QuickLinks 54 - 12 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.
German group to invest billions in Internet telephoning
EU - Commercial communications: Commission agrees measures to ensure Single Market and protect public interests
USA - Group sets up tip line to help protect kids on Net
France - Pédophilie sur Internet: 5 personnes mises en examen
Legal and regulatory issues
- Germany - Bundesrichter: Jugendschutz gilt auch bei Programmankündigungen
Für Spielfilme, die nicht für Jugendliche freigegeben sind, dürfen Fernsehanstalten erst am späten Abend unverschlüsselt werben. Das entschied das Bundesverwaltungsgericht (BVerwG) am Mittwoch in Berlin
- USA - American Children Watch 8,000 Murders -- on TV
Children growing up in the United States watch an average of 8,000 murders each on television before leaving elementary school and more should be done to protect them. Children should also be shielded from unscrupulous marketers in cyberspace who are able to build up profiles of them, Rep. Edward Markey told an international conference on children's television. Markey introduced the "V-chip" law that will allow parents to use a silicon chip to help control what their children watch on television.
- Internet experts see little harm from MCI-WorldCom
Although the WorldCom-MCI merger has drawn intense regulatory scrutiny, many Internet specialists see little chance the combination will unbalance the rapidly growing market for connections to the global network. "This is growing at such a blistering rate, I don't think it's possible for anyone to dominate this market" said David Goodtree, director at Forrester Research, a leading online analysis firm.
- WorldCom, MCI: Merger rouses fears over Internet future
Shareholders of WorldCom and MCI Communications are due to vote today on the biggest corporate takeover ever attempted, amid growing signs of official concern over the impact the combination would have on the development of the internet. At the request of the US Justice Department, rival carriers have conducted a one-week survey of traffic on the internet to examine the effect of the merger on competition. That study, completed on Sunday, follows similar expressions of concern from the European Union antitrust authorities, which last week deepened their own inquiry into WorldCom/MCI's potential dominance of the internet.
- EU - Wolters Kluwer and Reed Elsevier abandon projected merger following Commission objections
Reed Elsevier and Wolters Kluwer notified to the European Commission their intention to merge. The Commission decided to open an in-depth investigation of the merger, given its implications for competition in a number of national markets for professional publishing. Following an in-depth enquiry of the Commission which confirmed its preliminary view, the latter announced that they had decided to abandon their current project to merge.
- UK - Telecom Regulators Struggle To Prevent Internet Monopoly
(Total Telecom )
Britain's chief telecom regulator has called for a law to prevent companies, specifically Microsoft, from trying to take control of access to information networks such as telecom networks and the Internet.
- France - Le SNJ dénonce le "hold-up" sur Internet
Le Syndicat national des journalistes, SNJ, a dénoncé mardi "le plus gros hold-up jamais perpétré sur Internet", par la Compagnie générale des Eaux qui, selon le SNJ, compte reproduire les 120.000 articles des publications d'Havas via le site Web payant Infos on Line, "sans l'autorisation de leurs auteurs, au mépris du droit".
- Australians Decry US Domain Plan
Joining European protest against a US-based Internet domain registry effort, Australia said today that the United States was trying to create a new system that would effectively give it control over trademark issues and disputes.
- French Organize Resistance To U.S. Net Plans
The relationship between Americans and the French has long been a curious mixture of love and hate, and nowhere more so these days than in cyberspace. The French are lobbying hard in Brussels for a tough reply this month to the green paper.
- UK - UK domain dispute to test the courts
A claim for damages by Holiday Rentals against a Web site designer who registered www.holidayrentals.uk.com as a domain name and set up a bogus Web site
- USA - Jews for Jesus antagonist ordered to change Web address
(Nando.net - The Associated Press)
A New Jersey man can criticize Jews for Jesus on the Internet, but he cannot use the group's name as part of his Web site's address, a federal judge ruled. In a ruling issued Friday, Lechner ordered Steven C. Brodsky, a professional Internet site developer from West Orange, to change his site's address because it makes unfair use of the group's trademark.
