QuickLinks 156 - 20 May 2000

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Legal and regulatory issues

   Cable and satellite

  • USA - Court Rules Cable Law Is Constitutional (Reuters) In Time Warner Entertainment V FCC (DC Circuit Court of Appeals), the court handed the government a major victory, ruling that a law designed to prevent one or two companies from gaining control over the cable television industry is constitutional. the court said that the Federal Communications Commission has authority to set limits on the number of cable households a single company may reach. The judges also held that the FCC can force cable companies to share their capacity with others, instead of filling it entirely with their own programming.

  • Galileo: Ms de Palacio pledged support for Europe requests for frequencies (RAPID) Ms de Palacio, Vice President of the European Commission in charge of Transport and Energy, addressed the delegates of the World Radiocommunications Conference (WRC 2000) in Istanbul. Ms de Palacio asked the participants to support for Europe requests for frequencies and in particular for the GALILEO programme of navigation by satellite.

   Competition

  • Swiss mobile operators face competition probe (Reuters) Switzerland's anti-trust watchdog is investigating possible breaches of competition rules by mobile phone operators Swisscom, Diax and Orange. The Competition Commission said price levels for mobile phone services were "similar" at the three providers. It would look at whether this similarity was "admissable in respect of the law on cartels".

  • USA - Airline website faces probe (FT) Antitrust officials at the US justice department are investigating a new travel website to be launched by five airlines. Justice department officials said they were examining the joint venture, which is known as T2. The website is intended to rival existing travel sites such as Microsoft's Expedia and Priceline.com.

  • USA - DoJ setback for WorldCom-Sprint tie-up (Total Telecom (registration required)) Officials submitted a formal recommendation to Joel Klein, the Justice Department's antitrust head, that the WorldCom and Sprint merger should be blocked because it would violate antitrust law for two main reasons: it would combine the second and third largest long distance carriers in the U.S.; and because the combined company would dominate the Internet backbone business. see also Justice Lawyers: Block Sprint-WorldCom Deal (MSNBC) and EU faces dilemma over WorldCom/Sprint merger probe (Reuters)

   Computer crime

   Consumer protection

   Content regulation

  • China punishes web site for 'spreading rumours' (Reuters) China has punished a financial website for spreading rumours that damaged the government's image as authorities announcedfurther moves were under way to regulate news content on the unruly Internet.

  • Medienwächter prüfen möglichen Pornografie-Verstoß bei RTL II (dpa) Die für die Aufsicht des Privatsenders RTL II zuständige Hessische Landesanstalt für privaten Rundfunk (LPR) prüft derzeit, ob einige von dem Privatsender ausgestrahlten Erotik-Spielfilme den Tatbestand der Pornografie erfüllten.

  • UK - Radio Authority fines Virgin Radio £75,000 (Press release) The Radio Authority has fined Virgin Radio £75,000 for a serious breach of the rules requiring due impartiality from broadcasters. In the Virgin Breakfast Show, Chris Evans expressed live on air, in two extended pieces, his support for Ken Livingstone in the London Mayoral Election.

  • UK - Censor fails to ban porn videos (Reuters) The High Court in London rejected a challenge by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) against a decision by its own Video Appeals Committee to permit seven explicit films to go on sale at British sex shops.

  • USA - ACLU Accuses Intel Of Violating Free Speech (Newsbytes) The ACLU is backing a former Intel employee who was ordered to stop sending e-mail critical of Intel to coworkers.

   Copyright, trademarks and patents

   Data Protection (privacy)

  • Court of Appeal upholds BSC decision on corporate privacy (Courts service) In R v Broadcasting Standards Commission ex p. British Broadcasting Corporation, the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and restored the adjudication of the BSC. The BSC decision upheld a complaint by Dixons, the retail chain, that secret filming by the BBC was an unwarranted infringement of Dixons' privacy in connection with the obtaining of material included in a BBC programme. The BBC had contended that a company cannot enjoy a right to privacy, and that privacy cannot apply to the filming of events in the place to which the public has access.

  • Yahoo Hit With Novel Privacy Suit (The Recorder) When Aquacool_2000 badmouthed his bosses on a Yahoo message board, he did so thinking the cloak of anonymity would protect him. But soon his employers found him out - and fired him. Now Aquacool_2000 has filed a novel suit in Los Angeles federal court charging Yahoo with violating his constitutional and contractual rights to privacy when it disclosed identifying information about him to his employers without informing him first.

  • Germany - Bundeskabinett regelt Datenschutz bei Telekommunikation (Heise Online) Das Bundeskabinett hat die Telekommunikations-Datenschutzverordnung beschlossen. Die Verordnung bedarf noch der Zustimmung des Bundesrates. Sie regelt den Schutz persönlicher Daten der an der Telekommunikation Beteiligten und bestimmt, in welchem Ausmaß und zu welchem Zweck Anbieter von Telekommunikationsdienstleistungen, Unternehmen und gewerbliche Nutzer persönliche Daten erheben, verarbeiten und speichern dürfen.

  • USA - FTC Publishes Internet Privacy Rule (The Industry Standard) The Federal Trade Commission published a financial-services privacy rule, setting forth new regulatory guidelines that will for the first time regulate the information-sharing practices of some Internet sites. see also FTC Issues Final Rule on Privacy of Consumer Financial Information (Press release).

   Domain names

   Electronic commerce

  • Australia's capital snubs govt on Internet gaming (Reuters) Australia's national capital defied the federal government's plans for an Internet gambling moratorium by issuing two new licences and continuing to process other applications.

