QuickLinks 157 - 28 May 2000

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Legal and regulatory issues

   Access to public sector information / IT in government


   Computer crime

  • UK - Judge calls for law to stop Net paedophile attacks (Independent) A judge has called for tough laws to deal with cyber-paedophiles. A computer specialist was jailed for 18 months when he appeared at the Old Bailey after an elaborate "sting" involving British and American detectives. The maximum sentence for people using the Internet to procure children for sex is two years and only three years for distributing indecent photographs of children for others to download.

  • USA - Arrest in online extortion attempt (MSNBC) A Colorado graduate student accused of trying to use MSNBC as part of an extortion plot against e-commerce firm Audible.com was arrested by federal authorities.

   Content regulation

  • Playboy Wins Cable Victory (Reuters) In United States v. Playboy, the Supreme Court struck down a law that requires sexually explicit cable television channels to completely block their signals to non-subscribing households. The high court, by a 5-4 vote, agreed with Playboy's arguments that the 1996 federal law was too broad and violated constitutional First Amendment free-speech rights.

  • UK - Censors to accept new ruling on video porn (Times) The British Board of Film Classification will not appeal against a judgment which dismissed the board's challenge against its Video Appeals Committee, which decided that hardcore pornographic videos could be sold in licensed sex shops. see also Pornography is a danger to children (Independent).

  • USA - Online Porn Business Booms (Medill News Service) Transmitting obscenity and child pornography over the Internet is illegal under federal law. But without the U.S. Department of Justice actively prosecuting Web sites that distribute it, porn online is a lucrative business, according to testimony before the House subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade and Consumer Protection. see also Antiporn Activists Lobby for Laws (Wired), So Much Online Porn, So Little Time (The Standard).

   Convergence of telecommunications, media and information technology

   Copyright, trademarks and patents

  • Online Music Industry Tells Congress to Leave It Alone (New York Times) Executives from independent and online music companies asked Congress to keep its hands off their industry while traditional businesses and copyright interests adapt to new technologies and controversial song-swapping services like Napster. see also Report Proposes Update of Copyright Act

  • EU - Copyright and related rights in the Information Society (Press release) The Council had an in-depth debate on the proposal for a Directive on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the Information Society. The Council invited the Permanent Representatives Committee to pursue work on this proposal with a view to enabling the Council to reach agreement before the end of the Portuguese Presidency.

  • USA - Judge Halts eBay's Unwanted Hits (The Recorder) Clarifying what constitutes trespassing on the Internet, a California federal judge has blocked Bidder's Edge from using its Web crawler to access eBay's Internet auction site.

  • USA - Slashdot's Attorney's Response To Microsoft (Slashdot) Response to Microsoft's request to remove readers' comments about their version of Kerberos from Slashdot. As a general matter, it is the policy of Slashdot not to interfere with or censor the communications of its users. see also Openlaw/DVD Resources (The Berkman Center for Internet & Society).

   Data Protection (privacy)

   Digital signatures

  • UK - Electronic Communications Act 2000 (out-law.com) The Electronic Communications Act is due to receive Royal Assent and the Secretary of State can now fix the date on which it will come into force. The main purpose of the legislation is to help build confidence in electronic commerce and the technology underlying it by providing for an approvals scheme for businesses and other organisations providing cryptography support services, such as electronic services and confidentiality services.

   Domain names

  • Cybersquatters target Baby Leo (BBC) Baby Leo Blair was only a few hours old before he was targeted by internet cybersquatters. People looking to make money from domain name auctions were quick to register leoblair.com and babyleo.co.uk as soon as Downing Street revealed the child's name.

  • I can! - Surfer wählen die Internet-Verwaltung (Heise Online) Den Bekanntheitsgrad der Wahlen zur Internet-Verwaltung ICANN zu steigern, das Interesse unter den Internet-Nutzern an der Teilnahme zu wecken und die Auswahl von geeigneten Kandidaten aus Deutschland und Europa zu ermöglichen – dieses Ziel hat sich die Kampagne I can! – eLection 2000 gesetzt. Siehe auch die Webseiten des Projects Democratic Internet der Bertelsmann Stiftung.

