QuickLinks 170 - 24 September 2000

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Legal and regulatory issues


AOL/Time Warner

  • AOL-Time Warner Offer EU Concessions (Reuters) America Online and Time Warner submitted formal concessions to the European Commission in a last-ditch attempt to win approval for their planned $183 billion merger.

  • USA - FCC denies reported AOL/TW approval (IDG News Service) The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) felt compelled to release a statement claiming it has not made a firm decision regarding the merger between America Online and Time Warner, after the Washington Post reported that antitrust enforcers at the FCC were ready to give a conditional green light to the massive media and Internet merger.

   Computer crime

   Consumer protection

  • UK - New Rules Governing Sales to Consumers over the Internet (Simmons & Simmons) The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000, which give consumers greater protection when purchasing over the Internet, come into force on 31 October 2000. The Regulations implement Directive 97/7/EC on the protection of consumers in respect of distance contracts (the Distance Selling Directive).

  • EU - Cyberspace and consumer confidence (RAPID) David BYRNE European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection Kangaroo Group, Conference : Barriers in Cyber Space Followed by Press Conference with Commissioner Byrne at 16h00, Swiss Hotel Brussels, 18 September 2000

   Content regulation

   Copyright, trademarks and patents

  • Amazon.com licenses 1-Click patent to Apple (Out-law) Apple Computer Inc. yesterday became the first licencee for the patented 1-Click technology of Amazon.com, using the technology in its on-line computer sales. The patent has caused controversy because it is seen by many as obvious technology.

  • Olympic officials sink web pirates (internet.com) Pirate webcasts and unlicensed video footage of the Sydney 2000 Olympiad have been removed from several websites, according to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

  • Report: Music pirates will evade countermeasures (CNET News.com) Copy-protection plans and courtroom battles will not give recording companies what they want: an end to music piracy through popular online sites such as Napster, according to a new report by Forrester Research

  • Universities Rebuff Call to Ban Napster (Reuters) Saying open access to information trumped copyright fears, several major U.S. universities including Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have rejected a lawyer's demand they bar students from using the Napster song-swap software.

  • USA - Investors file class action lawsuit against MP3.com (Out-law) Following the recent court finding that MP3.com Inc. wilfully infringed copyright, a class action has been commenced in a US District Court in California on behalf of those who invested in the company behind internet music services.

  • A Question on Music Piracy (The New York Times)

  • Germany Wants to Feed Its Starving Artists (The Industry Standard)

   Data Protection (privacy)

   Digital divide

   Domain names


   Electronic commerce

  • Crime Photos Change eBay Policy (AP) An attempt to sell an autopsy picture and crime scene photographs of three slain boys has prompted the Internet auction site eBay to change its policy on graphic photos.

  • EU stärkt Rechte des Kunden beim E-Commerce (Heise Online) Das Europäische Parlament hat in zweiter Lesung eine Vorlage der EU-Kommission gebilligt, nach der Kunden bei Rechtsstreitigkeiten mit ausländischen Händlern generell im eigenen Land klagen können. Ein Änderungsvorschlag des Rechtsausschusses hatte vorgesehen, dass Händler durch einen Zusatz in den Allgemeinen Geschäftsbedingungen, dem der Kunde explizit zustimmen sollte, sich vor Gerichtsverfahren im Ausland schützen können. Das Parlament hatte dies abgelehnt.

  • TAG releases e-comm payments paper (OECD) The OECD Technical Advisory Group has released a revised document on the treaty characterization of e-commerce payments. It assesses how the payments should be treated for tax treaty purposes. The deadline for comment is 13 October 2000.

   Information society and Internet policy


  • Software to snoop on office porn sneaks (Yahoo) A British company has launched a software package designed to catch employees who access pornography at work. The new system Pornsweeper is able to detect sexually explicit images being transmitted in and out of the workplace via the Internet.

   Internet access and use

  • AOL U.K. plans flat-rate Net access (CNET News.com) America Online unveiled plans to offer a flat-rate subscription service in the United Kingdom, opening a new, risky phase in the company's clash with more popular British rivals that offer free Internet access.

