QuickLinks 174 - 21 October 2000

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Legal and regulatory issues


   Computer crime

   Content regulation

   Convergence of telecommunications, media and information technology

  • UK - Blair's law of convergence (FT) There may be only months to go before the next general election but Tony Blair's government has not lost its sense of ambition in at least one sphere: industry regulation. Having brought together oversight of banking and securities under the Financial Services Authority, it is now putting the final touches to an overhaul of media and telecommunications law.

   Copyright, trademarks and patents

  • EU - Software patents: Commission launches consultations (RAPID) The European Commission has launched consultations via the Internet on the patentability of computer-implemented inventions. The absence of EU-harmonised legislation may be a potential barrier to industrial growth, competitiveness and the development of the Internal Market. Comments from interested parties, the public at large and Member States have been invited until 15 December 2000 on the basis of a consultation paper prepared by the Commission's services.

  • Experts Say Napster Resists Possible Tech Cure for Copyright Infringement (Inside) According to programmers who have reverse-engineered Napster's peer-to-peer sharing technology in order to develop open-source clones, the company could, with relative ease, screen out the great majority of infringing files from its music directory.

   Digital divide

   Domain names

  • Madonna wins madonna.com (WIPO) Madonna Ciccone, p/k/a Madonna v. Dan Parisi and "Madonna.com" Domain Name Dispute: Case D2000-0847

  • Slicing Up the Domain Name Pie (Wired) When new Top Level Domain registries open their doors for business sometime in 2001, not everyone will have the same shot at registering domain names. That's because the proposed initial registration policies have the potential to impact not only who can register new domain names, but also how those domains are used.

  • Spain - La AI critica la regulación del dominio '.es' (Europa Press) La Asociación de Internautas (AI) criticó hoy duramente el proyecto de constitución de la entidad Red.es, que regulará las direcciones de Internet terminadas en '.es', por considerar que establece las tarifas "más caras del mundo" para uno de los dominios "menos registrados" de la Red.


  • Europe's Readiness for E-government (Kable) 21-22 November 2000, Brussels. This inaugural event will give delegates the chance to hear about all the latest initiatives in electronic government from local and national governments from many different countries as well as from the European Commission. Free (open to public sector personnel only).

   Electronic commerce

  • Lex: German e-commerce (FT) As if making shops close at 8pm on weekdays and from 4pm on Saturdays through to Monday mornings were not enough, Germany's antiquated retail regulations risk driving e-commerce groups out of the country. Two recent rulings highlight the regulations' eccentricity.

  • France - Parfumsnet fait appel contre interdiction de vendre produits YSL Parfums (AFP) Parfumsnet, distributeur de parfums et cosmétiques sur Internet, a fait appel contre une décision de justice qui lui interdit de vendre les produits des sociétés Yves Saint Laurent Parfums et Parfums Van Cleefs et Arpels.

  • USA - BSA To Press Need For Single Net Contract Law (Newsbytes) The Business Software Alliance (BSA) and the Digital Commerce Coalition will use a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) forum on e-commerce to highlight the need for states to adopt uniform laws for governing online contracts.

  • USA - Company Challenges Law Banning Net Tobacco Sales (New York Times) In the latest of a flurry of lawsuits seeking to use the federal Constitution to trump state efforts to regulate controversial online services and products, a major tobacco company has challenged a recently-enacted New York law that effectively bans the sale of cigarettes to New York consumers via the Internet, mail-order or telephone. see also E-Tailers Fuming Over N.Y. Law (Wired).

   Information society and Internet policy

  • India cyber law comes into force (BBC) A landmark act governing cyber transactions has come into effect in India, making digital signatures legal for the first time. The act also clarifies the powers of the police to enter and search public places, such as cybercafes, without a warrant and to arrest suspects when they believe a cyber crime is being committed. see also India draws up law to enable digital signatures (Total Telecom) .


  • France blasts Britain over Echelon (ZDNet UK) A French parliamentary enquiry has harshly criticised Britain for its involvement in the Echelon satellite surveillance system, which it denounces as a threat to individual liberty and commercial privacy. Echelon is the codename for a surveillance network built by the UK and U.S. at the onset of the Cold War in order to eavesdrop on international satellite communications. It is one part of a global surveillance effort that counts on cooperation from Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

  • USA - FBI’s Carnivore has partners (MSNBC) Carnivore, the FBI’s controversial e-mail snooping program, is part of covert surveillance triad known inside the bureau as the "DragonWare Suite," according to recently declassified documents. The documents also outline how the DragonWare Suite is more than simply an e-mail snooping program: it’s capable of reconstructing the Web surfing trail of someone under investigation.

