QuickLinks 152 - 15 April 2000

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Legal and regulatory issues

   Access to public sector information / IT in government



   Computer crime

  • Child pornography on the Internet (European Parliament) Plenary session 11 April, on basis of Kirkhope Report A5-0090/00. Proposed amendments to the Initiative of the Republic of Austria with a view to adopting a Council Decision to combat child pornography on the Internet.

  • France: le "Bouclier" en guerre contre les pédocriminels du Net (AFP) Depuis septembre dernier l'association Le Bouclier de défense des droits de l'enfant est activement repartie en guerre contre les crimes pédophiles, revenus depuis quelques semaines sur le devant de la scène médiatique.

  • L´ONU veut lutter contre les mafias et la cybercriminalité (Le Monde) Le 10e Congrès sur la « prévention de la criminalité et le traitement des criminels » organisé par les Nations unies à Vienne réunit jusqu'au lundi 17 avril plus de 2000 experts - fonctionnaires, criminologues, membres d'organisation non gouvernementales, experts en droit - pour réfléchir sur les moyens de lutter contre la criminalité organisée, la corruption et la délinquance informatique.

  • Pedofilia:Internet, Scoperta Rete Scambio Foto Fra Militari (Yahoo IT) Una presunta rete di scambi via Internet fra militari di materiale per pedofili Ť stata scoperta dalla procura di Trento. L' inchiesta ha portato all' arresto in un capitano dell' esercito in servizio al Distretto militare di Trento con l' accusa di detenzione e diffusione per via telematica di materiale pornografico relativo a bambini, reato previsto dalla recente legge sulla pedofilia.

  • U.S. Charges Five Over Internet Child Pornography (Reuters) U.S. prosecutors unveiled indictments against five alleged Internet child pornography peddlers, including the first U.S. charges against suspects abroad for offering the material for sale on the Web. A federal grand jury charged three men in Indonesia and Russia and a husband and wife in Fort Worth, Texas, for selling pictures of children having sex through Web sites. see also Huge Kid Porn Ring Busted (Wired).

  • EU - Hotlines - proposals requested (European Commission) The call for proposals under the Action Plan for promoting safer use of the Internet for hotlines to deal with reports from Internet users relating to illegal content was published in OJ C92 1.4.1999 p 11. Proposals may be presented at any time. The next evaluation will consider proposals presented by 7 July 2000. The text of the Official Journal, technical background document, guide for proposers, application forms, and model contract are all available on the website.

   Consumer protection

   Content regulation

  • Web site questions UK libel law (FT) The European Court of Human Rights is to be asked to rule that English libel laws breach the right to freedom of expression on the internet, after a spate of web site closures by internet service providers for fear of libel damages. The challenge to the European court is being brought by Outcast, a gay magazine. Its web site was closed by Netbenefit, its service provider, after the Pink Paper, the mainstream gay community newspaper, threatened to sue if any libellous material appeared on the Outcast web site. see also Gagging the net in 3 easy steps BBC), CACIB arises phoenix-like from ashes of UK censorship (Campaign Against Censorship of the Internet in Britain) and Service-Provider im Vereinigten Königreich zittern vor Verleumdungsklagen (Heise Online).

  • USA - New York Internet Porn Law Upheld (New York Law Journal) Drawing a sharp distinction between New York's Internet pornography law and the fatally flawed federal Communications Decency Act, the Court of Appeals yesterday upheld the constitutionality of the state statute. The Court agreed unanimously that the New York law survives constitutional scrutiny largely because, unlike the stricken federal statute, it is directed not only at the transmission of certain communications, but also the act of luring a child into sex.

   Copyright, trademarks and patents

  • Metallica Files Suit Against Napster, Universities (Newsbytes) A lawsuit has been brought by the well-known heavy metal rock group, Metallica, and the artists' publishing companies, have filed suit against Napster, the Web-based provider of software that lets individuals share their MP3-formatted music with other music lovers over the Web, in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. The suit also names the University of Southern California, Yale University, and Indiana University as defendants. see also Gnutella ignites porn, pirate worries

  • Amazon sued for patent infringement (ZDNN) Amazon.com, which has been under fire for making certain controversial patent claims, is now being sued by Intouch Group , a San Francisco-based music firm for, of all things, violating a patent governing the way consumers sample music online.

