QuickLinks 172 - 8 October 2000

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Legal and regulatory issues


   Computer crime

  • New version of draft cybercrime convention published (Press Release) A new version of the draft Council of Europe convention on cybercrime has just been made public. This text reflects the comments of the various parties that have been consulted : States, industry, non-governmental organisations concerned with human rights, copyright, etc, professional organisations.

  • British link to 'snuff' videos (Observer) Britain is a key link in the biggest ever international investigation into the production and supply of paedophile 'snuff' movies - in which children are murdered on film. The key suspect in the inquiry, a Russian, was arrested in Moscow for distribution of thousands of sadistic child porn videos and pictures. Italian police seized 3,000 of Kuznetsov's videos on their way to clients in Italy.

  • USA - Stripped down cyber crime bill clears senate committee (Newsbytes) The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a stripped down cyber crime bill that had money for education and research but left out many of the key enforcement and investigation powers that law enforcement groups wanted.

Traffic data

  • Germany - Bundesrat stimmt der umstrittenen Telekommunikationsdatenschutzverordnung zu (Heise Online) Der Bundesrat hat über die Telekommunikationsdatenschutzverordnung (TDSV) entschieden, einen Anhang zum Telekommunikationsgesetz (TKG). Entgegen den Forderungen der Datenschutzbeauftragten des Bundes und der Länder sowie der Empfehlung des Wirtschaftsausschusses hat sich die Bundesregierung demnach mit Unterstützung des Innenausschusses mit ihrer Verpflichtung für Anbieter durchgesetzt, sämtliche Verbindungsdaten zum Zweck der Verbrechensbekämpfung ein halbes Jahr lang aufzubewahren.

   Consumer protection

  • Austria - E-Commerce-Gütezeichen für Online-Shops (ORF) Orientierungshilfe für Verbraucher | Online-Shops durch unabhängige, dritte Stelle geprüft | Außergerichtliche Schlichtungsstelle | Verbraucherfreundlichkeit durch anerkannte Qualitätsstandards

  • USA - FTC Charges Overseas Firm with Illegal Billing (Press Release) The Federal Trade Commission has charged Verity International with misusing the international telephone billing system to charge consumers for "videotext" services - Internet-based "adult" entertainment - that the consumers never purchased or authorized. Charges on consumers' phone lines were being initiated by "dialer" software downloaded from teaser "adult" web sites.

   Content regulation

  • UK strips BBC governors of regulatory powers (FT) The UK government is to strip the governors of the state-owned British Broadcasting Corporation of their regulatory powers after their decision to move the time of the main evening news broadcast in defiance of Chris Smith, the culture secretary.

  • Little Anxiety Over China Web Rules (New York Times) Chinese Internet entrepreneurs and their foreign backers expressed only mild concern today about the potential impact of new rules that, if enforced, could markedly slow development of the young industry here. The rules require these companies to maintain records of all the information that has been posted on their Web sites and all the users who have connected with their servers for 60 days. If asked, companies must submit those records to government authorities. see also China dotcoms in the dumps (Financial Times), China's Net rules spark concerns (CNET), The Register and Wired. Measuring the ICT Sector (OECD)
    The Measuring the ICT Sector report (pdf) has been prepared by the OECD to provide a statistical picture of the industry that supplies ICT goods and services.

   Copyright, trademarks and patents

  • A Web Safety Check (New York Law Journal) Advice to web site operators on benefiting from the "notice and take down" safe-harbor for copyright liability under the DMCA.

   Data Protection (privacy)

  • Transfer of personal data to third countries - call for comments (European Commission) The services of the European Commission are preparing a Commission decision under Article 26 (4) of the Directive 95/46/EC to recognise model contractual clauses as providing adequate safeguards to the purpose of an international transfer of personal data. The European Commission would like to receive comments to these draft model clauses, in particular from European business and consumer associations. E-mail MARKT-E1@cec.eu.int before the 16th of October.

  • USA - AOL Endorses New Opt-Out Online Privacy Laws (Reuters) America Online endorsed moves in Congress to create enforceable privacy standards for commercial Web sites. But in testimony to a Senate panel mulling privacy bills, AOL urged lawmakers to stop short of mandating that consumers "opt in" -- make an informed decision -- before data collected about them online could be used for purposes other than the transaction at hand.

  • USA - House Gives Privacy Patrol Thumbs Down (CNET News.com) A bill to provide $5 million in funding to a 17 member privacy panel for the study of online and offline privacy issues got majority support but fell short of the 2/3 support it needed for fast track approval. see also Newsbytes.

   Domain names


  • USA - Suit Considers Computer Files (New York Times) A novel lawsuit that could determine whether a computer file that tracks Internet use in a New Hampshire public school is a public document, similar in spirit to school budgets and the minutes of school board meetings. The answer is important because under the state's liberal Right-To-Know Law, public documents are subject to disclosure upon request. The lawsuit was brought by a parent concerned that the school did not use filtering technology to limit pupil's Internet access.

