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(OJEU) Reopening the continuous submission scheme for the Call for proposals for indirect actions under the Multiannual Community Action Plan on promoting safer use of the Internet and new online technologies (2003 to 2004) (Safer Internet Action Plan). The call for proposals published in the Official Journal of the European Union C 209 of 4 September 2003,on page 31 indicated as the final deadline for receipt of proposals under the continuous submission scheme: 15 June 2004 at 17h00. This continuous submission scheme is reopened and a new final deadline is now set for receipt of proposals: 29 October 2004 at 17h00 (Luxembourg local time). Proposals will therefore be considered until this date. The European Commission also published a call for proposals for pilot projects in the field of self-regulation on 4 August 2004. This call has a fixed deadline of 29 October 2004. Both calls are published at http://europa.eu.int/information_society/programmes/iap/call/index_en.htm
(RAPID) The European Commission has decided to open an in-depth investigation into the proposed joint acquisition by Microsoft and Time Warner of a US company called ContentGuard. After a preliminary review, it appears to the Commission that the transaction might possibly create or strengthen a dominant position by Microsoft in the market for Digital Right Management (DRM) solutions. In the course of the investigation, the Commission will also investigate further competition concerns related to the vertical integration of Microsoft in other markets. On 12 July, Microsoft and Time Warner, both US companies, sought clearance under the European Union's Merger Regulation for plans to jointly acquire a US company called ContentGuard, formerly controlled by Xerox. ContentGuard is active in the development and licensing of intellectual property rights (IPRs) relating to DRM solutions. DRM technology makes it possible to "hardwire" in digital content the content owner's rights, and to prevent illegal use (such as illegal copying). Originally focussed on avoiding piracy of audio digital content, DRM is forecasted to be increasingly used for confidentiality purposes, in particular to secure exchange of documents in the corporate field. After a routine, phase I, review, the Commission has decided to investigate whether the deal might create or strengthen Microsoft's already leading position in the DRM solutions market. Under Microsoft's and Time Warner's joint ownership, ContentGuard may have both the incentives and the ability to use its IPR portfolio to put Microsoft's rivals in the DRM solutions market at a competitive disadvantage. This joint acquisition could also slow down the development of open interoperability standards. As such, this would allow the DRM solutions market to "tip" towards the current leading provider, Microsoft. DRM solutions are forecasted to become pervasive throughout the entire IT industry. As a consequence, the notified concentration may have spill-over effects on a number of related markets ranging from mobile telephony to word processors.
(Spiegel) Das Bundeskartellamt hat gegen die Deutsche Telekom ein Verfahren wegen möglicher Wettbewerbsabsprachen mit Kabelnetzbetreibern eingeleitet. Diese hätten angeblich keine eigenen Internetzugänge anbieten dürfen, um das DSL-Geschäft der Telekom nicht zu stören.
(International Herald Tribune) Vivendi Universal, the entertainment and communications group, clinched a deal with the French government that would reduce the company's tax bill by billions of euros over the next several years in exchange for a pledge to create several hundred new jobs in France. The agreement, which modifies Vivendi's corporate tax status here, is the result of eight months of negotiations with the Finance Ministry and comes at a time when Paris is actively seeking ways to reduce unemployment and to discourage French companies from sending jobs abroad. Vivendi is the first company to apply for the new tax status, which is reserved for multinational corporations headquartered in France. Under the new 'consolidated global profits tax,' international corporations can use past losses at unprofitable divisions to offset future earnings at profitable units in which they own at least a 50 percent stake. Previously, such credits could only be used to reduce taxes for wholly owned subsidiaries.
(AP) The International Olympic Committee is barring competitors, as well as coaches, support personnel and other officials, from writing firsthand accounts for news and other Web sites. An exception is if an athlete has a personal Web site that they did not set up specifically for the Games.
