QuickLinks 191 - 19 March 2001

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Legal and regulatory issues

   Audiovisual

  • EU - Eurotica Rendez-Vous Television v. Commission (ECJ) Judgment of the Court of First Instance (Second Chamber) 13 December 2000 ('Television Without Frontiers directive - National restrictions on the retransmission across frontiers of television broadcasts - Finding by the Commission that those restrictions are compatible with Community law - Action for annulment - Admissibility) Case T-69/99, Danish Satellite TV (DSTV) A/S (Eurotica Rendez-Vous Television) v Commission of the European Communities

   Competition

  • Canada to review media ownership concentration (Reuters) Canada's Liberal government, acting after a powerful media mogul urged gentler treatment of Prime Minister Jean Chretien, is setting up a panel to look at the concentration of media ownership.

   Computer crime

  • UK - Internet chat danger for children (BBC) Paedophiles are regularly using internet chat rooms to lure vulnerable children as young as 13, according to a disturbing new report. The Home Office is warning that up to one in five children could be in danger from these internet abusers. In an unpublished report obtained by the BBC, the Home Office said those most at risk are girls aged 13 to 17. Its report says it is "imperative" that steps are taken to protect the estimated five million children who are now online in the UK. See also Speical Report: Chat Danger (ZDNet) .

  • Canada Makes Surfing for Child Porn a Crime (Reuters) The Canadian government, apparently breaking new ground internationally, introduced a bill on Wednesday to make it a crime to surf for child pornography on the Internet. The bill is not meant to catch people who inadvertently open e-mail attachments or Web pages that have child pornography, but those who "knowingly cause child pornography to be viewed,". Accessing child pornography would carry a penalty of up to five years in prison. see also Canada next up with unworkable Net laws (The Register)

  • Second World Congress on commercial sexual exploitation of children (ECPAT) Yokahama, 17 to 20 December, 2001. The Japanese government, ECPAT International. UNICEF and the NGO Group on the rights of the child will be the organising partners. The main objective of the Congress is to review progress on the implementation by states of the Stockholm Agenda for Action. See also UN-Konferenz nimmt Kinderpornografie im Internet ins Visier (Heise Online) In Berlin hat die erste nationale Konferenz zum Thema "kommerzielle sexuelle Ausbeutung von Kindern" begonnen.

  • The Web’s Dark Secret (Newsweek) Before the Internet came along, pedophiles were lonely and hunted individuals. Authorities had child pornography under control. Today networks of child abusers are proliferating worldwide.

  • Web Filtering Firm Execs Arrested (Newsbytes) Internet content filtering company Families On Line was charged by securities regulators and federal authorities with wire and bank fraud, and allegedly defrauding investors of nearly $4 million.

  • UK - Newsgroup Policy Consultation (IWF) The Internet Watch Foundation has published responses to the consultation paper on policies on newsgroups regularly receiving illegal images. The IWF invites further comments before the Board considers its recommendations for future policy on 25th April 2001.

   Consumer protection

  • AOL-UFC/Que Choisir : condamnation confirmée (vneunet.fr) Dans un arrêt rendu le 14 mars, la cour d'appel de Versailles a confirmé la condamnation d'AOL en référé dans le conflit qui l'oppose à UFC-Que Choisir. Une condamnation allégée. AOL conserve ses timers et le dédommagement passe de 250 000 à 100 000 francs.

   Content regulation

  • UK - BBC plan to face criticism (FT) Government plans partly to exempt the BBC from regulation by Ofcom, the proposed communications watchdog, are expected to come under fire from MPs. A report by the commons select committee for culture, media and sport is likely to urge Chris Smith, culture secretary, to reduce the corporation's ability to regulate itself.

  • UK - Need Net regulation? Don't ask the Government (Daily Telegraph) The Government is bamboozled over the question of whether standards of taste and decency should apply to material appearing on the internet.

   Copyright, trademarks and patents

   Data Protection (privacy)

  • Group Charges Government Agencies Trade Personal Data (Newsbytes) A new report from Privacilla.org, a privacy public-policy group claims government agencies routinely trade personal user information. Some of the prime information swapping agencies include the Internal Revenue Service, the Health Care Financing Administration, the Labor Department and the Social Security Administration. see also Privacy Groups Clash Over Consumer Data Trading (Newsbytes).

  • Senate OKs measure to keep dot-coms from selling personal customer data (Mercury News) The U.S. Senate approved legislation that would forbid companies from selling their customers' personal information to outside parties if they had promised they wouldn't, or unless a judge weighed the privacy implications and allowed the sale to go forward. The measure, tucked into a much broader bill that would reform the nation's bankruptcy laws, is aimed specifically at financially failing dot-coms.

