QuickLinks 189 - 5 March 2001

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Legal and regulatory issues

   Cable and satellite

  • AT&T wins on cable-ownership limits (Bloomberg News) -Siding with AT&T, a U.S. appeals court overturned a cap that had barred any cable company from controlling more than 30 percent of the U.S. market.On a 3-0 vote, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said the Federal Communication Commission rules violated the free-speech rights of cable companies. The court also said the agency lacked authority from Congress to implement the caps. Although the court gave the FCC the opportunity to reconsider the rules and perhaps reissue them later in a different form, the court said the agency had failed to support its argument that the rules were necessary to ensure programming diversity.


   Computer crime

   Consumer protection

  • SEC renews net crackdown (FT) US securities regulators announced the fifth in a series of internet fraud "sweeps", bringing 11 new enforcement actions against 23 companies and individuals. Investigators alleged the perpetrators used a range of fraudulent online techniques to raise funds for private ventures or to boost the value of less regulated "penny" stocks in the over-the-counter (OTC) market.

   Content regulation

   Copyright, trademarks and patents

   Data Protection (privacy)

  • Privacy's Guarded Prognosis (New York Times) With more medical records stored on computer networks, whose eyes will see them?

  • USA - Privacy battle looms online (FT) After months on the virtual back burner, the contest over online privacy may be reaching boiling point as business and politics collide. On one hand are high-technology companies promoting self-regulation and innovations that protect people's privacy; on the other, lawmakers determined to "do something".

   Digital divide

   Domain names

  • Detractors blast deal between ICANN, VeriSign (ComputerUSer) As industry observers rush to sort out the impact of the surprise deal solidifying Internet addressing giant VeriSign Inc.'s control over the incalculably valuable global ".com" registry, critics of the proposed arrangement are already crying foul. VeriSign will operate the .org registry only through December 2002, but it must ensure the suffix regains its status as an identifier for nonprofit organizations. Its control of the .net registry will last until Jan 1, 2006, and the rights to the .com registry will expire in November 2007, but Verisgn can reapply. see also CNET News.com.

  • ICANN At Large Study Committee Web Site (ALSC) The At Large Membership Study Committee was recently formed to forge a consensus on the best method for representing the world's Internet users ("At Large Members") within ICANN. On behalf of the Committee, we are asking for your input to help us achieve agreement on an appropriate and effective means by which Internet stakeholders worldwide may participate in ICANN's activities and decisions. Sign up to email list for ALSC Announcements.

  • Internet-Draft about ".xxx" domain (D. Eastlake 3rd, D. McCullagh) Periodically there are proposals to require the use of a special top level name or an IP address bit to flag "adult" or "safe" material or the like. This document explains why this is an ill considered idea.

  • Keine Prüf- oder Sperrpflicht des DENIC bei Domains (Heise) Das OLG Dresden stellte in einer Entscheidung in dem Verfahren um die Domain kurt-biedenkopf.de fest, dass das DENIC, der Registrierungsstelle für de-Domains, keiner generellen Pflicht unterliege, Domains vor oder nach ihrer Registrierung auf eventuelle Rechtsverletzungen zu prüfen.

  • Nominet defies WIPO over domain disputes (Yahoo UK) Nominet, the registry for UK Internet names, is considering whether to defy the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) on methods for settle disputes over domain names. The UK registry claims that WIPO's methods are not far reaching enough or sufficiently flexible for settling accusations of cyber squatting. It may instead abide by its own guidelines.

  • VeriSign expands domains (FT) VeriSign, the US-based online solutions provider, will treble the number of ".com", ".net" and ".org" internet addresses available when its Network Solutions Registrar begins taking registrations in 60 additional languages.

  • Web's major registrar turns phone numbers into Net names (CNET News.com) VeriSign will offer WebNum, a new service turning telephone numbers into Web addresses, hoping to ease the pain of having to type letters while Net surfing on a wireless phone.


