QuickLinks - 2 February 1998
issue no. 42
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.
US Green Paper on DNS management
Enquête de l'UE sur l'acquisition de BetaResearche par CLT-UFA, Kirch, DT
World Telecom Pact To Take Effect February 5
Compromise On Next Mobile Phone Standard
European body considers expanding police Net powers
French Internet Service Gets A 4-way Alliance
Legal and regulatory issues
- EU - Enquête de l'UE sur l'acquisition de BetaResearche par CLT-UFA, Kirch, DT
La Commission européenne a ouvert une enquête approfondie sur le projet d'acquisition par Bertelsmann (CLT-UFA), Kirch et Deutsche Telekom de l'entreprise BetaResearch dans le cadre de leur projet de fusion pour la création de la télévison à péage Première, a annoncé vendredi un de ses porte-parole.
- Microsoft appeals appointment of 'special master'
(Nando.net - The Associated Press)
Microsoft Corp. continued its high-stakes legal battle with the government on Friday by challenging the legality of a court-appointed expert's role in the antitrust case. "While we respect the court and we respect Professor Lessig, we are appealing this matter because Microsoft has a constitutional right to have this important case heard by a federal judge, not by a private citizen," Microsoft chief operating officer Robert Herbold said in a statement.
- Reuters subject of legal probe
Reuters said yesterday that one of its U.S. units, Reuters Analytics, is the subject of a New York grand jury investigation. The investigation focuses on whether Reuters Analytics improperly obtained access to, and used information from competitor Bloomberg's product.
- Madonna's new tune leaks on Net
Can't wait to hear Madonna's highly anticipated new album? You can catch the first single from the forthcoming Ray of Light on the Internet - unauthorized and weeks before its official release.
- USA - Microsoft stings suspected software pirates
Microsoft Corp. said Wednesday it has filed suit against 12 computer resellers it alleges installed unlicensed copies of its software on consumer PCs sold. Some of the resellers have been sued by Microsoft for software piracy in the past, marking the first time the company has had to take multiple actions against the same alleged offenders, according to company officials.
Data Protection (privacy)
- Canadians to Tackle Net Privacy Issues
The federal Departments of Industry and Justice have released a public discussion paper entitled "The Protection of Personal Information: Building Canada's Information Economy and Society." Copies of the consultation paper are available electronically from the Industry Canada site.
- Judge Grants Perm. Injunction Against Navy In Online Suit
Senior Chief Petty Officer Timothy R. McVeigh (no relation to convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh) will stay in the US Navy, US District Court Judge Stanley Sporkin ruled this afternoon, ending a case that pitted online privacy advocates and gay rights groups against the Navy. Judge Sporkin late this afternoon issued the permanent injunction preventing the discharge of Senior CPO McVeigh, three days after issuing a preliminary injunction pending today's hearing. The US Navy, however, reserved the right to appeal the injunction in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.
- Look Who's Looking
The web-based day care monitoring business is booming, with at least seven companies busily wiring cameras into preschools across America. Soon every parent with a browser will be able to waste corporate bandwidth watching a streaming video of their child at play, at rest or at lunch. For Mommy and Daddy it's a dream, but for privacy advocates web cams are an Orwellian nightmare.
- Net gambling halted in Missouri
A Missouri judge today issued a temporary restraining order barring U.S. Lottery, an online gaming firm, from offering its gambling services in the state. The order was issued against executives of the Coeur d'Alene Indian tribe, where the computers that run the lottery are based, as well as UniStar Entertainment, which manages the site, and its parent, Executone.
Employment and social issues
- Newspaper says AOL considering big layoffs
America Online Inc is considering laying off more than 300 CompuServe customer support personnel, or more than 20 percent of the company's work force, the Wall Street Journal said Friday in its electronic edition.
Information society and Internet policy
- USA - High-Tech Companies Anxious Over Legislation
U.S. high-tech companies want Congress to be concerned about -- but not too involved in --competition and privacy in its 105th session, which opened this week. Disagreements over how to interpret sections of the 1996 Telecommunications Act and issues associated with the growth of electronic commerce are top priorities for telecom carriers, computer makers, and other technology companies as Congress returned to business after its winter recess.
- European body considers expanding police Net powers
E-mail will be fair game for Europe's police forces under a new directive (sic) being explored by the powerful European Union. Justice ministers from European Union member countries agreed Thursday to consider letting police snoop on Internet users as a measure to tackle organized crime.
