QuickLinks 182 - 20 December 2000

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Legal and regulatory issues



   Computer crime

   Consumer protection

  • 12 Point Checklist for online shopping (Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue) When you're shopping online for the holidays, or any time, there are key things to look for to make your experience safer and happier. This checklist is based on voluntary guidelines for e-commerce from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

  • USA - Billing Web Porn as Foreign Call Barred (New York Law Journal) A company operating a billing service for Internet pornographers has been enjoined from billing telephone line subscribers who neither used, nor authorized the use, of their lines to reach adult Web sites. Verity International collects bills for access to adult sites without requiring the customer to provide a credit card. Customers received bills showing long distance calls to Madagascar.

  • USA - FTC Shuts Down Fake ID Site (AP) A federal court has shut down a Web site that offered templates to help produce fake driver's licenses and state identification cards. The Federal Trade Commission brought a complaint against the site's proprietors earlier this month, saying fake IDs made from the site can be used not only for underage drinking and voter or passport fraud but also for identity theft.

   Content regulation

  • China: the cost of control (NUA) According to a recent report from the Economist Intelligence Unit, called 'Who's in Charge.cn,' China is using the Internet as a way of reasserting control over its provinces and linking local authorities throughout the country. In addition, the Government-controlled gateway to the rest of the Web effectively censors all content leaving China and prevents Chinese access to a range of foreign websites.

  • Descente de cyberpolice à Pékin (Libération) Opération coup de poing contre le plus grand café Internet du monde.

  • Malaysia to Prosecute Net Surfers Who Insult Islam (Reuters) Malaysia will prosecute Muslim Net surfers who insult Islam via the Internet. Legal action will be taken under Syariah criminal law, which applies only to Muslims and covers family and religious matters. sed contra Net Freedom Uncompromised by Sex Search (Reuters). Malaysians use the Internet to search for sex more than anything else, but the government of this largely Muslim country says its permissive policy toward the web is here to stay.

  • USA - Porn goes to court (Upside Counsel) This column explores legal developments relating to pornographic online content.

  • SafeWeb Doubles Usage, Blocked By Saudis (Silicon Valley)

   Convergence of telecommunications, media and information technology

   Copyright, trademarks and patents

  • Prepaid patent portends wireless battle (CNET News.com) Freedom Wireless, a wireless technology company, was granted a U.S. patent for its methods of completing prepaid wireless phone calls, a service that allows a customer to pay a certain amount in advance then make wireless calls until the amount of credit is used up.

  • USA - Web ruling irks broadcasters (FT) The National Association of Broadcasters, the lobbying arm of US radio broadcasters, is hoping to overturn a ruling by the US Copyright Office aimed at compensating recording artists and their labels for the right to transmit musical content over the internet.

   Data Protection (privacy)

   Domain names


  • Germany - Vergabe öffentlicher Aufträge per Internet (Heise Online) Öffentliche Aufträge können voraussichtlich schon ab Februar auch per Internet vergeben werden. Die Bundesregierung beschloss eine entsprechende Änderung der Vergabeverordnung, die die Ausschreibungs-Verfahren für die öffentliche Hand beim Einkauf etwa von Büromöbeln oder bei der Vergabe von Bauaufträgen regelt.

   Electronic commerce

   Employment and social issues


  • New studies: No link between cell phones, brain cancer (Bloomberg News) Handheld cell phones, even when used regularly for five years or more, don't appear to increase the risk of developing brain cancer, according to two new studies.

  • TRUSTe to audit health sites (ZDNet News) Hi-Ethics, a coalition of health sites has signed TRUSTe to audit its members in hopes of gaining consumer confidence. TRUSTe will help design and administrator a new seal, the E-Health Seal, that member companies can display on their sites. For TRUSTe, the move signifies an expansion beyond the seal program for privacy that the organization has administered to date.

