QuickLinks 52 - 3 March 1998
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.
UK - IWF launches proposals for internet content rating
EU - Commission publishes Monitoring Report on Universal Service in the Telecommunications Sector
EU - Draft Reply of the European Community and its Member States to the US Green Paper
EU - Van Miert: Sehr ernste Probleme bei Allianz Kirch-Bertelsmann
Legal and regulatory issues
- EU - Van Miert: Sehr ernste Probleme bei Allianz Kirch-Bertelsmann
EU-Wettbewerbskommissar Karel van Miert sieht in der geplanten Allianz der Medienkonzerne Kirch und Bertelsmann beim digitalen Fernsehen gravierende Probleme. Es sei ausgeschlossen, daß die Kartellbehörden die Fusion der Sender Premiere und DF1 so genehmigten wie beantragt, sagte van Miert gegenüber "Bild am Sonntag". Ansonsten gebe es "unbestreitbar sehr ernste Probleme für den Wettbewerb". Van Miert sagte, besonders problematisch sei für ihn der zum Empfang des Digital-TV notwendige Decoder. Durch das digitale Pay-TV werde "eine Art Monopol geschaffen", bemängelte der oberste europäische Wettbewerbshüter.
( This item also refers to an article in "Spiegel" which says that Bertelsmann's Thomas Middelhoff and WDR's Fritz Pleitgen are both sceptical about Digital TV)
- EU - Contrats de licence: Microsoft répond à une demande de la Commission
Le numéro un mondial de l'informatique Microsoft a notifié à la Commission européenne la nouvelle formule de ses contrats de licence souscrits avec les fournisseurs de services sur Internet, a annoncé mardi un porte-parole de la Commission.
- USA - Attorneys general from 27 states join Justice Department vs. Microsoft
Attorneys general from more than half of the U.S. states have now joined the U.S. Department of Justice in its case against Microsoft, filing a brief Monday in federal court asking that a U.S. district court ruling against the software giant be upheld.
- USA - Gates on the offensive
The Microsoft Chairman, Bill Gates, has attacked those investigating his company for anti-competitive practices on the day that he goes to testify in front of them. The world's richest man said the US Justice Department had taken action partly to justify its long investigation of Microsoft.
- USA - Microsoft amends ISP contracts
Microsoft has agreed to drop some of the requirements it imposes on Internet service providers in its cross-promotional licensing deals, the company said today. In January, the software giant agreed to remove certain provisions related to browsers for European ISPs. Now it has agreed to drop these requirements for ISPs "worldwide" to be "consistent," a spokeswoman said.
- UK Police warns the ISPs on the availability of child pornography on usenet discussion groups.
(Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK))
According to a BBC report and Radio 4 coverage, Scotland Yard is considering prosecuting Internet Service providers who fail to filter out child pornography from Usenet discussion groups.
- USA - Court rejects Net law in Virginia
A federal judge today struck down a Virginia law governing Internet usage, saying the state disregarded the First Amendment when it banned public employees from downloading "sexually explicit" material using state computers. The ACLU brought the case on behalf of six college professors who charged that the law denied their right to seek, post, print, or store sexual information, material that could include topics such as AIDS, human sexuality, popular culture, art, or poetry.
- USA - State appeals Net sex ruling
Virginia is appealing last week's federal court decision striking down its two-year-old law that prohibited state employees from using the Net to view sexually explicit material.
see related story
Filtering and rating
- UK - IWF launches proposals for internet content rating
The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) today launches a report outlining a structure for a rating system that will meet parents' concerns about Internet content that is unsuitable for children. The report identifies clear principles on how a system could be built, and proposes a number of categories of content under which Internet users could choose to filter what comes on to their screens. In addition to traditional concerns like sex, nudity, bad language and violence, IWF have suggested categories covering the provision of personal information, financial transactions, intolerance, and potentially harmful subjects like drugs or suicide.
- UK - Comments on IWF consultation document
Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK), critical of rating, will have a new section dealing with the IWF consultation process in which online users views on the IWF consultation document will be published.
- EU - European Commission Wants ISPs Protected
The European Commission is seeking to protect ISPs that say they're being unfairly held liable for illegal activities committed by their users. ISPs must be protected from liability when someone else has broken the law using their networks. Patrick Vittet-Phillipe, an adviser to the European Commission, said governments and law enforcement must be taught that providing access to the Internet is not the same as publishing.