- EU - Commercial communications: Commission agrees measures to ensure Single Market and protect public interests
The European Commission has adopted a Communication outlining a series of measures to facilitate the cross-border provision of commercial communications services while ensuring appropriate protection of public interest objectives such as health and protection of consumers and the environment. Full text for downloading (PDF 232Kb-282Kb) EN FR DE
- FT.com guide: Taxing the Internet
Online traders slip past the collector's net. Why would anyone want to tax the internet? State and local authorities in the US rely heavily on sales tax to pay for public services. According to the Center for the Study of States, sales taxes account for more than 30 per cent of an average state's revenue. At the moment, online transactions are typically tax free.
Unsolicited commercial e-mail (spam)
- USA - Bigfoot Claims Victory Against Spammer
Following a lawsuit alleging that CyberPromotions repeatedly used Bigfoot addresses for their unsolicited e-mail campaigns, Wallace and CyberPromotions have agreed to a broad injunction prohibiting them from sending or helping their customers send unsolicited e-mail to any customers of Bigfoot's e-mail services or those services provided by Bigfoot to its partners.
Information society and Internet policy
- France to Hold Internet Celebration
In an effort to boost citizen interest in the Internet, France will be holding a nationwide Internet celebration on March 20 and March 21. Less than two percent of France's population uses the Internet, and it is one of the last developed countries to join the information society. During the celebration, French citizens will have the chance to discover the Internet, free of charge. More than fifty associations, about one hundred companies, the media, and government agencies are participating in the celebrations.
- EU - Le Parlement européen opposé à l'AMI
Le Parlement européen a appelé mercredi les gouvernements et parlements nationaux de l'Union européenne (UE) à ne pas signer et ne pas ratifier le projet d'accord multilatéral d'investissement (AMI) de l'OCDE, sous sa forme actuelle.
- EU - Transatlantic trade: EC agrees plan for new free trade area
Proposals for a transatlantic free trade area in services were approved by the European Commission yesterday as part of a sweeping liberalisation drive that Brussels said could be worth Ecu150bn ($166.5bn) a year to the European Union and the US. The so-called New Transatlantic Marketplace was approved with little opposition by European Commissioners in Strasbourg. It also drew a cautiously positive US response.
- France - Jacques Chirac sur la toile à l'occasion de la Fête de l'Internet
Le président Jacques Chirac s'adressera directement aux internautes depuis le site de l'Elysée les 20 et 21 mars, à l'occasion de la Fête de l'Internet, dont il espère qu'elle "recontrera un large succès", indique un communiqué de la présidence de la République rendu public mardi. Ce rendez-vous du chef de l'Etat avec les internautes prendra la forme d'une vidéo numérisée accessible pendant les deux jours de la Fête de l'Internet sur le site de l'Elysée (http://www.elysee.fr).
- France - NTM : inquiétude des Auteurs, Producteur, Réalisateurs
La société civile des Auteurs, Producteurs, Réalisateurs (ARP) "s'inquiète vivement de l'adoption par la Commission européenne du projet de négociation bilatérale Europe-Etats-Unis proposé par le commissaire Sir Leon Brittan".
- USA - Attorney general seeks compromise with industry on digital wiretapping
(Nando.net - The Associated Press)
In an effort to get stalled negotiations moving again, Attorney General Janet Reno offered to work more closely with the telecommunications industry Friday on a plan to preserve law enforcers' ability to wiretap phone lines in the digital age.
- USA - House Passes Wireless Privacy Bill
In a bid to protect privacy for cellphone or digital calls, the House Thursday voted 414-1 to make intercepting such phone conversations illegal. The Wireless Privacy Enhancement Act makes clear that the act of interception -- whether or not the call is later divulged or disseminated in any way -- is against the law. It bans modification of scanners that are now on the market that can easily pick up calls made on cell phones, and prevents a market for new scanners capable of intercepting digital communications.
- USA - Group sets up tip line to help protect kids on Net
At a high-profile press conference featuring FBI Director Louis Freeh, America Online CEO Steve Case, Treasury Undersecretary for Enforcement Raymond Kelly, and Senators Judd Gregg (R-New Hampshire) and Ernest Hollings (D-South Carolina), the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children announced the launch of CyberTipline (http://www.missingkids.com), an online resource for the reporting of crimes related to the sexual exploitation of children in cyberspace.
