QuickLinks 193 - 3 April 2001

Forthcoming events | Full text search and archive

Legal and regulatory issues



  • Commission clarifies the application of competition law principles to telecommunications (RAPID) The European Commission has adopted draft Guidelines on market analysis and the calculation of Significant Market Power (SMP) in advance of the final adoption of the proposed directive for a new regulatory framework for electronic communications services. The definitive version of the Guidelines will be adopted when the Framework directive is finally adopted.

  • Italian regulator appeals Seat/TMC deal (Reuters) Italy's telecoms regulator, which has fought for months to try to block Telecom Italia's acquisition of TV broadcaster TMC, has lodged an appeal against the deal.

  • Italian watchdog to close probe into UMTS auction in June (Reuters) Italy's competition regulator will close a probe in June on whether participants in a third-generation cellphone licence auction made accords to influence its outcome. The regulator, the Antitrust Authority, had found no evidence of collusion in the controversial auction, which took place in October 2000.

  • The EU views on a global competition forum (RAPID) Mario Monti Competition Commissioner, European Commission American Bar Association Meetings Washington, DC 29 March 2001

   Computer crime

   Consumer protection

   Content regulation

  • 7th Circuit Holds Video Game Censorship Law Unconstitutional (EFF) Full text of Seventh Circuit decision overturning district court's finding that an Indianapolis video game censorship law was constitutional. Appeals court differentiates "violent" video games (intended for children) from sexually explicit "harmful matter" that is "an adult invasion of children's culture"

  • Saudi Bans Pokemon As Gambling, Un-Islamic (Reuters) Saudi Arabia has banned the popular children's video and card game Pokemon, saying it promoted gambling and un-Islamic teachings.

  • Canada - Two porn channels pulled by satellite-TV firm (Reuters) Two hard-core porn TV channels, True Blue and Extasy, were taken off the air by a Canadian satellite broadcaster, Bell ExpressVu because their programming could violate Canadian regulations.

  • UK - Ministry ad ‘too pornographic’ (Burnitblue) A Ministry of Sound television advert for their latest ‘Annual’ release has been banned by the Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre (BACC) for being too pornographic.

  • USA - Anti-Abortion Site Wins Appeal (Wired) A unanimous three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said that the so-called Nuremburg Files, an anti-abortion website which listed names and home addresses of doctors, did not violate the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of expression.

   Copyright, trademarks and patents

  • EU, Greece and the USA settle long-running dispute on television piracy (RAPID) The European Union, Greece and the United States have settled a long-running dispute on television piracy. The parties, this week reached an agreement which brought an end to a dispute that dates back to 1998 when the US requested consultations under the WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism against the EU and Greece, citing the high level of TV piracy in this country.

  • Record industry attacks Napster filter (BBC) The record industry has stepped up the war of words with the music-swapping service Napster by calling its filter to block copyrighted music an "utter failure". Napster is using the filter to prevent copyrighted music from appearing on its website, in accordance with a court order earlier this month.

  • USA - Web researchers settle court case, another starts (vnunet.com) Jupiter Media Metrix has settled a patent infringement lawsuit against a rival online audience research firm, but has filed a similar suit against another competitor.

   Data Protection (privacy)

  • EU-US clash over personal data: private right or commercial opportunity? (FT) The European Commission rejected US concerns about its new privacy guidelines for companies transferring data across the Atlantic. The Bush administration, in a letter sent last Friday to the Commission, protested against model contract terms agreed by the EU for the transfer of personal data.

  • NYC Court Kills One "Cookie" Suit Against DoubleClick ((Internetnews) DoubleClick won a victory in one of its class-action suits. The case alleged that the firm's use of "cookies" violated the Wiretap Act, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. But U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald dismissed the suit, writing that DoubleClick's practices weren't illegal, but instead, were part of a publicly available and well-known business plan for commercial gain

  • USA - Children's sites short on privacy info (AP) The Annenberg Public Policy Center has released a report (PDF) finding that most websites targeted at children do not comply with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) The report found that while the majority of websites collecting personal information from minors do display a privacy policy, many privacy policies are hard to find, difficult to understand, and do not describe all the protections provided by COPPA.

   Digital divide

   Domain names


   Electronic commerce

  • Australian Government Set To Ban Net Gambling Services (Newsbytes) The Australian Federal Government has decided to introduce legislation that will seek to prohibit Australian companies from offering online gambling and sports betting to any person located within Australia.

  • Electronic Commerce (UNCITRAL) United Nations Commission on International Trade Law Working Group on Electronic Commerce. Background documents regarding the UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Commerce

   Information society and Internet policy


  • Germany - Die neue TKÜV (TKRNews) Innere Sicherheit auf Kosten von Netzbürgern und Providern? Symposium des ITM, des Instituts für Kriminalwissenschaften und der Landesdatenschutzbeauftragten des Landes NRW am 11. Mai 2001 im Mövenpick-Hotel in Münster. Weitgehend unbeachtet von der Öffentlichkeit wurde im März diesen Jahres im Bundesrat der Entwurf einer Telekommunikationsüberwachungsverordnung beraten. Dieser Entwurf sieht u.a. eine umfassende Überwachung des Telefon- und des E-Mail-Verkehrs vor.