   Employment and social issues

  • Internet 'divides society' (BBC) The internet is reinforcing divisions in society and will not be a panacea for social ills say researchers. The first results from a three-year, £3m project looking at how the internet is changing society has found that it is doing no such thing.

   Information society and Internet policy


  • UK - Foreign telephone intercepts admissible (Times Law Report) In Regina v X, Y and Z the Court of Appeal, Criminal Division, held that the provision in the Interception of Communications Act 1985 preventing evidence of telephone intercepts within the jurisdiction from being admissible at trial was not to be extended to apply in the case of foreign telephone intercepts notwithstanding the provisions of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

  • UK - Secret listening device invades privacy (Times Law Report) In Khan v United Kingdom, the European Court of Human Rights held unanimously that the applicant's right to respect for private and family life, as guaranteed by article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights, had been violated as domestic law did not regulate the use of covert listening devices at the time of the applicant's conviction. Furthermore, as the applicant did not have an effective remedy in respect of his claim under article 8, the Court also held unanimously that article 13 of the Convention had been breached.

   Internet access and use

  • UK - OFTEL requires BT to support unmetered internet access for other operators (Press Release) OFTEL has required BT to provide the necessary services to enable other operators to supply unmetered Internet access over BT’s local network. OFTEL has made a Direction to resolve an interconnection dispute between BT and MCI Worldcom. MCI Worldcom had requested that BT supply it with a wholesale unmetered Internet access service from the customer’s home. BT refused, and was only prepared to offer a metered service.

   IT in education

  • EU - Commission adopts "eLearning" (Rapid) The eLearning initiative is designed to mobilise the educational and cultural communities and the economic and social players in Europe.

  • UK - Gates to fund Cambridge scholarships (BBC) Microsoft chairman Bill Gates is to spend £130m on funding 230 scholarships to Cambridge University. The move will create the biggest international scholarship scheme ever seen in Britain.

  • USA - AOL's New Service Sparks Debate (New York Times) After conquering the consumer market, America Online is turning its sights on the nation's schools with a new, free service aimed at harried teachers looking to help their students make use of the Internet. But the service is reigniting the debate over growing commercialism in schools.

  • USA - Law Schools Turning Out Tech-Savvy Lawyers (New York Law Journal)

   Junk mail (spam)

   Liability, jurisdiction and applicable law

   Multilingual content and software

   Racism and xenophobia

  • Hate Sites Bad Recruiting Tools (Wired) Online hate is as much a part of the Web as e-commerce, porn sites, and portals. From neo-Nazis and skinheads to the Ku Klux Klan, almost every hate group in America has its own website. But some hate-watchers say that, contrary to conventional wisdom, these groups' aggressive Internet strategy has not paid off. It's resulted in greater public scrutiny with no measurable increase in influence. see also Online Hate Gets Five Stars (Wired).

   Rating and filtering

   Security and encryption

  • E-mail virus threatens US (BBC) The United States is waking up to a new and dangerous computer virus which is spreading through e-mail systems that use Microsoft software. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has warned that many more systems could become infected over the coming days. The new virus is carried in a file attached to an e-mail entitled "Resume - Janet Simons", the name of an apparent job seeker.

  • Security Hole found in NAI Firewall (Security Focus) A firewall package protecting thousands of networks worldwide contains a bug that would allow attackers to obtain "root" access remotely. The hole is the result of two flaws in Network Associate's integration of Mattel's Cyber Patrol filtering software into their feature-packed firewall product.



Market & Technology



Useful addresses

  • Virus warnings (Moreover) A category on Moreover, which collects news from 1500 online sources, and organises them into 270 categories.


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