QuickLinks 161 - 25 June 2000

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Legal and regulatory issues

   Access to public sector information / IT in government


  • EU - AOL/Time Warner merger to be fully investigated (RAPID) The European Commission has decided to open a full investigation into the proposed merger between AOL and Time Warner, both of the United States. In the course of its investigation the Commission will examine the effects of the transaction on the emerging business of music distribution over the Internet and on the markets for Internet dial-up access and paid-for content.

  • Bertelsmann 'surprised' by role in EU probe (Reuters) German media group Bertelsmann AG is "surprised" that the European Commission has called its partnership with America Online key to its probe of merger plans with Time Warner.

  • OFTEL promotes competition in interactive digital tv services (Press Release) Sky Subscribers Services Ltd (SSSL) encryption and customer recognition technology is used in BSkyBís digital set top boxes to provide secure interactive services such as home banking and e-commerce to consumers. OFTEL has determined that SSSL is a Regulated Supplier in a dominant position. This means SSSL must allow other companies to have fair access to its services so they can provide their own interactive services to customers.

  • Trying to connect you (Economist) Communicating quickly is what instant messaging is supposed to be all about. But AOL is said to be making connecting harder, by stalling efforts to create open standards for this increasingly popular form of online communication so that competing services can connect with its own, which dominates the market.

  • USA - Judge Sends Microsoft Case to High Court (Reuters) The judge in the Microsoft antitrust case sent the company's appeal directly to the Supreme Court, and suspended stringent business restrictions of the software giant he had ordered to take effect in September.

   Computer crime

   Consumer protection

  • UK - OFTEL seeks greater consumer involvement in regulation (Press release) Proposals to encourage greater involvement by consumer groups and the telecoms industry to protect consumers' interests are set out in the consultation document 'Encouraging self- and co-regulation in telecoms to benefit consumers'.

  • USA - FTC Nixes Telemarketers Offering Y2K Credit Card Insurance (Newsbytes) The Federal Trade Commission has shut down a pair of telemarketing companies accused of fraudulently peddling insurance that would guard against possible loss of credit card data caused by the Y2K bug.

  • USA - MS Prevails In Consumer Lawsuit (Reuters) Microsoft gets a boost in the midst of its antitrust tribulations. A Nevada judge throws out a class-action consumer lawsuit, giving the software company ammunition in a slew of similar suits.

   Content regulation

  • USA - Court Upholds Injunction Against Child Online Protection Act (Legal Intelligencer) In ACLU v. Reno, a unanimous three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a preliminary injunction that barred enforcement of the Child Online Protection Act, finding that the fatal flaw in the law was its use of "community standards" - a concept that simply doesn't work in the non-geography of cyberspace. see also Setback for Pornography Law (New York Times).

  • Hong Kong chasse l'obscène du Net (transfert) Bannir les contenus obscènes de son territoire et restreindre ceux qualifiés d'indécents aux seuls adultes. Voilà l'ambition avouée du gouvernement de la "région administrative spéciale" de Hong Kong, qui devait clore une consultation publique sur le contrôle d´articles obscènes et indécents (COIAO, Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance).

  • The Internet - Founding myths (Economist) Book reviews of Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace by Lawrence Lessig and the Control Revolution by Andrew L. Shapiro.

  • U.S. Athletes Rebuffed in Nude Photo Net Case (Reuters) A federal judge rejected a lawsuit against two Internet access providers, PSINet and GTE, filed by dozens of Illinois State University athletes after their nude images were marketed on the World Wide Web.

  • USA - Anti-porn law doesn't apply to Internet (Journal Sentinel) A person who sends pornography to a child over the Internet cannot be charged under a state law with exposing a minor to harmful materials, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled because the sender of materials has no way of knowing whether the recipient is a minor.

   Convergence of telecommunications, media and information technology

  • USA - AT&T Keeps Cable (AP) AT&T won a key battle for control of its cable network, as a federal appeals court rejected efforts by Portland, Ore., to open the network to competing Internet service providers. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that AT&T doesn't fit the legal definition of a cable network. It is a telecommunications service, and therefore governable only by federal law. see also AT&T Wins in Dispute Over Cable Access (The Recorder).

  • Australia - Alston to push for digital TV solution (Sydney Morning Herald) The Federal Government will try to negotiate a compromise on the future of digital television, as Labor and the Democrats oppose restrictions on viewing options available to consumers. see also Damming the Internet stream (smh.com.au).

  • UK - Telly visions (Guardian) Telecommunications and media mergers are moving more swiftly than politics. New broadcasting legislation is needed sooner rather than later.