   Internet access and use

   IT in education

  • Commission adopts the eLearning Action Plan (RAPID) The Commission adopted the eLearning Action Plan. The purpose of this Plan is to promote cooperation between the European Union, Member States, and education, training and industry to combine lifelong education, modernisation of our education and training systems and use of new information and communication technologies to maximum benefit. The eLearning Action Plan complements eEurope 2002 and is a key element in the European employment strategy and in the recently adopted strategy on the new European labour market.

   Liability, jurisdiction and applicable law

  • Courts wrangle over cyberstalking (I.T.) A criminalogist has urged Australian governments to fast-track new computer crime laws after a further appeal was lodged in a controversial cyberstalking case. Brian Andrew Sutcliffe, 37, who is accused of stalking a Canadian actress by e-mail, has appealed against the decision of a Supreme Court judge that the case can be heard in Australia. The judge overturned an earlier ruling by a magistrate who had dismissed the charge, arguing lack of jurisdiction.

  • New Bill labels ISPs as publishers (The Register) A government bill currently in the House of Lords labels ISPs as publishers, in an apparent attempt to bypass their undecided legal status and enforce new tobacco advertising rules.

   Mobile and wireless

   Multimedia content and tools

  • EC's Liikanen Talks About Content In The E-World (Newsbytes) Content is crucial in the new electronic world, said Erkki Liikanen, the European Commission (EC) Commissioner for Enterprise and the Information Society. Speaking at the fourth European Broadcasting Union (EBU) conference in Brussels, Belgium, Liikanen said that the content sector, including the public service broadcasters, has an important role to play in the world of broadcasting and multimedia. see Broadcasting and content in eEurope (RAPID).

   Protection of minors

   Racism and xenophobia

  • Fighting hate on the Internet (OECD Observer) Hate material is spreading on the Internet. The question is what, if anything, can be done about it. What are the technical, legal and strategic options available? By Dr. Ulrich Sieber, Professor of Criminal Law, Information Law and Legal Data Processing, Ludwig-Mazimilians-Universitat, Munich.

  • Germany - Verfassungschutz: Zahl rechtsextremistischer Websites steigt weiter (Heise) Die Propaganda deutschsprachiger Rechtsextremisten über das Internet nimmt weiter zu: Die Zahl der identifizierten Internet-Seiten sei innerhalb der vergangenen fünf Monate von 800 auf 1.000 gewachsen. Die Zahlen gehen aus dem neuen Zwischenbericht des baden-württembergischen Landesamtes für Verfassungsschutz in Stuttgart hervor.

   Rating and filtering

  • Chaos Computer Club verleiht Preis an Siemens für Filtersoftware (Telepolis) Der Chaos Computer Club (CCC) verleiht den Chaos CeBIT Award an die Software "Smartfilter" von Siemens. Ganz in Anlehnung an die ironisch-unterkühlte Diktion des Big Brother Awards heißt es als Begründung, dass damit "die besonderen Verdienste, die die Firma Siemens mit ihrer Software 'Smartfilter' um die Internet-Zensur und Kommunikationsverhinderung erworben hat", gewürdigt werden. see also Le filtre internet de Siemens ridiculisé au CeBIT (Yahoo FR).

  • Columnist Opines Against Censorware, Gets Column Blocked (Bennett Haselton) Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page wrote a column criticizing blocking software and the laws requiring its use in public schools and libraries. The column was blocked by CYBERsitter as a result of the phrases he used in the text because he used the words "porno[graphy]", "Internet porn[ography]" and "Peacefire".

  • Congress' National Smut Tour (Wired) The esteemed National Research Council wants to know what you think about porn on the Net.

  • EFFector (Electronic Frontier Foundation) Newsletter Vol. 14, No. 5 Mar. 27, 2001. Special Internet blocking / censorware issue.

  • Home Office rules undermine war against child porn (Silicon) The fight against online child pornography is being hampered by Home Office rules which forbid porn-busting software companies from handling illegal images. The companies which specialise in developing products to combat offensive picture sharing through internet newsgroups and via email claim they need to be able to use samples in order to create effective filters.

  • Law Newsletter Has to Sneak Past Filters (New York Times) The e-mail newsletter Tech Law Journal misspells words like sex (sez) and pornography (pormography) and camouflages the names of computer viruses, otherwise it would never get past the computers at readers' offices that screen incoming e-mail messages for references to sex or network security.

  • Germany - Familienministerin: Gesetzliche Altersgrenze für "Horror-Computerspiele" (Heise) Bundesfamilienministerin Christine Bergmann will eine gesetzlich geregelte Altersgrenze für von ihr als "Horror-Computerspiele" bezeichnete Spiele einführen. In einem Interview kündigte Bergmann einen entsprechenden Gesetzentwurf an.

  • USA - EFF Calls for Censorware Law Protests (Press Release) The Electronic Frontier Foundation issued a call to action for nationwide protests on Friday, April 20, 2001, opposing implementation of Congressionally-mandated Internet blocking in schools and libraries. The protests will take place at Federal Communications Commission offices, other federal offices, libraries, and Internet blocking companies, as well as in "blackouts" of websites in support of the protest.

