QuickLinks 166 - 30 July 2000

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Legal and regulatory issues

   Access to public sector information / IT in government

  • USA - Government sets up Web portal to collect payments for agencies (Wall Street Journal) The federal government announced a new Web portal that will allow Americans to do everything from applying for passports to paying off student loans. The planned site = Pay.gov - is meant to act as a government-wide payment and collection site, handling 80 million transactions totaling some $125 billion each year.



   Computer crime

  • European Union Ministers Vow Cyber Crime Crackdown (Reuters) European Union ministers will seek new laws to crack down on fast-growing crime by Internet fraudsters, computer hackers and child pornographers. Squaring up to growing ranks of cyber crooks who exploit differences in national computer crime laws to strike across borders with impunity, ministers said they would extend the reach of justice into cyberspace. see Minutes of the Informal Council JAI (in French).

  • 9th Circuit rejects en banc rehearing for CPPA (FindLaw) The 9th Circuit has rejected an application for an en banc rehearing over the ruling that found the Child Pornography Prevention Act inconstitutional. The legislation criminalized images of "virtual" child pornography alongside "actual" child pornography.

  • U.S. Wants More Cybercrime Laws (Wired) More than 100 countries do not have the laws to deal with computer-related crime, undercutting efforts to battle a growing international threat.

  • EU - Mutual recognition of final decisions in criminal matters (Rapid) The Commission has adopted a communication calling for the introduction of a mutual recognition regime "as direct and simple as possible" in the field of final decisions in criminal matters, among the Member States of the European Union. Mutual recognition is on the agenda of the informal Justice and Home Affairs Council in Marseilles on 28-29 July.

  • USA - Search warrants for online data soar (USA Today) The number of search warrants seeking citizens' online data has soared during the past several years. The findings, based on an examination of search warrants served on the nation's largest Internet service provider, America Online, came as a surprise to federal lawmakers and civil libertarians and are prompting calls for legal reforms.

   Consumer protection

  • UK - ISPA tells LineOne to compensate users (uk.internet.com) The Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) threw its weight behind outraged LineOne customers who have been campaigning to save their unmetered access service demanding that the service provider finds a solution for compensating users. see also ISPA slaps LineOne and LineOne replies to ISPA (The Register).

  • USA - e-tailers settle charges (CNNfn) Seven Internet retailers have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they violated a federal statute by not providing customers adequate notice of shipping delays during the 1999 holiday season.

   Content regulation

   Convergence of telecommunications, media and information technology

  • Convergence and broadcasting regulation (Council of Europe) The Council of Europe will organise a Conference in Strasbourg on 13 September 2000, on the theme "new digital platforms for audiovisual services and their impact on the licensing of broadcasters" which will bring together leading representatives from regulatory authorities and the new media.

   Copyright, trademarks and patents

  • Court grants stay of Napster injunction (CNET News.com) Nine hours before it would have been forced to shut down its music-swapping service, Napster has won a temporary reprieve. The decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allows Napster to remain in operation, when a previous court order would have forced the company to halt the sharing of copyrighted music - effectively shutting it down. The court said Napster "raised substantial questions (on) both the merits and the form of the injunction." see also Judge issues injunction against Napster (CNET News.com), Napster alternatives booming (ZDNet.uk), The key to copyright harmony (FT) and EMI and MP3.com settle suit (ZDNet.uk).

  • French Company Stakes Claim to 'B2B' (TheStandard.com) France's computer channel, a subsidiary of France Telecom, has apparently registered the term "B2B", short for "business to business", as a trademark and is attempting to enforce its rights internationally in at least one case.

  • MP3Board adds service to destroy links (Reuters) MP3Board, which provides links to music-related Web sites and Internet files, said new technology on its site, called LinkBlaster, enables copyright owners to electronically destroy links to music files.

  • USA - Discontent at Contentville.com (Wired) Professional writers and scholars were shocked this week to find their work for sale, without their knowledge, on a prominent new e-publishing site.

   Data Protection (privacy)

   Domain names

   Electronic commerce

  • Group Seeks to Soften Impact of Chinese Web Rules (Reuters) Thirty-six companies, including America Online, Hewlett-Packard, General Motors and Microsoft, have formed a consortium that is navigating Beijing's labyrinthine bureaucracy and advising it on the impact of potential rules, from web taxation to advertisement restrictions.

