QuickLinks 186 - 3 February 2001

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Legal and regulatory issues


  • Industry, Government Butt Heads Over BBC Ad Site (Industry Standard) In a lively 30-minute exchange, the House of Commons Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport and members of the British Internet Publishers Association debated whether the BBC was unfairly trampling on the competition in Britain's online media sector.


   Computer crime

  • Cybercriminalité : du danger d'un projet de « traité fourre-tout » (IRIS) Dans le cadre de son action de sensibilisation à propos du projet de Convention du Conseil de l'Europe sur la cybercriminalité, IRIS analyse dans ce document les derniers développements intervenus.

  • Former System Admin. Sentenced For Hacking NY Court Web Site (Newsbytes) A former network administrator for the US District Court in Alaska has been sentenced for launching a series of denial-of-service attacks against a New York District Court Web site

  • High-Tech Crime Jumps in France (AP) Criminals in France are going high-tech, officials said, citing a sharp increase in credit card and Internet fraud.

  • Interpol schnappt Briten wegen Kinderpornos im Internet (Heise) [German police lead to arrest of child pronographer in UK] Der Mann war gerade beim Download von Kinderporno-Videodateien aus dem Internet, da klickten die Handschellen: Die Festnahme in der britischen Grafschaft Kent war den Ermittlungen des Bundeskriminalamts (BKA) in Wiesbaden zu verdanken.

  • Money laundering in cyberspace (BBC) International experts on money laundering say the internet is especially vulnerable to abuse by criminals.

  • Paedophile alert for children's charity (ZDNet UK) London-based children's charity Kidscape had its entire computer database stolen as part of a suspected paedophile operation. The highly sensitive information contained the case histories of 20,000 abused children.

  • Australia - Police to pay for Net searches (IT) Internet service providers in South Australia will soon be able to refer to a chart of agreed costs when asked to assist police in investigations. The costs structure is aimed at ensuring ISPs are not left out-of-pocket when handling requests from law-enforcement officials to search logs of subscribers and computer activities. Under Australian telecommunications legislation, ISPs may not profit from assisting police, but are permitted to recover costs incurred.

  • UK - 'Cyber Sweeney' host hi-tech crime meet (The Reister) The National Crime Squad is holding its first ever conference on hi-tech crime and electronic extortion via the Internet. The conference, to be held between February 14 and 15 at the International Convention Centre, Birmingham, will include delegates from over 20 European countries and will feature speakers from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Crime Squad.

  • UK - Government turnaround on paedophile entrapment (ZDNet UK) The Home Office is considering allowing police to use entrapment in the UK in order to crack down on Internet paedophiles.

  • USA - Arizona Moves Forward With Virtual Kid-Porn Bill (Newsbytes) Not waiting to see if the Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of a federal law banning virtual kiddie porn, proposed Arizona legislation would expand the definition of illegal child pornography to include sexual images that "appear" to depict minors.

  • German ISP uses image scanning software to find child pornography on newsgroups (Reuters)

   Content regulation

  • New software censors Web in Chongqing Net cafes (China Online) More than 1,700 Internet cafes in Chongqing have recently begun installing software named the "Internet Cafe Security Management System". The program prevents surfers from accessing the objectionable material.

   Copyright, trademarks and patents

  • CMGI Claims Patently Wrong (Wired) CMGI holds 38 patents for Internet search and indexing, and the company CEO says the time may be right to enforce them. But experts familiar with Internet history say the company's ownership of some of the Web's most basic functions will be lost, since the technology was freely distributed long before search engine AltaVista came into existence.

   Data Protection (privacy)

   Domain names

  • ICANN Board Member Rips At-Large Membership Study (Newsbytes) By delaying its internal election process for up to two years, the powerful Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is cheating rank-and-file Web users out of their right to have a voice in shaping Internet policy, ICANN Board Member Karl Auerbach said.


  • UK - Health fears over mobile masts (ZDNet UK) Kent County Council has decided it will refuse to allow mobile network operators to erect masts on its land, and accuses the mobile companies of refusing to address the fears of the general public.

   Information society and Internet policy

  • Luxembourg - Das Internet für jeden öffnen (Luxemburger Wort) Der delegierte Kommunikationsminister François Biltgen und Erziehungsministerin Anne Brasseur stellten das Programm eLëtzebuerg vor. Mit diesem Projekt will die Regierung jedem Einwohner den Zugang zu den modernen Informations- und Kommunikationstechnologien ermöglichen.