   IT in education

   Junk mail (spam)

   Liability, jurisdiction and applicable law


  • Canadian regulator delays high-speed mobile auction (Reuters) The Canadian government has delayed, for a second time, its much anticipated auction of digital wireless spectrum until mid-January from November so it can respond to concern about strategic alliances.

  • FCC raises $520 million in wireless license auction (Reuters) The Federal Communications Commission has raised almost $520 million from the auction of 96 licenses to nine companies that will subdivide and lease the spectrum to third parties for wireless uses.

  • MobilCom seeks review of German 3G fees (Reuters) German telecoms operator MobilCom AG will seek a judicial review of the licence fees levied in Germany's recent auction of new generation mobile phone licences. MobilCom said it was taking the step in the interests of its shareholders after repeated questions were raised as to the legality of the auction procedure for licences to operate Universal Mobile Telephone Services in Germany. see also Regulierungsbehörde von Mobilcoms Vorgehen überrascht (Reuters) RegTP UMTS-Versteigerung.

  • USA - NextWave asks court to stop wireless auctions (Bloomberg) NextWave Telecom, the bankrupt wireless phone carrier whose airwaves are worth billions, asked the Supreme Court to review an appeals court decision that lets U.S. regulators resell frequencies that the company claims.

   Protection of minors

   Racism and xenophobia

  • Closing the Book on Hate (Wired) Barnes & Noble and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) have joined forces with a campaign called "Close the Book on Hate" to bring an end to prejudice and discrimination and will distribute a reading list of 140 books for children that parents and teachers can use to help them better understand and break the cycle of hate through reading.

  • Experte: Internet schafft neue rechtsradikale Strukturen (Heise) Der Wiesbadener Politologe Rainer Fromm warnt vor der Entstehung eigenständiger rechtsradikale Gruppierungen im Internet.

  • Germany - Müller-Maguhn: "Rechtsradikale Propaganda ist nützlich" (Heise Online) Kontroverse Auffassungen über den Umgang mit rechtsradikalen Inhalten im Internet sind in einem Streitgespräch zwischen dem CDU-Internetsprecher Thomas Heilmann und dem Sprecher des Chaos Computer Clubs (CCC), Andy Müller-Maguhn, aufeinander geprallt.

   Rating and filtering

  • What's the Worst & *#% Filter? (Wired) Fed up with filtering programs and other so-called Internet "censorware," the Digital Freedom Network has launched its Foil the Filters contest. Web users are encouraged to submit examples of foolish Web filters through Sept. 25. DFN hopes the contest will draw attention to filtering software, which DFN Internet Development Director Alan Brown calls "ineffective at best."

  • USA - Federal Trade Commission Testifies on the Antitrust Implications of Entertainment Industry Self-regulation (Press Release) Federal Trade Commission presented testimony before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary that antitrust law does not threaten self-regulation by the entertainment industry and legislation, so that to create an antitrust exemption for the industry is unnecessary.

  • USA - House Dem Into Ratings Regs (Wired) If the Republicans lose their House majority, Rep. Ed Markey, the ranking Democrat on the House telecommunications subcommittee which oversees Internet and consumer privacy issues thinks there could be a very strong case made for a universal rating system for everything but television."

   Safer Internet awareness

   Security and encryption

  • The Internet Is Falling ... Not! (Wired) A recent advisory from the CERT Coordination Center at Carnegie-Mellon University has raised the specter of an impending and massive denial of service attack that "poses a significant threat to Internet sites and the Internet infrastructure."

  • USA - White House hosts Net security summit (MSNBC) A group of key high-tech executives agreed at a White House meeting to move forward on a plan to set minimum security standards for big companies that connect to the Internet. The meeting was attended by Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, Boeing, the National Security Agency and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Norm Mineta.

   Taxation and tariffs

  • Germany abandons tax on use of the internet at work (Out-law) German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder this week dismissed a proposed tax on businesses for non-work related internet use by employees. The government will still introduce a controvercial copyright tax on high tech manufacturers.