(Spiegel) Polizei und Internetprovider arbeiten künftig bei der Bekämpfung von Kinderpornografie im Internet stärker zusammen. Die neue Initiative will Tipps zum Schutz der Nutzer geben. Laut Bundeskriminalamt hat sich die Zahl der Fälle seit 1996 verfünffacht. Der Vorsitzende der polizeilichen Kriminalprävention von Bund und Ländern, Erwin Hetger, stellte in Stuttgart eine neue Aufklärungskampagne im Netz vor. Hinter der Initiative "Gegen Kinderpornografie" stehen nicht nur die Polizeien der Länder, sondern auch die Provider T-Online, Arcor und AOL sowie Newsseiten wie "Focus Online" und SPIEGEL ONLINE. Die beteiligten Internetprovider verpflichteten sich in einer Erklärung, Kinderpornos im Internet zu ächten und dessen Verbreiter konsequent zu verfolgen.
(Computerworld) Once the work of vandals, viruses and other malware are now being launched by criminals looking for profits. Antivirus researchers have uncovered a startling increase in organized virus- and worm-writing activity that they say is powering an underground economy specializing in identity theft and spam.
(Heise) Die polnische Polizei hat die bisher größte Gruppe von Computer-Kriminellen im Land zerschlagen, die als "Piraten-Netzwerk" tätig war. Mehr als 100 Mitglieder drangen den Ermittlungen zufolge weltweit in Datennetze ein, berichtet heute die Zeitung Gazeta Wyborcza. Die Gruppe verschaffte sich illegalen Zugang zu Servern von Hochschulen, unter anderem in Deutschland, Nordamerika und Asien. An den Ermittlungen waren auch Beamte aus den USA, Großbritannien und der Slowakei beteiligt, heißt es in Medienberichten.
(New York Times) The Justice Department has announced that more than 150 people have been arrested, charged or convicted in the past three months in a crackdown on criminal activity on the Internet. The cases, involving credit card fraud, corporate espionage and other offenses, are part of what the department called Operation Web Snare. The sweep was conducted by 37 offices of the FBI, 13 divisions of the Postal Inspection Service and other federal and local agencies. Investigators have identified more than 150,000 victims of Internet crime with losses totaling more than $215 million. Some cases involved the sending of junk e-mail, known as spam, and a form of online identity theft known as phishing. But many of them involved use of the Internet by companies seeking an advantage over competitors.
(Associated Press) Federal agents have seized computers and software as part of an investigation targeting an Internet network used to illegally share copyrighted music, movies, software and games. The case marks the first federal criminal copyright action taken against a peer-to-peer, or P2P, network in which users can gain access to files directly from the hard drives of fellow users' computers.
(Spiegel) Bis zu fünf Euro nehmen Klingeltonanbieter ihren meist jugendlichen Kunden ab. Weil 0190er-Nummern für die Abzocke nicht mehr taugen, werden die Charthits über Premium-SMS verkauft. Verbraucherschützer schlagen Alarm, weil Abonnements als Spartarif getarnt werden.
(Guardian) With the proliferation of live reality shows on mainstream television, profanity abounds to an extent that would have been unthinkable only a few years ago. Bravely, the media regulator Ofcom is seeking to draw a line in the sand. Conceding that viewers are used to strong swearwords soon after the watershed, Ofcom said it was unacceptable to combine such language with blasphemy.
(INDICARE) by Rik Lambers, IViR, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. This is a short report on the "Code as Code" workshop in Amsterdam, 1-2 July 2004. It presents some highlights of the two-day discussion on regulation of behaviour through technical code, rather than traditional law. Finally the article explains why the "code as code" issue is not only of interest to legal scholars, but also to consumers.
(CNET News.com) by Declan McCullagh. The U.S. Copyright Office has drafted a new version of the Induce Act that it believes will ban networks like Kazaa and Morpheus while not putting hardware such as portable hard drives and MP3 players on the wrong side of the law. The original Induce Act has been severely criticized for possibly jeopardizing products such Apple Computer's iPod that could 'induce' people to commit piracy.