- Cryptage sur Internet: l'UE cherche des instruments adaptés
Les ministres de la Justice et de l'Intérieur de l'UE réunis à Birmingham (Grande-Bretagne) ont convenu de trouver les moyens pour garantir un accès de la police aux "clés" permettant le décryptage des messages codés sur Internet, a-t-on appris auprès de la présidence britannique de l'UE.
Filtering and rating
- California Library Ends Net Filtering
A California county board, facing the threat of a First Amendment lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union, has voted to reverse its policy of filtering Internet content for all patrons and offer an uncensored view to all patrons, both adults and children.
IT in education
- Schools apply for Net access deals online
Schools and libraries competing for lucrative Net access discounts can now apply for the federal program--get this--online. The Schools and Libraries Corporation (SLC) launched an all-inclusive Web site today that leads applicants through the process for obtaining the so-called e-rate and accepts completed forms over the Net.
- Schools learn to manage Olympics
Designing a snowboard, managing a ski resort's snow, maintaining ice quality at a skating rink: they may not be your usual grammar school pursuits, but thanks to PBS, thousands of students across the country will soon be tackling these tasks virtually. The US Olympic PBS Cyber School, launching 6 February, is tapping student passion for action sports to create online lesson plans. The result, its creators hope, will be increased interest in online learning from both kids and their teachers.
- Scientologists in trademark disputes
The Church of Scientology International is accusing two Web sites of trademark violation and is taking action to stop it. The church has threatened to see legal recourse against a Colorado Web site owner if he continues to run a site called "scientology-kills.net," which also sells T-shirts bearing the same phrase. In the second dispute, the church sent a letter to Tilman Hausherr of Berlin on Monday telling him to remove altered Scientology graphics from his CompuServe home page, which he defends as a parody.
- France - Images pornographiques: France Télécom condamné à verser 4 M dollars à CFI
France Télécom a été reconnu responsable de la diffusion par erreur au Moyen-Orient d'images pornographiques sur le réseau de Canal France International (CFI) et condamné à verser à CFI 24,286 millions de francs (4 millions de dollars) au titre du préjudice subi, a-t-on apris vendredi auprès de CFI. CFI, banque de programmes français à destination de l'étranger, avait été évincé du satellite Arabasat après la diffusion en juillet dernier d'images pornographiques imputable à une erreur de France Télécom.
- USA - Time Warner, ISPs face libel suit
A Los Angeles banker has filed a $15 million lawsuit against Time Warner that also named online services America Online and Prodigy as well as ISP EarthLink as codefendants for carrying an allegedly libelous story online.
- USA - Mayors urged to fight Net tax bill
A key U.S. Senate Democrat warned the nation's mayors today that their towns will lose billions of dollars in revenue if they do not step up opposition to an Internet tax bill speeding through Congress.
- World Telecom Pact To Take Effect February 5
One-third of the world, including the most of the industrialized nations, are ready to take their seats on the roller coaster of free competition when the World Trade Organization's (WTO) basic telecom agreement goes into effect next week. The countries, representing some 95 percent of the world's telecommunications traffic, will open their doors on February 5, one year after the agreement was signed by 69 WTO members.
- Compromise On Next Mobile Phone Standard
Mobile telephone makers, operators and regulators agreed on Thursday on worldwide standards for the next generation of high-performance cell phones, delegates at a telecommunications standards meeting in Paris said. The hard-fought compromise paved the way for the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS), a new standard due to offer clients features like two-way text messaging, video and Internet access by the year 2002.
- Deregulation spawns new French telecom network
French industry minister Christian Pierret inaugurated the country's second fixed telecommunications system Friday with a warning against predatory pricing. The move was part of Europe's move toward deregulated telephone services, expected to result in lower telephone rates and expanded Internet access for consumers.
- Germany - Le privé aurait ravi plus de 300.000 clients à Deutsche Telekom
Les concurrents privés de Deutsche Telekom ont attiré plus de 300.000 clients, un mois après la libéralisation totale du marché du téléphone en Allemagne, affirme l'hebdomadaire Focus à paraître lundi. Arcor revendique ainsi quelque 200.000 clients, Talkline 90.000 et Telepassport 30.000, selon l'hebdomadaire qui précise qu'environ 26.000 d'entre eux sont des entreprises.