   Information society and Internet policy

  • Computers, Freedom & Privacy CFP 2001 The Eleventh Conference on Computers, Freedom and Privacy March 6 - 9, 2001, Hyatt Regency, Cambridge, Massachusetts USA. Call for proposals. Themes include governance, social impacts, individual autonomy and integrity, convergence, digital divide, privacy, international issues and electronic commerce. The Deadline for Proposals is January 5, 2001.

   IT in education

   Junk mail (spam)

  • Judge Blocks Whois Spam (Wired) A federal judge ordered Web hosting firm Verio to stop using customer contact information housed in domain name registrar Register.com's Whois database to carry out a massive telephone and e-mail market campaign.

   Liability, jurisdiction and applicable law

  • German Landmark Nazi Ruling (Newsbytes) A complex court case involving an Australian Holocaust revisionist has resulted in the German Supreme Court ruling that any Web publisher, no matter what his or her country of origin, is liable for any pro-Nazi or Holocaust denial information on their pages. see also German Hate Law: No Denying It (Wired). 1. Strafsenat: Verbreitung der Auschwitzlüge im Internet (Pressemitteilungen des Bundesgerichtshofs).

  • EU-US Summit - Washington DC, 18 December 2000 (RAPID) Statement of the EU and the US on Building Consumer Confidence in e-Commerce and the Role of Alternative Dispute Resolution.

  • ISPs want review of Yahoo Nazi verdict (uk.internet.com) European ISPs want the European Union to step in over a French court's decision that Yahoo must stop French web surfers from accessing its US auction pages.The European ISP Association (EuroISPA) has asked Antonio Vitorino, the EU Commissioner for justice and home affairs, for an urgent review of the case.

  • Japan - ISP responsibility eyed for piracy on Internet (Yomiuri Shimbun) Internet service providers (ISPs) should be held legally responsible for acts of piracy committed on the Internet, according to an interim report submitted to the Copyright Council, an advisory panel to the education minister and Cultural Affairs Agency director general.

   Mobile and wireless

   Protection of minors

   Racism and xenophobia

   Rating and filtering

  • ICRA Launches New System (Press Release) The Internet Content Rating Association [ICRA] has unveiled a new labelling system, which can be adapted to different national, cultural and individual needs. The second part of the system, a filter that allows parents to set their own controls, will be launched mid 2001. See also ICRA: Noch mehr Kategorien für Inhaltsfilter im Web (Heise).

  • Congress ignites Net filter fight (ZDNN) An amendment attached to a sweeping appropriations bill passed by Congress would require most of the nation's public schools to block visual depictions of child pornography, obscenity, or other material deemed inappropriate for children. But free speech advocates already are planning lawsuits to challenge the measure, which they say violates the First Amendment. see also ACLU moves to block filtering law (MSNBC)

  • Internet:Parroco Del Torinese Battezza Servizio 'Anti-porno' (Yahoo IT) Si chiama "Davide.it" ed e' il primo portale italiano che garantisce un accesso "filtrato" ad Internet: impedisce automaticamente, infatti, la connessione ai siti pornografici.

  • Peacefire tosses Web-filter grenade (ZDNN) Porn-blocking Web filters from Net Nanny, CyberSitter, and five other companies can be disabled with a program released by anti-filtering group Peacefire. The program, available as a free download at the Peacefire Web site, was released in reaction to expected federal mandates for Web filters on school and library computers.

   Safer Internet awareness

  • Help child know the risks of chat rooms (San Jose Mercury) Much has been written about dangers on the Internet, but if your child is going to get in trouble online, chances are that it will be because of something that happens in a chat room.

  • La CECU publica recomendaciones para el uso seguro de Internet (Europa Press) La Confederación de Consumidores y Usuarios (CECU) publicó hoy un decálogo de recomendaciones para evitar el uso indebido de Internet por los menores y limitar su acceso a 'páginas web' con contenidos violentos, sexistas o pornográficos.


   Universal service

  • UK may subsidise e-networks (FT) The UK government may use public subsidies and tax breaks to fund the construction of high-speed internet networks in rural and deprived areas.

