QuickLinks 181 - 10 December 2000

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Legal and regulatory issues


  • Net faces 10-year Olympic shutout (BBC) Websites will be banned from using or showing video clips of Olympic events for the next decade. The restriction, which is being imposed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), is designed to protect the substantial investments made by national broadcasters who do not want their television and radio audiences undermined by internet coverage. The Olympic committee says the net will be prevented from carrying video and audio streams until websites can guarantee that only those people in the same country as the site can view the content. see also Could a Video Napster Hurt the Games? (Industry Standard).


  • BBC online under fire (Guardian) The BBC was accused of using licence fee money to promote its own commercial activities, including its online sites. The British Internet Publishers Association (Bipa), which represents the interests of Britain's leading commercial internet companies, said the BBC's actions threatened to put other internet companies out of business and was beyond its remit. see also White paper to announce 'ombudsman' system for BBC complaints.

  • Forfaits ligne France: le Conseil de la concurrence rend son avis (ART) Suite à la saisine du conseil de la Concurrence par l'Autorité pour abus de position dominante de France Télécom sur les forfaits "Ligne France", le Conseil de la Concurrence vient de rendre son avis sur cette offre tarifaire. Il est enjoint à l'opérateur de suspendre cette offre forfaitaire jusqu'à la mise en place effective des conditions permettant aux opérateurs tiers de proposer, s'ils le souhaitent, des offres alternatives.

  • Internet Bookseller Files Complaint with EU (germany. internet.com) The Belgian Internet bookseller Proxis has lodged a complaint to the EU Commission about five German wholesalers. Proxis is accusing the wholesalers KNO, Libri, Umbreit, Wehling, and Kvnemann of behavior that is adverse to competition. The wholesalers have apparently refused to deliver German-language books to Proxis.

  • UK - BSkyB faces pay-TV probe (FT) British Sky Broadcasting faces multi-million pound fines and the prospect of damaging lawsuits if a new competition inquiry launched on Tuesday finds the UK pay-TV operator guilty of abusing its market dominant position.

   Computer crime

  • Dutch ISPs to Pass Along Cybercrime Costs (IDG) Possibly setting a European precedent, Internet service providers in the Netherlands say costs for Internet access will rise significantly because of cyber-crime regulation.

  • EU to Set Up Pan-European Cybercrime Forum (IDG) The European Commission wants to establish a forum on cybercrime to enhance cooperation across borders and discuss sensitivities involved with the issue. The forum would also be a platform for sharing information among government agencies, the industry and consumer groups. Making laws to fight crime on the Internet means finding a balance between three key interests: law enforcement, privacy and the industry.

  • Europe's cyber crime treaty criticized (InfoWorld) The chairman of the committee drafting the Council of Europe's proposal for fighting cybercrime faced renewed questions and criticism of the draft treaty from a representative of U.S. IT companies and a privacy advocate. see also U.S. Embraces European Computer Crime Proposal (Reuters), Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime FAQ (DoJ), Privacy a Likely Loser in Treaty (Wired) and Council of Europe drops plans to ban hacking tools (The Register).

  • Hong Kong Govt Proposes New Laws To Tackle Cyber Crime (Newsbytes) A Hong Kong Government working group on computer-related crime has proposed making changes to the SAR's laws to update in the wake of rapid technological development.

  • Online drug deal busted (Newsbytes) Two Malaysian Internet users have been arrested for allegedly selling the Ecstacy drug through an online chat room. The sale was negotiated in the chat room between a 21-year-old student and an undercover narcotics officer, working for the Malaysian Central Narcotics Bureau's new Internet Enforcement Team.

  • Pedophiles Calling A Fifth Of Internet Kids - Govt Report (Newsbytes) The British government's official liaison between law enforcement agencies and Internet service providers (ISPs) has issued a report saying that around 20 percent of Internet chatroom-using kids have been approached by pedophiles and other undesirables while online. see also Chat Wise, Street Wise (ICF). Children and Internet chat services - A briefing paper prepared by the Internet Crime Forum IRC sub-group

  • Scarfo case could test cyber-spying tactic (The Inquirer) The FBI put a keystroke-logging device on the computer of the gambling suspect. A challenge may create new law.

