for free speech has turned into a legal migraine for three young Webmasters who publicized decoded material belonging to an Internet firm that filters smut from children's computers.

   Taxation and tariffs

Market & Technology

   Convergence of telecommunications, media and information technology

  • AT&T launches local loop (FT) AT&T opened a new front in the broadband telecommunicaitons battle as it launched the US's first commercial "fixed wireless" service for residential customers.

   Electronic commerce

   Internet access and use

  • Internet Access Price Comparison (OECD) Prices to access the Internet continue to fall across OECD countries. A trend has emerged toward 'unmetered' access. Based on announced plans for unmetered access options in several countries, the OECD expects increased price reductions in the coming months and continued demand from the market for price innovation.

  • UK - BT steps up net access war (FT) British Telecommunications, the former monopoly carrier under pressure to cut the price of internet access, is handing out 1m ($1.6m) in an online competition. The competition is open to all UK residents over the age of 18, regardless of whether they are existing customers.


  • Bertelsmann Eyes Mobile Web Growth (Reuters) German media group Bertelsmann, which recently sold its stake in AOL Europe, plans to expand its mobile phone Web technology business -especially in lucrative Asian markets.

  • Online Radio Listening Doubles (itdaily.com) Internet radio listening has doubled since 1999 according to the results of eBrain Market Research's 4th Annual Multimedia PC and Internet Audio study.

   Portals, browsers and search engines

  • Will embedded browsers rule the Web? (ZDNN) Despite Microsoft's and Netscape's claims to the contrary, the browser race isn't over yet. While the two browser kingpins continue to trade proclamations of Windows desktop domination, a number of lesser-known players targeting the embedded market are the ones pushing the most interesting technological and market developments.

  • Biggest Spanish portal launched (FT) Microsoft, the US software giant, and Telmex, Mexico's largest telecommunications company, launched what they claimed would be the biggest Spanish-speaking portal in the world.


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