(BBC) The Motion Picture Association of America's (MPAA) campaign against movie piracy has taken another turn after it confirmed it was suing two chip makers. It has alleged that the two DVD chip firms supplied makers of equipment that could be used to copy DVDs.
(CNET News.com) by Stefanie Olsen. Insurance giant Geico can sue Google and Overture for allegedly selling advertisements linked to its trademarks, a federal judge has ruled, ZDNet UK sister site CNET News.com has learned. The unpublicised 25 August decision by Judge Leonie Brinkema of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia delivered a blow to the two Internet search giants in their efforts to defend ad sales of trademarks as fair use. It could also ultimately threaten their livelihood: Google and Overture make money by selling ads linked to keyword-triggered search results, and many commercially driven searches are tied to trademarked brands such as Geico or Nike.
(Copyfight) posted by Donna Wentworth. Ernie Miller has a comprehensive round-up on the decision, plus additional analysis of its possible impact on - you guessed it - the push for the Induce Act. Later: Fred von Lohmann has more @ Deep Links.
(Wired) An international treaty to give broadcasters the right to control who may record, transmit, or distribute their signals is reaching a crucial stage of negotiation by the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva. The current draft incorporates many proposals, but the main ones most countries agree on give broadcasters 50 years' worth of legal control over the recording, retransmission, and reproduction of their broadcast signals. These rights are separate from those of the owners of the actual content being broadcast. The idea that broadcasters should have rights enabling them to combat signal piracy is relatively uncontentious. Opponents such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Union for the Public Domain are concerned, however, that broadcast rights might lock up materials that should be freely available to the public.
(Europa) DG Information Society and DG Justice and Home Affairs have launched a public consultation on the issue of traffic data retention. They will also hold a public workshop on this matter on 21 September 2004, in Brussels. The intention is to identify and discuss existing data retention practices for both business and law enforcement purposes in the EU Member States, and to address the extent of the need for, and the possible characteristics of, an EU-wide regime of data retention for law enforcement purposes. Consultation document. The results of this consultation will be taken into account in the further development of the position of the Commission services in this area, including in relation to the proposal for a Council framework decision on data retention tabled by four Member States following the European Council Declaration on combating terrorism of 25 March 2004. The deadline for sending contributions is 15 September 2004.
(Wired) Civil liberties groups made common cause with the Justice Department, a traditional target of their lawsuits, by filing court papers supporting the government's appeal of a court ruling that said internet service providers are allowed to snoop on their customers. The friend of the court brief (PDF) argues the 1st Court of Appeal ruling 'rewrites the field of internet surveillance law in ways that no one in Congress ever imagined.' The brief was filed by the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Library Association. The case centered on Bradford C. Councilman, an online bookseller who offered his customers free e-mail accounts and then sifted through e-mails from Amazon.com to his customers.
(out-law.com) ICANN, the body responsible for the internet's domain naming system, has convinced a court to dismiss an antitrust lawsuit filed against it by domain registry VeriSign over its interference with the launch of VeriSign's Site Finder service. Judge A Howard Matz dismissed the main antitrust claim against the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and refused to consider the remaining contractual claims brought by VeriSign.
(legalis.net) Le cybersquatteur qui avait indûment réservé le nom de domaine « michel-edouard-leclerc.fr » vient une nouvelle fois d´être condamné. Il avait enregistré le nom de domaine « francois-bayrou.fr », au mépris des droits du député des Pyrénées-Atlantique et président de l´UDF. François Bayrou avait mis en demeure le réservataire du nom de domaine de le transférer à son profit, en vain. Dans une ordonnance du 12 juillet 2004, le TGI de Paris en a tiré les conséquences en ajoutant une astreinte de 2000 euros par jour de retard à son ordre de fermer le site internet lié au nom de domaine en litige et de procéder à son transfert. Le juge des référés a octroyé 5 000 euros à titre de réparation.