  • Zur Lage der Informationsfreiheit in Europa (Telepolis) Ein Überblick über die derzeitige Rechtslage bezüglich Informationsfreiheit auf EU-Ebene, in Deutschland auf Länder- und Bundesebene, sowie in den Vorbildländern USA und Schweden

   Electronic commerce


  • Public Consultation phase of MedPICS (MedCERTAIN project) We are seeking feedback from medical webmasters on our MedPICS draft metadata vocabulary and rating criteria. This vocabulary allows webmasters to describe their own (privacy, ethics, advertising, content, quality, ...) policies using a standardized vocabulary (i.e. using XML). The vocabulary will also be used to achieve interoperability of third-party rating / evaluation services. see also Group Releases Standards for Health Web Sites (Reuters)
    Independent health-care standards group URAC released preliminary quality standards for health-related Web sites on topics ranging from privacy and security to content.

   Information society and Internet policy

  • Top départ pour la fête de l'internet (ZDNet FR) La Fête de l'internet reprend du service pour la quatrième année consécutive les 2, 3 et 4 mars. Avec pour mots d'ordre « la culture, l'éducation et l'action sociale et humanitaire » a indiqué Philippe Baron, vice-président de l'AFI, l'association en charge de la coordination de la fête.

   Internet access and use

  • Le forfait illimité bloqué par France Télécom (Libération) Une pétition réclame la baisse du prix de location des tuyaux de l'opérateur. Une brochette d'une trentaine de dot.com (entreprises high-tech) se sont payé de pleines pages de publicité cette semaine pour faire avancer leur cause. Cinq brokers, trois portails, deux fournisseurs d'accès et une brochette d'e-commerçants se mobilisent pour du lèche-vitrines bon marché et illimité. Ils baptisent cela la «démocratisation» du réseau

   Mobile and wireless

   Protection of minors

   Racism and xenophobia

  • New-Nazi-Economy (Telepolis) Jens Siefert, einer der bekanntesten Nazis Hamburg, ist Internet-Provider geworden.

   Rating and filtering

  • Chinese Police unveil software to 'purify' Internet (Reuters) The Ministry of Public Security has released new software designed to keep "cults, sex and violence" off the Internet in China. The software, Internet Police 110, comes in three versions for households, Internet cafes and schools and can also monitor Web traffic and delete or block messages from sources deemed offensive.

  • Internet-Filtern auf gut Deutsch (Heise) Die Internet Content Rating Association (ICRA) bietet ihren Fragebogen zu "nicht-jugendfreien" Inhalten im Web auch auf Deutsch, Französisch und Spanisch an.

  • Rating the Internet filtering programs (Mercury News)

   Security and encryption


  • U.S. calls on Japan to increase telecom deregulation (Reuters) The United States called on Japan to further deregulate its telecommunications market, stressing the need for an independent regulator and fairer competition in broadband, or high-speed Internet services.

Market & Technology

   Cable and satellite

  • Satellite move by Classics (FT) Online Classics, which broadcasts music and performing arts over the internet, has been forced to launch a satellite channel because of delays to the development of broadband networks in the UK.

   Electronic commerce

  • Group issues standards for bigger Web ads (CNET News.com) The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) is issuing voluntary standards for seven new ad units, mostly offering advertisers more real estate to promote their wares on Web sites. Specifically, the new units--measured in pixels--include a skyscraper (120 x 600), a wide skyscraper (160 x 600), a large rectangle (336 x 280) and a pop-up ad (250 x 250).

   Internet access and use

  • CBI warns of broadband 'bottleneck' (FT) The Confederation of British Industry has warned ministers that a "bottleneck" over access to broadband telecommunications would hit industry investments planned for the next two years.

  • The Hidden Cost Of P2P (Interactive Week) If peer-to-peer applications become ubiquitous, they could break the existing business models of many Internet service providers and force them to raise their prices, because P2P programs have the potential to radically change the amount of bandwidth the average Internet user consumes.

  • The International Broadbanders (e-Marketer) Broadband access to the internet is quickly becoming a frequent choice for many internet users. While the United States will be the largest market for high-speed internet access in the coming years, a number of other countries will also have thriving markets for broadband access.

   Junk mail (spam)

  • eBay sellers say new anti-spam system is backfiring (CNET News.com) eBay's new e-mail system, which was designed to limit the amount of junk mail sent to its members, is instead forcing some sellers to weed through stacks of unsolicited e-mail to find legitimate messages from bidders.