  • Survey finds pirates rule online auctions (CNET News.com) The Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) found that more than 90 percent of the software auctions it surveyed were offering pirated products. The trade group surveyed more than 1,500 software auctions on the leading auction sites: eBay, Yahoo, Amazon.com and FairMarket auction network member Excite@Home.

  • Germany - Offensive gegen Serien-Abmahnungen (Heise Online) Im Web formiert sich Widerstand gegen die Abmahner vom Dienst. Die Internet-Initiative Freedom for Links (FFL) und die Autoren von SELFHTML haben sich zusammengetan, um gemeinsam gegen die systematische Abmahnung zahlreicher Website-Inhaber wegen angeblicher Markenschutzverletzungen vorzugehen. siehe auch Rechtsanwalt geht gegen Abmahn-Datenbank vor.

  • USA - Publisher of restaurant guides serves suit (Bloomberg News) Zagat Survey, publisher of more than 30 dining guides, says in a federal lawsuit that E-Compare, an online shopping service has illegally copied its 14,381 restaurant reviews and posted them on Sprint's wireless Web.

   Data Protection (privacy)

  • Corrigendum to Open call for tenders (Official Journal) B-Brussels: contract for a study on the application of Directive 95/46/EC relating to the protection of individuals within Member States. Final date for receipt of tenders: 25.4.2000.

  • Odd Privacy Ratings Exposed (Wired) The Electronic Privacy Information Center site received only two of a possible four stars from enonymous, a company that published what it billed as a "comprehensive" privacy survey. EPIC isn't alone in finding bizarre errors and odd oversights in enonymous' database, designed to tell anyone using the company's "advisor" software what the privacy practices of websites are.

  • France - La Cnil incite le commerce en ligne à plus de transparence (Nouvel Observateur) La transparence des sites de commerce électronique français doit drastiquement être améliorée. Voilà la conclusion d'une étude portant sur 100 sites français de commerce électronique réalisée par la Commission nationale de l'informatiques et des libertés (Cnil)

   Domain names

   Electronic commerce

  • E-minister asks for industry advice on online trade laws (Silicon) UK e-minister Patricia Hewitt is expected to call for industry consultation over the European Union's controversial plans for online trading laws. At the centre of the debate is whether disputes over materials bought on the Internet should be settled in the consumer's country of origin or in that of the merchant.

  • Meeting on Internet shopping at EP (E-PING!) The next meeting of the European Parliamentarians' Internet Group will be held on Wednesday, 3 May Room 4B01 European Parliament, Brussels 1.30 - 3.00. the theme is "Why You Should Shop on the Internet"


   Liability, jurisdiction and applicable law

  • German Court Rules AOL Liable (AP) In a ruling that could give the music industry a weapon against Internet piracy, a court said that America Online is responsible when users swap bootleg music files on its service. The case before a court in Munich originated with Hit Box Software, a German company that sued AOL Germany for copyright violation in 1998 after discovering that its digital music files were being exchanged on the online service. Musterprozess: Internet-Anbieter haften für Raubkopien (FT Deutschland).


   Racism and xenophobia

  • "Don't link to hate sites!" (Salon) Film critic Roger Ebert gave a thumbs down to online efforts to expose bigotry on the Web in a debate with the founder of Hatewatch. Hate-monitoring sites, which link to racist, anti-semitic and homophobic sites, give bigots a "virtual supermarket" of online hate tools, Ebert said.

  • French Anti-Racist Group Goes After Yahoo (AW Daily) A French anti-racist group is taking Yahoo to court over items available at its auction site in the United States. The International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism (LICRA) announced it was seeking an injunction in a Paris court to force Yahoo to end sales of Nazi memorabilia in France.

