QuickLinks 187 - 17 February 2001

Forthcoming events | Full text search and archive

Legal and regulatory issues

   Audiovisual

  • UK - Government to investigate BBC (Guardian) Culture secretary Chris Smith has ordered three new investigations looking at whether the BBC is abusing its public service position. One inquiry will look into whether the BBC is using the licence fee to subsidise its commercial activities. The other two reviews will focus on BBC Online and rolling news service News 24. see also Government launches investigation into BBC (ZDNet).

  • UK - ITC gives TV stations greater self-regulation (FT) The Independent Television Commission is to reform its annual performance reviews of terrestrial television stations in a move towards greater self-regulation.

  • UK - Smith plays down aid for digital TV (Guardian) Culture secretary Chris Smith played down the chances of direct government intervention to speed up the adoption of digital television.

   Computer crime

   Consumer protection

  • Consumers in the online marketplace 13-14 March 2001, Berlin Germany. OECD workshop on the guidelines: one year later. Hosted by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology.

  • U.S. Shuts Down Web-Site Name Scam (Reuters) The U.S. government has shut down a scam that duped at least 27,000 Web-site owners into needlessly registering variations of their online addresses.

  • France - AOL et UFC-Que choisir s'expliquent devant le juge (Yahoo FR) Le consommateur a-t-il ou non été abusé par les promesses alléchantes du forfait illimité d'AOL ? Cette audience donnait suite à l'assignation en référé déposée par UFC-Que Choisir reprochant au fournisseur d'accès d'avoir effectué une publicité trompeuse et de ne pas avoir respecté les engagements contractuels liés au forfait illimité.

  • UK - Couple 'duped' over internet Rolex sale (BBC) A British couple have sparked a major investigation in the US after they used their life's savings to buy a Rolex on the internet - but only received a photo of it in the post.

  • UK - Web of deceit on mortgage sites (Daily Telegraph) Regulators are set to tighten their grip on mortgage web sites which actively market loans over the internet while claiming merely to be passing on names and addresses of borrowers to suitable lenders.

   Content regulation

  • Chinese website creator goes on trial (BBC) China has put a website creator on trial for the first time, in a test case condemned by international rights groups. Huang Qi, 36, went on trial on Tuesday in the south-western city of Chengdu. He is accused of attempting to subvert state power by allowing articles about the 1989 pro-democracy protests to appear on his website.

  • Malaysian news site feels government pressure (Reuters) The editor of a Malaysian news Web site malaysiakini.com critical of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's government said there was a deliberate campaign to discredit it. Government ministers have kept up sustained attacks on malaysiakini in the local media for the past two weeks, following a report that site received money from a foundation of international financier George Soros.

   Convergence of telecommunications, media and information technology

  • UK - Threat to press on the Net (The Times) The Government’s White Paper on communications appears to be trying to bring Internet content under statutory regulation, based on the notion that the Internet is an extension of broadcasting. The other major flaw is the fact that the BBC has been largely excluded from the centrepiece of the legislation - the creation of a single regulatory body for the communications industry.

   Copyright, trademarks and patents

   Digital divide

  • Newsletter (bridges.org) Volume 2.2, 7 February 2001. Items include an review of the Sustainable Development Community Network, News, Conferences & Upcoming Events and Links.

   Digital signatures

   Domain names

  • ICANN Defends Itself In Washington DC (Newsbytes) For the second time in as many weeks, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) officials today defended their management of the Internet's worldwide addressing system to a congressional panel concerned about the body's openness and commitment to democratic principals.

  • Regierungs-Einfluss auf Internet-Namensraum wächst (Heise) Am wachsenden Einfluss der Regierungen auf Entscheidungen zum Internet-Namensraum (DNS) lässt sich offensichtlich nichts mehr ändern. Der Anspruch der Regierungen, Einfluss darauf nehmen zu können, wer für die Registrierung von Adressen innnerhalb einer Länderdomain (Delegation) zuständig ist, und dies im Zweifelsfall auch ändern zu können (Redelegation), wird massiv vorgetragen.