  • Indian lower house passes IT bill (Reuters) India's lower house of parliament passed a long-awaited information technology bill aimed at providing a legal framework for electronic commerce and facilitating digital signatures. see also India drops controversial change to IT bill (Reuters). The Indian government has dropped a proposed amendment that would have required compulsory monitoring of cybercafe users by proprietors.

   Information society and Internet policy

   Junk mail (spam)

  • Singapore man in trouble over rage e-mails (AFP - The Nando Times) A Singaporean executive who deluged a government agency with thousands of e-mails after encountering poor service has been charged by the authorities in what could be a test case of "cyber-rage." He sent more than 7,500 messages to three computer servers of the Housing and Development Board (HDB) in just over two and a half hours.

   Liability, jurisdiction and applicable law

   Mobile

   Racism and xenophobia

   Security and encryption

  • Call for computer virus supremo (FT) Computer security experts called on US lawmakers to create a government chief information officer to deal with all virus threats. The CIO would be responsible for overseeing all government infrastructure protection roles - taking over from the myriad offices and centres which currently protect government agencies.

   Self-regulation / codes of conduct

Market & Technology

   Market

  • Top web retailer collapses (BBC) European online clothing retailer Boo.com has collapsed through lack of funds, just six months after it launched to a huge fanfare of publicity.

  • Terra Networks secures $12.5bn acquisition of Lycos (FT) Terra Networks, the Spanish internet group, agreed a $12.5bn takeover of Lycos, the web portal, which will be paid for in Terra stock. It is intended to create an internet business spanning the English and Spanish-speaking worlds. The deal was accompanied by e-commerce agreements between Bertelsmann, the German media group, and Telefónica to develop services in e-commerce and downloading media content for the Terra Lycos platform.

  • Lawyers Go on Sale Online (American Lawyer Media) Suddenly, the idea that legal services can be auctioned off is in vogue. During the past month, three services have gone public with their plans to create Web-based auctions of legal talent, as though lawyers were pork bellies, car parts or the wireless spectrum.

  • SingTel in Virgin in mobile tie-up (Reuters) Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) announced a billion-dollar cellular phone venture with Britain's Virgin Group, breaking a run of disappointment in expansion efforts for the Asian telecom firm.

  • Yahoo! in news deal with BBC (FT) Yahoo! will become the first commercial internet portal to carry BBC news content after striking an agreement with BBC News Online, the corporation's internet news service. The deal will help the BBC - which is not receiving a fee from Yahoo! - fulfil its public service remit by increasing access to its news output.

  • Yahoo! in Wap content deal (FT) Telecom Italia Mobile, the cellular division of Telecom Italia, signed up Yahoo!, the internet portal, to provide content for its WAP phone service.

   Multilingual content and software

   Security and encryption

  • Virus hunters detect new variant of 'Love Bug' (FT) Antivirus experts in the US issued a warning about a new and potentially destructive computer virus. Although technically similar to the Love Bug, this virus is far more difficult to spot because the subject line of the email differs each time it is replicated. The new virus looks for document names on an infected computer, selects one at random, and inserts that name into the email subject line, prefixed by "FW:". It then proceeds immediately to begin overwriting and effectively destroying all files on a computer's disk drives. see also Worm alert! LOVELETTER gets nastier (ZDNet). Users should turn off the Windows Scripting Host in Windows 98 by using the Control Panel/Add-Remove Programs/Windows Settings Tab/Acessories and uncheck the element "Windows Scripting Host."

  • Microsoft Adds New Security Features to Outlook (Computer Reseller News) Microsoft will offer new security features for its Outlook e-mail program in the wake of the destructive "Love" virus. see also Protect Against Viruses with the Outlook E-mail Security Update (Microsoft).

   Statistics

  • Kabel- und Satellitenfernsehen boomen in Deutschland (dpa) Weniger als drei Millionen Haushalte erhalten ihre Rundfunkprogramme über die normale Hausantenne.

  • Les Français ont peur de la cybercriminalité (webfaster) Selon une étude Ipsos/CertiNomis, plus de 8 Français sur 10 estiment important le risque sur Internet de voir des personnes utiliser à des fins frauduleuses leur identité ou l'identité de leur interlocuteur.

  • Trying to Gauge, and Bridge, Europe's Gap in Net Access (New York Times) At the conclusion of their "new economy" meeting in Lisbon, the political leaders of the European Union pledged to take steps in favor of cheaper Internet access, to boost the development of e-commerce and to narrow the gap with the United States. But according to Sam Paltridge, that gap is getting bigger. And access charges are only one of the variables.

  • Web map shows tangles and gaps (MSNBC) Internet not as interconnected as you might think, study say. If you think the World Wide Web is an information superhighway system, think again: The Web's most extensive mapping project shows that Internet traffic tends to flow in a strong one-way direction - and for most sites, online users would find that "you can’t get there from here." (Bow-tie theory)

   Technology

   Who' s who

  • Bertelsmann: Wössner gibt auf (dpa) Der Vorsitzende des Aufsichtsrates der Bertelsmann AG, Mark Wössner, gibt zum Herbst alle seine Ämter auf und verlässt das Unternehmen. Wössner wird zum 1. November den Aufsichtsratsvorsitz an Gerd Schulte-Hillen, bis dahin Vorstandsvorsitzender der Bertelsmann-Tochter Gruner + Jahr, übergeben. Den Vorstandsvorsitz der Bertelsmann-Stiftung übernimmt den Angaben zufolge vorübergehend Mohn selbst.


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QuickLinks is edited by Richard Swetenham richard.swetenham@cec.eu.int - Contributors: NewsNow UK, UNESCO, TKRNews, David Goldstein, Gerhard Heine, lan Reekie, Paula Telo Alves