QuickLinks 158 - 4 June 2000

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Legal and regulatory issues



  • Final Ruling in Microsoft Antitrust Case Is Unexpectedly Delayed for About a Week (New York Times) The federal judge trying the Microsoft antitrust case unexpectedly agreed today to delay his final ruling for about a week, giving the Justice Department time to reply to Microsoft's proposal to water down the government's breakup plan.

  • UK television mergers pass public interest test (Financial Times) The UK's Independent Television Commission said that a United News & Media merger with media group Granada or Carlton "would not operate against the public interest". The announcement followed two public consultations on possible conflicts over common ownership of newspaper and television interests.

   Computer crime

  • EU - Child Pornography on the Internet (Press Release) Council meeting, Justice and Home Affairs, Brussels, 29 May 2000. The Council adopted a Decision to combat child pornography on the Internet. This decision, the result of an Austrian initiative, aims at combating the production, processing, distribution and possession of child pornography material and promoting the effective investigation and prosecution of offences in this area.

  • Who Should Fight Cybercrime? (Wired) Politicians generally don't have the technical understanding to make the informed decisions about cybercrime that could become law. On the flip side: Engineers are neither politicians nor police. Hence the debate among members of an Internet Engineering Task Force mailing list: Should engineers come up with their own solutions to fight cybercrime and push them forward?

   Consumer protection

  • EU - E-shoppers get right to change their minds (vnunet) The Distance Selling Directive, which gives consumers the right to cancel orders made over the internet comes into force this week. Shoppers buying goods or services online will be given an automatic right to cancel an order and claim a refund of any money paid - even after goods are dispatched. The directive applies to all contracts not conducted face-to-face.

   Content regulation

  • Amex Nixes X-Rated Exchanges (Wired) In a few weeks, no online porn site will take American Express. At least, American Express will no longer cover credit card transactions from porn sites. They have examined the digital adult content industry for a year and determined that there was an unacceptably high incidence of disputes about transactions.

   Copyright, trademarks and patents

   Data Protection (privacy)

  • Barnesandnoble.com exposes customer's information (CNET News.com) A New Jersey man trying to key in a coupon code at Barnesandnoble.com found himself in another customer's account with access to that person's personal information.

  • European Union Approves Data Privacy Accord (AP) European Union nations have approved a new data-privacy accord with the United States, and the deal is expected to be completed by early July.

  • Germany - Teleservices Data Protection (BMWi) Suggested amendments to the "Teleservices Data Protection Act" (TDDSG). The amendments are designed to clarify certain concepts (such as what is "personal data" in the online context), and remove some inconsistencies in the Act which were recently pointed out in a government report. Novelle des Teledienstedatenschutzgesetzes ( TDDSGÄndG), siehe auch Diskussionsentwurf.

  • Canada - Ottawa breaks up 'Big Brother' database (CBC News) The federal database that some MPs have called "Big Brother" is being dismantled. The system keeps track of hundreds of bits of data. The Privacy Commissioner had said he was concerned about what could happen if the files fell into the wrong hands. see also HRDC Dismantles Longitudinal Labour Force File Databank (Press Release).

  • UK - Data Protection Commissioner stops rogue faxes (out-law) The Data Protection Commissioner has issued enforcement notices against two companies, 'Second Telecom Limited' and 'Top 20 Limited' who were sending unsolicited faxes in breach of new regulations. Hundreds of complaints were received by the Commissioner from people who received this unwanted marketing material.

  • USA - The Web Is Watching You (Reuters) In a report released by the Federal Trade Commission, the agency concludes that "Web sites collect a vast amount of personal information from and about consumers." see also New Tracking Tools Make Watching Easier

   Digital divide

  • WEF fera des propositions contre l'inégalité numérique (AFP) Le World Economic Forum, organisateur chaque année des entretiens de Davos, remettra le 19 juillet au Premier ministre japonais les recommandations élaborées par le secteur privé pour lutter contre l'inégalité numérique ("digital divide"), un thème qui devrait figurer en bonne place sur l'agenda du Sommet des Huit à Okinawa.

   Digital signatures

  • UK - Update on E-Communications Act (out-law) The Electronic Communications Bill received Royal Assent on 25th May, as expected, and is now officially in force as an Act of Parliament. However, only limited parts of the Act will take effect immediately. The sections relating to electronic signatures and related certificates and telecommunications licences will not be brought into force for a period of two months. see also the official text of the Electronic Communications Act 2000.

  • USA - Big Leap Forward For Legally Binding IDs (InternetWeek) The Securities and Exchange Commission will let U.S. companies submit their filings over the Internet, using public key infrastructure (PKI) technology.

   Domain names

   Electronic commerce

  • In Online Auctions, Rings of Bidders (New York Times) A close analysis of eBay art auctions reveals that the flourishing cyberauction world faces the prospect of rings of shill bidders, acting as partners.

  • New Zealand: Modify Site, or No Cigar (Wired) A cigar supplier in New Zealand's largest city is crying foul after being told by New Zealand's Ministry of Health that his websitecould breach the country's law against tobacco advertising and to block his site to the country's customers or risk being fined.

   Information society and Internet policy

  • India Eyes Role in Net Regs (Wired) India is planning to launch a national Internet forum to help the country ensure it can play a key role in global meetings and deliberations linked to Internet governance.


  • UK - The price of policing e-business (Financial Times) Forthcoming legislation that will allow the police and other government officials to bug and tap e-mails and mobile phones is causing a furore in Britain.

   Liability, jurisdiction and applicable law

   Rating and filtering

   Security and encryption


Market & Technology

   Convergence of telecommunications, media and information technology

   Electronic commerce

  • EU utilities plan giant procurement web (Reuters) Twelve of Europe's power utilities are to set up one of Europe's largest online procurement exchanges doing business worth at least 22 billion euros a year.


  • France Telecom to buy Orange (Financial Times) France Telecom has agreed to buy Orange for £25.1bn ($37bn) from Vodafone AirTouch, to create one of the world's top five mobile phone companies.

   Portals, browsers and search engines

   Rating and filtering

  • Porn-Detection Software Scans Photos (Newsbytes) Educational publisher Heartsoft is beta-testing pornography detection software--based on NASA technology--that uncovers online porn by scanning photographs for flesh tones and curves to detect nudity - to be used in its new Internet Safari browser for children.


Useful addresses

  • Droit des technologies e l'information: page d'actualités (juriscom.net) Commentaires et liens vers les textes des décisions récentes, dont 1) France : violation d'une base de données en ligne - condamnation de la société Newsinvest 2) France : responsabilité des intermédiaires - l´affaire UEFJ c/ Multimania donne lieu à une décision éclairée 3) États-Unis : extraction déloyale à l'américaine - l'affaire Bidder's Edge c. eBay 4) France : la responsabilité de Yahoo est établie devant la justice française. voir aussi Droit du Cyberespace # 15-16

  • FindLaw Launches Online Magazine About The Law (WriteNews) FindLaw, an online legal resource, has launched Writ, an online magazine for the legal community and people interested in law and its impact on our culture. Writ offers readers legal commentary from leading lawyers, scholars and writers, along with a look at law and the legal world.

  • The Economist The Economist now has the current and two previous issues on line. Useful collections of articles including Telecommunications, Television, The Internet, The Microsoft case and Computer technology are "free for all".


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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