QuickLinks 190 - 12 March 2001

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Legal and regulatory issues


  • Kirch heads for World Cup talks (Guardian) German media group Kirch is heading for crunch talks with the UK government over World Cup broadcasting rights. It wants to sell the rights to the 2002 and 2006 tournaments to the highest bidder. Such an auction threatens to exclude free-to-air broadcasters such as the BBC or ITV. However, a DCMS spokeswoman said the competition is protected by the 1996 Broadcasting Act. The act states that a free-to-air station must be allowed to screen the entire tournament.

   Computer crime

  • EU to Launch Forum on Computer-Related Crimes (Reuters) The European Commission announced plans to create a forum in which law enforcement officials, Internet service providers, consumer groups and others can discuss how to fight cybercrime. see also Police Say EU Privacy Law Hinders Child Porn Probes (Reuters), EU-Kommission will eine "sichere Informationsgesellschaft" schaffen and Brüssel gibt Gas bei der Bekämpfung der Computerkriminalität (Heise).

  • Net execs, governments collide on cybercrime treaty (Reuters) The Internet industry and governments clashed over efforts to come up with the world's first treaty against cybercrime. Industry representatives at a hearing held by the Council of Europe, which is drafting the pioneer compact, said passages requiring Internet service providers to store customer data for long periods would be unacceptably costly.

  • Belgium - Messageries roses 077: surprenants rebondissements (DHNet) L'administrateur délégué et du président du conseil d'administration de Belgacom à l'époque où les messageries roses faisaient réaliser de réaliser de plantureux bénéfices à Belgacom sont renvoyés devant le tribunal correctionnel ! Plus qu'une surprise, un véritable rebondissement. Ils auront à répondre d'infractions d'ordinaire réservées aux proxénètes: exploitation de la débauche d'autrui, pour avoir facilité la prostitution d'autrui article avoir distribué des emblèmes et objets contraires aux bonnes moeurs.

  • Italy - Pedofilia: Telefono Arcobaleno,Banca Dati a Disposizione g8 (ANSA) L' associazione antipedofilia Telefono Arcobaleno mette a disposizione del G8 la sua banca dati, che contiene siti pedofili ed i loro curatori. L'associazione dall' inizio dell' anno ha denunciato oltre 3.600 siti pedopornografici alle varie polizie del mondo

  • UK - Fourteen-year-old girl raped by Net paedophile (ZDNet UK) A 45-year-old man has admitted to raping a 14-year-old girl that he met in an Internet chatroom. He pleaded guilty before Chichester Magistrates Court to two counts of unlawful sexual intercourse and one count of indecent assault and was remanded to Chichester Crown Court for sentencing owing to the seriousness of the offence.

  • USA - 3 Charged With Auction Fraud (New York Times) Three men accused of trying to sell an abstract painting for $135,805 on the eBay auction Web site last year were indicted on charges of taking part in a bidding ring that cost hundreds of art buyers a total of $450,000.

   Content regulation

   Convergence of telecommunications, media and information technology

  • Canada - CRTC at centre of Liberal turf war (Ottawa Citizen) The Canadian government will establish a special task force to determine the future of the federal broadcast regulator, which is at the centre of a power struggle between the Industry Minister, whose department is responsible for telecommunications, and the Heritage Minister, whose department is responsible for cultural content.

   Copyright, trademarks and patents

   Data Protection (privacy)

  • Hotmail Addresses Shared With Site (AP) Hotmail, the free e-mail service from Microsoft, is divulging subscribers' e-mail addresses, cities and states to a public Internet directory site that combines the information with telephone numbers and home addresses. Hotmail customers are automatically added to Infospace's Internet White Pages directory unless they remove the check from a box in their registration form and "opt out".

  • Locating Devices Gain in Popularity but Raise Privacy Concerns (New York Times) Wireless systems capable of tracking vehicles and people all over the planet are leaving businesses aglow with new possibilities, and some privacy advocates deeply concerned.

  • US-Politiker sehen EU-Datenschutzrichtlinie als Affront (Heise) Im US-Kongressausschuss für Wirtschaft, Handel und Verbraucherschutz fand eine Anhörung darüber statt, welche Auswirkungen die EU-Datenschutzrichtlinie auf die Diskussion über den Datenschutz in den USA haben könnte. Für den Vorsitzenden des Ausschusses, den Republikaner Billy Tauzin, ist die Richtlinie "ein Versuch, den Vereinigten Staaten den Willen der EU aufzuerlegen".

  • France - La e-santé ne soigne pas la vie privée (Libération) Selon la Cnil, la confidentialité des infos recueillies n'est pas assurée.

