QuickLinks 165 - 22 July 2000

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Legal and regulatory issues

   Access to public sector information / IT in government



  • EU - Commission clears purchase of SFX Entertainment by Clear Channel Communications (Rapid) The European Commission has cleared the acquisition of SFX Entertainment by Clear Channel Communications. The deal will combine the activities of the two US companies regarding the organisation of live entertainment events, television and radio broadcasting as well as outdoor advertising.

  • UK - BBC mulls online deal (FT) The BBC is expected to agree on commercial syndication deals for its online news services following pressure from ITN, the independent news provider, which is threatening to test the corporation's interpretation of its own charter in the British and European courts and accused the BBC of abusing its dominant position by offering its news services free of charge to distributors such as Yahoo! and Vodafone AirTouch.

  • USA - Disney Preemptively Seeks AOL Time Warner Split (Washington Post) Walt Disney, contending that the merged America Online and Time Warner would hold too much media power, will propose to regulators that they immediately split the new entity in two - one company handling content and the other handling distribution.

   Computer crime

  • Germany - Beamter des LKA Magdeburg vom Dienst suspendiert (AP) In Sachsen-Anhalt und Sachsen sind zwei hochrangige Polizisten bei Ermittlungen im Zusammenhang mit Kinderpornographie in Verdacht geraten.

  • Italy - Pedofilia: Scoperta 'Rete Nella Retè, Miliardi Di Profitto (Yahoo!) Avrebbe gestito centinaia di siti Internet per pedofili, un' autentica rete nella Rete, che avrebbe fatto realizzare profittiper miliardi, un russo, colpito da un nuovo ordine di custodia cautelare, emesso dalla procura di Vercelli.

  • UK - Directors face cyber crime risk (FT) Company directors are at legal risk from a rising tide of electronic crime by employees, experts have warned. Almost half all FTSE 1000 directors admit to being victims of cyber crime, but few are aware of their liability for crimes committed on their own networks.

  • USA - Tapping Into Porn (Wired) A Congressional panel appears ready to grant police greater wiretapping authority in cases involving computer-generated or real child pornography.

   Consumer protection

   Content regulation

   Convergence of telecommunications, media and information technology

   Copyright, trademarks and patents

   Data Protection (privacy)

  • USA - Toysmart.com in Settlement With FTC (New York Times) Over the continued objections of privacy advocates and attorneys general of 39 states, the Federal Trade Commission has reached a settlement to permit Toysmart.com, a defunct online toy seller, to sell its customer database as part of its bankruptcy plan. see also Toysmart sued over customer data sale (AP)

  • Applause for IE's Cookie Catcher (Wired) Microsoft is developing a set of features for its Web browser to provide privacy controls for users. The additions for Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser will describe cookies to the user and differentiate between first- and third-party cookies. The browser will then let the user refuse third-party cookies.

  • Nearly undetectable tracking device raises concern (CNET News.com) A widely used, yet virtually undetectable, means of tracking people's Internet surfing habits, often called Web bugs or 1-pixel gifs, is joining its better-known cousin, the cookie, as the subject of several lawsuits and a privacy initiative by the government. see also The Web Bug FAQ.

  • US to defend net privacy (FT) The US is set to overhaul the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, extending the same protection to internet and mobile phone messages as applies to telephone calls. The new laws will also shut off loopholes that make it easier for some cable users to escape prosecution for cyber crimes.

  • UK - Workplace snooping (law.com) John Bowers QC examines an employee's right to respect for his private and family life and his correspondence at work.

  • USA - FTC Goes Public With Privacy (Wired) FTC Commissioner Orson Swindle predicted election-year pressure could force congress to enact additional privacy laws in the next few months. Swindle is an outspoken foe of regulation-happy bureaucrats, and has dissented on some FTC decisions related to privacy in the past.

  • USA - Online stalwarts beef up privacy initiatives (CNET News.com) Trying to quell concern over online profiling, several major Internet players are stepping up efforts to give Net surfers more notice about their privacy online.

  • USA - Web Sites Warned to Comply With Children's Online Privacy Law (Press Release) The Federal Trade Commission is sending e-mails to scores of Web sites directed to children to alert them that they must comply with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and its implementing regulations if they are collecting personally identifiable information from children under 13.

  • Experts Claim Netscape Browser "Spies" On Users (Newsbytes)

  • Privacy Grows Up as CPOs Move In (Wired)

   Digital divide

   Domain names

   Electronic commerce

  • 'Click 2 split' service attacked (BBC) An Edinburgh based company is under fire for offering free-of-charge divorce services over the internet.

