QuickLinks 153 - 1 May 2000

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Legal and regulatory issues

   Access to public sector information / IT in government

  • Brazil - Laptop is cyber judge and jury (BBC) An artificial-intelligence program called the Electronic Judge is dispensing justice on the mean streets of Brazilian cities.

  • USA - Judge Takes Murder Trial Offline (FindLaw News) A Virginia judge pulled the plug on the first live broadcast on the Internet of a murder trial after defense lawyers complained that sensitive microphones allowed computer users to overhear confidential conversations with their client.


  • French watchdog to issue rules on web site ads (Reuters) France's national broadcasting watchdog, the CSA, will issue details of the rules covering television adverts for Internet sites belonging to industries normally barred from TV ads.


   Computer crime

   Content regulation

  • As Internet Grows, Censorship Follows (NUA) Government censorship of Internet sites is increasing, according to a new report from the human rights group Freedom House. The report, Censor Dot Gov: The Internet and Press Freedom 2000, says that as the World Wide Web develops at an exponential rate, governments in many countries, both developed and developing, are increasingly tempted to censor online information.

  • Australia - Internet content complaints scheme - the first 3 months (Press Release) In the first three months of Internet content complaint investigation, the Australian Broadcasting Authority issued final take-down notices for 31 items of Australian-hosted content, referred 45 items of content to the makers of filtering software products and referred 7 items of content to law enforcement agencies.

  • China - Un bureau pour surveiller les informations en ligne (Nouvel Observateur) La Chine se dote d'un bureau chargé de surveiller les informations circulant sur le net : l'Internet Information Management Bureau a, en effet, pour objectif de traquer les informations 'nuisibles' accessibles en ligne.

  • USA - Suit Against Anonymous Pest Revives Online Speech Law (New York Times) little-known federal law restricting indecent speech online that many lawyers thought was essentially dead has come back to life in Federal District Court in Manhattan, to the chagrin of some civil libertarians.

   Copyright, trademarks and patents

   Data Protection (privacy)

  • U.S. Confused About Privacy (Wired) Differing attitudes and laws covering privacy rights and free speech are generating conflicting rules for governing the Internet in the United States and Europe, making it difficult to come up with a set of global standards to govern the new medium.

   Digital signatures

   Domain names

   Employment and social issues

  • Australia - Telstra suspends 27 staff over porn (Newswire) Telstra has suspended 27 employees for allegedly downloading and distributing pornography within the workplace. A further 35 employees, not involved to the same extent, were issued with written warnings.

  • UK - Harvard May Tighten Rules for Faculty Net Ventures (Associated Press) A Harvard committee is proposing tighter rules on outside work. The Harvard proposal forbids faculty to teach, conduct research or offer consulting outside of Harvard, either in person or online, without permission from the appropriate dean.

   Information society and Internet policy

  • EU Commissioner: We need a sense of urgency (Telepolis) Interview with Erkki Liikanen, Commissioner for Enterprise and Information Society, about the European strengths and misses, the chances that Linux might bring for the EU, his views on privacy, copyright, encryption, filtering and consumer rights in the digital age

  • Syria advances warily into online age (Washington Post) In a liberalization effort that is remarkable by Syria’s cautious standards, President Hafez Assad’s government has begun embracing the information age, moving to modernize the economy and expand incentives for foreign investment.


  • Whitehall 'should pay to set up e-mail intercept' (Financial Times) The UK government should bear the initial cost of controversial measures requiring internet service providers to be able to intercept e-mails, an official report has decided. But industry experts have reacted angrily to the report's conclusion that the running cost of interception - a minimum £9,400 a year for a small ISP - will not impose an "onerous burden" on business. See also MI5 builds new centre to read e-mails on the net (Sunday Times)

   Liability, jurisdiction and applicable law

  • Japan - Web Links Can Be Considered Illegal (Asia BizTech News) A landmark verdict handed down by the Osaka District Court states that, under certain sets of conditions, links used to connect one Web page to another could be considered an infringement of the law.


   Protection of minors

   Racism and xenophobia

  • Justizministerium: Kampf gegen Neonazis im Internet (Heise Online) Bundesjustizministerin Herta Däubler-Gmelin will mit neuen Methoden die Kriminalität und den Rechtsextremismus im Internet besser bekämpfen. Sie will die wichtigsten Internet-Unternehmen und Provider an einen Tisch bekommen, um mit ihnen eine Art Verhaltenskodex zu formulieren.


  • AOL rival asks FCC action on IM (PC Week) Tribal Voice Inc. filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission urging it to push America Online to open its AOL Instant Messenger client to outside IM providers before its merger with Time Warner Inc. is approved.


Market & Technology

   Internet access and use

  • UK - BT enters broadband arena (BBC) ADSL offers more services to PC users BT is launching a new broadband service that will offer instant and always-on high-speed internet access. The portal will be available through BT's online subsidiary BTopenworld from July.


  • Alliance forms to develop broadband content market (CWI Online) More than 30 companies from the telecoms, broadcast media and Internet industries have formed the first ever cross-sector alliance in an attempt to avert a false start for broadband content services. The Broadband Content Delivery Forum has already attracted leading industry players, including Alta Vista, AT&T's broadband and Internet unit, Bertelsmann, BT, NBC Internet and Nortel Networks.

  • Media spat leaves ABC off Time Warner Cable (CNNfn) The ABC television network vanished from Time Warner's cable systems in 11 U.S. cities after the media company failed to reach a new transmission agreement with the network's parent, Walt Disney.


  • Difference between UK and US web surfers revealed (vnunet.com) Europeans prefer to use the web to chat and exchange messages while Americans are more likely to log on to shop or just surf. According to a recent survey by NetValue, the UK is leading the way in Europe with more than 27 per cent of the population, or 6.4 million households connected to the internet, versus three million households or 12.1 per cent of the population in France. Germany comes in second with 7.1 million households, or 20.7 per cent.

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, John Rabun