QuickLinks 60 - 3 April 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.
Legal and regulatory issues
- USA - Net Stock Fraud No. 2 on Scam List
Internet fraud is the second most common form of investment malfeasance in the land, says the North American Securities Administrators Association, which estimates that unwary investors lose US$10 billion a year, or more than $1 million every hour, to all types of scams.
- Prince goes after Net pirates
Prince and his company Paisley Park Enterprises are cracking down on illegal uses of his music and other copyrighted materials on the Internet, and have sent out more than 30 cease-and-desist letters to people they believe are violating the musician's trademark properties.
- Saudis Will Make the Pirates Pay
In a show of the strict application of intellectual property rights this oil kingdom needs to attract foreign investment and encourage economic diversity, Saudi Arabia has confiscated 45,000 compact discs of counterfeit software in raids on more than 40 firms since August. Now, for the first time, it will impose fines on pirates. The Business Software Alliance also reports that the United Arab Emirates, another Gulf state that's striving to eradicate piracy in hopes of joining the World Trade Organization, seized $7,700 worth of counterfeit computer products last week.
Data Protection (privacy)
- Firings Flag Need for Net Policy
Employers who encourage workers to use the Internet are wrestling with how to police its use and deal with abuses. Salomon Smith Barney told employees Monday that two executives were fired for electronically transmitting pornography. The information was found because the firm monitors e-mail.
Employment and social issues
- Battling to bring high-tech workers to America
(Raleigh News & Observer - Scripps Howard)
Citing a severe shortage of labor, high-tech lobbyists are pressing Congress to raise the number of visas given to skilled foreigners, despite criticism that companies want to give away some of America's most attractive jobs to guest workers. After listening to testimony from representatives of Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and Texas Instruments, Sen. Spencer Abraham, R-Mich., introduced legislation in February to permanently raise the cap on the number of so-called "H-1B visas" given to skilled professionals from 65,000 a year to 90,000.
- Forum on Internet Content Self-Regulation
The Forum on Internet Content Self-Regulation was held on Wednesday 25 March 1998 at the IBM France building at La Défense. It was organised by a steering committee comprised of national delegation representatives -- led by the United States and Canada -- and was sponsored under the joint auspices of BIAC and the OECD
- Just how far does freedom of speech go on the Net?
One of the most outspoken sites on the Internet for neo-Nazi propaganda shut down last week, appearing to mark a victory for anti-racist campaigners over the claims of advocates of the legitimacy of any form of representation on the Net. The site (http:// alpha.ftcnet.com/~chs/ indexO.htm) was stored on a computer belonging to the Fairview Technology Centre, a Canadian Internet service provider based in Oliver, British Columbia.
Security and encryption
- Crypto Canadians: Hands Off Our Keys!
The leaders of Canada's cryptography industry convened in the nation's capital Tuesday to offer their government a little political advice: get out of the way. The meeting was hosted by Entrust, and was observed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) which, on a federal level, plays a similar role to that of the FBI in the US.
- The hacker who turned himself in
Early last month, some of the most secretive and sensitive establishments in the US, including Nasa and the Pentagon, came under attack from an outside force. Entry was by that now familiar method, a computer linked to the Internet.
- USA - Encryption Lawsuit Back On 'Fast Track'
(Net Insider )
A lawsuit challenging the U.S. government's restrictions on exporting encryption software moved into high gear Friday, and a decision could come as early as next month.
- France - Premiers accrocs dans la libéralisation du téléphone
La France, "bon élève" de la libéralisation du téléphone en Europe selon plusieurs études, connaît les premiers ratés de la concurrence avec une série de recours déposés par de nouveaux opérateurs devant le Conseil d'Etat sur les préfixes, ces codes qui permettent de choisir un opérateur concurrent de France Télécom.
Market & Technology
Convergence of telecommunications, media and information technology sectors
- Is WebTV's rate hike premature?
WebTV Networks' surprise announcement that it is raising the monthly rate for its WebTV Plus subscribers has some analysts questioning the company's strategy. The company, which is owned by Microsoft, said the $5 monthly increase was based on two factors: a software upgrade this summer and the rising costs of maintaining the network and integrating television and the Internet. Although the explanations are certainly reasonable, what is questionable about the move is its timing.
- TV surfing: Risky business
Still considered a nascent market, the business of Internet access through boxes that sit atop TV sets is already undergoing a shakeout. From hardware and software to the monthly service rates, competition is getting brutal.
- French Website Offers Book Downloads
A French website that lets visitors purchase and download books at a fraction of the cost of regular bookstore prices will open for business next month. Books downloaded from the site, oohoo.com, can be printed out for around $2 or $3, one-tenth of the typical bookstore prices in France.
