QuickLinks 69 - 26 May 1998
USA - DOJ, States File Suit Against Microsoft
WTO reaches no-tariff pact on Internet transmissions
Europe approves plan for Internet-linked mobile phones
Legal and regulatory issues
Kirch / Bertelsmann
- EU - Le Comité consultatif fusions hostile au projet
(Agence France Presse )
Le Comité consultatif fusions, composé d'experts en concurrence des quinze pays de l'UE, a confirmé son hostilité au projet de fusion des activités de télévision numérique de Bertelsmann et Kirch dans la chaîne payante Premiere, a-t-on appris de sources européennes. Cet avis, obtenu par quatorze voix sur quinze, ne lie pas la Commission européenne qui doit en principe prendre mercredi sa décision. "Il est difficile de dire quelle sera l'issue de ce dossier au sein du collège des 20 commissaires européens. Karel Van Miert, commissaire européen chargé de la concurrence -qui recommande l'interdiction du projet de fusion- n'est qu'un commissaire parmi 20", avait indiqué lundi après-midi la porte-parole de la Commission Martine Reicherts. Selon des sources européennes, plusieurs commissaires notamment Martin Bangemann (Industrie), Marcelino Oreja (audiovisuel) et Edith Cresson (recherche), estiment qu'il ne faut pas interdire ce projet de fusion et laisser ainsi le champ libre aux opérateurs américains sur le marché allemand.
- USA - DOJ, States File Suit Against Microsoft
The Justice Department and 20 separate states today asked a Washington, D.C., court to radically change the way Microsoft Corp. does business as a first step in what promises to be one the most significant antitrust proceeding since the 1983 breakup of AT&T Corp. See also http://cnnfn.com/specials/microsoftappeal/
- USA - For Netscape browser business, suits may be too late
It is the company most commonly identified as the victim of Microsoft Corp.'s alleged monopolistic practices. But Netscape Communications Corp. was restrained on Monday in response to antitrust suits filed against Microsoft, suggesting that the damage had been done and would not be easily repaired. "At Netscape, we may never know how the company would have developed in the absence of (Microsoft's) anti-competitive behavior," Netscape said in a statement.
- USA - Microsoft Speeds Win98 Release
In a ruling that gives Microsoft Corp. a window of opportunity to go to market with its new PC operating system, a federal judge today set a September date for a hearing on a federal and state motion to force the software superpower to dramatically alter Windows 98. US District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson set the 8 September hearing date even as the company announced an aggressive speedup in its schedule for getting the new software to consumers. Jackson also granted a motion to consolidate the cases filed by the Justice Department and 20 states.
WorldCom - MCI
- EU - EU official blasts WorldCom/MCI merger on Internet issue
(Nando.net Reuters )
European competition chief Karel Van Miert on Monday lashed out at the $37 billion merger between WorldCom Inc. and MCI Communications Corp., saying that any overlap between the two U.S. companies in the Internet market should be eliminated. A major concern is that the combined entity could control Internet service prices. WorldCom owns powerful Internet service provider UUNet. Van Miert also denied a claim by WorldCom Chief Executive Officer Bernie Ebbers last Thursday that the European Commission had admitted to miscalculating the combined company's share of the Internet market and now put it at "less than 38 percent. "To put the record straight, these allegations are simply not true," a statement from Van Miert's office said.
- EU - WorldCom CEO sees appeasing EU regulators
WorldCom Inc. Chief Executive Officer Bernie Ebbers said on Thursday that only a "small remedy" would be needed in order to appease European Union regulators' concerns over WorldCom's proposed acquisition of MCI Communications Corp. . "I am sure we will be able to come up with a solution that is acceptable to regulators," Ebbers said at the company's annual shareholder meeting,
- USA - Porn Patrons Billed, Unfulfilled
A Los Angeles-based vendor has shaken up the world of Net porn in the past few months, plastering its ads all over by promising big payouts to those who run its banners on their own sites, thereby drawing crowds of new customers to its network of online sex galleries. But according to some watchdogs who track consumer complaints, XPics has snared scores of netsurfers who find it easy to sign up for "100 percent free" trial memberships by giving XPics a credit-card number, but discover it's difficult to quit the service and stop charges once the free period is over.
- USA - House votes to restrict database pirating
(Nando.net - Associated Press)
The House voted Tuesday to prohibit people from pirating and profiting from database information collected by others. The bill, passed by voice vote, aims to protect small companies, educational institutes, libraries and research groups that collect large amounts of electronic information, often for nonprofit uses. It "prohibits the misappropriation of valuable commercial collections by unscrupulous competitors who grab data collected by others, repackage it and market a product that threatens competitive injury," said Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C.
- USA - Scientology Slips Through the Net
Depending on whom you ask, last week's verdict in Religious Technology Center v. Keith Henson is either a vote for intellectual property rights or a vote against freedom of information. But regardless of whom you ask, Henson is in an unenviable position: He faces a US$75,000 fine for violating the Church of Scientology's copyright. And this Friday, the Palo Alto, California, electrical engineer must tell the judge in the case why he should not be held in contempt of court for the Web posting of sealed testimony in the San Jose, California, US District Court trial.
- USA - Senate whittles away at Internet copyright law
The Senate has taken the first step toward modernizing copyright law by giving musicians, filmmakers, writers and software developers greater protection for work sent over the Internet. The bill, approved 99-0 May 14 after a brief debate, would implement copyright treaties for written material and sound recordings. The treaties were adopted in 1996 by the U.N. World Intellectual Property Organization.