  • Study: Most Nations' Laws Lag on Cyber Crime (Reuters) Most nations' laws do little to deter crime in cyberspace, a study by a firm that runs a U.N.-backed network of Internet policy officials showed. Thirty-three of 52 nations surveyed had not yet updated their criminal codes to deal with any offense tied to the use of computers, according to McConnell International, the Washington consulting company that carried out the study. See Security Law Project (McConnell International)

   Content regulation

  • UK - BBC's self-regulatory powers to be watered down (FT) The government plans to strip the BBC of much of its self-regulatory power. The BBC governors will lose their direct powers over certain areas of content regulation, including taste and decency, accuracy, quality and diversity, and quotas on niche interests such as religious programming.

  • China To Tighten Web Regulation (AP) In its latest effort to place restrictions on Internet usage, China intends to tighten regulation of online bulletin boards, Beijing's top telecommunications official said.

  • Cybersex News Report Sparks Outcry in Hong Kong (Reuters) A Hong Kong online newspaper has kicked up a fuss with its "investigative" report on the local sex trade which includes a video clip of a naked journalist and a prostitute engaging in sex. The report posted on HKCyber sparked calls from some Hong Kong lawmakers Tuesday for more control over Internet content and access for minors.

   Copyright, trademarks and patents

  • Band rages against Napster ban of fans (CNET News.com) Another round of music fans has been banned from Napster's music-swapping service for trading copyrighted music - but this time, the band, Rage Against The Machine, appears to be as angry as the fans.

  • Judge Dismisses Most Claims Against Priceline.com (law.com) Priceline.com has successfully defended itself in a trade secrets suit brought by a San Francisco company. U.S. District Judge Charles Legge gutted the high-profile case, granting summary judgment for Priceline as to claims that it built its business by stealing, and then patenting, Marketel International's particular business method.

  • Performers to get protection (FT) Members of the World Intellectual Property Organisation begin talks to finalise a new global treaty protecting the rights of actors and other performers in films, television programmes and music videos shown abroad or posted on the internet. see Diplomatic Conference on the Protection of Audiovisual Performances (WIPO) Geneva, December 7 to 20, 2000.

  • Spiegel will www (Heise Online) Titelschutz in allen Schreibweisen und Darstellungsformen gefordert.

  • USA - Webcasters Get Copyright Relief (Wired)

   Data Protection (privacy)

   Digital divide

   Digital signatures

   Domain names

  • French Court Rules Against eBay in Domain Name Squabble (Industry Standard) US auction giant eBay has received another blow in its court battle with French startup iBazar over its ownership of eBay's French domain name, as the courts again ruled in iBazar's favour.

  • Gerichte uneinig wegen Domain-Namen (FT Deutschland) Immer mehr deutsche Gerichte sind davon überzeugt, das die Verwendung beschreibender Domain-Namen unzulässig ist.

  • Neue Top Level Domains - die EU wills genau wissen (Heise) Die EU-Kommission lädt für den 11. Januar zu einem öffentlichen Hearing mit den Betreibern der neuen Top Level Domains in Brüssel. Dabei sollen Vertreter der von der Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) für die Einrichtung von .biz, .info, .pro, .name, .coop, .museum und .aero ausgewählten Unternehmen und Organisationen ihre Konzepte vorstellen.

  • WIPO domain dispute coup continues (The Register) WIPO has continued its march toward control of the domain dispute market, taking 68.5 per cent of all cases in November - up from 66 per cent in October, 63 per cent in September and just 48 per cent back in January. These details and many many more like them have been supplied by the Syracuse University Convergence Center, which has produced a report on the whole Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy.


  • Czechs To Display Nazi Loot on Web (AP) The Czech government plans a Web site to display artwork looted by the Nazis, aiming to return thousands of objects to their original Jewish owners or heirs.

  • Electronic voting to trial in the ACT (AAP) The passing of the Electoral Amendment Bill 2000 yesterday has opened the way for the Australian capital territory to trial electronic voting and electronic vote counting.