  • UK - Digital rights and wrongs (BBC) Government policy advisors are calling for the creation of a Universal Service Fund (USF) that will be used to help the poor meet the cost of going online.

Market & Technology

   Convergence of telecommunications, media and information technology

  • The great convergence gamble (Economist) Like AOL-Time Warner, Vivendi is betting big that the Internet is now ready to transform traditional media.

   Electronic commerce

   Internet access and use

  • Africa Online links with UUNet (FT) Africa Online, the continent's most broadly-based internet service provider, has taken a step towards its goal of becoming Africa's dominant ISP by forming a joint venture with Worldcom subsidiary UUNet to develop internet services across 14 countries.

  • Telewest dumps ADSL (ZDNet UK) Cable company Telewest abandons its ADSL plans and withdraws from the unbundling process, saying it will not pay the millions it would cost to roll out services over BT's network.


  • Breathe.com suffocates in fund squeeze (FT) The funding squeeze on UK dotcoms claimed another victim, with the collapse of Breathe.com, the UK's fourth biggest internet service provider, which has 600,000 customers and employs 140 people. see also Customer fury over breathe's final tactics (ZDNet UK).

  • Lessons From the Online Rubble (New York Times) Now that so many losers are limping off the e-commerce playing field, veterans of the Internet wars see some emerging truths about how things work in consumer e-commerce.

  • When big is no longer beautiful (Economist) The grand dreams of some of the world’s biggest telecoms giants lie in ruins. But the outlook for once-cocky upstarts is not much better. What went wrong for this 1990s boom industry?

   Mobile and wireless

   Multilingual content and software

  • Cultural Differences in E-Commerce: A Comparison Between the U.S. and Japan (First Monday) The paper presents the characteristics and trends of the Internet and e-commerce in Japan. Then it discusses the results of a content analysis of the top 50 popular Web sites in U.S. and those in Japan conducted in November 1999 and May 2000. This study examines cultural differences in the use of the Web in each country and suggests strategies for global e-commerce.

   Security and encryption


  • Digital divide grows in UK (FT) The "digital divide" between rich and poor in the UK is growing in spite of larger numbers of people from all income groups gaining access to the Internet.

  • Global Internet audience passes 400m mark (Nua) The global online population has grown to over 400 million for the first time. According to newly released statistics from Nua Internet Surveys, 407.1 million people now have Internet access.

  • Long Distance Goes Online (Industry Standard) The increasing use of the Internet for phone traffic is changing the long-distance business and will generate more than 400 billion call minutes by 2005.

  • Net use soars among UK kids (NUA) The number of children from 7 to 16 years old using the Web in the UK has doubled over the past two years to 4.8 million, according to a new survey from NOP Research Group.

  • Spain Sees Second-Semester Net Surge (InternetNews.com) Spanish Net use saw spectacular growth in the second half of 2000, leading experts to predict that one in three Spaniards will be online by the end of 2001.

  • UK internet access rises (BBC) Internet access is increasing sharply in the UK, with nearly half of the population having access to the web either at home or work


  • CERN: Statt Spinnennetz ein Gitter fürs Internet (Heise) Während das World Wide Web sich mit Millionen neuen Nutzern gerade erst so richtig entfaltet, tüfteln die WWW-Erfinder am Europäischen Kernforschungslabor (CERN) in Genf an der nächsten Generation. The Grid (das Gitter) soll jedem Nutzer maßgeschneiderte Antworten auf komplexe Fragen auf seinen Computer liefern.

  • In praise of disruption (Economist) From The Economist Technology Quarterly. Technologies such as Bluetooth broadcasting, optical switching, code-morphing and proteomics are threatening the old industrial order. Rejoice. see also The coming backlash in privacy.

  • Will AOL Tame Aimster? (Industry Standard) Forget MyMP3 or Napster = Aimster is the stake in the heart of the record industry. Piggybacking on America Online 's popular instant-messaging program, this file-sharing system makes swapping tunes much easier than Napster, much more reliable than Gnutella and likelier to withstand legal action than the other major players.


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