   IT in education

  • ED-ICT 2000 (Austrian Computer Society) 7 - 9 December 2000 Vienna, Austria. International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies for Education. This conference aims to bring experts from industry and academia in the field of information and communication technology (ICT) together with trainers, teachers and lecturers interested in using new technologies to enhance the educational process.

  • Netd@ys Europe (RAPID) Europe's biggest educational and cultural event involving the new media, http://www.netdays2000.org/, will take place between 20 and 27 November. The Netd@ys Europe initiative is funded by the Socrates, Leonardo da Vinci, Youth, Culture 2000 and Media programmes. Thirty-six projects have been selected for the year 2000 for a total amount of 750 000 Euro. The Netd@ys initiative aims at encouraging the use of the Internet and the new media in the areas of education, training and culture.

   Liability, jurisdiction and applicable law

  • USA - Court: Anonymous Internet postings not protected (AP) In a ruling that challenges online anonymity, a Florida appeals court declared that Internet service providers must divulge the identities of people who post defamatory messages on the Internet.

  • USA - High-Tech Groups Oppose Fake-ID Bill (Newsbytes) A cadre of high-tech companies and trade groups is opposing a Senate bill aimed at stemming the availability of fake IDs on the Internet, contending that the bill would expose Internet service providers to unfair liability.


   Protection of minors

   Racism and xenophobia

   Rating and filtering

   Security and encryption

   Self-regulation / codes of conduct

  • Building Trust in the Online Environment (OECD) Business-to-Consumer Dispute Resolution, 11-12 December 2000, The Hague, The Netherlands. Jointly organised by the OECD, the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCOPIL),and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

  • EU - Brussels plans to overhaul red tape (FT) The European Commission is considering a big regulatory shake-up to cut the cost of red tape for business and make it more internationally competitive. In a joint submission to the Commission, Erkki Liikanen, the enterprise commissioner, and Frits Bolkestein, the single market commissioner, are calling for statutory regulation to be largely replaced by self-regulation by business groups.

   Taxation and tariffs

  • Germany Won't Tax Net Surfers At Work (Newsbytes) Even taxation-heavy European countries are having second thoughts about applying too many financial restrictions to the use of online technology. Now the German government has rethought its summer plans to tax the personal use of office PCs for Web surfing.

  • EU - View: Europe needs a fair tax (FT) Present duty on the sale of digital products via the internet discriminates against European companies, says Frits Bolkestein.


Market & Technology

   Convergence of telecommunications, media and information technology

  • DTT's Wobbly Start In Nordic Markets (Multichannel News International) Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway are often linked together in mind (and sometimes in reality) as a homogenous Nordic bloc. But on some matters they are out of step. That is definitely the case for the introduction of digital-terrestrial television (DTT), which is going up against more established cable TV and direct-to-home platforms.

   Copyright, trademarks and patents

  • Digital Music's Battle Royal(ty) (Wired) The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) has joined the scrum to become the preferred payment mechanism for composers, publishers and music labels. ASCAP and information tracking company Audiosoft announced they are making available an application that tracks the use of music by webcasters.

   Electronic commerce

   Employment and social issues

  • Firm targets 'cyber skivers' (BBC) A company has launched a system designed to improve internet security and detect "cyber skiving" by employees. Actis Technology's system aims to give employers the power to monitor how their staff have been using the internet to ensure confidential material does not fall into the wrong hands. Actis said its system also offers companies the chance to pinpoint where time and money have been wasted.

  • Soziale Schüler surfen (Heise) Die Gefahr einer Reizüberflutung und Vereinsamung der Jugendlichen durch Internet und Fernsehen sehen Medienwissenschaftler nicht - ganz im Gegenteil.


  • The Science of E-Publishing (Wired) Opposing views about online publication for scientific papers as against traditional peer-reviewed print medium.

  • Vive le Minitel (Guardian) It was the original online system that in the 80s made France the envy of its neighbours. And although they are starting to embrace the internet, the French are still in love with their antiquated little black 'box'. A report on the relaunch of a Gallic invention.


  • Mobile web: Faster sells better (BBC) When mobile web access speeds up, customers sign up. Mobile phone companies in Japan have seen a sharp rise in the number of people using handsets with Wap browsers after the service got faster.

   Security and encryption



  • Gnutella Development Gnotted (Wired) The open-source heir apparent to Napster may not survive long enough to claim the crown. Conflict from within the open-source family of developers creating Gnutella, and not its current technical difficulties, could be the file-sharing network's downfall.


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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