  • USA - Pharmacies May Have Fiduciary Duty to Preserve Customer Confidentiality (New York Law Journal) Pharmacies may have a fiduciary duty to preserve the confidentiality of customers' medical history and prescription records, a Manhattan Supreme Court justice ruled. The ruling came in a class action brought by an unidentified man who says an independent drug store violated a duty of confidentiality when it sold customer information to one of the nation's largest drug store chains.

   Digital divide

  • New version of the Digital Divide Network Several major features have been added, including the Digital Divide Database, a nationaldirectory of over 20,000 digital divide-related services around the US, including places where citizens can get free Internet access and IT training. The website includes a new search engine that will give access to archives of DDN's many news stories, feature articles, a calendar of divide-related events and relevant web resources. A new option allows individuals to become members ofthe Digital Divide Network.

   Domain names

  • Rumpus at ICANN over VeriSign deal (Heise) ICANN-Tagung: Streit um VeriSign-Vertrag [Report in German: Tumult broke out in the Names Council meeting following ICANN General Counsel's angry reaction to the vote requesting the ICANN Board to postpone ratification of the agreement with Verisign] see also ICANN officials defend VeriSign dot-com deal (ComputerUser) , arrangement under which VeriSign would retain control over the .com registry until at least 2007. At the end of that span, ICANN would give VeriSign a "presumption favoring renewal of" the company's .com contract, provided that VeriSign lives up to its other promises under the deal. see also Competitors Charge VeriSign Agreement Unfair (Interactive Week) and (Heise)

  • BT plans Internet registrar business (ZDNet UK) British Telecom is planning a new business unit that will register domain names under the .com, .org and .net generic top level domains (gTLDs). See New Accredited Registrars Announced (ICANN).

  • ICANN: Launch of New Domain Names Behind Schedule (Reuters) The new Web addresses that were to be open for registration by Internet users worldwide by July of this year, could be delayed by several months or more, due to protracted contract negotiations with the new list operators and the high-tech downturn on Wall Street.

  • South Africa Is Seeking the Return of a Cyberspace Address (New York Times) South Africa's government, battling a company that owns the domain name southafrica.com, asked the World Internet Property Organization today to adopt a policy that would return its .com address and those of other developing countries to the nations they designate.

  • Vint Cerf Calls New.Net Domain Scheme A 'Cute Trick' (Newsbytes) A new online service offering consumers Web addresses in simulated top-level domains like .shop, .game and .xxx. What New.net offers aren't new top-level domains at all, but cleverly designed third-level domains dressed up to look like cousins of .com, .org and .net. When a user buys a New.net address in .shop, for instance, the address they are really purchasing is registered globally with three suffixes (for instance www.address.shop.new.net) but appears in that user's browser address bar bearing only the .shop suffix (address.shop). see also Idealab Creates Alternate Domains, XXX Domains May Be Hard Sell (Wired) and Top-Level Domain "Ghettoization" Proposals (PFIR - People For Internet Responsibility).


  • Report Opposes Internet Voting (AP) Voting through the Internet from home or the workplace should not be allowed in the near future because significant questions remain about security, reliability and social effects, says a report commissioned by the National Science Foundation the science foundation gave a grant to the Internet Policy Institute and the University of Maryland.

  • Third Global Forum - Fostering democracy and development through e-government 15-17 March 2001, Naples. The Third Global Forum, dedicated to e-government as an instrument of democracy and development, is an initiative promoted, hosted and organised by the Italian government under the aegis of the United Nations and the patronage of the President of the Italian Republic, in the collaboration with other international organisations and foundations. The Naples edition follows those of Washington in 1999 and of Brasilia in 2000.

   Electronic commerce

  • Law Agents Raids Internet Pharmacy (AP) Federal and state agents shut down a pharmacy suspected of illegally selling large quantities of controlled drugs over the Internet.

   Employment and social issues

  • Porn surfing firemen feel the heat (vnunet.com) Three London Fire Brigade officers were today disciplined after logging on to Internet porn sites when they should have been carrying out a safety inspection.


  • Die Abhörtruppe im European Telecom Standards Instititute (Stern) Die Anfang des Jahres parallel bekannt gewordenen Überwachungsverordnungen in Deutschland und in Österreich beruhen beide auf einem Standard namens ETSI ES 201.671. Dieser Standard, der EU-weit gelten soll, wird von der Arbeitsgruppe "Lawful Interception" des European Telecom Standards Institute [ETSI] seit 1999 laufend weiterentwickelt.