  • Home of B.C. web rebel who posted election results raided (CP) A Vancouver-area software developer who defied federal elections officials and posted early federal election results on his Web site had his home raided by Elections Canada. Two officials assisted by an RCMP officer searched his files and computer equipment.

  • Singapore leads planet in e-government effort (AP) While governments around the world race to make their services available online, "e-government" is old hat in tech-savvy Singapore, which has been aggressively computerizing its services since 1981.

  • UK - Freedom of Information Act is passed (Outlaw - registration required) The Freedom of Information Act 2000 will introduce: a general right of access to information held by public authorities, an office of Information Commissioner which will combine responsibility for data protection and freedom of information, and a new Information Tribunal.

   Electronic commerce

  • Australia: Internet gambling moratorium passed (AAP) Laws imposing a moratorium on new online gambling services passed the Senate after a split in Democrat ranks. Greens Senator Bob Brown forced the government to exempt bets on horse and dog racing, which will allow Victorian and Tasmanian TABs to take on-line bets, in line with interstate competitors.


  • More research ordered into mobile phone safety (FT) The UK's Department of Health has ordered new research into potential harmful effects from using mobile phones as it publishes leaflets admitting no one knows what the risks are.

   Information society and Internet policy


  • Experts: Carnivore review had no teeth (ZDNN) A who's who among corporate and academic security researchers criticized a government-funded review of the FBI's Carnivore Internet surveillance system as "limited" and "inadequate." The researchers said that while a previous review completed by a team at the Illinois Institute of Technology Research Institute (IITRI) appeared to have been conducted in good faith, the results were incomplete. see alsoLegal Controversy and the FBI's 'Carnivore' Program (GigaLaw.com).

  • Secret plan to spy on all British phone calls (Observer) Britain's intelligence services are seeking powers to seize all records of telephone calls, emails and internet connections made by every person living in this country. MI5, MI6 and the police are demanding new legislation to log every phone call made in this country and store the information for seven years at a vast government-run 'data warehouse', a super computer that will hold the information. see Submission on communications data retention law (NCIS).

   Internet access and use

  • Accès illimité : un revers en justice pour AOL France (ZDNet FR) En réponse à la requête d'un étudiant, un tribunal breton a sommé AOL France d'assurer à cet abonné un accès internet illimité, sans limitation des sessions ni écran de contrôle ni timers (un petit logiciel visant à limiter la durée d'une session).

   IT in education

  • Electronic Commerce Law Workshop (University of Ottawa Law School) Michael Geist's course scheduled for the Winter 2001 term will once again be webcast and open to registration by participants around the world. There are two tracks open to participants. The live track will enable registrants to participate in the class live each week. A second track will enable registrants to view archived versions of past classes and participate fully in the online discussion forum.

   Liability, jurisdiction and applicable law

  • Are Parents Legally Responsible for Their Children's Internet Use? (New York Times) In a controversial decision, a state court judge ruled that the father of a high school student accused of digitally grafting the picture of a female classmate's face to a hard-core sexual image displayed on a Web site can be sued for damages

  • Porn a Thorn for Indian Portal (Wired) In a court order that could have serious legal ramifications in India, a judge in Pune has put six directors of a premier portal called Rediff.com on trial for "giving access to pornographic material." If convicted, the directors face up to two years imprisonment.

   Mobile and wireless

  • Australia sets 3G deadline (FT) The Australian Broadcasting Authority, which auctions radio spectrum on behalf of the country's government, set a February 12 deadline for companies wishing to bid for a so-called third generation wireless phone licence.

  • Competing visions of a 3G World (ART) Analysys Conference / Mobility Futures : /London - 29th of November 2000 / Speech by Jean-Michel Hubert, Chairman of the French Telecommunications Regulatory Authority

  • Wireless licenses expected to raise $15 billion for US (New York Times) Federal governemnt auction opens for the spectrum for wireless communications. see also Brazil.