(ICANN) Comprehensive Evaluation of the Introduction of the .aero, .biz, .coop, .info, .museum, .name and .pro gTLDs. The experiences and lessons learned from the initial introduction of new gTLDs (.aero, .biz, .coop, .info, .museum, .name and .pro) will provide an invaluable foundation for ICANN's development this year of a new predictable strategy for selecting new TLDs using straightforward, transparent, and objective procedures that preserve the stability of the Internet. Evaluation of the New gTLDs: Policy and Legal Issues Prepared for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) by Summit Strategies International.
(InternetPolicy.net) These slides present a general overview of the current organizational structure and decision making related to the international Internet infrastructure. The author also indicates that Internet stability should become top concern internationally and identifies key areas where global coordination is needed. Presentation made by Michael R. Nelson, Vicepresident of Public Policy of the Internet Society, at INET 2004 (May 10 - 14, 2004, Barcelona, Spain). 25 slides. "
(Baltic Times) Seven years ago, the then Estonian president Lennart Meri, in cooperation with the United Nations Development Fund, launched the Tiger Leap initiative, an ambitious plan to bring Estonia into the information age. The idea was to put computers into every school, to create public Internet access and to publish government documents online. A report published last month showed that 52 percent of the Estonian population aged between 6 and 74 is now using the Internet.
(InternetPolicy.net) This report was originally prepared for the OECD Workshop on Spam held in Brussels (February 2 -3, 2004). Countries covered by the report are: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Romania, Russia, Slovenia and Ukraine. Authors present provide a concise background on spam and the situation in the above countries.
(OECD) OECD countries have set up a task force to marshal the efforts of government, business and civil society in the most comprehensive, strategic and inclusive response to date to the problems posed by unsolicited e-mail messages, or spam. The OECD Task Force will ensure a better focus of work on priority areas and improved coordination between different policy communities. Key objectives will include coordinating international policy responses in the fight against spam, encouraging best practices in industry and business, promoting enhanced technical measures to combat spam along with improved awareness and understanding among consumers, and facilitating cross-border law enforcement.
(CNET News.com) The Apache Foundation, an open-source development group, has withdrawn its support for the proposed anti-spam standard Sender ID, saying Microsoft's licence requirements are too strict. The move by the group responsible for the popular Apache Web server comes as other open-source developers also voiced reservations about Microsoft's attempts to apply stringent licence requirements to its contribution to the spam-fighting technology.
(out-law.com) Yahoo! has lost an appeal against a US district court's ruling which said that the company does not have to obey a French court's decision requiring it to block French citizens from accessing internet auctions of Nazi memorabilia at Yahoo!'s US site. In a majority decision, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals found that US courts could not interfere with foreign court rulings, unless the foreign power attempted to enforce those rulings in the US. The case concerned a civil lawsuit filed against Yahoo! in 2000 by two civil liberties groups - La Ligue Contre le Racisme et l'Antisemitisme and L'Union des Etudiants Juifs de France. This led to a landmark ruling in France, with a Paris court ordering Yahoo! to block internet users in France from accessing its auction sites selling Nazi memorabilia.
(Independent Online) Experts attending a conference on media freedom on the Internet organised by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) agreed that it was almost impossible to control or punish hate websites.
(International Herald Tribune) Now that cellphones are offering Web access on a par with services offered via personal computers, the mobile phone sector is grappling with the same thorny question faced by Internet providers in the mid-1990s: how to safeguard children while protecting civil liberties. Governments in Japan, Germany, Australia and Taiwan are proposing or passing legislation that requires mobile operators to protect minors from pornographic or violent content on phones and to put controls on cellular chat and dating services. Cellphone operators in Britain have voluntarily adopted a code of conduct and agreed to implement filtering systems by year-end.