- France - Pédophilie sur Internet: 5 personnes mises en examen
Cinq personnes sur la trentaine interpellée mercredi dans toute la France dans le cadre de l'enquête sur un site Internet pour pédophiles menée par la gendarmerie de Dole, ont été mises en examen jeudi soir et remises en liberté.
- FBI makes new push against Internet child pornography
(Nando.net - The Associated Press )
FBI Director Louis Freeh, briefing lawmakers on the bureau's efforts to combat child pornography on the Internet, urged the public Tuesday to become more aware of the computer technology's clandestine dangers. Freeh told lawmakers the FBI was spending an additional $10 million Congress put in its 1998 budget for the Innocent Images program, a nationwide initiative to combat child pornography on the Internet and the sexual exploitation of children.
- UK - Education not ratings says Virgin Net
The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has stirred up the debate on Net censorship with its launch of a ratings system. Internet Magazine reports that the first to respond has been Virgin Net, whose MD David Clarke praised the idea of cleaning up the Net but commented that, "the suggestions made are just not practical. The only viable solution for shielding unsavoury information from children is for parents to educate their children and control their viewing, in the same way that parents oversee what their children watch on television and which papers and magazines they read."
- USA - Challenge To Net Porn Law Brews
Free-speech advocates are already preparing a challenge to a New Mexico Internet decency bill signed into law on Monday, promising to block it before it goes into effect this summer.
- USA - Web sites, music help fuel growth of hate groups
(Christian Science Monitor)
Hate groups - motivated by bigotry - continue to be a growth industry both in the United States and abroad. Many are now using media like the Internet and rock music to promote their message. Last year, 164 Web sites in the United States featured causes like racial superiority and apocalyptic religious conflict. Three years ago, only one such Web site existed.
- USA - Net Gambling Defendant To Test Betting Laws
A Las Vegas Web services provider caught in last week's federal Internet gambling sting has challenged the government's power to prosecute him, saying ISPs are not responsible for their clients' content under existing law.
Security and encryption
- USA - FBI seeks Israeli computer whiz in Pentagon, university cyberattacks
(Nando.net - The Associated Press)
In a high-stakes game of Internet cat and mouse, the FBI is hunting an Israeli master hacker they believe is responsible for orchestrating the penetration of military and university research computers. Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre said last month that although the intrusion appeared to have been aimed at systems that contained unclassified personnel and payroll records, it was "the most organized and systematic attack the Pentagon has seen to date."
- UK - Oftel decides BT's "Portability" Charges
( Office of Telecommunications)
OFTEL today issued its decision on non-geographic number portability costs and charges.
- USA - States Decry FCC's Universal Service Plan
Representatives from mostly rural states said Friday that the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) proposal to increase states' contributions to the universal service fund is unfair. Universal service is a federally subsidized program to keep phone service prices in rural areas comparable to densely populated areas. The FCC said it wants to expand the universal service fund to cover new data services such as Internet access. Last May, the FCC proposed that states shoulder 75 percent of the cost of a $13.7 billion universal service fund, with the federal government responsible for the rest.
Market & Technology
Convergence of telecommunications, media and information technology sectors
- France - La Générale des Eaux engloutit Havas et crée un géant du multimédia
La fusion annoncée lundi entre la Compagnie Générale des Eaux (CGE) et Havas va donner naissance à un groupe de communication entièrement intégré, de la création à la diffusion de programmes. Mais la grande idée du patron de la Générale des Eaux est de marier contenants et contenus, une combinaison encore inédite. Il s'agit d'utiliser les réseaux du téléphone, de la télévision et d'internet pour les alimenter en grandes encyclopédies, magazines, CD-roms, etc. "Les tuyaux sans contenu, ça sonne creux", a résumé M. Messier, qui mise beaucoup sur les offres couplées que son groupe pourra proposer au consommateur.
