QuickLinks 61 - 22 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 - Anti-Microsoft lobby group formed on eve of court appeal
(InfoWorld Electric )
A day before the first oral arguments for a Microsoft appeal in the U.S. Department of Justice case against it, former Senate majority leader Robert Dole and former U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Robert Bork helped launch an organization, the Project to Promote Competition and Innovation in the Digital Age, ProComp for short,that will campaign on behalf of companies that have been affected by alleged anti-competitive business practices by Microsoft.
- USA - FTC concentrates on cyberfraud
The Federal Trade Commission is pursuing the increasingly sophisticated criminals who are turning to the Net to trick consumers into parting with their hard-earned cash, the FTC stated in a report entitled "Fighting Consumer Fraud: New Tools of the Trade." http://www.ftc.gov/reports/fraud97/
Convergence of telecommunications, media and information technology sectors
- UK - Rivals try to settle digital TV dispute
British Sky Broadcasting and British Digital Broadcasting, the rival television groups, are to meet in an attempt to resolve a row over the compatibility of the decoders required to receive their digital television services. The meeting, which is understood to have been requested by BDB, will give the two companies an opportunity to agree common technical standards for their decoders, known as set-top boxes. BSkyB, which will start broadcasting 200 digital channels via satellite in June, has issued a writ against BDB, which is planning to launch a 30-channel service in the autumn. The writ claims that BDB's set-top box is not compatible with BSkyB's box, breaking an agreement between the two companies.
- Singapore, Taiwan Put On Anti-Piracy Show
With counterfeiting on the rise and the United States' certification-or-sanctions list forthcoming, Singapore's CD-makers today signed a pledge to avoid piracy. Meanwhile, Taiwan, also under threat of the tough anti-piracy code of the US Trade Act, said today that it had seized nearly 1,000 counterfeit Intel Pentium chips.
Data Protection (privacy)
- Time running out for US business to write their own privacy rules
(Net Insider )
A kind of doomsday clock is ticking for online businesses. Last summer, President Clinton gave online businesses a year to devise their own privacy rules. With just a few months to go, liitle progress has been made.
- Cyber-pirate ordered to end address scheme
(Nando.net - Reuters )
A "cyber-pirate" who registered more than 100 Internet addresses using corporate trademarks was ordered Friday to stop on the grounds he was violating trademark law. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court decision which found Dennis Toeppen was effectively attempting to extort money from companies such as Panavision, Lufthansa, Delta Airlines and others by asking if they wanted to buy back their own names for use as Internet addresses.
- Domain squatters losing out
Cybersquatters are falling on tough times. Thanks to a trademark law passed in 1995 targeting Internet squatters, federal judges in two recent cases have sided against individuals and companies that buy up domain names and then try to resell or otherwise profit from them. In potentially precedent-setting cases, the judges ruled that the domain name system's "first come, first served" policy does not apply when the domain name in question dilutes another company's trademark.
- Ruling on domain names opens an Internet can of worms
(Nando.net - Los Angeles Times Syndicate )
In a decision that could prevent tens of thousands of people from using their last names to identify themselves on the Internet, a federal judge in Los Angeles has ruled that a Canadian firm must relinquish the avery.net and dennison.net domain names to business supplies maker Avery Dennison Corp.
- USA - Internet registration fee partly illegal
Registrants of Internet domain names soon could get part of their money back, thanks to a federal court ruling this week. Federal District Court Judge Thomas Hogan ruled that the $50 million collected for the so-called "Intellectual Infrastructure" fund -- which is designed to go toward Web improvements -- is an illegal tax because the government never approved it.
Information society and Internet policy
- Internet charter seen gaining momentum in Europe
The European Union's telecommunications chief said Tuesday that his proposal for a global Internet charter was gaining momentum -- and he was willing to change its name if it would win more converts. "Sometimes people criticize the charter because they believe it is too binding," European Commissioner Martin Bangemann told reporters at a conference on the "information society." "Okay, let's find another name." He said the European Commission had been working to reassure the United States and others that he did not have some "U.N.-type bureaucracy" in mind. "To my mind, (the proposal) is more and more accepted," he said.
