QuickLinks 178 - 19 November 2000

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Legal and regulatory issues


  • World Online raided by Dutch officials (CNNfn) Dutch prosecutors raided the Amsterdam offices of Internet service provider World Online, hoping to dredge up information linked with alleged insider trading at the ISP before its initial public offering earlier this year.

   Computer crime

  • Pioneer cybercrime treaty gets last-minute remake (Reuters) The world's first cybercrime treaty is being hastily redrafted after Internet lobby groups assailed it as a threat to human rights. The Council of Europe, a 41-nation human rights watchdog based in Strasbourg drawing up the treaty, plans to issue a new draft late this week to clarify passages that led to what it sees as serious misunderstandings.

  • USA - Criminal law banning morphed child porn is constitutional (Findlaw) U.S.A. v Mento, U.S. The First and Eleventh Circuits have upheld the Child Pornography Protection Act of 1996 ("CPPA") against constitutional challenge, but the Ninth Circuit has struck down the CPPA as an unlawful abridgement of the free-speech guarantees secured by the First Amendment. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals concludes that the Act passes constitutional muster.

   Content regulation

  • Pa. Online Net Criticism Case To Continue (Newsbytes) The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) praised a Pennsylvania state court judge's ruling that public officials and others cannot use "frivolous defamation lawsuits" to discover their online critics' identities, but noted that it failed to get the original case against an anonymous online critic dismissed.

  • Porn Sites Fear a Crackdown (Wired) It may be a lack of scruples or the presidential election that has some webmasters at adult sites fearing an impending government crackdown on the online porn industry. As evidence of the crackdown, adult website operators cited recent action by the FTC against a number of adult websites, including RJB Telecom, one of the largest operators, for allegedly unlawful billing practices.

   Copyright, trademarks and patents

  • Record Labels Fuming Over Universal-MP3.com Ruling (Reuters) MP3.com may not be out of legal trouble yet as four record companies are fuming that Universal Music, the world's largest record label, received twice as much as they each did to resolve a lawsuit against the Internet music company. Record executives said the agreements with Warner, BMG, EMI and Sony include clauses which stipulate that if any label gets a higher settlement payout, all of the others must get that same amount.

  • Scour Shuts File Exchange (AP) Scour has shut down its controversial Scour Exchange file transfer service in a step the company hopes will end the money-draining lawsuit against it and smooth the way for a sale of its remaining assets

   Digital divide

  • Africa finds no place in global 'new economy' (ZDNet UK) As the world economy takes off into cyberspace, Africa is in danger of missing the launch. Africa is still critically short of the basic infrastructure, technology, systems and computer skills required to support electronic commerce and "the new economy".

  • APEC Promises Universal Net Access In Ten Years (Newsbytes) Politicians representing the 21 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies today put their names to a joint statement pledging Internet access for every person or community within the region by the year 2010. See also Clinton Warns APEC of 'Digital Divide' (International Herald Tribune).

  • Developing countries pay heavily for lack of connectivity (Pana) Developing countries' lack of access to information technologies is partly responsible for their inability to adequately protect their intellectual property rights, including their traditional knowledge. WIPO plans to improve connectivity to the Internet of intellectual property rights offices of 65 developing countries.

  • Net Sustenance (The Industry Standard) Third-world nations are getting online faster than Bill Gates thinks they are.

   Domain names


   Electronic commerce

  • Germany - Das Aus für das Rabattgesetz (Heise Online) Das fast 70 Jahre alte Rabattgesetz und die Zugabeverordnung werden ersatzlos abgeschafft. Durch die Streichung der Regelung sollen vor allem Wettbewerbsnachteile für deutsche Internet-Händler im elektronischen Geschäftsverkehr in Europa verhindert werden.

  • Germany - Gericht erlaubt Internet-Mitfahrzentrale für Bahnfahrer (Reuters) Das Frankfurter Landgericht hat die Klage der Deutschen Bahn gegen eine Internet-Mitfahrzentrale für Bahnfahrer zurückgewiesen. Das Angebot eines Internet-Anbieters, der über die Seite "Kartenfuchs.de" Bahnfahrer zu Reisegruppen zusammenführt, um so die von der Bahn günstiger angebotenen Gruppentarife zu erhalten, sei nicht wettbewerbswidrig.

  • USA - Ruling favors tobacco companies (New York Times) A federal judge has ruled that a New York law effectively banning the direct sale of cigarettes to New Yorkers via the Internet is likely to be unconstitutional. see also Judge Freezes NY Ban On Net Cigarettes Sales (Newsbytes).

   Employment and social issues

  • Unions call for email agreement (Reuters) The Trades Union Congress said it wanted employers to draw up sensible guidelines with unions on how staff can use emails, following the introduction of the RIP Act which gives bosses wide powers to read employees' communications. The TUC said users should be warned in advance that emails may be electronically scanned for obscene, indecent, racist or illegal remarks. They should be allowed occasional and reasonable personal use of email, as long as this did not interfere with work.


   Internet access and use

   IT in education

  • Bright sparks, our kids (The Times) An educational site has been launched that aims to make learning fun and get parents directly involved,

   Junk mail (spam)

   Mobile and wireless

   Protection of minors

  • Police chief slams Yahoo! chatroom silence (ZDNet UK) The Metropolitan Police has joined the growing list of critics urging Yahoo! to act against paedophiles using its chatroom services. see also Paedophiles can target vulnerable children online. Child psychologists have warned that Internet chatrooms will increase the number of attacks on children in the UK. Child charities unite against Yahoo! chat. Yahoo! yet to respond to charity's criticicsm of its chatroom and messenger facilities.