  • E-Government - Neue Interessensgemeinschaft IEGOV gegründet (GNN)

   Electronic commerce

   Information society and Internet policy


   Internet access and use

   IT in education

   Liability, jurisdiction and applicable law

  • EP votes on jurisdiction and judgments regulation (OEIL) The European Parliament adopted an amendment to the Commission's original clause on jurisdiction that would restrict the right of consumers to sue foreign suppliers of goods or providers of services in their jurisdiction to 'active' Internet sites, i.e. sites which target the consumer's Member State. Further amendments call for the extensive use of extra-judicial dispute resolution. Report of Committee on Legal Affairs (A5-0253/2000)

  • USA - Professors Drop Slander Suit Against Internet Review Site (Reuters) Two California professors have dropped a lawsuit against an on-line teacher review site they say called them foul names in cyberspace, thus ending a case that threatened to pit academic freedom against the future of free speech on the Internet.


   Protection of minors

  • Disney to Deter Children From Some Areas of Its Web Sites (New York Times) The online arm of the Walt Disney Company will take steps to deter children from wandering into areas of its Web sites that contain inappropriate material.

  • USA - Porn Panel Nears Consensus On Recommendations (Newsbytes) With its legally mandated deadline looming, the COPA Commission charged with advising Congress on how to protect children from "harmful" material on the Internet neared consensus on recommending that Congress support educational efforts, beef up enforcement of existing obscenity laws and help develop better resources for parents. The panel will probably also suggest that Congress offer Web sites some sort of incentive program to abide by a self-imposed rating system for online content.

   Racism and xenophobia

  • European conference against racism (Press release) A conference entitled "All different, all equal: from principle to practice - European contribution to the World Conference against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance" will be held on 11-13 October 2000 in Strasbourg. see programme.

   Security and encryption


  • EU - Dégroupage de l'accès à la boucle locale (Communiqué de presse) 2293ème session du Conseil - Télécommunications - Luxembourg, le 3 octobre 2000. Le Conseil a marqué son accord de principe unanime sur la proposition de la Commission pour un règlement relative au dégroupage de l'accès à la boucle locale visant à introduire une concurrence loyale au niveau de l'accès local au réseau. Autres points discutés: communications electroniques - cadre reglementaire commun pour les reseaux et les services de communications electroniques; organisation et gestion de l'Internet - résolution et creation d'un nom de domaine de premier niveau ".eu"; programme eContenu. (Local loop)

  • France Télécom anticipe le dégroupage (vneunet.ftr) Suite à la décision de France Télécom de lancer deux forfaits téléphoniques pour le 6 novembre, l'ART vient de rendre un avis plutôt défavorable. Le gouvernement, quant à lui, doit encore se prononcer. Mais à la veille du dégroupage, ces deux forfaits suscitent déjà une levée de boucliers du côté des concurrents de l'opérateur historique. France Télécom invente les offres tout compris sur le téléphone de la maison : accès, trafic et services (communiqué de presse) et Homologation tarifaire : l’Autorité rend son avis sur les propositions tarifaires de France Télécom "Ligne locale" et "Ligne France (ART).

  • ITU proposal could raise web costs (Newsbytes) A proposal drafted at World Telecommunications Standardization Assembly calls for U.S. Internet backbone providers to compensate foreign carriers for carrying Internet traffic under reciprocal agreements, a proposal that could result in increased Internet access costs in North America.

  • Mexico - Telmex seeks injunction (FT) Telmex, the Mexican telephone company, will go before Mexican courts to seek the suspension of recently issued government regulations that would curb its role as a dominant carrier.

Market & Technology

   Convergence of telecommunications, media and information technology

  • Sony merges wireless Web-surfing pad with TV (CNET News.com) The consumer electronics giant announces the Airboard, a wireless Web-surfing device and television that also acts as a remote control for DVD players and stereos.

   Internet access and use

  • Freeserve warns flat fee users (FT) Freeserve, Britain's leading internet service provider, will this week threaten to evict 700 of the heaviest users from its unmetered internet access offer.

  • France - Le forfait (il)limité d'AOL déjà trop populaire (ZDNet FR) De nombreuses plaintes et messages de mécontentement déferlent les forums à propos de l'offre d'accès illimité d'AOL France, vraiment opérationnelle depuis fin septembre avec son forfait tout compris à 99 F.


  • IOC 'disappointed' by Internet (BBC) Senior officials of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have said they over-estimated the number of people who would log onto the official Olympic internet sites during the games.


   Rating and filtering

  • Dogs star in porn scan (Australian) New software PORNsweeper will detect skin tone in an attempt to block pornography from corporate email systems and reduce the threat of litigation.


Who's who

  • Did Gore invent the Internet? (Salon.com) Actually, the vice president never claimed to have done so -- but he did help the Net along. Some people would rather forget that.


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, David Goldstein, Gerhard Heine, Alan Reekie