  • Zahl der Deutschen Domainnamen überschreitet vier Millionen (Heise) Das Interesse an Domainnamen mit der Endung .de ist ungebrochen. Die Zahl der bei der zentralen deutschen Registrierungsstelle DENIC eingetragenen Domainnamen wird am Dienstag die Hürde von 4 Millionen überspringen.

  • UK - Nominet mulls changes to dispute process (Newsbytes) Nominet, the dot-uk administrator, is considering reforms to its domain name dispute resolution process. The proposed rules would feature a two stage process in which the parties would enter mediation for the two weeks. If unsuccessful, the case would be referred to an arbitrator.

  • USA - Judge blows the whistle on eReferee (ZDNet News) A federal judge says that Referee magazine holds the rights to the name 'referee' and the Web site must stop using that name in all their domains, overruling a previous arbitration decision in favour of eReferee.

   Electronic commerce

   Information society and Internet policy

   Internet access and use

  • Deadline set for £10 unmetered net (Guardian) Consumers could be offered unmetered internet access for as little as £10 a month after the telecoms regulator ordered BT to open up more of its exchanges - and cut prices - to rivals.

  • UK - Firms denounce government broadband plans (ZDNet UK) E-minister Patricia Hewitt and e-envoy Andrew Pinder launched the government's broadband strategy and pledged to make the UK the best place in the G7 for broadband services by 2005. As a first stage to achieving this ambitious aim it is offering £30m to develop rural broadband services and is relaunching the auction for fixed wireless spectrum. see also BT to miss target on DSL lines (Total Telecom) and Hopes fade for internet plan (FT) Hopes of bringing high-speed internet access to homes and small businesses across the UK were fading rapidly as the ninth potential operator in succession pulled out of government-backed trials.

   Junk mail (spam)

  • USA - Porn Spam Suit Shakes Industry (Interactive Week) A lawsuit brought by America Online against one of the Internet's biggest porn site operators could have far-reaching implications for the $1 billion online adult industry. The suit, filed Dec. 21 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, charges Cyber Entertainment Network (CEN) and scores of affiliated Webmasters with a massive and ongoing unsolicited e-mail campaign aimed at AOL's 27 million members.

  • Germany - T-Online gibt im Prozess um Werbe-Mails klein bei (Hiese)

   Liability, jurisdiction and applicable law

   Mobile and wireless

  • Orange heads to court over mobile masts (Yahoo UK) Mobile network operator Orange will fight a court case that could force it to remove mobile phone masts from two Stockport schools

  • Telefonica pulls out of Belgian 3G process (Reuters) Spain's Telefonica Moviles wil not be bidding for a Belgian UMTS mobile phone licence, two weeks after it pulled out of bidding in France for third-generation (3G) services.

  • Watchdog warns on UK prices (FT) Mobile telephone companies were put under pressure to lower prices after the industry watchdog said competition was not fully effective and profits appeared too high.

  • France - UMTS : le deuxième round séduit les opérateurs (vnunet.fr) Les opérateurs se déclarent intéressés par le deuxième tour pour l'attribution d'une licence UMTS. Toutefois, leurs décisions pourraient être non seulement liées aux modifications apportées par le gouvernement, mais aussi à leur capacité à s'allier avec un partenaire local. see also French mulls 3G concessions (FT).

  • UK - 'Text message' driver gets five years (BBC) A lorry driver who was sending a text message to his girlfriend when he hit and killed a man has been sentenced to five years in jail for causing death by dangerous driving.

   Protection of minors

  • Fighting gaming violence in Japan (MSNBC) Over the last few years there has been an increase in teen violence in Japan, an increase that some politicians and citizens have blamed on media violence. A number of influential Japanese game designers are taking a hard look at the games they make, and while none of them are blaming the increases in violence on the gaming industry, a few have expressed concerns.