(Harvard Law School) Berkman Center for Internet & Society. The OpenNet Initiative has released a new report about Internet censorship in China. While a number of studies have established that China blocks search results about certain political, cultural, and religious subjects (see this report, for example), the new study takes the investigation a step further by looking at China's filtering of the Google cache. Caching - the process of taking snapshots of webpages and archiving the data - is a common practice for search engines like Google. As the report notes, accessing the cache is a 'well known method of ad hoc circumvention of Internet censorship.' ONI researchers from the Citizen Lab, the University of Cambridge, and the Berkman Center found that China's filtering mechanisms interrupt any search specifically targeted at cached data, both Google and non-Google and regardless of domain name.
(FSM) Der Gemeinsame Ausschuss der Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle Multimedia-Diensteanbieter FSM hat in einem Beschwerdeverfahren gegen ein Mitglied der FSM über die an Altersverifikationssysteme (AVS) zu stellenden Anforderungen entschieden. Der Anbieter hatte ein rein online-gestütztes Verfahren eingesetzt, bekannt als Personalausweisroutine. Im Ausgangsverfahren hatte der Beschwerdeausschuss bereits entschieden, dass bei derzeitigem Stand der Technik rein online-gestützte AVS, wozu die von dem Beschwerdegegner eingesetzte Personalausweisroutine zählte, nicht den Anforderungen des Jugendmedienschutzstaatsvertrages (JMStV) an geschlossene Benutzergruppen genügen und daher momentan eine Face-to-Face-Kontrolle für den rechtmäßigen Vertrieb von Erwachsenenangeboten im Internet erforderlich ist. Darüber hinaus müsste ein AVS so beschaffen sein, dass es eine massenhafte Verbreitung der vom Anbieter vergebenen Zugangsdaten verhindert. In dem daraufhin erfolgten Berufungsverfahren bestätigte der vom Berufungsausschuss angerufene Gemeinsame Ausschuss diese Kriterien.
(BBC) People who set up pro-anorexia websites which dissuade sufferers from seeking help should be sued, according to a group which helps people overcome eating disorders. There are hundreds of "Pro-ana" websites creating an online community where fellow anorexics encourage each other to starve themselves further.
(INDICARE) By: Ot Van Daalen, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, The Hague. Compulsory licensing of information security technology. Digital Rights Management (DRM) systems will become an important distribution channel for music and other content. Because of network effects and switching costs, DRM systems incline to dominance. In the absence of competition, one might consider having third party DRM providers offer parts of the system, in order to safeguard consumer interests. However, this might break the security of the system. A possible solution is to have dominant content providers compulsorily license their security technologies. This however, poses the question what can be considered a security technology and what not. Are, for example, skip-the-commercial buttons an information security technology or not? It should be content providers, not technology providers, who should decide on this distinction.
(New York Times) Microsoft has withdrawn from a United Nations software standards group for commerce, the United Nations Center for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business, or U.N./Cefacts, which is attempting to define standards for creating a new generation of Internet services to automate buying and selling through networks of computers. Microsoft's withdrawal apparently stemmed from a set of thorny issues over control of intellectual property that is being contributed to the standards-setting effort.
(Digital Media Europe) UK communications regulator Ofcom has published its final proposals for wholesale price reductions for Local Loop Unbundling (LLU) services. This will be the final stage of a process begun in May this year when Ofcom outlined its proposals to increase effective and sustainable competition in broadband.
(CNET News.com) by Declan McCullagh. The head of the Federal Communications Commission said that the nation's telecommunications laws, written before the rise of the Internet, are "broken" and need to be fixed by Congress. Powell's comments mark his strongest criticism yet of the 1934 and 1996 telecommunications acts, which created arcane regulatory categories that do not clearly include the Internet. Powell singled out voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) as a "killer app for legal policy change" because it pits two different regulatory models against each other and forces governments to choose which will prevail. The two models: a highly-regulated "common carrier" environment of cable TV and telephone service, and the lightly-regulated world of the Internet.
(Economist Intelligence Unit) sponsored by Agilent Technologies.