  • USA - FTC Privacy Workshop Ends in Stalemate (InternetWorld) The biggest news at the Federal Trade Commission's gathering this week to talk about online consumer privacy was the bombshell that didn't explode. The FTC's meeting, billed as a "workshop," was the first to expand the commission's examination of the privacy issue beyond the Internet. Despite pleas to check emotions at the door, tempers and rhetoric flared a few times.

  • USA - Voter.com to Sell Membership List (TheStandard.com:) The recently failed political portal Voter.com plans to sell a list of 170,000 e-mail addresses, complete with the party affiliations and issues of interest to people on the list, raising new concerns about the strength of voluntary privacy protections when companies go belly-up

   Digital divide

  • Bridging the Digital Divide (E-PING!) Online Chat 20 March 2001, 13.00 - 15.00 Brussels Time. Chairperson: Diana Wallis MEP. Open discussion: Our Expert Panel will answer your questions on "Bridging the Digital Divide". The panel will consist of representatives from: US Department of Commerce, Council of Europe, European Commission, PlaNet Finance, European Parliament.

  • UK - £10m computer giveaway (BBC) Thousands of families will get free computers under a £10m scheme to boost education and job prospects. Almost 12,000 homes across England will take part in one of the biggest-ever social experiments, aimed at tackling the "digital divide".

   Domain names

   Electronic commerce

  • GoDigital Initiative: Commission urges SMEs to go on-line (RAPID) Maximising the impact of measures aimed at helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to make the most of electronic business opportunities is the key aim of a new European Commission Communication, GoDigital. This Communication is part of the wider eEurope Action Plan that will be one of the main items on the agenda of the forthcoming European Council in Stockholm.

  • Internet öffnet legal Türen zu Spielhöllen (Reuters) Das Internet macht die Durchsetzung des allgemeinen Glücksspielverbots in Deutschland immer schwerer.

   Employment and social issues

  • FBI swoops on internet twin broker (BBC) Federal agents in the United States have raided the California home of the woman at the centre of the internet adoption scandal and taken three small children away from her.

   Internet access and use

  • France - L’acces à internet à haut débit (ART) L’Autorité de régulation des télécommunications se prononce sur un différend entre Liberty Surf Télécom et France Télécom relatif aux conditions tarifaires de l’offre ADSL Connect ATM

  • UK - Government attacked over broadband commitments (ZDNet UK) MPs sitting on the Department of Media, Culture and Sport select committee have accused the government of failing to take account of citizens' needs, and have challenged e-Minister Patricia Hewitt's assertion that the UK is leading broadband roll out in Europe.

   Liability, jurisdiction and applicable law

  • Bureau Tries to Stop Web Link (AP) The Better Business Bureau is demanding that an Israeli company's Web site take down its link to the consumer protection organization. The demand raises new intellectual property questions about how companies protect their names and logos online. A trademark expert said that the group has little chance to enforce its demand in court.

  • Welcome to the World Wide Web. Passport, Please? (New York Times) A French judge named Jean-Jacques Gomez made Internet history when he ordered the Yahoo Web site to prevent French residents from viewing Nazi memorabilia in its online auctions. His decision raised the question, How can one jurisdiction decide what can or cannot be displayed on the World Wide Web?

  • USA - Anonymous company goes after John Does (CNET News.com)

   Mobile and wireless

  • e-Mobility 2001 (Business Region Göteborg) 31 May - 1 June 2001 Göteborg, Sweden Mobile communications in general and the new "e-mobility" paradigm in particular has the potential to provide citizens with new freedoms, corporations with new ways of working, and governments and administrations new patterns of user friendly interaction with their citizens. This conference addresses how "e-mobility" will impact upon European society and its constituencies.

   Racism and xenophobia

  • Internet et droits de l’homme (MRAP) Paris, 31 mars 2001 Colloque Nouveau vecteur de communication, internet modifie dans le temps et l’espace les rapports entre les hommes. Lieu de rencontre des cultures et des expériences il permet de renforcer l’universalité du combat pour les droits de l’homme. Mais tout espace de démocratie permet aussi l’expression des haines, du racisme et de la xénophobie. Internet échappe-t-il aux règles qui régissent la vie citoyenne ?. Faut-il adopter des modes de régulation spécifiques dans le respect des libertés fondamentales ?

  • Germany - Verfassungsschutz-Provokation war für US-Nazi Lauck ein voller Erfolg (Heise) Die Netzseite www.verfassungsschutz.net, deren Inhalt absolut identisch mit der NSDAP/AO-Website des amerikanischen Nazis Gary Lauck war, ist ebenso schnell wieder vom Web verschwunden wie sie aufgetaucht war.

  • Germany - Bundesregierung prüft Maßnahmen gegen rechtsradikale Sites (Heise)

   Rating and filtering

   Safer Internet awareness

  • Are we Failing our Children? (Childnet International) An assessment of Internet Safety Initiatives Key Note speech at the Safer Surfing Conference, Singapore, Feb 2001, by Nigel Williams.