  • Activate to debut Webcast center (CNET News.com) Webcast service company Activate said it plans to open a $20 million broadcast center, brushing aside competitive worries that forced tech giant Intel to retreat from the streaming media game.

   Mobile and wireless

  • Mobile groups in sharing talks (FT) Third generation, or UMTS, mobile telephone operators in Germany have been holding talks about sharing parts of their networks in an attempt to reduce capital expenditure as confidence in the sector falls

  • Nokia defies pessimists and predicts 3G success (FT) Nokia, the world's leading maker of mobile telephones, has hit back at telecom industry pessimism, saying that whatever the short-term uncertainties, third generation will make a significant breakthrough by next year. While acknowledging a sharp deterioration in market sentiment, executives insist that neither the business case for 3G nor the timing of its introduction has been affected.

  • T-Mobil bietet ortsabhängige WAP-Dienste an (Heise) Der Mobilfunkanbieter T-Mobil erweitert sein WAP-Portal um so genannte ortsbezogene Dienste (location based services). Diese machen von der technischen Möglichkeit Gebrauch, die Position eines Handys innerhalb des Netzes zu bestimmen.

  • Vizzavi sales reduced (FT) Vivendi and Vodafone have scaled back this year's sales forecast for Vizzavi, their jointly-owned internet portal, as problems with new telecommunications technology hold back the take-up of the mobile internet.

   Portals, browsers and search engines

  • Mit Google durchs WWW (Telepolis) Was die immer populärer werdende Suchmaschine vom Rest der Welt unterscheidet.

  • Search project prepares to challenge Google (CNET News.com) i5 Digital is preparing a peer-to-peer search engine aimed straight at the heart of Google. Web search technology has long been vexed by the problem of prioritizing the thousands of Web pages that common queries yield. Project Pandango attempts to determine that priority by examining the Web surfing histories of a wide network of computers on the Web.

   Security and encryption


  • Das WWW soll intelligenter werden (Computerwoche) Mit einer Reihe von Standards will das W3-Consortium (W3C) Anbietern von Websites die Möglichkeit bieten, ihre Inhalte genauer zu beschreiben. Derartige Metainformationen sollen die maschinelle Verarbeitung von publizierten Daten erleichtern. Ein Ergebnis dieser Anstrengungen könnten unter anderem intelligentere Suchmaschinen sein.


  • AOL accounts for one third of online time (Reuters) AOL Time Warner Internet sites accounted for nearly one third of all time spent online in January in the United States, with most Web users spending more time on AOL properties than Time Warner's properties, according to a report to be released by Jupiter Media Metrix.

  • Survey finds consumers will pay up to E25 for mobile Internet (Total Telecom) Consumers are prepared to pay around E15 to E25 a month for mobile Internet access in West European countries.


  • Can a peer-to-peer phone network fly (CNET News.com) The Free World Dialup project aims to create a peer-to-peer network that allows people to borrow each other's phone lines over the Net, making any call a local call.

  • CinemaNow appeases studios by locating Web surfers (CNET News.com) Online movie service CinemaNow hooked up with a software company that is able to track Web surfers based on where they live - a move aimed at preserving territorial-based controls of movie licenses. Digital Envoy, with its NetAcuity technology, says it can block audiences with 90 percent accuracy, helping companies such as CinemaNow make good on its film distribution promises.

  • Just press print (Economist) The ability to print computer components, rather than making them on silicon wafers, could lead to lighter, cheaper computers - and you could even roll them up

  • Surf the Net Through Your Power Socket (Reuters) So-called powerline communications may beat TV cable modems and broadband wireless technologies by providing cheaper and faster Internet access through electricity sockets.

Who's who

  • Professor Finds Her Legacy in Internet Law (New York Times) Pamela Samuelson, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, is using her personal wealth to promote the public interest in the Internet legal battles.

Useful addresses

  • The Filter (Harvard) No. 3.12 02.28.01 Your regular dose of public interest Internet news and commentary from the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School.


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: Benton Foundation, UNDP, NewsNow UK, Internet Law News, David Goldstein, Gerhard Heine, Alan Reekie