  • EU - VAT on Electronic Commerce (RAPID) Mr Frits Bolkestein Member of the European Commission in charge of Taxation and Internal Market Transatlantic Policy Network Brussels, 20 September 2000


Market & Technology

   Convergence of telecommunications, media and information technology

  • BCE, Thomson Combine Canadian Portal, TV, And Paper (Computer User) Communications giant BCE announced a CDN$4- billion deal that will pool its Sympatico Internet portal and the soon-to-be-acquired CTV in a new company that will also contain the national Globe and Mail newspaper of Thomson Corp. and its related Internet and business-TV enterprises.

  • AT&T Broadband Disses Microsoft in Set-Top Box Deal (The Industry Standard) In a blow to Microsoft's interactive television business, AT&T Broadband plans to test Liberate Technologies' software in set-top boxes later this year and will deploy the boxes commercially if all goes well.

  • Clicking Outside the Box (New York Times) For 50 years, television was something viewers just sat back and watched. Now a new crop of systems, collectively known as interactive television, allows people to use their remotes to take over some of the power of the director to control what appears on the screen.

  • Internet-Angebot parallel zum TV-Programm (Heise Online) Der Unterhaltungselektronik-Hersteller Loewe will in Zusammenarbeit mit dem ZDF dem TV-Zuschauer zusätzliche Informationen per Internet zugänglich machen. Die neue Loewe-Geräte wählen nach einem Knopfdruck auf der Fernbedienung eine neben der laufenden Sendung übermittelte Internet-Adresse an.

   Internet access and use


   Multilingual content and software

  • MP3.com goes global with foreign language sites (AP) Caught in a legal tug-of-war over copyright law in the United States, Internet music service MP3.com is turning its sights to Europe, where it plans to open Web sites in German, French and Spanish.

   Rating and filtering

   Security and encryption


  • Bei Jugendlichen ist das Web das Medium für alle Fälle (GNN) Studie bestätigt zentrale Rolle des Internets in deutschen Haushalten

  • Mobile But Without Direction (Wired) All the predictions are relentlessly upbeat for mobile commerce, or m-commerce. Users of mobiles and handheld devices such as the Palm are growing exponentially and are expected to outnumber PC users by 2003.

  • Numbed by Numbers (New York Times) The many figures, projections and demographic revelations that those in the Internet business have decided are relevant to the public may demonstrate just one incontrovertible fact: the compulsion to measure has run amok.

  • OECD Internet Access Price Comparison (OECD) Prices to access the Internet continue to fall across OECD countries. A trend has emerged toward 'unmetered' access, which will be important in facilitating electronic commerce. These are the conclusions from the latest survey (March 2000) of the cost of accessing the Internet across the OECD area.

  • The Olympics’ Upset Winners (The Industry Standard) A large number of news and information sites are seeing double-digit traffic increases tied to the Games.

  • Young Americans Take Their Spending Online (internet.com) E-commerce spending among 18 to 24 year olds in the US is more than four times the rate of e-commerce spending among all adults, according to the Nickelodeon Online/Harris Interactive KidPulse and the MTV/Harris Interactive YouthPulse studies.

  • Internet in Asia -- Hyper or Hyped? (eMarketer)

  • USA - Growth of Internet use slows (MSNBC)


  • AOL Subsidiary Program Removes Ads (AP) Nullsoft, a subsidiary of America Online is again biting the hand that feeds it, this time creating AIMazing, a program that can remove advertising from AOL's popular Instant Messenger software.

  • Gnutella is dead (ZDNN) If you never used Gnutella, you couldn't care less. If you're a Napster user and you've been waiting to switch until the service gets shut down, it may be too late. In fact, too many users may be the basic problem. A few months ago, during the time of Napster's pending demise, a rush of traffic on the Gnutella network overwhelmed the system. see also Gnutella Not Scaling? (Slashdot)

   Who' s who

  • T-Online executive quits (FT) T-Online, Europe's largest internet services provider, suffered its second high-profile resignation in a month as it emerged a radical reshuffle was under way at the top of the company.


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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