  • WTO director slams 'dangerous' e-commerce ideas (Total Telecom - registration required) The director of the World Trade Organisation's services division has made a outspoken attack on suggestions that global business regulations should regard e-commerce as a "hybrid" activity, somewhere between the provision of goods and services.

  • EU - E-commerce directive published (Official Journal of the European Communities) Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market ("Directive on electronic commerce") OJ L 178 17 July 2000 p.1

  • Germany - LetsBuyIt.com faces legal woes (Tornado-Insider) LetsBuyIt.com’s German subsidiary may soon receive a temporary injunction ordering it to change its pricing model because it violates German discount and competition laws. LetsBuyIt.com lets consumers who register on its site pool purchases to achieve discounts on products. The more people who sign up for a particular product, the greater the discount.

  • USA - Groups Sue Arizona Over Online Car Sales (The Industry Standard) Two trade associations representing automakers have filed a lawsuit in federal court against the state of Arizona in an effort to block a new law that prohibits car manufacturers from selling directly to consumers via the internet.

  • USA - House Defeats a Proposal To Ban Internet Gambling (New York Times) In a defeat for horse-racing interests and the casino industry, the House failed to approve a bill to ban most forms of gambling on the Internet.

  • France - Les toubibs de permanence sur la Toile (Libération)

   Electronic democracy

  • USA - Napster users mount email campaign (ZDnet.uk) Two Washington lawmakers received a combined 70,000 emails mainly from fans of digital music swapping after an appeal for support by online music companies Napster and MP3.com.

   Information society and Internet policy


   Internet access and use

   IT in education

   Junk mail (spam)

   Racism and xenophobia

  • USA - Groups plug hate crimes bill on Web (APBnews.com) With summer recess only two weeks away, civil rights groups are taking their campaign to the Web in an effort to get legislators to pass a controversial federal hate crimes bill before congress adjourns.

  • USA - Judge Gives Award to Victim of Net Harassment (AP) A federal judge awarded a former fair housing advocate $1.1 million in damages from a neo-Nazi group that displayed intimidating images of her on its Web site.

   Rating and filtering

  • AOL glitch lets teens access blocked sites (CNET News.com) America Online is scrambling today to patch a hole that allows its Parental Control content filtering system to be subverted, enabling teens to access forbidden Web addresses simply by adding a dot.

  • Artificial Intelligence At The COPA, COPA Commission (Slashdot) Peacefire has a report on the accuracy of intelligent skin-tone-scanning software. Since the CEO of ClickSafe spoke at the Child Online Protection Act (COPA) Commission meeting, Peacefire ran a check to see how many COPA-related sites its AI blocks. Report by Waldo Jaquith from the meeting itself.

   Security and encryption


  • France legalises Bluetooth France's National Agency of Radio Frequencies (ANFR) removed a major obstacle to the introduction of the Bluetooth wireless standard, raising a controversial ban on military range radio frequencies.


  • European Union raises stakes over VoiceStream deal (Financial Times) The European Union is threatening to withdraw from World Trade Organisation (WTO) commitments if the US passes legislation making its way through Congress that would bar Deutsche Telekom from buying VoiceStream.

  • Japan-U.S. telecoms dispute resolved (Reuters) Japan and the United States agreed to throw open the world's second biggest telecoms market to greater competition, ending one of the thorniest disputes between the world's two biggest economies.

  • EU - Consolidation directive (European Commission) Draft Competition Directive consolidating existing Directives on competition in the telecommunications markets - 12.07.2000 DE FR

  • USA - Local phone companies get boost from appeals court (CNET News.com) An appeals court, in a partial victory for local telephone companies, threw out federal rules that determine how much competing services must pay to access local telephone networks.

  • EU - Draft gets thumbs up (DotElectronics)

Market & Technology

   Employment and social issues



  • IE 5.5 angers Web standards advocates (CNET News.com) Microsoft came under fire from Web standards advocates over its latest browser, which lets Web developers offer their visitors fairly complex applications as long as those visitors aren't using Netscape.

  • New Wireless Coalition Raises IEEE Ire (EE Times) The Broadband Wireless Internet Forum has become ground zero for a heated debate over the IEEE's precise role in the recently formed industry coalition.

  • News industry unveils NewsML Net language (infoworld.com) (Reuters)
    The world's news industry looks set to start using a new online computer language after it agreed on a standard for formatting electronic content, called NewsML.


Useful addresses

  • BNA's Internet Law News (ILN) published weekdays by The Bureau of National Affairs. Compiled by Professor Michael Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa Law School. To subscribe, visit http://ecommercecenter.bna.com. Highly recommended.


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, Internet Law News, MediaGrok, UNESCO, TKRNews, David Goldstein, Gerhard Heine, Alan Reekie, Paula Telo Alves