- USA - Wireless Licenses Up for Grabs
Hundreds of companies, including US West Communications and Southwestern Bell Video Services, will bid next month on federal licenses for a new kind of wireless service that carries voice, video and data. Licenses for LMDS--or local multipoint distribution system--mostly will be used for local phone and high-speed data connections for small to midsize businesses
Market & Technology
- Italy - Nouveau Conseil d'Administration pour la RAI
Un nouveau Conseil d'administration a été nommé jeudi soir pour la radio-télévision publique italienne RAI, au sein duquel le prochain président devrait être Roberto Zaccaria qui a déjà été pendant 16 ans membre du conseil.
Convergence of telecommunications, media and information technology sectors
- Gateway cuts PC-TV prices
Compaq, the world's largest PC maker, couldn't play in the market for first-generation PC-TVs, but Gateway 2000 (GTW) says it remains committed to convergence products, and lowered prices to prove it. The South Dakota-based vendor has lowered prices up to 25 percent on its Destination PC-TV systems to address criticism of the products as being too costly for the average consumer.
- Internet sex site becoming magazine publisher
One of the best known Web sex sites, Persian Kitty, has joined a venture with adult magazine publisher Princeton Media Group to jointly develop Web sites and magazine properties.
- Two German media groups combine online efforts
German publisher Axel Springer Verlag and media group WAZ plan to merge their online services in the next few months, Springer said Friday.
- USA - CBS.com launched
Interactive television may still be years away, but the major television networks are slowly trying to get their brands on the Web in preparation for the arrival of audiences and bandwidth. CBS on 1 February will launch the official CBS.com Web site as its first real attempt at online content.
- Data exchange protocol for e-commerce sites under development
Firefly Network Inc., Vignette Corp. and other Internet commerce companies are about to launch an effort to create a standard means for exchanging data that will allow merchants and their suppliers to more easily design online superstores.
- Egghead To Close All Stores, Focus On E-Commerce
(Computer Retail Week)
Plagued by continuing losses in the retail channel, Egghead said it will shift its focus to Internet commerce, closing its 80 stores and changing its name to Egghead.com.
- Egghead unique in shift toward Net
In a dramatic announcement this week, Egghead said it is closing down all 80 of its brick-and-mortar stores and shifting its operations to the Web. But analysts say the move does not portend a mass exodus of retailers closing their doors in the physical world to open online storefronts.
Employment and social issues
Internet access and use
- French Internet Service Gets A 4-way Alliance
America Online, Germany's Bertelsmann, France's Canal Plus and Cie Generale des Eaux unit Cegetel said today they were forging an alliance to bring the Internet to a mass market in France. France's Cegetel and Canal Plus will take a joint 55- percent stake in Internet providers AOL France and CompuServe France as part of the deal.
- A crying need for bandwidth
WorldCom Inc. Chief Operating Officer John Sidgmore sounded the alarm about crowded Web pipelines, warning the technology needed to solve the problem doesn't yet exist. Sidgmore told analysts at a NationsBanc Montgomery Securities Conference Wednesday that demand for Internet bandwidth increased by 1,000 percent in the last year, compared with voice bandwidth, which grew by only 8 percent.
- FCC chief wants to untangle Internet congestion
(San Jose Mercury)
The nation's top telecommunications regulator wants to help ease the World Wide Wait on the Internet. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Bill Kennard doesn't have a plan yet but said Friday that he intends to start looking into ways to give companies incentives to provide more high-speed connections into homes. That would help ease congestion on the Internet.
- Networking experts debate Internet's future
Two luminaries in the networking world squared off yesterday in a debate about the present and future of the Internet, offering contrasting views of the nearly ubiquitous public IP network.
- France - Canal Plus et Cegetel s'allient à Bertelsmann et AOL pour créer le leader des services Internet
Canal Plus et Cegetel, la filiale télécom de la Générale des eaux, ont annoncé, jeudi, qu'ils s'associaient avec l'américain Americain On Line (AOL) et l'allemand Bertelsmann pour créer le leader des services Internet en France.
- USA - US West to offer 14-state ADSL service
It appears that US West has forged ahead in the race to bring asynchronous Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) circuits to consumers, announcing that it expects to offer the service in more than 40 cities across its 14-state operating region in the first half of this year.