- Sales of old books sparks online war
It looks like the Web may be stirring up trouble in the staid world of antiquarian bookselling. Some traditional booksellers are charging that many who buy out-of-print books from places like Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com are paying way too much.
Employment and social issues
- European Initiative Targets Potential Shortage Of Skilled Labor
(Semiconductor Business News)
An initiative aimed at helping Europe avoid a skills shortage in semiconductor manufacturing and chip engineering positions was announced Tuesday by a coalition of trade groups during the Semicon Europa 98 trade show in Geneva.
- When children become addicted to the Internet
(Nando.net - Scripps Howard)
A new study by Kimberly Young of the University of Pittsburgh suggests that chat rooms and games on the Internet could turn children into dysfunctional recluses and disrupt family life. The psychology behind playing games online is very seductive, especially for young children with low self-esteem or family problems. If the child is using the Net to escape from family life, or feels inadequate or has few real life friends, to become a legend in an online game is potent.
Internet access and use
- AOL plans high-speed access trials
America Online (AOL) today announced that it will be starting field trials that will give selected customers high-speed access to the online network. AOL will be testing a technology called Digital Subscriber Line, DSL. The price for the speedy access, however, will not be cheap. Eligible members will be charged $49.95 per month, including the monthly AOL subscription fee
- WorldNet adds heavy use charge
A day before online service behemoth America Online Inc. is set to raise its monthly fee from the $19.95 industry standard, AT&T Corp.'s million-member WorldNet service said it is adding a surcharge for heavy Net users. Starting May 1, WorldNet subscribers on the monthly $19.95 plan will pay an additional 99 cents per hour after they pass 150 hours of usage, company officials said. Per month, 150 hours works out to about five hours of Internet use a day.
- Lycos strikes gold in deals
Net search firm Lycos has inked six deals totaling $30 million, the company said today. During the month of March, Lycos signed e-commerce, finance, and content deals with CDnow, E-Loan, GetSmart, HomeShark, Preview Travel, and Realtor.com. The $30 million in fees come from e-commerce, advertising, and sponsorship, according to Lycos.
- Network Computer Shipments Less Than Expected
Shipments of network computers, low-cost devices that draw their computing power from networks, were less than expected in 1997 and probably will not be "significant" at all this decade, an influential market researcher said. Shipments of the devices tallied just 144,040 units in 1997, less than previously anticipated, according to a report by Dataquest. Shipments of network computers will rise only to 482, 196 units in 1998.
- Nokia Aims To Sell One Million TV Decoders in 1998
Finnish telecommunications equipment maker Nokia said today its business for digital set-top decoders for cable and satellite television was on track to sell a million units this year. "We delivered almost one million set-top boxes last year, and we look forward to delivering a million more this year," Nokia spokeswoman Marja-Terttu Verho said.
- Survey: Smaller ISPs Fighting to Remain Independent
A new survey found that small- and medium-sized ISPs are fighting to remain independent in spite of increasing competition. The survey of over 600 ISPs found three-fourths of the respondents said they feel they have enough resources to compete.
Filtering and rating
- Outlook 98 filter goes too far, some say
Microsoft's efforts to protect you from spam may be going too far, blocking e-mail from friends, families and news groups, according to analysts and free-speech advocates. In an attempt to block unwanted e-mail, an automatic function on the company's new Outlook 98 messaging software filters messages based on a preset list of words and punctuation. The feature blocks messages that have an exclamation point and question mark in the subject line, as well as such words or phrases as "for free!" and "removal instructions" in the body.
- NetRatings launches Web audience measurement tool
(Nando.net - Reuters )
Online research startup NetRatings Inc. introduced a service Monday that links Web site visits and banner advertising click rates with detailed user demographic data. The product, Online Observer, provides weekly, monthly and quarterly reports. It is aimed at helping advertisers and ad buyers analyze and plan where to place online marketing. Data for Online Observer are collected by tracking the Web usage of a panel of 2,000 people who have provided detailed demographic, lifestyle and behavioral information.
- Study: Net use eclipsing TV
Web users are now spending as much time on the Internet as they are watching television--if not more, a new study says. WebCensus, a survey conducted by investment firm Hambrecht & Quist and Web advertisement network LinkExchange, broke down the time Web users dedicate to various media during the course of a day. Results showed that 31 percent of the time was spent on the Internet, compared to 29 percent devoted to watching television. Further breakdown found radio taking up 24 percent of the time, and print media such as newspapers and magazines pulling up the rear with 16 percent.
- France - Le marché du commerce sur internet estimé à 40 millions de francs
Le commerce électronique sur internet a représenté en France 40 millions de francs en 1997, et devrait doubler tous les six mois pour représenter 160 millions en 1998, selon une étude du Benchmark Group publiée jeudi.
QuickLinks are edited by Richard Swetenham
- Contributor: Pierre Bischoff
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