QuickLinks 56 - 24 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.
Netscape Communicator 4.05 German version now supports PICS
Bertelsmann merger with Random House creates publishing giant
Legal and regulatory issues
Information society and Internet policy
- Divergent myths of governing the Net
(Guardian - Esther Dyson )
Why does the way the US approaches control of the Internet annoy so many people outside the US? Part of the answer, of course, is simple resistance to what is seen as American imperialism; part is that the US approach is inconsistent - free (for now) concerning taxes, reluctant concerning domain names (the naming system), and authoritarian concerning encryption; and part is that the critics want the US to give up control to someone in particular, usually themselves.
- USA - Gore on fence about Net filtering
In exchange for substantial price breaks on Net access, Vice President Al Gore wants Congress to make public schools and libraries adopt plans to protect minors from "inappropriate" online content. Gore's proposal sounds a lot like Sen. John McCain's (R-Arizona) Internet School Filtering Act, which also directs school and library officials to define what is "inappropriate," but then mandates that they use technology to block entry to online material that falls under the definition. The Clinton administration, however, said today that it is not backing McCain's bill. "We do not support the McCain bill," a spokeswoman for Gore said today. "The legislation [Clinton and Gore] would support would not require blocking, it would just require that schools and libraries put a plan in place regarding their students and patrons accessing inappropriate material."
Security and encryption
- Attack of the Trojan Smurfs
In a frenzy of announcements over the past two weeks, Nasa, the Pentagon, the US Navy and a number of universities revealed that their computers were under cyber-attack. Many of the attacks relied on tried and tested hacking techniques, some technical and others psychological. They go by such names as social engineering, trashing, denial of service, brute force, sniffing, buffer overflow, spoofing and Trojan horses.
- New encryption software challenge to U.S. law
In a major challenge to federal export limits, a software company will start selling a sophisticated encryption program today to international customers through an overseas subsidiary. Network Associates Inc. will sell the "Pretty Good Privacy" software through its Dutch subsidiary. The software scrambles e-mails and files, preventing eavesdroppers from seeing information sent across the Internet and stored in databases.
- USA - Hackers Were in Cahoots
(San Francisco Chronicle)
Ehud Tenebaum, the Israeli teenager accused of orchestrating attacks on computer systems at the Pentagon, the University of California and hundreds of other locations, was in daily contact with two Cloverdale teenagers suspected of similar capers, according to authorities. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the 18- year-old Tenebaum -- who is known as "The Analyzer'' because of his ability to analyze security weaknesses in computer systems -- as "damn good" but also "very dangerous."
- Telecom Price Dispute Threatens Anarchy, U.N. Official Says
Unless the world community can reform international telephone charges quickly, the result will be anarchy in cross-border communications markets, said Pekka Tarjanne, secretary general of the International Telecommunication Union.
Market & Technology
- E-Money Expected To Wipe Out Cash In Europe
Cash will be wiped out in Europe and replaced with electronic cash cards within the next three years, according to a senior executive at German technology company Siemens-Nixdorf.
- SPA members take orders online
Drawn by the appeal of selling over the Internet, a sizable chunk of software publishers are embracing electronic software distribution (ESD), but so far they're not convinced it's cheaper than going through physical distribution channels. In a survey of Software Publishers Association members, the trade group found that 60 percent of its members take orders online. But nearly half report their costs of selling online are now higher than what it costs to sell in other ways.
- Bertelsmann merger with Random House creates publishing giant
The merger of Random House - whose imprints include Alfred A Knopf, Pantheon and Fodor's Travel Guides - with Bertelsmann's existing book interests in the US - Bantam and Doubleday Dell - will create the biggest trade book publishing company in the English-speaking world with sales of about $1.5bn.
Multilingual content and software
- Infoseek Targets German Market
Infoseek Corp. Friday announced its plans to form a joint venture with leading players in the German market, including Deutsche Telekom Online services, Axel Springer Verlag, and Holtzbrinck. The partnership will result in the launch of an Infoseek branded search, navigation and content service localized to serve the largest population of Internet users in Europe.
- Lost in the translation software
Machine translators can help bridge language gaps on Net, but watch out - you might fall through the cracks. Thanks to technology known as machine translation, there are services that will translate e-mail and Web pages for you on-the-fly. The AltaVista search engine offers it for free. Is this the end of international language barriers?
Filtering and rating
- Netscape Communicator 4.05 German version now supports PICS
(Company Press Release)
Die Netscape Communications Corporation kündigte heute im Rahmen einer Pressekonferenz auf der CeBIT '98 in Hannover an, daß die nächste Version 4.05 von Netscape Communicator in Deutsch im April 1998 verfügbar sein wird. Neben einer Reihe von Produkt- und Funktionsverbesserungen enthält die deutsche Communicator-Version 4.05 auch Netscape NetWatch, eine Art Kindersicherung im Internet. NetWatch nutzt PICS (Platform for Internet Content Selection), mit Hilfe dessen Eltern, Lehrer und Arbeitgeber in der Lage sind, den Zugriff auf bestimmte, beispielsweise pornographische oder gewaltverherrlichende Inhalte zu unterbinden. Mit PICS haben Web-Betreiber die Möglichkeit, auf standardisierte Weise den Inhalt von Webseiten zu beschreiben. Browser, wie Netscape Navigator oder Communicator können damit wiederum standardmäßig diese Beschreibung lesen. Mit der Unterstützung von PICS wird Netscape den hohen Anforderungen des Deutschen Multimedia-Gesetzes sowie den Wünschen deutscher Internet-Service-Provider, wie beispielsweise T-Online, gerecht.
- BT Turns Sheriff On Lawbreakers To Stop Fraud
British Telecom is tackling the telecommunications industry's billion-dollar fraud problem head on with the first commercial release of Sheriff anti-fraud technology. By comparing call patterns with control data, Sheriff can detect a fraudulent card call made anywhere in the world. The system alerts BT's fraud department where specialized staff decide whether to cancel the call.
QuickLinks are edited by Richard Swetenham
- Contributor: Stephen Balkam
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