   Internet access and use

  • UK - BT wins in Cloud Nine dispute (Netimperative) Oftel has closed the case on ISP Cloud Nine, stating that BT has not acted anti-competitively in its provision of unmetered access product SurfPort24 to smaller ISPs. In a document sent to Cloud Nine, the regulator said that BT does not have market power in internet call termination, and cannot therefore exploit its position by imposing unfairly high minimum requirements for its SurfPort24 product in order to materially distort competition between ISPs. See also Cloud Nine blasts 'incompetent' Oftel BT ruling (The Register)

   Liability, jurisdiction and applicable law

  • Germany tough on pirates (FT) A German court has significantly toughened copyright laws covering the pirating of music on the internet. AOL, the internet service provider, could be required to pay damages after a decision by the appeals court in Munich, southern Germany, which threatens to create fresh headaches for the country's internet industry. The court found AOL liable for infringements of copyright laws - which took precedence over defences the internet service provider has under recent German internet legislation. The case referred to a music sound forum offered by a German subsidiary of AOL that enabled customers to exchange unlicensed music on so-called Midi files.

  • USA - Mom Can't Sue AOL Over Child Porn (AP) Florida's State Supreme Court said that federal law (the Communications Decency Act) shields America Online from illegal transactions - in particular, the sale of child pornography - taking place on its service. see also strong dissent from minority and Florida Case Renews Debate over ISPs' Liability (GigaLaw.com).

  • Japan - Law planned to let ISPs remove malicious sites (The Yomiuri Shimbun/Daily Yomiuri) The Public Management Ministry has decided to nip in the bud the posting of Web sites that slander individuals or invade their privacy by drafting legislation to allow Internet service providers to remove such sites at their own discretion.

   Mobile and wireless

  • Amena to fight Spain's new GSM auction in court (Reuters) Spain's number-three mobile phone operator Amena is prepared to go to court to stop the government from issuing two new GSM licences using spectrum space allotted to existing providers.

   Protection of minors

   Racism and xenophobia

   Rating and filtering

  • USA - Mom Can't Sue To Block Internet Porn In Libraries (Associated Pre) California's publicly funded libraries are not required to block minors' access to Internet pornography, an appeals court ruled in Kathleen R. v. City of Livermore. A Livermore mother brought the case, saying her 12-year-old boy was traumatized by viewing Internet pornography at the city's main library.

  • Cyber Patrol bans The Register (The Register) We are officially irresponsible. Surfcontrol, the Internet filtering company, has, for some reason, put us on its CyberNOT list - which means that those using CyberPatrol won't be able to see us (or even this story).

  • Glasgow libraries ban Internet access (ZDNet UK) Internet access has been banned from all Glasgow libraries after it was discovered that primary school children had been using the computers to download porn. The council claims to have been unaware that the library was offering unlimited Internet access, after its original filtering software had been scrapped on the basis that it was too restrictive and blocked entry to newspaper Web sites. Technicians are working to install new security filters on all library computers.

  • Microsoft Xbox gets family-friendly (Inside.com) Microsoft will solder a V-chip-style control inside the video game console, which is slated for introduction this fall. Details about the device won’t be unveiled until the Electronic Entertainment Expo, the annual gaming industry powwow in May, but it will probably allow parents to prevent their kids from playing games rated for violent or sexual content.

  • Conference to target kids' access to Net porn (Mercury News)

   Security and encryption

  • Descramble That DVD in 7 Lines (Wired) Descrambling DVDs just got even easier, thanks to a pair of MIT programmers. Using only seven lines of Perl code, Keith Winstein and Marc Horowitz have created the shortest-yet method to remove the thin layer of encryption that is designed to prevent people from watching DVDs without proper authorization.

  • FBI Warns Companies About Hackers (AP) Organized hacker groups, primarily from former Soviet countries, are responsible for recent increases in credit card thefts and extortion attempts, the FBI said. It said e-commerce companies should be more vigilant in protecting their customers' credit card numbers.

  • Naked Wife Virus Strips Down Computers (NewsFactor) The Naked Wife Trojan virus - which masquerades as a Flash movie of a naked woman - spreads via Microsoft Outlook and can damage vital system files, rendering an affected computer inoperable, according to security company McAfee.com Corporation. see also Yahoo Viruses page.

  • SafeWeb offers Triangle Boy source code (Newsbytes) Online privacy company SafeWeb has released the source code of its Triangle Boy client, a peer-to-peer application that the company said prevents anyone, such as corporations, governments, and schools, from blocking access to SafeWeb.