- EU - US companies warm to Brussels lobbying
Dozens of US companies have experienced similar awakenings in the past decade, flooding Brussels with lobbyists, lawyers, consultants, and position papers -- making the city feel like a tamer, European version of Washington. The trend reflects both the increasing globalization of business and the coming of age of what is now the European Union.
- EU/US - Transatlantic Internet truce?
Speaking at the seventh annual World Wide Web conference (WWW7) being held in Brisbane, Australia, the EC's Information Market Policies director Frans de Bruine said he now thought there was no chance of "Internet wars" developing he European Commission has said its differences with the United States over who will govern the Internet in the future are moving towards a resolution.
Security and encryption
- Experts plan debate on Internet security
(Nando.net - Reuters )
Business, legal and government experts will meet in Copenhagen later this week to discuss ways to promote security on the Internet and other electronic networks. More than 200 people from Europe, Japan, the United States and other countries are expected to attend a hearing on Thursday and Friday on digital signatures and encryption -- the technologies used to ensure that electronic exchanges are authentic and confidential.
- Hackers claim to have cracked major U.S. defense system
(Nando.net - Reuters )
A shadowy group of computer hackers has apparently succeeded in breaking broken into a U.S. computer system that controls military satellites, officials and security experts said Tuesday. The group, calling itself MOD or Masters of Downloading, has proof of its electronic snooping -- secret files allegedly pirated from the Defense Information Systems Network (DISN), computer security expert John Vranesevich said.
- USA - Clinton's crypto policy 'a failure,' official admits
( Inter@ctive Week Online)
Department of Commerce Secretary William Daley today said what civil libertarians and industry executives have asserted for years: The Clinton administration's policy on banning exports of data-scrambling technologies has failed. "While our policy goal - balance - is the right one, our implementation has been a failure," Daley told a group of industry executives this morning. "We have not been able to agree, amongst ourselves or with the business community, on how to reach that balance."
Market & Technology
- Futurist Saffo says Net won't kill middlemen
In his keynote address to the World Wide Web conference, "Disinter-remediation: The Suprising Nature of Business and the Web," technology forecaster Paul SaffoSaffo said that it isn't always in the interests of corporations to be in direct, daily contact with their customers. Rather, he said, it is smarter to get farther away from customers in the right way-by using what he called "cultural brokers."
Employment and social issues
- Workforce Reductions May Signal End Of Hiring Boom
(EE Times )
With Intel and Silicon Graphics having announced workforce reductions, Digital Equipment about to be absorbed into Compaq, and Advanced Micro Devices reporting steep quarterly losses, is the bloom off the rose for engineering hiring? "The jury is still out," said Bruce Rafey, principal of Bruce Rafey & Associates, a Lynn, Mass., recruitment firm that specializes in the semiconductor field. "It's too early to tell. You can see signs of it [a hiring downturn]. But you can also see contrary signs of it. There are still huge numbers of openings."
- European Telecom Giants Ink $2 Billion Deal
British communications company Cable & Wireless will sell roughly $2 billion of its international assets to Telecom Italia -- the latest development in a week-old alliance between the European telecommunications giants. Together, the networks of the two companies will carry 17 billion minutes of international phone calls annually, ranking second only to AT&T as an international carrier.
Quality of service
- Still No Cause For AT&T Outage
First the good news: After a network outage that began Monday afternoon and lasted close to 24 hours, AT&T Corp. said its frame relay services are fully restored. Now the bad news: Although the data communications carrier tracked the failure to two of its frame relay switches, it still hasn't diagnosed the exact cause of the downtime.
- German publisher puts news stories online
German publishing group Gruner+Jahr Monday unveiled what it called the first program that allows Internet surfers to do a comprehensive search of German newspaper articles online. The Internet search tool, called a search engine, has been dubbed "Paperball" and allows users to search the current contents of all online editions of German-language newspapers. Paperball can be found at the World Wide Web address http://www.paperball.de.
- Critics slam firms that monitor Web traffic
The methods used by Web site traffic firms are seriously flawed, critics say, alleging improper research methods, and lack of business and international data collection as the main objections. Firms such as Atlanta-based Relevant Knowledge, New York-based Media Metrix and Redwood City, Calif.-based I/Pro keep busy churning out statistics either for public or private use. But executives at key sites have concerns over their reliability.
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- Contributors: Alan Reekie, Theodor Schlickmann
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