   Protection of minors

  • 3G could aid paedophiles, experts warn (ZDNet UK) Industry experts and clinical psychologists have warned that 3G technology could open up a new channel of abuse for Internet paedophiles while government agencies admit they have not considered the potential dangers the new technology brings

  • A blast for the COPA Commission (eWEEK) Comment by Michel Zimmermann. I have a high-tech blast, but it won't be my last on the subject. My blast goes out to the Children's Online Protection Act Commission. The group took a powder when it came to making the Internet a safe place for kids.

  • Fighting online crime with a parent's drive (Christian Science Monitor)

   Racism and xenophobia

   Rating and filtering

  • Consortium Offers Unfiltered Advice on Filtering Software (New York Times) Congress continues to grapple with the issue of requiring schools and libraries to install Internet filtering software, a group of school technology administrators is offering unfiltered advice on what educators can do to safeguard students online. The Safeguarding the Wired Schoolhouse initiative, launched by the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), is intended to provide school leaders with general guidelines for evaluating Internet protections.

  • Nochmal fünf EU-Millionen für Web-Filter (Heise) Die Europäische Kommission hat eine weitere Ausschreibung für die Entwicklung von Filterdiensten für das Internet veröffentlicht. Insgesamt fünf Millionen Euro will die Kommission für "Demonstationsprojekte für Filtersoftware und -dienste" zur Verfügung stellen. Bis 31. Mai kommenden Jahres läuft die Frist für interessierte Unternehmen und Organisationen.

  • SmartFilter - I've Got A Little List (Seth Finkelstein) An anticensorware investigation (including a quotation from Gilbert & Sullivan). This report examines some details as to how the censorware product SmartFilter blacklists sites. The mathematical impossibility of human review of the blacklist is demonstrated, along with empirical evidence validating this criticism.

   Security and encryption

  • Conference: Future Trends in Internet Security ((EuroISPA)) 10/11 April 2001 Brussels. The EuroISPA Conference will bring together a host of top European ISPs, software and hardware vendors, industry associations, law firms, regulators & Government officials for two days of high level discussion, debate & analysis. The threats to Internet security are diverse: the conference will focus on areas such as network and database security, protecting privacy and securing consumer confidence in e-commerce.

  • Do we need a second Internet? (ZDNN) Speaking to more than 100 security and privacy experts, President Clinton's top advisor on cybersecurity said a new, secure Internet is needed to insure that the country is not hurt by an attack from cyberspace. The secure Internet should have the equivalent of armed guards at the doors and no one would be anonymous.

  • Web Privacy, Security Weighed (Wired) After two days of high level discussions about keeping Internet sites secure and preserving the privacy of online users, the one unambiguous conclusion is that it is easier to agree on security needs than on privacy concerns. Despite that fact, it was generally acknowledged by over 200 leaders from business, government and consumer organizations who met on Microsoft's Redmond, Washington, campus that the two issues are intertwined and cannot be solved in isolation. See also New York Times.


  • Europeans Free Phone Market for Local and Internet Service (New York Times) European industry ministers approved a regulation intended to create competition among local telephone networks, paving the way for cheaper, quicker Internet access for businesses and, to a lesser extent, homes in European Union countries.

  • BT forced to open up wholesale DSL network (uk.internet.com) UK telecoms watchdog Oftel has made moves to bridge the gap between now and the unbundling of the local loop by forcing BT to open up its wholesale digital subscriber line (DSL) service and network to rival operators Thus and Energis, allowing for greater initial broadband competition.

  • EU regulators group faces harmonization challenge (Total Telecom) A serious bid to harmonize the implementation of EU (European Union) legislation across its national telecommunication sectors has been launched by the IRG, the international regulators group linking the EU's 15 national telecoms authorities with those of the four EFTA (European Free Trade Area) countries - Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.

Market & Technology

   Convergence of telecommunications, media and information technology

  • Microsoft, Thomson to Roll Out Digital TV in Feb (Reuters) Microsoft and Thomson Multimedia unveiled an analog Internet-compatible TV which they hope will secure them a foothold in a market worth billions of euros ahead of the switch to digital TV transmission.

