QuickLinks 63 - 28 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.
U.K. seeks voluntary key recovery
Legal and regulatory issues
- Hong Kong Cracks Down on Pirates
Hong Kong's anti-corruption police said today that they have seized 8 million pirated video compact discs and arrested 12 people, including a customs officer, in connection with a bribery case. The Independent Commission Against Corruption said the haul of VCDs was worth HK$200 million (US$25.7 million). Officials said they also seized HK$450 million (US$57.8 million) worth of manufacturing equipment.
- Confusion over domain names and profanity is mushrooming.
"I am trying to register the domain name 'shitakemushooms.com,'" complained Netizen Jeff Gold in an email message to CNET's NEWS.COM. "It is available, but the InterNIC is refusing to register it because it contains four letters they consider obscene." Network Solutions' automated system screens for the so-called Network Seven, referring to the seven words the major television networks do not permit on the air.
- EU: U.S. doesn't own Net
The European Union's objections to a U.S. proposal for reforming the Internet address system have helped remind Washington that it does not own the global network, an Internet expert said. "They [the EU] are a great counterbalance to the weight of the U.S. government," Donald Heath, president and chief executive of the Internet Society, said in an interview. Heath said he was sure the EU's comments would influence the plan for phasing out the U.S. government's management of the address system that allows users to find World Wide Web and electronic mail sites.
- USA - Circus Sues Animal-Rights Group In Domain Dispute
(Net Insider )
The circus is coming to town, but this time nobody is smiling. The Ringling Brothers' Barnum and Bailey Circus has filed suit against the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), charging that the animal-rights group has stolen its trademarked name with a website spotlighting the company's animal training practices.
- Canada, Australia, Europe join request for customs-free Internet
Canada, Australia, and the European Union have joined the United States in asking the World Trade Organization to put plans to impose customs duties on Internet trading on hold for the foreseeable future.
- Canadian Hate Site Goes Dark
A Canadian company that hosted Web pages for groups with connections to white extremists has pulled the plug on its service, while federal hate-crime investigators attempt to build a case against the owner. Fairview Technology Center Ltd., a British Columbia firm that is reportedly connected to right-wing extremists in Europe and Canada, said it dropped its Internet business because of a telephone company terms-of-service stipulation that could make it liable for Web content
Junk mail (spam)
- Truce Spawns Anti-Spam Group
A new team is suiting up to take the anti-spam battle online and to Washington, D.C., hoping to spur legislation banning junk e-mail. The Forum for Responsible and Ethical E-Mail (FREE) was born of the recent "spam truce," in which a group of anti-spam activists forged a cease-fire agreement with infamous Net marketers Sanford Wallace and Walt Rines.
- Netscape wants to be media firm
The next 60 days are going to be make or break for Netscape Communications in its battle to keep its grip on the booming Internet market and stave off Microsoft Corp's bid for dominance. Jim Barksdale, president and chief executive, told journalists he wanted to turn Netscape into a media company. "In the next 60 days you will see us massively expanding in the media area," he said, briefing reporters after a week spent in Europe meeting government officials and industry executives.
Security and encryption
- U.K. seeks voluntary key recovery
New encryption legislation coming down the pike in the United Kingdom calls for the voluntary licensing of entities that supply data security products and carves out room for law enforcement to get the keys that unscramble private communication. The United Kingdom's Department of Trade & Industry proposal released today aims to foster e-commerce by promoting the use of encryption, which is expected to bolster consumer confidence in the security of their online transactions.
- UK - Secure Electronic Commerce Statement
(Department of Trade and Industry)
The following statement outlines the measures announced by the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Trade and Industry, Barbara Roche...
We therefore intend to introduce legislation to license those bodies providing, or facilitating the provision of cryptography services. Principally these will be Trusted Third Parties (the generic term for bodies that provide one, or a variety of cryptography services to their clients), Certification Authorities (bodies which mainly issue certificates for electronic signatures) and Key Recovery Agents (responsible for facilitating the "recovery" of encrypted data). Such licensing arrangements will be voluntary, as business has requested,...
We intend that licensed Certification Authorities conforming to the procedural and technical standards which such licensing will confer would be in a position to offer certificates to support electronic signatures reliable enough to be recognised as equivalent to written signatures;...
The Government intends to introduce legislation to enable law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant for lawful access to information necessary to decrypt the content of communications or stored data (in effect, the encryption key). This does not include cryptographic keys used solely for digital signature purposes. The new powers will apply to those holding such information (whether licensed or not) and to users of encryption products. They will be exercisable only when appropriate authority has been obtained (for example, a judicial warrant for the purpose of a criminal investigation or, in the case of interception of communications, a warrant issued by a Secretary of State) and will be subject to strict controls and safeguards.
- USA - Ohio Professor Challenges U.S. Encryption Law
An Ohio law professor, who is challenging the government's ban on exporting encryption software, took his case to a federal judge Friday. Case Western Reserve University law professor Peter Junger says encryption software that scrambles data is covered by First Amendment speech protections, and he wants to post encryption program code on his website as reference material for his students.
Market & Technology
Convergence of telecommunications, media and information technology sectors
- DigiTV Foundering in Disinterest?
The future of television is digital, but major hurdles remain in convincing consumers in the United States and Britain of that fact. That's the conclusion of market researchers who say that massive investment in technology and advertising in both countries has yet to create much interest in, or even knowledge of, digital TV.
- Dutch PC maker goes belly-up
Tulip, one of Europe's last independent makers of personal computers, sought bankruptcy protection from its creditors, a month after declaring 1998 a make-or-break year. In a terse, four-line statement, the company said its application to a court in Den Bosch, where the firm is based, had been granted. The court appointed three administrators to assess the company's debts and its chances of survival.
Multilingual content and software
- The toils of surfing in Arabic
If you use a different alphabet, write from right to left and own a computer, you've got problems — though at least you share them with millions of other people. Arabic is the world's sixth major language, with 186 million native speakers. That puts it way ahead of German (98 million) and French (72 million) and yet, in computer terms, it lags far behind.
- Internet: Traffic 'doubling every 100 days'
Internet traffic is doubling every 100 days and the volume of global electronic commerce is set to surpass $300bn by 2002, the US Commerce Department said yesterday. Its figures show that 10m people in the US and Canada had made a purchase via the World Wide Web by the end of 1997, an increase from 4.7m people six months earlier. A report, "The Emerging Digital Economy," shows that the information technology industry employs 7.4m workers.
- Net usage firms join efforts
Net research firms Internet Profiles Corporation (I/Pro) and Media Metrix joined forces to clear up some of the mystery surrounding Web usage patterns. The two firms today released the results of a collaborative study, titled "The Web in Perspective: A Comprehensive Review of Web Usage." Marketing and e-commerce sites were the fastest-growing type of site, increasing 500 percent in 1997.
QuickLinks are edited by Richard Swetenham
- Contributor: Alan Reekie
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