  • Professor reconsiders children's online lives (New York Times) Sherry Turkle, a professor of Science, Technology and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology believes that computers have ushered in "a fundamental reconsideration of human identity." But unlike the academics who criticize the fractured, non-linear experience of Internet life, Turkle finds the fluidity of online identity to be healthy.

  • Yahoo! to block adult rooms from UK chat client (ZDNet) Internet portal Yahoo! has changed its UK Instant Messenger client to block access to adult chatrooms. Anyone downloading a UK version of the software will not be able to access these rooms. The US version of the software, which anyone can access, will remain unchanged.

  • USA - AltaVista under fire from child protection agency (CNET News.com) Web portal AltaVista has abandoned many of its community features after the Better Business Bureau found the site too loose in preventing children from visiting adult-only areas. The scrapped services include bulletin boards, chat rooms and online registration.

   Racism and xenophobia

   Rating and filtering

  • Net filters strain to block sites (AP) Internet filtering software generally fails to block one out of every five sites deemed objectionable, according to a new study. Consumer Reports magazine said filters haven't improved since it last tested them four years ago. see only Net Filtering Study Tells Only Half The Story (Newsbytes) Trade Association ITAA criticises study's small sample of 86 sites.

  • Schools, businesses restrain bandwidth hogs (CNET News.com) In an effort to save precious bandwidth while keeping Web access open, schools and companies are installing technology that prioritizes academic and business Internet traffic over that for entertainment and games.

  • USA - TV-Distributed Web to Be PG-13 (Wired) Television broadcasters will soon start delivering Internet entertainment at better-than-broadband speed, but the content is only going to be PG-13 [= Parental Guidance required for children under 13 years old]. Two competing companies are working with affiliate television stations to broadcast Internet data through unused bandwidth to speed up delivery, but fears of litigation are prompting them to censor the content.

  • SurfControl steps up non-PC filtering (electricnews.net)

   Safer Internet awareness

   Security and encryption

   Self-regulation / codes of conduct

  • CyberArmy declares war (ZDNet Australia) With a member base of 35,000, CyberArmy may have the biggest armament the Net has ever seen, rallying to take down Web sites that 'abuse' the World Wide Web - and removing power from governments. Each division within CyberArmy has its own job to complete, with one of the divisions devoted solely to child pornography Web sites.

   Telecommunications

  • Germany - DT in pricing investigation (FT) RegTP, the German telecoms regulator, is investigating the pricing of Deutsche Telekom's high-speed internet services, in a move that may expose Deutsche Telekom to another adverse ruling from RegTP.

  • Germany - RegTP muss Millionen an Telekom-Firmen zurückzahlen (Heise) Die Regulierungsbehörde für Telekommunikation und Post (RegTP) soll an die Deutsche Telekom und an Mobilfunkbetreiber bereits erhobene Gebühren in dreistelliger Millionenhöhe zurückzahlen. Keine Rechtsmittel wird gegen ein entsprechendes Urteil des Verwaltungsgerichts Köln eingelegt.

Market & Technology

   Audiovisual

   Convergence of telecommunications, media and information technology

  • BCE Set to Marry High-Speed Internet, Satellite TV (Reuters) BCE, Canada's largest telecoms company, unveiled plans to integrate high-speed Internet and satellite television services, which among other things would allow customers to "time-shift" their TV program schedule.

  • Milia 2001 (Libération) La huitième édition du Milia se tient à Cannes du 10 au 14 février. Le grand marché international du multimédia a choisi pour thème principal, cette année, les contenus multi-plateformes destinés au grand public. Du PC à la télévision interactive, en passant par l'Internet, le téléphone mobile et les appareils nomades, le salon consacre la multiplication des nouveaux réseaux de diffusion.

   Employment and social issues

  • CNET To Cut Workforce by 10 Percent (AP) CNET Networks has announced it will cut its global work force by 10 percent.

  • Net shake-out benefits some (FT) Monster.com has benefited from the US economic slowdown - more than doubling the number of resumes posted by job-seekers on its website over the last 12 months - but it says most ex-dotcomers have found new jobs without much difficulty.