  • Porn sites lure kids (FT) Toy manufacturers have become the latest victims of internet pornographers, who are using toy brand names to lure children to their sites. The porn links crop up in these internet searches because the pornographers have inserted the toy names into "meta tags", the labels attached to web pages that identify the page's content, on their sites.

   Racism and xenophobia

   Rating and filtering

  • Jugendschutzfunktion der d-box II geknackt (Heise) Im Internet sind jetzt Anleitungen aufgetaucht, wie sich die Jugenschutzfunktion des Digital-TV-Decoders d-box II, der Premiere World die Ausstrahlung von FSK-16-Filmen rund um die Uhr ermöglicht, überlisten läßt.

  • SmartFilter's Greatest Evils (Seth Finkelstein) The censorware product SmartFilter blacklists privacy/anonymity service sites, and language-translation services under the largest number of categories.

  • Un filtre antiporno au banc d'essai (Libération) Le programme «Image Filter» analyse et note sur une échelle de 0 à 100 le caractère pornographique de toute image qui lui est soumise. Les chercheurs restent discrets sur les techniques qu'ils utilisent - et commercialisent via leur société baptisée LookThatUp.

   Safer Internet awareness

Market & Technology

   Electronic commerce

  • Amazon.com Draws Fire on Secondhand Books (Washington Post) Amazon.com is running afoul of two of its core constituencies--the people who write as well as publish the books it sells. The two groups are upset that the online retailer is making it so easy for customers to buy and sell cheap secondhand copies of new books.

   Employment and social issues

  • Employers, workers begin to hang up on telecommuting (CNET News.com) Human resource experts predict that telecommuting will likely become as rare as the 40-hour workweek. They predict corporate America is on the verge of a severe backlash against telework, which if not properly regulated can result in productivity drops and an erosion of team spirit.

   Internet access and use


  • Dissecting the AOL Time Warner Deal (New York Times) This package of articles examines the prospects and competitive issues - business by business - in the merger.

  • Inside the machine (Economist) Companies need more than good technology to make the most of the Internet. They need flexible and self-confident management too.

   Mobile and wireless

  • BT turns up heat in Wap competition (FT) The battle for leadership in the UK's emerging market for wireless data services intensified when British Telecommunications announced it was to offer unmetered internet access through mobile phones.

   Portals, browsers and search engines

   Security and encryption

  • Denial of Service Attacks Planned For Christmas (Newsbytes) Internet Security Systems (ISS), has warned that hackers are planning an online attack-fest this Christmas. The attacks will take the form of distributed denial of service (DDOS) invasions, a hacker flooding technique used to flood out a major Web site and prevent normal users from gaining access.


  • AOL's lead in instant messaging arena dwindles (CNET News.com) In a survey of instant message usage in the United States, Internet measurement company Jupiter Media Metrix reports that in just over a year, Yahoo and Microsoft have each amassed IM memberships totaling roughly half the population of AOL Instant Messenger (AIM).

  • AOL, Yahoo, Microsoft Hold Onto Top 3 Spots (Reuters) America Online was the No. 1 Web and digital media property in October as measured by unique visitors, Internet and digital media research firm Jupiter Media Metrix said. AOL had 61.5 million visitors, Yahoo came in No. 2 with 56.5 million and Microsoft came in at No. 3 with 52.1 million visitors.

  • Australia: Many Online, Scant On Revenues (Newsbytes) In spite of having one of the highest Internet penetrations in the world, Australia is not exactly a booming place to conduct online advertising and commerce, according to Jupiter Research.


  • Beating Napster at its own game? (WSJ Interactive Edition) Software development company MediaDefender thinks the answer to new music-swapping technologies and so-called peer-to-peer music and entertainment networks lies in "spoofing," a method in which a peer-to-peer entertainment network is flooded with fake files of a certain title.

Who's who

  • Internet pioneer to head oversight board (Associated Press) Vinton Cerf, widely regarded as one of the Internet's founding fathers will now lead ICANN, bringing a technical focus to an organization often accused of straying into social policy and governance.

  • Mueller-Maguhn CANN (Online Journalism Review) Interview with German hacker Andy Mueller-Maguhn, elected as European director of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

Useful addresses

  • Communications Law in Transition (PCMLP) The most recent issue (Vol. 2, Issue 1) of the Newsletter has been published. Contents include: NEWS: U.S. Presidential Election; Hate Speech; Asia; Africa; Former Yugoslavia; Russia; Sri Lanka; Other Media News. NOTES & COMMENTS: Pandora's Box: Media Laws in the Slovak Republic by Rhoda L. Lipton; The Airwaves and Government Promises by Sizani Weza; Measuring Media Bias: A Response to Laura Belin by Richard Carver PAPERS: New Paradigms and Parallels: The Printing Press and the Internet (co-sponsored by RAND and Nanyang Technological University)

  • The Cyberlaw Encyclopedia (Center for Law, Commerce & Technology) Having trouble finding that single Internet resource for technology law information and developments? The Cyberlaw Encyclopedia could be the answer to those "quest for less" frustrations.

  • The Internet and the Global Citizen (Center for Law, Commerce & Technology) As part of the Global Citizen Project, we review useful citizen/consumer sites on a bi-weekly basis - sites with consumer information, tips relating to e-commerce and the prevention of online fraud, and information relating to e-government. We also feature the E-Commerce Genie - who answers your questions relating to the Internet and e-commerce.


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, David Goldstein, Alan Reekie