- EU expects new U.S. domain plan
European Union Commissioner Martin Bangemann said he expected the United States to present new plans soon to loosen its grip over the Internet domain name system after Europe criticized an earlier U.S. plan. A spokesman for the German Commissioner said Bangemann had told European Union telecommunications ministers, meeting in Brussels, he expected Washington to deliver new suggestions for replacing the American monopoly over the system for managing Internet addresses "in the next few days or weeks, perhaps as early as next week."
- Canadians order Viagra via Internet
Viagra has not been approved for sale in Canada, but Canadians are turning to the Net to get their potency fix. A Reuters investigation this week showed that it is easier for Canadians to obtain Viagra by consulting a "cyberdoctor" than it is for Americans, who must undergo a physical examination by a registered physician before the drug can be prescribed. Introduced in April by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, the male potency pill has taken the world by storm, with more than a million prescriptions already having been filled. Canadians have been flocking across the border to get prescriptions filled in the United States. But it is simpler to order the pills from several controversial sites on the Internet and have the drug delivered to virtually any address in Canada.
- EU - Europe Launches Plan To Clean Up Net
Europe's plans for promoting the safe use of the Internet will include a European network of telephone hotlines for reporting illegal content, and a rating system for websites with sexual or violent themes. Government ministers for telecommunications in countries throughout the European Union agreed on a 25 million ecu ($27.6 million) action plan at a meeting in Brussels Monday. The scheme will run until 2002. The proposal now goes to the European Parliament for its first reading, and then back to the European ministers for confirmation later this year.
Security and encryption
- USA - Programmer faces crypto probe
A Silicon Valley programmer on Tuesday is slated to respond to a subpoena by an arm of the Commerce Department investigating whether a security plug-in that can be downloaded from his Web site violates U.S. laws barring the export of strong encryption.
Taxation and tariffs
- WTO reaches no-tariff pact on Internet transmissions
(InfoWorld Electric )
The World Trade Organization (WTO) has approved an agreement to refrain, at least temporarily, from imposing tariffs on Internet transmissions, according to U.S. administration officials. Ministers from the 132-nation WTO, based in Geneva, agreed to continue the current practice of not imposing customs duties on electronic transmissions for a year, the officials said Thursday. However, goods ordered electronically but delivered physically are not covered by the agreement.
- Europe approves plan for Internet-linked mobile phones
European Union telecoms ministers Tuesday provisionally endorsed a draft law designed to keep the 15-nation bloc at the cutting edge of technology for the next generation of multi-functional, Internet-ready mobile phones. The plan, drawn up by the EU's executive Commission in February, obliges the bloc's governments to introduce by January 2000 rules for licensing a new generation of high-speed mobile phones and terminals for connecting users to the Internet and multimedia services such as video-conferencing.
Market & Technology
Data Protection (privacy)
- W3C Drafts Web Privacy System
The question of whether privacy can be technologically managed comes to the fore with the World Wide Web Consortium release of the first public draft of the Platform for Privacy Preferences, or P3P. The specification uses Web technologies, including the hypertext transfer protocol and XML, to describe a business's privacy practices to compatible software -- most obviously the Web browser. The idea is that the software will ensure a user's privacy concerns according to his preferences.
- FedEx sees spurt in E-commerce
Federal Express (FedEx) expects its worldwide business to expand in the future through the growth of electronic commerce and Internet technology, a senior official of the U.S. transport company said on Friday. "The adoption is going to just skyrocket," Douglas Topken, managing director, electronic commerce, service marketing, logistics, and catalog, told Reuters.
- Kodak, America Online to deliver pictures online
America Online Inc and Eastman Kodak Co said in a joint statement Tuesday that they would offer AOL members the ability to have their pictures delivered directly to them via the on-line service. The companies said that when any of AOL's 12 million members give their screen names to retailers nationwide, when having their pictures developed, will be able to then have them delivered digitally to their on-line accounts.
- Netscape bolsters Netcenter with news channel, search upgrades
(InfoWorld Electric )
Netscape on Thursday opened a new channel -- called Programmed by Netscape -- on its content site that targets enterprise users with news and product information. Part of Netscape's new "Project 60" campaign, the news assemblage is being augmented by new search agreements. Netscape's new Net Search Page beginning June 1 will offer the Net Search program. In it, Netscape and Excite will be joined by AltaVista, Infoseek, LookSmart, and Lycos as premier providers, Netscape said.
- Yahoo ends ties to Netscape
Yahoo will discontinue the Net guide it provides for Netscape, in a move that reflects the rapidly changing rivalries in the home page race. In statements late today, both companies stressed that the decision was mutual. Earlier in the day, Netscape announced that its four "premier" search providers would no longer include Yahoo.
- Infoseek Launches New "ESP" Search Engine
Infoseek unveiled a new search technology and said it delivers the most relevant results on the Internet, echoing the claims that most of its rivals have made for their entries. The new technology, called Extra Search Precision or ESP, was designed to fill in the blanks between what Internet users are looking for and what they actually ask for.
- Study: E-Commerce Set for 300% Growth Over Two Years
According to a new Deloitte & Touche Consulting Group study, the electronic commerce market is poised to experience 300% overall growth in the next two years. While the survey finds that the Energy industry and Public Sector lead with current business transactions over the Internet at 23.3% and 20.4% respectively, the greatest penetration for e-commerce will be in the Financial Services industry, with a near 70% adoption rate expected within two years, driven by a dramatic increase in consumer transactions.
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