   Safer Internet awareness

  • Keeping Kids Online in Line (Los Angeles Times) Monitoring software--which can secretly record all Web sites visited, every chat message and all e-mails--is the latest electronic tool used by parents and spouses to track online activities. Its use brings up contentious issues concerning privacy and trust. Kids are vulnerable online, but privacy advocates warn that parents should think long and hard before they undermine the trust of their children.

   Security and encryption

  • Biggest threat to electronic data from insiders - KPMG (Reuters) Over 90 percent of global CEOs and chief information officers believe a breach of e-commerce systems would be perpetrated through the Internet or other external means, said survey of 1,283 companies by the accounting firm KPMG. And while the breach could come from outside the company walls, it is highly likely that the electronic fraudster will be an employee or consultant, as is the situation with more traditional forms of fraud.


  • USA - FCC chief unveils market-friendly blueprint (Total Telecom) Michael Powell, chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), laid out his plan for overhauling the agency, promising to give the market more room to maneuver through a "creative" regulatory approach, but warned that the agency would seek stronger powers to enforce the current laws.

Market & Technology

   Convergence of telecommunications, media and information technology

  • Europe to Lead iTV Revolution (CyberAtlas) Digital TV will surpass PC-based Internet penetration in Western Europe by 2005, making DTV-based interactive services, the more popular means of accessing the Internet by the middle of this decade, according to the Yankee Group.

  • Strategic confusion, internal politics lead to failures online (CNET News.com) The TV networks may have scaled back their online initiatives, but that doesn't mean they've abandoned all hope for the Internet. Rather than running their online operations as separate, broadly focused entities, the networks are using Web sites as extensions of hit TV shows. Those that have worked best are ones that lend themselves to online interactivity, such as game shows and reality programs. But executives are trying to repeat the formula with popular sitcoms and dramas.

  • UK - Millionaire goes interactive (BBC) Viewers of ITV quiz Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? will be able to play the game through their remote controls when it is launched on digital television. An internet version of the show will also be launched - so the public can play against television contestants and other net users via their computers.

   Electronic commerce

  • Record labels subscribe to online music deal (CNET News.com) RealNetworks has formed a pact with AOL Time Warner, Bertelsmann and EMI Group to create a company that will develop an online music subscription service dubbed MusicNet. Although the agreement signals a significant step in the union of major record labels and technology companies, details of the new service remain murky. Questions persist over the type of technology that will be used in the service and whether consumers will adapt to the digital rights restrictions that will encircle every song. see Press Release (Bertelsmann).

   Mobile and wireless

  • Handsets relieve CeBIT gloom (FT) Motorola executives at CeBIT were making confident noises about increasing market share in handsets with their new range of handsets designed for General Packet Radio Services (GPRS) networks. The technology is expected to improve experience of mobile internet by allowing phones to be always online. That sense of confidence in the potential of GPRS was one of the strongest themes at the show.

  • The 3G window of opportunity (FT) Europe's proudest technological boast is its leadership in mobile telephony. Europe's leadership may not, however, survive the move to the next generation of mobile phone technology. The efforts of regulators, vendors and operators to ensure Europe stays ahead of the pack as the world moves to third-generation (3G) services could inadvertently cost it its dominance

   Multilingual content and software

  • AltaVista Adds Asian Languages To BabelFish (Interactive Week) Search-engine company AltaVista has added Asian languages to its popular computer-based translation service, BabelFish. BabelFish already performs more than a million translations per day, and is the first translation service to support traditional Asian characters in Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

   Portals, browsers and search engines


  • Fear of Online Crime (Pew Internet Tracking Report) Americans are deeply worried about criminal activity on the Internet, and their revulsion at child pornography is by far their biggest fear. Some 92% of Americans say they are concerned about child pornography on the Internet and 50% of Americans cite child porn as the single most heinous crime that takes place online. Americans support FBI interception of criminal suspects’ email and new laws to protect online privacy.

  • 'Silver Surfers' on the increase as consumer confidence in the internet grows (Press Releas)

Useful addresses

  • E-Legality Bulletin (Press Release) First issue for a free monthly email providing a window on developments in Internet-related crime and its detection. To subscribe to receive future editions of this free monthly publication, send an email with the subject heading 'subscribe' to subs@e-legality.org

  • EurActiv Portal on EU Affairs (EurActiv.com) A well-designed and up-to-date site about EU affairs. Apart from Information Society, QuickLinks readers are encouraged to have a look at Transparency (e-government in the EU institutions). Lots of news items and useful links.

  • Oz NetLaw website (Press Release) The Oz NetLaw website now provides a 'one-stop' site for legal information on the main issues arising out of the use of the Internet and e-commerce. The comprehensive legal information website also contains detailed fact sheets on 28 areas of Australian law as they apply specifically to the Internet and e-commerce. These are complete with legal references and links to relevant legislation and caselaw.


The next issue of QuickLinks will be after Easter



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