Quality of service
- USA - State bill punishes ISP outages
A state bill has been introduced that would let customers request a refund if their online access is unexpectedly interrupted for more than four hours. The law would not apply if consumers had software or hardware problems or trouble connecting due to their local phone company. State Rep. Jack McGuire of Joliet, Illinois, is the official sponsor of the bill, although he admitted today that it is not high on his agenda and is not likely to pass this year.
Security and encryption
- Canada launches consultation on cryptography policy
The Government of Canada has released a discussion paper entitled "Setting a Cryptography Policy Framework for Electronic Commerce--Building Canada's Information Economy and Society". The paper seeks the views of Canadians on how best to balance consumer, business, law enforcement and security interests.
- USA - Critics Bash Reno's Cyberwar Plan
US Attorney General Janet Reno unveiled a program today to establish a new command center to fight "cyber attacks" against the nation's critical computer networks. The $64 million center would reportedly unify existing federal computer security efforts to investigate computer penetrations of banks, the military, and other core systems. But computer security experts sharply criticized Reno's plan as short-sighted, noting that she is deflecting responsibility for a very serious situation away from software vendors and the widespread lack of education about basic computer security safeguards.
- Denmark - Competing telecom operators have won a right to provide services
New decision by the Danish Telecoms surveillance authority: competing telecom operators have won a right to provide services on all existing networks (except leased lines) owned by Tele Danmark, thus being allowed to compete on fully equal terms with Tele Danmark. According to Jyllandsposten this is a major victory for Mobilix, a Danish subsidiary of France Telcom, and will put Denmark in the lead as far as liberalisation is concerned. Tele Danmark is filing to have the decision overturned.
- EU - Commission publishes Monitoring Report on Universal Service in the Telecommunications Sector
This Communication is the first monitoring report on universal service in the telecommunications sector and coincides with the launch of full telecommunications liberalisation across the EU. The report confirms the ongoing gradual improvement in service levels, price and quality in the sector and a gradual strengthening of consumer rights. At this early stage in the development of full telecommunications liberalisation across the European Union, the Commission sees no need to redefine the legislation underpinning universal service.
Market & Technology
Internet access and use
- New Internet UseNetII -- How it works
How does Usenet II, the new system of "spam-free" computer bulletin boards work? The Usenet II steering committee is the final authority on what gets created. The group hopes to cut back on unwanted e-mails and postings that clutter existing sites.
- Telcos Wake Up To Internet Fax Threat
Internet faxing is growing rapidly, and telephone companies will lose this booming business to ISPs unless they offer the service to customers, according to several analysts at a European ISP conference this week.
- TV-Net Access Devices To Struggle In Europe, Study Says
The TV set is not about to replace the PC as the main platform for accessing the Internet in Europe households, and demand for Internet access will remain concentrated among PC-owning households, according to research published last week by British market research company Inteco.
- France - La publicité change
Internet et le marketing direct concourent à l'émergence d'un nouveau "média" publicitaire, appelé "one to one" par les Américains et qui va exploser en France d'ici 2 ou 3 ans, selon l'étude annuelle France Pub (Havas).
Filtering and rating
- USA - Poll: Parents like, but often ignore TV ratings
(The Associated Press)
Parents aren't making much use of the TV industry's new system of ratings that warn viewers some programs are unsuitable for children or contain sex and violence, an Associated Press poll finds. Seven in 10 adults say they pay little or no attention to the ratings, such as "TV-PG" or "TV-14," when they appear in program listings and on-screen. Even in homes with children, 51 percent of parents pay little or no attention. Most of those polled, 84 percent, say it's the television industry's job to provide the public with information about whether programs contain violence, sexual situations, coarse language and suggestive dialogue. These are signified with the letters "V," "S," "L" and "D" in the ratings system that debuted October 1. Political pressure from Congress and parents' groups led to the ratings as a precursor to the "v-chip," the long-promised tool for parents to block their televisions from showing certain types of programs.
- Le Net dans les étoiles
Les grandes manoeuvres ont commencé à quelques milliers de kilomètres au-dessus de nos têtes. Pour accélérer les échanges de données sur le réseau, quelques centaines de satellites en orbite basse seront lancés d'ici à 2002
QuickLinks are edited by Richard Swetenham
- Contributors: Pierre Bischoff, Ola-Kristian Hoff
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