  • Information Harvesting measures (ONCE Project - Rachel O'Connell) Developing a protective buffer-zone for chat users. On-line solicitation via chatrooms is a very worrying aspect of computer-mediated communications. This paper will outline a set of measures for children, parents, teachers and carers, which both complements existing safety guidelines and also addresses the heart of the issues surrounding on-line solicitation, i.e. de-cloaking on-line anonymity.

  • Safer Internet Project Map (saferinternet.org) At the Safer Internet awareness meeting on 25 January 2001 in Luxembourg, it was suggested that it would be useful to have a map showing Safer Internet hotline, filtering /rating and awareness projects participants by country. This is now online.

   Taxation and tariffs

  • Britain shifts taxes on online gambling (AP) A change in Britain's taxation of online gambling will give the country a global lead in a market worth tens of billions of dollars. Chancellor Gordon Brown, announcing the budget for the coming year, said the government would drop the 9 percent tax it had collected on all bets since 1966 in favor of a 15 percent tax on bookies' gross revenues. The deal came after lengthy consultations with the nation's turf accountants, who in return agreed to relocate to Britain the e-gambling outposts they had established in such tax havens as Antigua, Gibraltar and the Channel Islands.

  • States argue for taxing Internet transactions (CNN) The ability of local governments to collect sales and use taxes from Internet transactions was argued strenuously during a lengthy Senate hearing, as time runs out on the existing federal moratorium on Internet taxation.

   Telecommunications

  • Luxembourg fails to comply with rules on rights of way in telecoms (RAPID) The Commission has brought an action against the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg before the Court of Justice for an infringement relating to rights of way in the telecommunications sector. The 1996 'full competition' Directive provides for the granting of such rights on a non-discriminatory basis. This was transposed into Luxembourg law but has not been practically enforced in this Member State. New market entrant telecommunications operators have come up against a number of difficulties when deploying their networks.

  • South Africa - State-owned Telecommunications Monopoly Set To End (Panafrican News Agency) Telkom - the government owned telecommunications monopoly - will soon face new competition.

Market & Technology

   Cable and satellite

  • ITV pays £100m to go digital (FT) ITV could be available to Sky Digital viewers by the end of this year, after the broadcaster struck a £100m ($144m) 10-year deal with Societe Europeenne des Satellites to put its channel on satellite.

   Multimedia content and tools

  • eContent call for proposals (European Commission) Part 1: Demonstration projects - fixed deadline: 15 June 2001 Part 2: Definition phase projects and Accompanying measures - continuous submission scheme up to 16 December 2002. see also Work Programme for the years 2001 - 2002 and Information days.

   Security and encryption

  • Fast-spreading code is weapon of choice for Net vandals (CNET News.com) Computer worms are not ordinary viruses. Their ability to spread quickly across the Internet has made worms the weapon of choice for malicious vandals to spread their latest creations. Furthermore, the programs can be easily copied and changed, and point-and-click tools to create complex worms are readily available.

  • Nastier version of backdoor tool released (eWEEK) A new version of SubSeven, a powerful and well-known backdoor program that gives attackers almost complete control over a victim's computer, is making the rounds on the Internet.

   Statistics

  • 360,000 emails a second in UK (Guardian) The equivalent of 360,000 email messages are sent every second in Britain, underlining the spectacular growth in use of the internet, new figures revealed yesterday.

  • Commission assesses impact of eEurope and sets future priorities (RAPID) In the run-up to the Stockholm Summit of 23-24 March, the European Commission adopted a Communication on the Impact and Priorities of the eEurope 2002 Initiative. The document consists of two parts: benchmarking on the take-up and use of the Internet and priorities for future action. Internet penetration has grown rapidly: the number of EU households connected increased by 55% between March and October last year and Europe now has about as many Internet users as the USA. One reason for this increase is that in an increasingly liberalised market, Internet access, Internet access prices fell by an average of 23% over the same period and as much as 47% in some Member States. Internet growth has been even faster in EU schools and 80% are now connected to the Internet for educational purposes.

  • Computer Security Institute: Cost of cybercrime soars (NUA) A recent report reveals that the cost of computer security breaches to US businesses and government organizations is rising rapidly. The Computer Security Institute (CSI) and the FBI questioned computer security experts in US corporations, medical institutions, governments agencies, financial institutions, and universities for its 2001 survey.

  • The Eastern Web Gets Wider (Industry Standard) Asia will dominate the global Net population by 2002, but icy Scandinavia is still tops in per-capita usage.

  • US leads in web rankings (Yahoo) The US leads the world in home Internet use, with more than 98 million people logging on from home in December 2000.

   Technology


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