   Safer Internet awareness

  • EU - Proposals for awareness actions requested (European Commission) A call for proposals for awareness actions under the Action Plan for promoting safer use of the Internet has been published in the Official Journal (OJ C110, 15.4.2000). The time-limit for presenting proposals is 7 July 2000. The technical background document, guide for proposers, application forms, and model contract are all available on the website.

   Security and encryption

  • Last picture show? Movie site attacked (MSNBC) The Web site for the Motion Pictures Association of America - at the centre of the DVD movie decryption storm - is suffering intermittent outages, and the group suspects computer vandals.

  • MS admits planting secret password (WSJ Interactive Edition) Microsoft engineers included in some of its Internet software a secret password -- a phrase deriding their rivals at Netscape as "weenies" -- that could be used to gain illicit access to hundreds of thousands of Internet sites worldwide.

   Taxation and tariffs


Market & Technology


  • BBC allows pop sponsors (FT) The BBC has taken the unprecedented step of allowing a commercial sponsor for the pop chart on its radio and television programmes. Under a three-year deal, Top of the Pops, BBC1's weekly chart programme, and Sunday's Top 40 countdown on Radio One will be broadcast courtesy of Worldpop, the media co mpany founded by former presenter Peter Powell. The programmes will not carry corporate logos, but Worldpop is to receive credits

   Convergence of telecommunications, media and information technology

  • Digital tensions hit Vegas (FT) Brave words from broadcasters, eager to claim ascendancy in the world of digital media, failed to conceal the tensions rising among station and network owners gathered in Las Vegas.

   Electronic commerce

  • E-Tailing: Doom or Huge Boom? (Reuters) The combination of weak financial structure, mounting competitive pressures, and investor flight will drive most Web retailers out of business by 2001, Forrester Research said in a report.

  • VW goes it alone in online marketplace (FT) Volkswagen, Europe's largest carmaker and known for its fierce independence, created a potential rift in the global automotive industry when it said it would form its own online market place for procurement.

   Employment and social issues

  • For Start-Up Workers It May Be Worry.com (New York Times) The recent tumble in technology stocks hasn't just unnerved investors -- it has made some employees in the thick of the dot-com whirlwind look warily over their shoulders.

   Internet access and use


  • Markets plunge in frenzied sell-off (CNET News.com) A massive sell-off in technology stocks swamped the major stock indexes today, sending the Nasdaq and the Dow industrials to their largest point declines ever. see also AltaVista to Postpone Initial Public Offering (Reuters).

  • Music broadcasting industry forms EU lobby group (Silicon) The European Music Service Providers Association, a pan-European initiative to provide representation for the views of the music broadcasting industry is to be launched by digital broadcast company Music Choice, a joint venture between EMI, Sony and Warner.

  • U.K. cyber cafe heads to New York (IDG) EasyEverything founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou is planning to extend his chain of big orange cyber cafes to the Big Apple. The easyEverything chain offers low-cost Internet access to travellers and others without their own computers through its five London cyber cafes, easily recognizable by their giant orange facades.

   Security and encryption

  • One in four broadband PCs at hack risk (Yahoo UK) For many broadband users, it is becoming a rude awakening to learn that being connected around the clock to the Internet is not just a Valhalla of always-on convenience. Right now, about one in four computers hooked up to broadband connections is vulnerable.


  • M-commerce alliance formed (FT) Nokia of Finland, Motorola of the US and Ericsson of Sweden are planning a world m-commerce standard that would allow safe credit card payments using mobile phones.


  • Gnutella ignites porn, pirate worries (MSNBC) It could undermine the influence of every search engine and every Web portal. Itís the biggest thorn yet in the side of record companies worried about the spread of pirated music on the Net. And itís the easiest way yet to trade pornography, even illegal child porn, over the Internet. For a piece of software that lived for less than 24 hours on its home page, Gnutella has created quite a stir.

   Who' s who

Useful addresses


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, Patrizio Menchetti