QuickLinks - 3 December 1997
issue no. 23
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.
Gore Promises Federal Net-Safety Effort
Internet Online Summit: Focus on Children Summit Website
Legal and regulatory issues
- Germany - CompuServe deal approved
AOL deal for CompuServe services gets German OK
(Nando.net - The Associated Press)
German regulators have approved the takeover of CompuServe online services by America Online Inc. and its German partner, Bertelsmann AG, antitrust officials said Monday. The U.S.-based America Online had announced plans in September to acquire CompuServe's worldwide consumer online operations in a complicated deal also involving the U.S. telephone company WorldCom Inc. U.S. regulators let a deadline pass two weeks ago for raising objections to the deal. A Bertelsmann spokeswoman said Monday the company was checking whether it needed British approval, but thatit otherwise believed no further approval was needed from European officials.
- 13-year-olds accused of threatening first lady by e-mail
(Nando.net - The Associated Press)
Two 13-year-old boys who sent Hillary Rodham Clinton a threatening e-mail will not have a record if they behave themselves for the next year, a juvenile court judge ruled Monday. The e-mail claimed a sniper was outside the White House and a satchel with a bomb in it was on the White House grounds.
- USA - NY Attorney General Sues Online "Literary Agent"
The medium has changed, but the scam remains the same, according to a lawsuit filed by New York attorney general Dennis C. Vacco. Vacco charges that the Woodside Literary Agency is using the Internet to bilk would-be writers out of hundreds of dollars each in "marketing fees," promising to peddle their work to major publishers. The suit was filed jointly by the New York Attorney General's Internet and Computer Unit and its Bureau of Consumer Frauds and Protection. It charges that Woodside's scheme worked much like the old poetry book scams, whereby frustrated poets would pay a fee to be included in "literary collections" which would never see the inside of a bookstore or library.
- Canada Adopts Digital TV Broadcasting Standard
Industry Minister John Manley announced that Canada is adopting a Digital Television Standard that will allow television operators to broadcast complex data and services. "By adopting a digital television standard, we are converging television content with the vast possibilities of the Information Highway. This will allow broadcasters and cable companies to offer a variety of exciting new services to Canadian consumers," said Minister Manley.
- EU - European Commission Halts German Digital TV Pact
German media groups Kirch and Bertelsmann confirmed that the European Commission had provisionally blocked their planned digital television alliance.
- Law limits use of Net
( USA Today)
In 1994, Massachusetts Institute of Technology student David LaMacchia invited on-line users to download $1 million worth of copyrighted computer software that he'd put on the Internet.
Data Protection (privacy)
- Adult concerns on the Internet - survey by FamilyPC
Adult issues on the Internet are clearly different. When asked what they found most troubling about the Internet for themselves, parents cited abuse of personal information as their chief concern.
- Internet commerce still waiting for security guarantees
(Nando.net - Reuters)
Few would argue the Internet is a particularly safe place to do business and its lack of security had long stood as a main hurdle to broad acceptance as a vehicle for commerce. But as companies race to stake a claim to the Internet's business potential and pour millions into network protection, analysts see the age of paranoia giving way to a dangerous era marked by a new -- and largely inaccurate -- sense of safety.
- Gambling regulator in the works
Brick-and-mortar casinos tend to generate healthy profits, but they also are heavily regulated in an effort to keep the businesses on the straight and narrow. A newly formed working group would like to do the same for Net gambling--for the same reasons. After meeting at a little-known legal conference last month, a group of gaming law attorneys have banded together to hammer out what could ultimately be the first body designed to license, review, and monitor online wager operations located in areas of the world where the practice is legal. At the very least, the so-called International Internet Gaming Association (IIGA) will draft a list of voluntary guidelines to which online casinos could agree to adhere.
- USA - Digital business: Taxes, gambling, and piracy
The commercialization of the Net hasn't avoided the regulatory eye of Congress. For example, a bill to federally outlaw online casinos is on the table. Strict penalties for those who distribute, reproduce, and sell illegal copies of digital music, video, or literature are being considered as well. But many lawmakers also want the high-tech and online industries to grow. One effort would shield Net access and services from new state and local taxes. And two appropriations bills doled out more money for telemedicine projects and education technology.
Action plan on promoting safe use of the Internet
Filtering and rating
- Filtrage d'Internet: le contenu du Web au crible de sociétés privées
- Survey: Few parents use filtering software
Parents worry. And when it comes to the Internet, they mainly fret about two things -- pornography and strangers. But when it comes to precautions, surprisingly few Moms and Dads are taking advantage of the commercially available filtering and blocking software being touted as a key to voluntary efforts to protect children from the unsavory side of life in the Information Age. The survey by FamilyPC fielded responses from some 750 families with children. Read FamilyPC's detailed findings of its 'Net parent' survey.
Internet Online Summit: Focus on Children
- Gore Promises Federal Net-Safety Effort
Trying to add the federal government's weight to a non-legislative approach to regulating Internet content for children, Vice President Al Gore today announced a series of initiatives that would help parents and teachers learn about the issues involved in Net communications and how to use software tools and other measures to keep kids on a tight online leash. Speaking at the second day of the industry-sponsored Internet/Online Summit: Focus on Children conference, Gore said the US Department of Education will issue a parents' guide to the Internet. A national mass-mailing will be undertaken to raise parents' awareness of Net-safety issues, and the government will help fund a hotline for reporting suspicious or illegal activity. The CyberTip line is to be run by the Arlington, Virginia-based National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, using a government grant. It will take information on child pornography and attempts to lure children from their homes for sexual activity. Contact by telephone at 1-800-843-5678 or on the Web at www.missingkids.com/cybertip.