   Electronic democracy

  • France: projet de décret soumis à une consultation en ligne (AFP) Le gouvernement va soumettre, pour la première fois, un projet de décret relatif à la signature électronique à une consultation publique "en ligne", à l'issue de laquelle un travail ministériel aboutira à la publication du texte gouvernemental.

   Employment and social issues

  • UK E-Minister Unveils Govt. Plans For E-Women (ComputerUser) The British government is looking to nurture equal opportunity within the IT industry in areas such as training and funding, said British Minister for E-Commerce Patricia Hewitt.

  • USA - AOL Agrees to Make Service Accessible to the Blind (New York Times) The National Federation of the Blind agreed to drop a lawsuit accusing AOL of violating the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. In return, AOL will make its software compatible with programs the blind use to convert digital information to speech or Braille.

  • USA - Dow Chemical fires 50 workers after e-mail investigation An investigation by Dow Chemical of employee e-mail found that people at all levels of the plastics and chemicals manufacturer had sent pornography and violent images from company computers, leading to the firing of 50 workers and the disciplining of 200 others.


   Junk mail (spam)

  • USA - eBay Cans Spammers (internet news) eBay was awarded a $1.2 million judgement against ReverseAuction.com. The decision additionally prohibits ReverseAuction.com from using software robots or "bots" to harvest eBay e-mail addresses and sending unsolicited e-mail to eBay users.

   Liability, jurisdiction and applicable law

  • Internet en France: Conseil constitutionnel et hébergeurs de sites (AFP) Le Conseil constitutionnel a déclaré contraire à la Constitution une disposition de la loi sur l'audiovisuel très critiquée par les professionnels de l'internet sur la responsabilité des hébergeurs de sites. Cette disposition prévoyant qu'à la demande d'un tiers qui juge illicite ou préjudiciable pour lui-même le contenu d'un site, l'hébergeur devait procéder aux "diligences appropriées" a été déclarée anticonstitutionnelle, car trop imprécise pour une disposition pénale.

  • France - Judge orders tests on internet screening (BBC) A French judge has ordered a series of tests to be carried out to help decide if one of the world's leading internet service providers, Yahoo, has the technical means to stop internet users in France accessing sites that are illegal in the country.

  • USA - Arguing Against Net Trespass (NYT Cyber Law Journal) Concerned that a recent federal court ruling in a legal dispute between auction giant eBay and a smaller rival, Bidder's Edge, dangerously extends the ancient law of trespass to cyberspace, 28 leading Internet legal scholars are arguing in an appellate court that the decision "threatens the very foundations of the Internet."


  • Schools warned on mobile phones (FT) The government has written to all British schools setting out the potential health risks for children using mobile phones. In the letter, David Blunkett, chief education minister, urges headteachers to restrict the use of mobiles for pupils younger than those in the sixth form - usually over 16 years old.

   Protection of minors

   Racism and xenophobia

   Rating and filtering

   Taxation and tariffs


Market & Technology

   Internet access and use



  • Canadians Benefit Hugely from Internet (Nua Internet Surveys) Seventy percent of Canadian adults now have access to the Internet, up from 55 percent a year ago. Three-quarters of those polled said the Internet has significantly affected their life, in terms of education, entertainment and communication.

  • France: 6,2 millions d'utilisateurs d'internet en mars 2000 (AFP) Les utilisateurs d'internet étaient 6,2 millions en France en mars 2000, soit un quasi doublement en un an. Les internautes passent de plus en plus de temps sur la toile: ils sont 35% à se connecter 20 heures par mois en mars contre 29% en 1999.

  • Study finds Web bigger than we think (CNET News.com)

Useful addresses

  • A-Z of Telecoms Web Sites (Total Telecom) Analysts And Consultants, Industry Forums/Associations, Internet Telephony, Manufacturers And Vendors, Operators, Regulators And Government, Satellite Companies, Standard Bodies

  • Cyberlaw (Internet law) (Academic Resources Channel) Links to sites

  • International Journal of Communications Law and Policy (IJCLP) Now online: Issue 5, Summer 2000

  • The l.i.n.k. (Edited byStéphan LE GOUEFF) "The l.i.n.k." is a free electronic newsletter addressing issues relating to the Information Society. This perspective is achieved by having expert contributors from top IT, telecom, media law firms in more than 35 countries around the world. Subscribe online or download Issue 3 - July/August 2000 (Word format).


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, Gordon Lennox, Alan Reekie, Paula Telo Alves