   Self-regulation / codes of conduct

  • Germany - "Selbstkontrolle Multimedia" gegen Cyberpolizei und Zensur (Heise) Die Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle Multimedia-Diensteanbieter (FSM) wehrt sich gegen die ihr immer wieder untergeschobene Rolle, zusammen mit ihrer Dachgesellschaft INHOPE eine internationale Cyberpolizei zu spielen. Themen wie dem Jugendschutz oder der Verhinderung von neonazistischem Gedankengut könne man sich nur nähern, wenn man die kulturellen Werte und Gesetze in anderen Ländern im Auge behalte.

   Taxation and tariffs

  • OECD moots Net tax plan (IT Week) A global approach to the taxation of online trade came closer when the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development called for companies that sell tangible goods electronically to register and pay VAT in the countries where their customers are based. See comprehensive set of reports and technical papers released for information and, in some cases, for public comment by 30 April 2001 (OECD).


   Voice over IP

  • Internet telephony encouraged (FT) Developing countries will be urged to embrace rather than restrict the new internet telephony technologies at a policy forum hosted by the International Telecommunication Union in Geneva.

Market & Technology


  • ITV quality outstrips BBC1 (EuropeMedia) New ratings show that ITV has outstripped the BBC in terms of the calibre of its viewers. Usually regarded as the populist pap channel running behind the superior quality of the BBC, it now boasts the most professionals and people from managerial positions tuning in, including those from the highly regarded ABC1 channel.

  • New life for movie industry (FT) The US cinema industry is coming rapidly back to life thanks to a combination of theatre closures, higher ticket prices and soaring admissions.

   Convergence of telecommunications, media and information technology

   Electronic commerce

  • It Just Got Harder For Air-Ticket Sites (InformationWeek) Northwest Airlines and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines are scrapping commissions paid to online travel agents such as Travelocity and Expedia. Those commissions amounted to 5% of the ticket price, with a $10 per ticket maximum.

   IT in education

  • Textbook Publishers Try Online Education (New York Times) Two of the leading publishers of educational textbooks have bolstered their digital efforts by launching online learning networks in the past six months. But the differences between their two strategies demonstrate that it may take years before education companies discover the best way to extend their franchises online in a way supported by a viable business model.


  • Big business gets to grips with web (FT) Although most big companies are pushing through e-business initiatives, many of the electronic marketplaces and industry-led exchanges that were to be the vehicle for those savings have yet to take off.

   Multilingual content and software


  • Half Of Asia's Student Net Users Visit Adult Sites - Study (Newsbytes) Surfing adult Web sites is very popular in Asia especially among students, with a study finding between 37 and 58 percent of Internet-using students in five Asian countries visited an adult site during January.

  • Kiwi kids most at risk from Internet dangers (ZDNet UK) New Zealand's teenage girls feel more threatened by Net predators than surfing kids in the UK and America, a new study reveals. The survey conducted by Auckland University's psychology department found one in three Kiwi girls aged 11 to 19 to have had a face-to-face meeting with someone they met in an Internet chatroom. 32 percent had gone to the meeting alone, with nearly half of them not having informed a parent or adult of their plans.


  • An era of peer to peer (FT) The question now is whether "P2P" is only the latest internet technology fad, or whether this software may set a new direction for business computing. The essence of P2P networking is the ability to share information or computing resources among all computers linked to a network without reference to a central server.

  • Gadget wars (Economist) A new breed of consumer-electronics device is emerging from the computer industry, and with it a new sort of consumer-electronics company

  • Gnotella File-Sharing Browser Hits the Net (InternetNews) A new version of Gnotella, a browser that provides the interface for peer-to-peer file transfers on GnutellaNet, has ben released..

Who's who

  • Ex-BBC head tipped for Ofcom (FT) Lord Birt, the former director-general of the BBC, is being tipped by the government as the leading contender to head Ofcom, the UK communications watchdog.

Useful addresses

  • Funding Tracker (European Multimedia Forum) The EMF's online Funding Tracker is a user-friendly monitoring tool, providing concise, up-to-date information on EU Funding opportunities for digital Content and Technology projects in Europe and between the EU and third countries.

  • Issue Tracker (European Multimedia Forum) The EMF's online Issue Tracker is a user-friendly monitoring tool, providing concise, up-to-date information on the EU Information Society regulatory and policy environment.

  • Status of EU initiatives page updated (QuickLinks) Links have been added to recently published documents: Evaluation report on Recommendation on protection of minors, EP 2nd reading of Copyright directive, Communication on Computer-related Crime, eContent programme, Jurisdiction and enforcement of judgments regulation, Communication on combating the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, Regulation on Unbundled Access to the Local Loop, .EU Top Level Domain - proposal for a Regulation;


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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