  • USA - Trade group pushes Congress to raise high-tech focus (CNET News.com) Hoping to head off a hodgepodge of competing state legislation, the AeA, formerly known as the American Electronics Association is calling for federal action on privacy, Internet taxes and tech education.

   Internet access and use

  • BBC's plan to block Net access unworkable (ZDNet (UK) The BBC's plan to block UK access to its international news site has been greeted with a mixture of criticism and derision from experts. The corporation plans to launch its international news site - BBCNews.com - later this year which it claims is a response to government pressure to extend its World Service onto the Internet. The BBC proposes to make the new international site accessible only to users outside the UK.

  • Vietnam begins to relax control over Internet access (AP) In the first step of a relaxation of its control over access to the Internet, the Vietnamese government has granted a license to a state-owned company for a direct connection.

   Junk mail (spam)

  • EU - Junk mail costs net users $9bn (FT) Internet users worldwide are paying an estimated E10bn ($9bn) a year in connection costs to receive junk e-mails, according to a study for the European Commission. The study looks at the phenomenon of spam in the US and European Union and assesses how different countries deal with it.

   Liability, jurisdiction and applicable law

  • UK - Internet providers press for protection from libel (Independent) The Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) - whose members include BT, Freeserve, Thus, AOL and Easynet - is expected to vote to ask the Government to pass laws to prevent organisations being sued for defamatory material online.

  • UK - ISPs say they can do little to stop smut on the Web (IT Week) Service providers say they are powerless to tackle the problem of improper or offensive material on the Internet, leaving companies to set up their own monitoring systems to prevent staff from viewing it.

   Mobile and wireless

  • French regulator calls for new 3G contest (FT) The French telecommunications regulator called for a new contest for third generation mobile phone licences after it received only two bids for the four licences it was offering through a beauty contest. see also Bouygues Telecom abandons French 3G contest (FT)
    Bouygues Telecom, France's third mobile operator, pulled out of the contest for a French third-generation mobile telecommunications licence, saying it did not want to take "unreasonable financial risks".

  • 3G licence costs threaten EU economies: Liikanen (Times of India) The wide price range for third generation (3G) mobile phone network licences is a threat to European Union economies, and a new way should be found to distribute the permits, EU Enterprise and Information Society Commissioner Erkki Liikanen told financial daily Taloussanomat.

   Protection of minors

  • Young women vulnerable in chatrooms (Nua) Up to a quarter of young female Internet users say they have felt frightened or upset about things said to them during chatroom sessions, according to a new report from Ipsos-Reid. Girls were twice as likely as boys to have received unwanted comments of a sexual nature or repeated requests for face-to-face meetings. The report, which includes survey results from 16 countries, found that up to 70 percent of Internet users under the age of 24 use chatrooms frequently.

  • UK - Children 'should be freer to roam internet' (Guardian) Children should take a "surfing proficiency test" at 11 to allow them a freer ride on the information superhighway, a leading thinktank said. Students who passed should be allowed less restricted access to the internet than schools presently allowed, according to a report by the Institute of Public Policy Research.

   Racism and xenophobia

  • UNO ruft zum Kampf gegen Rassismus im Internet auf (Reuters) Die UNO-Menschenrechtskommissarin Mary Robinson hat Medien und Technologiefirmen aufgerufen, sich stärker gegen die Verbreitung fremdenfeindlichen und rassistischen Gedankenguts im Internet zu engagieren.

  • Will the Hatemongers Survive? (Wired) Desperate to survive in an increasingly hostile environment, hate groups are espousing a chilling new model of activism: the lone wolf. Extremist groups have been crippled by lawsuits, infiltrated by law enforcement agents and rejected by the mainstream. Now they are calling on individuals to act independently.

   Rating and filtering

  • Anti-virus becoming less important than content control (Register) By 2007 firms will spend more on content filtering and encryption technology than they do on anti-virus software according to a report by industry analysts Frost & Sullivan. The growth of content filtering will be driven by companies increased desire to control their employees' use of email and the Internet.

   Self-regulation / codes of conduct

  • EU - Financial services: Commission launches out-of-court Complaints Network (European Commission) The European Commission has launched an out-of-court complaints network for financial services to help businesses and consumers resolve disputes in the Internal Market fast and efficiently by avoiding, where possible, lengthy and expensive legal action. This network, called FIN-NET, has been designed particularly to facilitate the out-of-court resolution of consumer disputes when the service provider is established in an EU Member State other than that where the consumer lives. The network brings together more than 35 different national schemes that either cover financial services in particular (e.g. banking and insurance ombudsmen schemes) or handle consumer disputes in general (e.g. consumer complaint boards). Both on- and off-line services are covered.