- USA - Internet Online Summit: Focus on Children Summit Website
- USA - Child Safety Online
(various organisations, Parry Aftab, Esq., Jean Armour Polly)
An overview of the issues concerning child safety online
- USA - Congressman Says Encryption Can Protect Kids From Net Smut
Online pornographers should be required to use encryption, said Rep. Bob Goodlatte, (R, Va.) Tuesday at the Internet Online Summit: Focus on Children conference held here. "That would certainly keep it away from children," said Goodlatte. "I'm not advocating encryption to let pornography flourish."
- USA - Content control not child's play
The Children's Internet Summit has produced the most heated debate over online material since the Supreme Court rejected the federal Communcations Decency Act six months
- First Amendment Advocates Launch Watchdog Group
First Amendment advocates announced Monday the formation of an alliance that will serve to remind the public that freedom of expression is the cornerstone of the Internet. The group, called the Internet Free Expression Alliance, includes the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the Society of Professional Journalists.
- USA - Internet Summit Criticized by FRC
Family Research Council (FRC) president Gary Bauer Monday said that the Internet Online Summit (Focus on Children: Dec.1 - Dec.3) needs to place more emphasis on minors accessing the Internet. Bauer and a small group of United States pro-family organizations gathered to declare that the Internet Summit is not addressing the needs of children online. According to the FRC, the Summit has been "hi-jacked" by ISPs and liberal education groups.
- USA - Internet: la Maison Blanche annonce des mesures pour protéger les enfants
- USA - Lesbian and gays challenge rating
Gay group opposes Net filtering
Filtering software and ratings systems threaten to erase the lesbian and gay community online, states a report released today by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) in conjunction with the Children's Internet Summit in Washington.
- USA - Net summit a must for industry
During the recent negotiations over television ratings, Hollywood studios participated under threat of government intervention. The high-tech industry's involvement in the Children's Internet Summit is voluntary, much the same way--like a groom's participation in a shotgun wedding.
- USA - Sommet Internet pour la protection des enfants
- USA - Voluntary Internet measures endorsed to protect kids
Major Internet companies on Monday highlighted their voluntary efforts to protect children from online pornography, but conservative groups called for new mandatory regulations. At a conference, major online service providers including America Online , AT&T and Microsoft pledged to provide software tools to allow parents to block out objectionable material on the Internet. The emphasis on voluntary measures was intended to head off a drive for new legislation that might slow the growth of the Internet or impose broad criminal liability on online service providers.
IT in schools
- EU seeks ways to connect schools to cyberspace
European Union countries agreed on Monday that every schoolchild in Europe should have access to the Internet as a way to prepare for the 21st century -- but predictably differed over who should foot the bill. France, Belgium and Italy argued at a meeting of EU telecommunications ministers that phone companies or other industry players should put up money to help ensure that all schools could hook up to the Internet at an affordable price. But others including Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Finland pushed for a free-market approach, saying increased competition in EU telecoms markets would drive down prices and prompt companies to offer good deals to schools. The televised debate touched on the EU's goal of preserving a principle known as "universal service'' when it throws open its telecoms markets to full competition on January 1, 1998.
- USA - Court upholds ruling on Net jurisdiction
Under the Constitution, a Web site advertising a Florida company's services is not enough grounds to land its owners in court thousands of miles away in Arizona, according to a federal appeals court ruling today.
Security and encryption
- USA - To Discuss Strong Encryption Exceptions
Several leading government agencies will meet this week to determine who should be included under a special exemption that lets financial service providers export strong encryption technology.
Market & Technology
- World Wide Web-based trade set to explode
It already delivers more mail than the U.S. Post Office, can deliver news to more homes than any daily paper and is emerging as the shopping centre of the next century, but those accomplishments are dwarfed by what many see as the Internet's role in the future global economy. Like automobiles, broadcast, telephony and other globe-shrinking leaps that preceded it, the Internet is expected to launch an economic quantum shift. World Wide Web-based commerce is expected to explode to $220 billion by 2001, almost one percent of the global economy, according to research firm International Data Corp (IDC).
- Net searchers, not engines - Company chooses human approach over automation for new business
Everyone knows the Internet has vast amounts of information on almost any subject imaginable. Finding it, however, is another matter entirely. Although there are several free search engines as guides, many say they've made the task no less daunting. Patrick Gardner and his wife Jenny are out to change that. The two are just getting their new venture, SearchMill.com, off the ground. Unlike conventional search engines like Lycos and Excite, which use computer "crawlers" to scan the Web for new sites and index those by keywords, humans are the infrastructure behind the services offered by SearchMill.com. The company charges less than fee-based information brokers.
Security and encryption
- Network Associates acquires Pretty Good Privacy
McAfee Associates Inc. - known officially as of yesterday as Network Associates Inc. -- continued its buying spree today, announcing it will gobble up one of the best-known names in encryption. Network Associates, of Santa Clara, Calif., has signed a deal to buy Pretty Good Privacy Inc., of San Mateo, Calif., for $35 million in cash.
- Netscape fights back
After rapidly losing ground to Microsoft and its Internet Explorer browser over the past year, Marc Andreessen, disputing the latest stats, expects Netscape to "hold or grow" its market share. "We are going to launch some exciting products, which should help our market share," said the browser-maker co-founder.
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- Contributors: Pierre Bischoff, Ola-Kristian Hoff, Theodor Schlickmann, Bernard Smith
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