   Health

  • Ärzte-Homepages verschrecken Patienten (Heise) Nach den Vorgaben der Berufsordnung dürfen Ärzte nicht für ihre Dienste werben, gegen eine werbefreie Präsentation ihrer Praxis im Internet ist hingegen nichts einzuwenden. Die meisten Ärzte-Homepages schrecken jedoch die Patienten eher ab, als dass sie neue Kunden anlocken.

   Internet access and use

  • Le dernier défenseur de l'Internet non marchand? (vnunet.fr) Cinq associations pour défendre un Internet "non-marchand". French data network, Placenet, Gandi, Netaktiv et Globenet ont créé Gitoyen, un groupement d'intérêt économique (GIE) qui leur permettra de mutualiser leur bande passante. Gitoyen devrait ensuite mettre en place une salle d'hébergement avant de proposer aussi des abonnements ADSL à prix coûtant...

  • Germany - T-Online streicht die ISDN- und Analog-Flatrate (Heise Online) T-Online streicht ab dem 1. März die Flatrate für ISDN-Zugänge. Der T-DSL-Pauschaltarif ist davon hingegen nicht betroffen. Nach dem 1. März können sich Internet-Nutzer für T-Online flat, den Pauschaltarif für ISDN-und Analog-Zugänge, nicht mehr neu anmelden.

  • Broadband Special Report (PC Magazine)

   Market

   Quality of service

  • Free E-Mail Gone Without a Trace (Wired) Free mail? More like vapor mail for ZDNet U.K. and Australia users. Subscribers of those services got a rude awakening last week when they found their free e-mail was gone, along with any information or messages they'd saved in their folders.

   Security and encryption

  • DNS proves to be weak link in Internet chain (eWEEK) A series of high-profile events over the last few weeks has highlighted the fact that the DNS that is so critical to the Internet's operation is also one of its weakest links.

  • E-mail wiretapping exposes forwarded messages (CNET News.com) Privacy experts they have discovered a security glitch that allows an e-mail author to read private comments attached to the original message as it gets forwarded to new recipients.

  • Gnutella swapping cookies, too (CNET News.com) Web surfers trading free music and other digital goods over one of the Web's most popular file-swapping networks are sharing much more: sensitive data files that could expose them to identity theft.

   Standards

  • Microsoft readies "Hailstorm" against AOL (CNET News.com) Microsoft hopes that with new software called Hailstorm, instant messaging will expand beyond being a vehicle for simple chitchat to becoming the infrastructure for a range of Web services, including Web-based e-mail, real-time stock quotations and calendar functions.

   Statistics

   Technology

  • La révolution MP3 (Libération) Les fichiers musicaux au format MP3 circulent tous azimuts sur le Net. D'une qualité proche de celle des disques laser, facile à dupliquer, ils sont devenus la nouvelle marotte des internautes, jusqu'à transformer le Web en gigantesque discothèque gratuite. Un phénomène qui inquiète les majors du disque.

  • Sun enlists peer-to-peer in war against Microsoft (CNET News.com) Sun Microsystems unveiled software, called Jxta and pronounced "juxta," a contribution to the much-hyped "peer-to-peer" technology made famous by file-swapping programs such as Napster. Jxta will be open-source software, meaning that anyone can modify and redistribute the software without restriction. see also 'Napster' Networks Have No Peers (Wired).


QuickLinks

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.

QuickLinks consists of

  • a free newsletter appearing approximately once a week. The newsletter is distributed by electronic mail through an "announcement only" mailing list. To be included on the mailing list, either fill out the form at http://www.qlinks.net or send an email to quicklinkshtml-subscribe@eGroups.com (HTML) or quicklinks-subscribe@eGroups.com (Text)

  • a Web site with frequent updates, an events page, news items organised by category as well as chronologically by issue and full text search.

QuickLinks is edited by Richard Swetenham richard.swetenham@cec.eu.int - Contributors: Benton Foundation, UNDP, NewsNow UK, Internet Law News, David Goldstein, Gerhard Heine, Alan Reekie