  • USA - How the Telecom Act created a new breed of speed (CNET News.com) As the historic Telecommunications Act reaches its five-year anniversary this month, its most tangible accomplishment may be something not even known to many legislators who drafted the landmark law: broadband technology

Market & Technology

   Cable and satellite

  • UK - Sky Digital 'dumps' ITV (Observer) The bitter war between BSkyB and ITV exploded last night after sources said it had gone cold about taking the network on Sky Digital

   Electronic commerce

  • Napster fees on the way (FT) Bertelsmann, the German media group, plans to launch Napster, the online song-swapping service, as a legitimate subscription business as early as this summer.

  • Consumers Remain Confident in Online Auctions (internet.com) A survey commissioned by the National Consumers League found that nearly one-third of online Americans have participated in Internet auctions, but 41 percent of buyers reported having a problem at one time or another, such as late delivery of goods or merchandise that never arrived

  • Denmark 'best for e-business' (FT) Denmark has received a significant boost in its efforts to attract new investment from a study which concludes that Copenhagen is the most favourable place in northern Europe to establish an e-business centre.

  • eBay cracks down on spam and e-mail access (ZDNet) eBay plans to block members from being able to look up each other's e-mail addresses on the site, making it harder to spam members - and also harder for people to cut the online auction house out of a deal.

  • We have lift-off (Economist) Despite the dot.com crash, despite the job cuts announced this week by Amazon.com, the leading online retailers are big successful businesses. But the path they are following is not the one they first thought of.


  • Kirch in online merger (FT) Kirch Gruppe, the privately owned German media group, will merge its online arm with that of ProSiebenSAT.1, Germany's largest free television group in which it owns a majority share.

   Mobile and wireless

  • DoCoMo's overseas partners to link mobiles to PlayStation (FT) NTT DoCoMo, the Japanese mobile phone operator, and its six overseas partners have agreed with Sony Computer Entertainment to jointly develop technology and services that would link their mobile phones to Sony's PlayStation video game console.

  • Europe Asks, 3G or Not 3G? (Wired) The hype for 3G is way ahead of reality, and it may be a long time before the clouds break. The bad news about 3G mobile phones in Europe seems endless.

  • Exporting Japan's Revolution (TheStandard.com) Emboldened by the explosive growth of i-mode in Japan, NTT DoCoMo has teamed with AT&T Wireless to bring the wireless Net service to the States. But do Americans really want it?

  • Text messages tapped for ads (FT) British broadcasters are targeting users of mobile phone text messages. All three commercial terrestrial channels - ITV, Channel 5 and E4, a new pay-television channel from Channel 4 - have launched campaigns using text messages as trailers for shows or inviting viewers' messages via on-screen prompts.

   Portals, browsers and search engines

   Protection of minors

  • France - Tout sauf du virtuel (powow.net) Directeur du site Kazibao.com, Bertrand Brocard doit conjuguer les impératifs d'un espace réservé aux enfants et un encadrement pour éviter les débordements. Puisque sur le Net, "personne ne sait que vous êtes un chien", comment repérer les indésirables, gérer les échanges, prévenir les dangers? Comment, a contrario, ne pas devenir une cible publicitaire quand l'anonymat s'arrête aux données personnelles?

   Security and encryption

  • Server flaws leave web vulnerable to hackers (FT) Internet security experts in the US have identified four flaws in a commonly-used domain name server that could allow hackers to breach the security of corporate and governmental websites and e-mail. The flaws, which relate to problems with Internet Software Consortium's Berkeley Internet Name Domain (Bind) server, "present a serious threat to the internet infrastructure", according to the Coordination Center, a US government funded research centre which specialises in internet security


  • Gnutella spreading itself thin (ZDNN) Predictions that Gnutella would quickly offer an effective file-swapping alternative to Napster have proven premature, with the technology's own developers admitting more work is needed before it will take off as a way to trade free music and other digital wares. see also Gnutella: Alive, Well, and Changing Fast (O'Reilly)
    Defying reports of its demise, Gnutella is evolving and usage is growing in response, although significant technical challenges remain.


  • Nortel to enable web tracking (FT) Nortel Networks, the Canadian networking group, unveiled a series of new products that will enable internet service providers to track their customers' browsing habits and offer them specialised content and advertising.


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