  • USA - Cablevision sues AT&T (CNNfn) Cablevision Systems has filed suit to block AT&T from assuming control of the high-speed Internet access provider Excite@Home and thwart its attempts to offer local telephone service over Cablevision's cable lines.

   Copyright, trademarks and patents

   Data Protection (privacy)

   Digital divide

   Domain names

  • Web site operator sues Julia Roberts in domain dispute (Bloomberg News) Julia Roberts, star of such films as "Notting Hill" and "Pretty Woman," has been sued by the owner of Juliaroberts.com for her attempts to stop him from operating his Web site.

  • Yahoo! sues virtual men's magazine (Ananova) The webmaster of Yoohoo, a virtual men's magazine in Thailand, is taking advice about a lawsuit filed by Yahoo! the search engine portal over his site's choice of name. Lawyers for Yahoo! believe the two sites could be confused because their names are so similar and they want the Thai site removed.

  • USA - UK cybersquatter ordered to hand over Nasdaq name (out-law.com - registration required) The UK company Deltacross Ltd. has been ordered by a US court to transfer ownership of two domain names, nasdaqeurope.com and nasdaqeurope.net to the Nasdaq stock market.

   Electronic commerce

   Electronic democracy

  • Japan - Political battles snared in Net law (Los Angeles Times) In Japan technically, Internet campaigning is not illegal, but under election law anything not explicitly permitted is banned. The Home Affairs Ministry has interpreted the law to mean that cyberspace is out of bounds.

   Information society and Internet policy

  • EU - The Information Society for All: IST 2000 (European Commission) 5-8 November 2000 - Nice, France. The Information Society: a chance for everyone? Will it strengthen competitiveness in Europe? What technological challenges are at stake? How can we change the rules to support this process in a sustainable manner? These are some of the main themes underlying the IST 2000 event in Nice which will be on the agenda of the IST 2000 conference sessions and workshops.


   Internet access and use

   Liability, jurisdiction and applicable law


   Multilingual content and software

   Protection of minors

  • China - Internet cafes closed over fears for children (Ananova) Authorities in Fujian province have closed 45 internet cafes because they say children are becoming addicted to computer games and others are downloading porn. Police have passed a regulation banning internet cafes from being established within 200 metres of a school.

   Racism and xenophobia

   Rating and filtering

  • Burger King flame grills kids Web portal (The Register) Burger King has pulled a promotion handing out a million CDs containing software for kids ISP and portal, kzuk.net, over fears that it gives children access to pornography. The reason, it seems, lies with the Net Nanny filtering software that was bundled in with the software. Some parents complained this gave kids access to hardcore porn - and even kiddie porn.

  • Smut Filter Blocks All But Smut (Wired) When Exotrope introduced its BAIR smut-blocking software last year, everyone seemed wowed by the company's claims of intelligent filtering. But an investigation by Wired News shows that BAIR's "artificial intelligence" does not work as advertised.

   Safer Internet awareness

   Security and encryption

   Taxation and tariffs

  • EU - IoD criticises Web VAT proposals (Silicom) European Commission proposals to charge value added tax (VAT) on goods and services supplied over the Internet from outside Europe have been criticised by the Institute of Directors (IoD). According to the IoD, the proposals are logical but will be difficult to enforce. It is warning the change in legislation will lead most non-EU suppliers to register for VAT in Luxembourg, which charges the lowest rate of VAT at 15 per cent.

Market & Technology

   Employment and social issues


   Security and encryption

  • New Virus Not So "Funny" (CBS) A new computer virus, called "Stages," appears to be a plain-text file, but isn't as funny as it claims to be. The e-mail message contains the words "funny," "life stages" or "jokes" in the subject line. The so-called "Stages" virus looks like a text file, complete with ".txt" extension. But the real extension is ".shs," which stands for Windows Shell Scrap Object. A Scrap file can contain anything, including executable and malicious code.

  • Encryption Gets Better, but Remains Imperfect (Newsbytes)


  • 3 Million Infringing MP3's Downloaded Daily (Nua Internet Surveys) The music industry could lose USD10 billion per year by 2003, and may already have lost USD300 million, to copyright infringement on the Internet, according to a new study from Magex. More than 3 million infringing MP3 files are downloaded every day.

  • Study: IT Spending Passes $2 Trillion Mark (Newsbytes) Spending in the global high tech industry smashed the $2 trillion mark in 1999 and will reach $3 trillion in 2003, according to a newly released study on the world's information and communication technology (ICT) conducted by International Data Corp. (IDC) for the World information technology and services alliance(WITSA). see also Press release

  • Two Thirds of Americans Worried About Cybercrime (NUA) More than 3 in 5 US consumers say security concerns make them less likely to do business online and believe that consumers are not being adequately protected against cybercrime.


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