- America Online Starts Digital City New York
America Online's Studios said it has launched Digital City New York, a local internet guide, that will rival similar offerings by Microsoft and privately held CitySearch.
- MCI Posts Big Fourth-Quarter Loss
MCI Communications today posted a big fourth-quarter loss due to costs related to employee and customer retention programs, technology upgrades and restructuring efforts.
- MSN loses another exclusive
Similar to Star Trek, Entertainment Tonight isn't just for MSN users anymore. Today, Paramount Digital Entertainment announced the Web debut of Entertainment Tonight. Its exclusive deal with MSN expired at the end of the year. The Web launch of Star Trek: Continuum, Paramount's other popular site, was announced earlier this month.
- Worldcom to Create Four New Internet Divisions
WorldCom Inc. plans to split its data businesses into four divisions after buying CompuServe Corp. this weekend, advancing a strategy designed to provide corporations with every Internet service. WorldCom is moving quickly to take advantage of its new Internet assets, which include America Online's network gained in the CompuServe purchase. When WorldCom buys MCI Communications Corp. this year, the joined companies will control about 60 percent of the world's Internet traffic.
Multilingual content and software
- Local content key to developing the Internet in India
"Content relevant to the Indian psyche" rather than infrastructure development will be the key to developing the Internet on the subcontinent. Only about one in five of the nation's nearly 1 billion people are fluent in English, the predominant language of the Net. Analysts expect the number of Indian Internet users to grow from about 80,000 at present to close to 2 million in three years - but only if there's local content to use.
- Belgium - Translation software firm setting up Web service
Belgian speech technology firm Lernout & Hauspie plans to offer an Internet search and translation service from the third quarter of this year. Lernout said its Coronado service will use the firm's sophisticated linguistic models for translation, unlike existing Internet translation services, which translate word for word.
- Compaq weighs options for AltaVista
As Compaq acquires Digital, the computer giant will find itself with not only Digital's hardware technology but with its Internet software technology as well, representing a previously undiscovered country for Compaq. AltaVista, a division of Digital, will be acquired along with its parent, and brings with it the company's Internet software and search-engine technology
Security and encryption
- America Online under attack from hackers
America Online, the world's largest Internet service provider and home of a behemoth, proprietary system for unique content and services, has been -- surprise -- under constant deluge from hackers bent on finding ways to exploit the system and steal user information.
- "Co-opetition" boosts growth of Internet broadcasting
As the race heats up for dominance in the emerging market for broadcasting audio and video programs to the Internet, the two biggest players, Microsoft and RealNetworks, find themselves engaged simultaneously in cutthroat competition and hand-in-hand cooperation.
- VRML, Web 3-D graphics language, becomes standard
The International Organization for Standardization has approved a standardization of the Virtual Reality Modeling Language, a move the language's backers hope leads to the stabilization and spread of 3-D content on the Internet. Both major browsers, Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer, already support VRML 2.0, a programming language for creating dimensional-looking objects on the Web.
- XML Apps Target Databases, Commerce
Separate development efforts were disclosed this week using the Extensible Markup Language (XML) to ease creation of database-driven Web applications and enable the exchange of data between disparate servers.
- Clinton's Hot On Net, But Still Trails Pamela Anderson
US President Bill Clinton has jumped to the top of the hot-topics list on the Internet in the wake of his recent alleged sexual scandals. But he still trails actress Pamela Anderson, making him only the number-two most mentioned person online this week, according to Web 21, an Internet monitoring service.
- Music Boulevard Tops the Web Charts
N2K Inc., an on-line music entertainment company, announced that its Music Boulevard has become the fastest growing music site on the Web, according to The Media Metrix 1997 Web In Review. Media Metrix's annual report of Web use in the home and office ranked Music Boulevard number 18 of the fastest growing sites on the Internet.
- Can Big Tech and Telcos Learn to Get Along?
The embrace of Digital Subscriber Line technology by big tech companies, telcos and others will test the bond between two interdependent parties that don't have the best track record when it comes to getting along, but are both crucial to DSL's success: Internet service providers and regional phone companies. With so many heavy-hitters behind the new technology, the cost of providing DSL to both the ISP and the end-user will nosedive
QuickLinks are edited by Richard Swetenham
- Contributors: Gunnar Bender, Alan Reekie, Theodor Schlickmann
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