QuickLinks 154 - 7 May 2000

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Legal and regulatory issues

   Access to public sector information / IT in government

  • Police turn to the internet with secure website for informants (Independent) Police informants and the general public could soon be using the internet to tell police about alleged drug dealers, racists and kerb-crawlers. A pilot scheme asking the public to inform on alleged criminals using a specially designed secure website was unveiled by police in Bradford, West Yorkshire.


   Computer crime

  • Gnutella porn surfers exposed (MSNBC) Search for child pornography on the Internet, and your IP address just might show up on the Zeropaid.com Wall of Shame. The music portal Web site is currently playing a trick on those who are looking for pedophilia using the Gnutella file-sharing program. Download one of Zeropaid.com's temptingly named images, and the site logs your time of download, IP address and domain name - and then posts them on a Web site for all to see.

  • Reporter Accused of Hacking Into Rival's Computer (Bloomberg) A reporter with IPO.com, an Internet Web site concentrating on initial stock offerings, sabotaged the computer system of rival Wall Street Source, the company claims in a lawsuit.

  • USA - Stiff penalties sought for computer crime (MSNBC) Adding new teeth to federal laws governing high-tech crime, the U.S. Sentencing Commission sent Congress guidelines for judges that would substantially increase penalties for crimessuch as credit card and identity theft, using computers to solicit or sexually exploit minors, and violating copyrights or trademarks online.

   Consumer protection

   Content regulation

  • C4 to show banned sex scenes on web (Guardian) Channel 4's movie channel is to screen explicit sex scenes on the internet to highlight the strict rules which restrict what can be shown on television. The FilmFour web site is to host an online debate on the issues of censorship as well as screening the scenes on May 5.

  • Policing the Net (Guardian) Guardian Unlimited sponsored Oxford University's Policing the Net debate on 28 April. Read about the debate and listen to highlights, as Nadine Strossen, John Abbott, Yaman Akdeniz and David Kerr discuss the motion: This house believes that any attempt by government to police the internet is both unworkable and a severe threat to civil liberties.

  • UK - Teenagers to see 'quota' of film sex as censors loosen rules (Sunday Times) Teenagers are to be permitted to watch more explicit sex scenes on videos and in cinemas by British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). The new code will define precise "quotas" of sex, violence and bad language for each age group.

   Copyright, trademarks and patents

   Data Protection (privacy)

  • Intel to phase out serial number feature (CNET News.com) Intel will phase out its practice of stamping serial numbers on its processors with the next generation of chips, the final chapter in a public relations fiasco. The company will not include serial numbers on the next generation of its processors, code-named Willamette, that will be released later this year. The identification numbers will continue to be used in the Pentium III.

   Domain names

  • Workshop on setting up a .EU Registry (EC-POP) Brussels, 4 May 2000. This workshop was organised by the European Commission under the aegis of the EC-POP (EC panel of participants in internet organisation and management) in order to consult representative organisations and interests on the practical issues of setting up a .EU Registry and to set in motion the first steps towards the creation of appropriate structures.

  • Switzerland - Microsoft erklagt sich "hotmail.ch" (Heise Online) Das Baselbieter Obergericht hat entschieden, dass das Reinacher Unternehmen Digitale Medien Systeme (DMS) den Domain-Namen "hotmail.ch" an Microsoft abtreten muss. Damit gab das Gericht einer von Microsoft eingereichten Klage statt. Die Richter begründeten ihr Urteil damit, dass Markenrecht vor Domain-Recht gehe.

   Electronic commerce


  • UK - FIPR Regulation of Investigatory Powers (FIPR) Regulations of Investigatory Powers Information Centre focuses on developments in the Regulations of Investigatory Powers Bill. see also A Guide to RIP v1.0(STAND).

  • USA - 1999 Wiretap Report (United States Courts) The Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 requires the Administrative Office of the United States Courts to report to Congress the number and nature of federal and state applications for orders authorizing or approving the interception of wire, oral, or electronic communications. see also EPIC Wiretap page.

   Liability, jurisdiction and applicable law

  • USA - Recipients of E-Mail Not Discoverable (Pennsylvania Law Weekly) A federal judge ruled a high school student will not have to reveal the names of classmates who helped create and distribute an e-mail message ridiculing the school's athletic director.

  • USA - Supreme Court Upholds ISP Ruling (Reuters) The U.S. Supreme Court let stand the dismissal of a lawsuit against an Internet service provider after an impostor using a 15-year-old boy's name sent a threatening, profane email and posted two vulgar bulletin board messages. The justices without any comment or dissent denied an appeal by Alexander Lunney, a minor who had sued Prodigy for defamation and negligence over the messages sent in 1994.


  • Europäische Regeln für Mobilfunkmarkt gefordert (Heise Online) Die europäischen Mobilfunkmärkte brauchen nach Einschätzung des Bundeswirtschaftsministeriums langfristig einen gemeinsamen Ordnungsrahmen. Die deutsche Regulierungsbehörde werde langfristig Kompetenzen in der Beaufsichtigung und Steuerung des Mobilfunkmarktes abgeben müssen.

   Multilingual content and software

   Protection of minors

   Rating and filtering

  • Porn, drugs and bomb-making sites slip through kiddie filters (Register) Which?, the British consumer watchdog, tested seven software filters on a random sample of 23 potentially offensive sites and 17 innocent sites. Which? recommended using restricted ISPs, such as Planet Kids and Kidz.net which limit access to pre-approved child-friendly sites, rather than Internet filters.

  • Reviews of Internet Access Filtering Software (SuperKids) Reviewers compared six filtering programs (Cyber Patrol, Internet Explorer, KidDesk Internet Safe, Net Nanny, SurfWatch, WebChaperone). These programs are designed to provide various degrees of control over Internet access by children, at home, in school, or in libraries.

   Security and encryption

   Self-regulation / codes of conduct


Market & Technology

   Electronic commerce

  • Labels Subscribe to Net Selling (Wired) Sony Music and Universal Music have joined forces to launch a subscription-based digital music service, which experts say could be the next big trend in distributing music on the Web. Making a similar announcement was music downloading company MP3.com, which said it had launched a classical music subscription service.

   Internet access and use


   Portals, browsers and search engines

  • AltaVista Launches New Search Site (The Search Engine Report) AltaVista has launched a search-only site which follows on improvements the company made to its core database of web pages about a week ago. Called Raging Search, the new site delivers fast and uncluttered listings.


  • Top Global Domains Among European Users (CyberAtlas) A look at the top global Internet domains among Internet users in the UK, Germany, and France by MMXI Europe reveals that many of the same Internet properties that dominate US Web traffic are holding their own abroad.


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