QuickLinks 159 - 11 June 2000

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Legal and regulatory issues

   Access to public sector information / IT in government



   Computer crime

  • CD Universe evidence compromised (MSNBC) Six months after "Maxim" broke into the computers of Internet retailer CD Universe and stole 300,000 credit cards, U.S. authorities have been unable to find the thief. And even if they do, they are unlikely to be able to successfully prosecute the case because electronic evidence collected from the company’s computers was not adequately protected.

  • FBI report shows cybercrime hits nine out of ten (Silicon.com) Ninety per cent of US companies have experienced Internet fraud last year, according to study published by the FBI and the US Computer Security Institute. The types of frauds examined in the US report were internal and external hacking, netspionage and sabotage.

  • Kids run 20% risk of 'cybersex' advances (USA Today) One in five adolescents and teens who regularly socialize on the Net have encountered a stranger there who wanted "cybersex," says Online Victimization: Report on the Nation's Youth, a government-financed survey.

  • Philippines Drops Case Against 'Love Bug' Suspect (Reuters) Philippine authorities said have dropped a case against a bank worker suspected of involvement in the "Love Bug" virus, which caused billions of dollars in damage to computers around the world. see also Lack of law for Love Bug case (out-law.com)

  • Schweiz: Anklage wegen Vertrieb von Viren-Bausatz (Heise Online) In der Schweiz muss sich erstmals ein Vertreiber von Bauanleitungen für Computerviren vor Gericht verantworten. Die Anzeige stützte sich auf den Artikel 144bis des Schweizer Strafgesetzbuchs. Dieser stellt nicht nur tatsächliche Zerstörung oder Beeinflussung elektronischer Daten, sondern auch das Herstellen, Anpreisen oder Inverkehrbringen von Programmen, mit denen Daten zerstört werden können, unter Strafe.

   Consumer protection

  • Groups Embrace E-commerce Dispute-resolution Plan (Newsbytes) Industry and consumer groups embraced an industry-led proposal to offer consumers an online method of resolving e-commerce disputes, calling the proposed network the best way to build consumer trust in shopping online. The proposal, issued by seven high tech industry leaders - including America Online, Microsoft , AT&T and IBM - would establish a worldwide network of clearinghouses for resolving disputes over online purchases. see also Online giants urge e-commerce standards (Reuters) and Full text of the "E-Commerce Group" Guidelines

  • MCI Agrees to Pay $3.5 Million in FCC Slamming Case (Newsbytes) Long distance giant MCI-WorldCom agreed to pay $3.5 million and promised to change its errant business practices in an agreement to end a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) investigation of the company for "slamming."

  • The Distance Selling Regulations - A Practical Overview (out-law.com) The Consumer Protection (Contracts Concluded by Means of Distance Communication) Regulations 2000 are expected to come into force on 4th June 2000. This article gives a practical overview of the draft Regulations.

  • UK lags with net shopping protection law (vnunet) The UK government yesterday missed the European Commission's deadline to introduce revised laws to protect online shoppers, because it said it needed more time to consider the implications of the Distance Selling Directive.

  • Web prescriptions alert (BBC) A patient with a heart condition was given the anti-impotence drug Viagra after an internet consultation - even though it could have been fatal. The case was uncovered by Health Which? magazine which conducted research into health websites offering online consultations and medicines.

  • UK - ASA probes NTL ad claims (The Register) The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is investigating NTL amid allegations that it has misled consumers over its free Net access offer.

  • USA - F.B.I. Opens Investigation of EBay Bids (New York Times) The Federal Bureau of Investigation has opened an inquiry into whether several eBay users committed fraud by bidding up the prices of one another's online auction offerings.

   Content regulation

  • Chinese Web Site Operator Arrested on Subversion Charges (AP) Authorities in southwestern China have arrested the operator of a local Web site who posted news about dissidents and the government's 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square.

  • USA - Porn panel wrestles with Age Verification (Newsbytes) While existing technology could be used to effectively bar minors from visiting Web sites containing pornographic and sexually explicit material, implementing such technological solutions would create a whole thicket of constitutional concerns, witnesses told the congressionally appointed Commission on Online Child Protection. The notion of creating technology that would allow parents to identify Internet browsers installed on their home machines as "kids only," appeared to meet with the support of many commissioners and witnesses.