(Guardian) The finest technology wizards at the BBC have been working on a gizmo called the interactive Media Player (or iMP) that will allow licence-fee payers to watch BBC programmes at a time and place of their choosing. BSkyB have bet that at least 2.5 million subscribers will have Sky Plus hard-disk recorders by the end of the decade, dramatically changing the way they watch TV. At the same time Wanadoo, BT and others are poised to invest tens of millions in delivering video-on-demand services to the 4.7m broadband homes in the UK. And the networked home is no longer science fiction but mainstream fact. Within a couple of years, wi-fi will provide the low-cost means of bridging the divide between PC and TV, or set-top box and broadband connection, in millions of homes. The iMP is the BBC's response to these trends, together with the Creative Archive, a vast public archive of BBC footage.
(BBC) Internet service provider Wanadoo has launched the latest salvo in the broadband price wars in the UK. Wanadoo, formerly known as Freeserve, is offering a one megabit service for £17.99, undercutting its rivals. Internet providers in the UK are locked in a fierce battle and this could even lead to broadband being offered with no monthly subscription at all.
(Intenational Herald Tribune) Billions of dollars worth of global telecommunications networks bought or built under U.S. direction and used to transport much of the world's Internet traffic now belong to Chinese, Indian and other non-U.S. companies that snapped them up for a small fraction of their original cost less than four years after the telecom bubble burst. The shift in the balance of power has both political and economic consequences.
(Reuters) Germans' reluctance to play violent video games and to spend much in a subdued consumer climate are proving stubborn obstacles to the growth of Europe's least-developed games market.
(BBC) The popularity of mobiles packed with features is set to explode as they get better and cheaper, say analysts. Shipments of these smartphones are expected to rise by almost 50% over the next five years, according to hi-tech market research firm In-Stat/MDR. Smartphones cram e-mail, multimedia messaging, camera, games, video and music player, and more into one gadget.
(Reuters) The mobile phone giants Vodafone and Nokia teamed up to simplify cellphone software written with the Java computer language. They said that the initiative, which aims to make it easier to use programs across a wide variety of mobile phones, had the backing of other leading companies in the industry. Nokia and Vodafone said that their initiative would specify open standards. By using the specifications, developers could create software that is easily transferable from one Java-enabled mobile device to another.
(Pew Internet & American Life) More than four in ten online Americans - about 53 million American adults - use instant messaging programs. IM usage varies widely across different age groups. Instant messengers utilize IM not only as a way to expand and remain connected their social circle, but also as a form of self-expression, through use of customized away messages, profiles and buddy icons. Report.
(BBC) The US is the biggest spammer, despite efforts to combat unwanted e-mail, according to net security experts. Almost 43% of all unwanted e-mails originated from the US in the last month, said anti-virus firm Sophos. The report suggests that anti-spam laws passed in the US nine months ago have had little impact. South Korea, the most broadband-connected country in the world, was next in line, firing out 15% of all junk e-mails.
(BIICL) Protection of Children Online. John Angel, Queen Mary, University of London. Michael Birnhack, University of Haifa. Jacob Rowbottom, University of Cambridge and Review of the Safe Harbour Agreement. Rosa Barcelo, European Commission, DG Internal Market. Wednesday 22 September 2004. See Agenda.
(Council of Europe) Information on initiatives undertaken in nineteen of the fourty-four member States of the Council of Europe, as well as Canada, in the field of regulation of illegal and harmful cyber content. (Update of item published in QuickLinks no. 235 - 20 May 2002. Changed URL). see also Summary & analyses. Synthesis of replies to a questionnaire on self-regulation and user protection against illegal or harmful content on the new communications and information services.
(Europa) This page contains news and announcements about developments in the e-Communications Network & Services fields.
(InternetPolicy.net) The World Bank's infoDev programme has released some useful resources on their website. Open Source Software: Perspectives for Development is a resource for IT decision makers in developing countries and includes an overview of some government perspectives on open source, case studies, and tips for decision makers. The other report, The Information Technology Security Handbook, includes a section on IT security and government policy. A companion website, while not yet active, has been set up to focus on issues of information technology security for developing countries.
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