Internet access and use
- AT&T's Worldnet Mulls Session Time Limits
AT&T's Internet service provider business Worldnet is considering ways to deal with heavy network use, including automatically logging subscribers off after a certain amount of time online. AT&T spokesman Mike Keady said the service was looking at several options to reduce network loads during peak times. AT&T has tested a variety of methods to deal with very high usage by a small percentage of its subscribers, Keady said. One of those involved terminating sessions after a fixed period of time, such as three hours.
- Software companies: Internet changes the game
The once clear distinctions between software and content providers are being blurred. When is a software company not a software company? For an answer, take a look at ShockRave, a web site launched by Macromedia last month.
- Stocks: Internet shares rise may rest more on hope than reality
Personal computer stocks may be out of favour following last week's startling profit warnings from Intel, Compaq and Motorola. But shares in companies involved in the internet continue to scale dizzying heights even though most of them have yet to earn a dime.
- U.S. newspapers dissolve Internet venture
A group of leading U.S. media companies said on Tuesday they pulled the plug on a partnership that helped put America's newspapers on the Internet. New Century Network (NCN), a venture of companies including the publishers of the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and the Washington Post, served as an Internet advertising network for about 140 newspapers, offered news and acted as a search engine for the papers' Web sites.
- Trying a simpler way, web surfers errroneously land on porn site
(Nando.net - Reuters )
A new Internet product designed to simplify address codes backfired on its launch day Thursday with users landing on a pornography site when they punched in "Bambi" for material on the lovable Disney character. A start-up Silicon Valley company marketing the product said the reason for the malfunction was that the new system was not yet fully deployed and users needed to download software from its Web site first.
- Chinese Users Flock to Net
The Chinese government says that the number of people using the Internet in the world's most populous nation has increased more than 30-fold in just five years. The number of Internet subscribers was expected to more than triple to top 2 million by the end of the century, the report said.
- European Net use survey points to the PC
The computer is set to remain to main platform for Internet access in Europe despite the relatively low level of PC penetration into homes. This is one of the findings of a study conducted by INTECO Corporation during last year. "The PC will remain the primary platform for Internet access for the foreseeable future, but that doesn't mean it is about to become a standard feature of all PCs. INTECO's research clearly indicates that demand for Internet access will be concentrated in PC-owning households," continues Daum. "Dedicated devices such as Web-TV will struggle to gain acceptance. They will be squeezed between the PC and the digital-TV set-top box."
- Yahoo!/Four 11, Netscape Most Visited Sites In February
Yahoo!/Four 11 and Netscape came out on top of RelevantKnowledge Inc.'s list of the most visited sites during the month of February. The Web measurement company said Yahoo!/Four 11 had 31.9 million unique visits while Netscape had 24.5 million unique visits.
- France - Câble : 1,62 million d'abonnés au service de base fin janvier
Le câble comptait fin janvier en France 1,62 million de foyers abonnés au service de base (au moins 15 chaînes), contre 1,47 million un an plus tôt, soit une hausse annuelle de 10,09%, selon les chiffres de l'Association des villes câblées (AVICA) publiés mercredi. En terme de raccordement, quelque 2,34 millions de foyers étaient raccordés à un réseau câblé à cette date, contre 2,13 millions un an plus tôt, soit une progression annuelle de 9,9%.
- German group to invest billions in Internet telephoning
(Nando.net - Reuters )
Deutsche Telekom is planning to commit billions in "Internet telephony" functions, a magazine report said on Sunday. An advance copy of a report to be published in the news magazine Focus on Monday said Telekom would buy in technology in the United States, Japan and Hong Kong this year. The management board has recommended investment of more than $18 billion in technology currently available which allows telephone connections to be routed over the Internet, Focus said.
- Spain - WorldCom, MCI Ally With Spanish Phone Company To Expand Presence
Spain's biggest telecommunications carrier, Telefonica de Espana, is expected to announce a strategic alliance Monday morning with merging American telecom providers WorldCom and MCI. The alliance aims to expand Telefonica's presence in Latin America and the United States, according to reports.
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- Contributors: Gunnar Bender, Ola-Kristian Hoff, Alan Reekie
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