  • USA - Senator Seeks .Sex (Wired) Senator Joseph Lieberman wants to segregate Internet smut, saying that the U.S. government should consider alternative ways of shielding children from sexually explicit material, such as creating a new top-level domain such as ".sex" or ".xxx."

   Convergence of telecommunications, media and information technology

  • South Africa sets up new media regulatory body South Africa's telecommunications and broadcasting regulatory authorities are set to merge. The new body is the result of the South African Communications Authority Bill, amended to the Independent Communication Authority of South Africa (ICASA) Act.

   Copyright, trademarks and patents

   Data Protection (privacy)

   Digital signatures

   Domain names

  • European Domain Operators Refuse to Pay Bills (New York Times) In the latest setback for the Internet's new private management authority, a coalition of companies and nonprofit groups that run 30 so-called country-code domains in Europe voted to ignore the nearly $1 million in bills they have been sent.

  • Germany leads Europe at ICANN elections (vnunet) A media campaign spearheaded by weekly news magazine Der Spiegel has spurred German citizens to register to vote in this autumn's online elections for five ICANN board members, one of which will represent Europe. see also I can! - Surfer wählen die Internet-Verwaltung

  • ICANN Nominating Process Comes Under Closer Scrutiny (Newsbytes) In a bid to better assure that "ordinary" Internet users have a voice within the organization charged with managing the Internet's vital addressing system, a pair of civil liberties groups suggested several changes to the body's proposed board election process.

  • Internet.com victim of Net name hijack (CNET News.com) The domain name of Internet.com, a provider of Internet news and information resources, was hijacked, making it the latest victim in a string of Net attacks. During the weekend, Net hijackers "spoofed," or forged, Internet.com's domain name and transferred ownership of the name to an individual.

  • U.N. Looks To Evict Cybersquatters (Reuters) The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the United Nations copyright and trademark agency that runs the arbitration service, said almost 600 cases have been filed with its global online arbitration service. see also How to fight the cyber squatter menace (uk.internet.com)

   Electronic commerce

   Employment and social issues

  • FDA, Industry Jointly Probe Mobile Phone Safety (Newsbytes) The Food and Drug Administration said it has teamed up with the cellular phone industry to find out whether mobile phone use is hazardous to one's health. The FDA will oversee the project and the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association will foot the bill for research into the health effects of radio frequency emissions from wireless phones.


   Internet access and use

  • Schlappe für AOL gegen die Telekom (Heise Online) Die Deutsche Telekom darf ihren Sonntags-Pauschaltarif T-ISDN XXL weiterhin in vollem Umfang anbieten. Das Oberverwaltungsgericht Münster hat einen Zwischenentscheid des Verwaltungsgerichts Köln wieder aufgehoben.

   IT in education

   Junk mail (spam)

  • USA - Court kills key parts of bulk email law (CNET News.com) A California state law aimed at reining in unsolicited bulk email is unconstitutional, a judge ruled. The decision in Ferguson vs. Friendfinder marks the second time a state anti-spam law has been struck down. In March, Washington state's anti-spam law, one of the strongest in the country, was ruled unconstitutional. That case is on appeal.

  • Consumer watchdogs fail the Spam Test (The Register)

   Protection of minors

   Security and encryption


  • Battle over Digital TV standards goes global (EE Times) Two standards groups, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), have set fall deadlines to sort out the thorny, entangled issues of production and API schemes for digital television architectures.

  • Govt. Asked For Open Standards On Instant Messaging (Newsbytes) In a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 43 technology and instant-messaging companies asked the government to advocate open standards and interoperability in instant messaging.

   Taxation and tariffs


Market & Technology

   Employment and social issues

   Internet access and use

  • AltaVista ups cost of U.K. web deal before launch (Reuters) U.S. Internet company AltaVista is raising the price of its cheap UK Internet service, following research showing customers would rather pay more for higher quality and a recent Oftel ruling on unmetered access. It will now charge just under 60 pounds every year for the service.


   Security and encryption

  • FBI probing potentially 'massive' new hacker attack to disable Web sites (CNN) The FBI will meet with experts from a security company to discuss the firm's discovery that hackers have embedded a malicious program disguised as a movie clip on 2,000 commercial and home computers, positioning themselves to launch an attack designed to shut down Web sites. see also New denial of service menace uncovered (ZDNet UK)

  • Locking up Outlook (BBC News) Microsoft has released a program to help protect people against computer viruses such as the Love Bug. The patch stops Outlook running 40 different file types that could be hijacked by virus writers.



Useful addresses

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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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