   Electronic commerce


  • WHO Boosts Health Information Via Internet (Panafrican News Agency) The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Open Society Institute (OSI), a part of the Soros Foundation network, have teamed with leading information providers ISI and SilverPlatter, to provide access to high quality scientific information, via the Internet, to research centres in countries in Africa, Central Asia and Eastern Europe.

   Internet access and use

  • AltaVista ends free access (FT) AltaVista, the US internet portal known for its search engine, will cut its free internet access services because 1stUp, the company that provided the infrastructure for the service, was going out of business.

  • UK consumers get low price for Internet access (OFTEL) UK consumers continue to benefit from some of the lowest prices in Europe and the UK compares well with the US for key telecoms services according to new research published today by Oftel.

  • UK - Guardian iT powers 'hotel' (FT) Guardian iT Group is to become the first internet service provider to side-step electricity supply problems in London by building its own power plant.


  • Bertelsmann Gets Chummy With a 2nd Online Pariah (Industry Standard) Bertelsmann 's MediaSystems, a technology and consulting group, has reached an agreement with online VCR company RecordTV to license its technology for the European market. RecordTV has been in litigation with 12 major movie studios since June, when as a group they slapped the Los Angeles-based company with a copyright-infringement lawsuit.

  • BMG Still Wants to Get Paid for Digital Music (Industry Standard) Despite Bertelsmann's deal with Napster, the German media conglomerate's New York-based record label continues to plug away with a pay-per-download strategy. This week BMG Entertainment began testing a paid digital download system that it plans to roll out in the UK and Ireland in February.

  • Europe faces cable gloom (FT) The European cable industry is facing a crisis of confidence that threatens to wipe out its lead on new, nimbler rivals. Cable companies are burdened with heavy debt and their sliding share prices have fuelled concerns about future funding.

  • French rival clinches Freeserve deal (BBC) French internet service provider Wanadoo has confirmed it is to buy Freeserve, the UK's largest ISP, in one of the biggest mergers yet of new economy firms. The deal, which would create Europe's third largest internet service provider (ISP), will help Wanadoo attract 10 million customers by 2003,

  • Tiscali's takeover of World Online succeeds (FT) Tiscali, the Italian internet service provider's bid to buy Dutch rival World Online had succeeded after it received acceptances for 96.1 per cent of World Online's shares

   Mobile and wireless

  • 'Killer' 3G Applications Remain At-Large (Reuters) Third-generation mobile phones with fast Internet connections may be the future of communications, but a single use that will drive demand for such devices -- a "killer application" in tech-speak -- remains far from obvious.

  • Don't rush to mobile Net, Oracle executive advises (IDG) Instead of preaching about the mobile revolution, Oracle's executive vice president for Europe, Middle East, and Africa told an audience of Internet professionals that they shouldn't rush to get on the mobile Internet bandwagon. Europe risks losing its wireless advantage because of the "disillusion of WAP".

   Multilingual content and software

   Portals, browsers and search engines

  • Rival browser releases to challenge Netscape 6 (CNET News.com) Both Opera Software, a Norwegian browser maker, and NeoPlanet, a contributor to Netscape's Mozilla open-source development group, are making aggressive moves just as many see America Online subsidiary Netscape in a newly vulnerable position.

   Security and encryption

  • AOL Says It Is Fixing IM Security Loophole (Newsbytes) America Online is in the process of closing a security loophole that allowed hackers to steal AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) screen names and, in some cases, access AOL members' credit cards.

  • Shockwave E-Mail Worm More Annoying Than Dangerous (Newsbytes) "Shockwave," a new e-mail worm circulating the Web that renames JPG, ZIP and MP3 files and sends a copy of itself to all contacts in a user's Outlook address book, is more likely to annoy victims and clog e-mail networks than do any real damage to a user's hard drive, the federal government's Internet security watchdog warned.

  • Siemens produce mouse that recognizes fingerprints (CNET News.com) Siemens has a solution for people who constantly forget computer passwords: a mouse that recognizes fingerprints. Called the ID Mouse, the device uses biometrics to take advantage of the unique features of people's fingerprints.



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