QuickLinks 71 - 2 June 1998
Legal and regulatory issues
Access to public sector information / IT in government
- Police to Net criminals by video
An innovative police force has begun using the Internet to show security videos and film footage of offences being committed. Suffolk detectives believe their Website will help catch criminals by delivering footage of crimes to as wide an audience as possible. The site also includes photofits and details of appeals.
WorldCom - MCI
- USA - 'Cybersex' sexual abuser sentenced to 15 years to life
(Nando Net _ Reuters)
An Ivy League doctoral student was sentenced to 15 years to life in jail Friday for kidnapping and sexually abusing a woman he first met on the Internet in a case dubbed "the cybersex trial." During the trial, the jury heard testimony and pored over 57 pages of electronic mail messages between the defendant and the victim.
- U.S. to finalize domain plan
(Reuters - News.com )
The United States is looking at putting out a final proposal on the naming system for the Internet within the next two weeks, a senior government official said today. "We are going to develop a global consensus as to how to have a domain name system," said U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information Larry Irving. "In the next couple of weeks we hope to get it out," Irving told reporters.
- Canadian court strikes down ban on poll publication
Canada's Supreme Court struck down a government ban on Friday on publishing polls in the last three days of an election campaign as a "serious invasion of the freedom of expression of all Canadians." The court voted 5-3 to overturn the ban, implemented to prevent inaccurate polls from swaying voters and to allow critical reflection at the end of a campaign.
- Indonesia's Net War
In Indonesia the Internet has given students and other dissidents unprecedented freedom of speech. Bound by a covert thread of communication, they have been able to foment a massive ground swell of pro-democratic activity. Indeed, throughout the May uprising, middle-class students used the Internet to network their impatience into a cohesive political force, planning demonstrations and meetings. Ironically, access to the Internet was fueled by Suharto's money-hungry kin. The president's children recognized the money to be made from TV and satellite communications. The country has 25,000 registered Internet users, and the total number of people who have access to the Net is believed to be at least 100,000.
Information society and Internet policy
- AOL Chairman advocates Net policy group
(InfoWorld Electric )
To put the Internet industry on track to govern itself, America Online Chairman Steve Case on Friday proposed that a group be formed to advocate policies based on issues important to consumers, companies, and governments. Case did not offer much in the way of specifics regarding his proposed Internet Alliance, and he declined to meet with reporters after his keynote talk at the Harvard Conference on Internet & Society. He did say during his speech that the group should be composed of representatives of Internet businesses and government agencies, as well as consumer advocates.
- Polese endorses Internet 'anarchy'
(InfoWorld Electric )
Kim Polese's definition of the Internet differs from others who have opined on the topic here this week at the Harvard Conference on Internet & Society. Polese, who helped create Java and is now president and CEO of software start-up Marimba, offered this thought: "The Internet might be defined as the largest experiment in human anarchy."
- EU - Recommendation on the protection of minors and human dignity in the audiovisual and information services
The Recommendation was adopted by the Council on 28 May. The Recommendation offers guidelines for the development of national self-regulation regarding the protection of minors and human dignity online. Self-regulation is based on three key elements: first, the involvement of all the interested parties (Government, industry, service and access providers, user associations) in the production of codes of conduct; secondly, the implementation of codes of conduct by the industry; thirdly, the evaluation of measures taken.
Full title: Council Recommendation of 28.05.1998 on the development of the competitiveness of the European audiovisual and information services industry by promoting national frameworks aimed at achieving a comparable and effective level of protection of minors and human dignity DE FR
- China Seeking Filtered Content
China says the Internet is a crucial force in opening its doors to the world, but Net users in China will see content that has been selected, filtered, and published from government servers in 10 Chinese cities.
- Interpol - Pornographie infantile sur internet: appel aux fournisseurs d'accès
(Agence France Presse)
L'industrie informatique s'est vue demander de développer des logiciels pour bloquer la pornographie infantile sur internet par des experts de 19 pays, réunis jeudi et vendredi au siège d'Interpol à Lyon. Interpol et plusieurs organisations intergouvernementales, dont ECPAT, principale ONG internationale de lutte contre l'exploitation sexuelle des enfants, ont également invité vendredi soir tous les Etats à "criminaliser la production, la distribution le commerce et la possession de matériaux pornographiques pédophiles", y compris d'images virtuelles. Dans un communiqué, les participants demandent aux industriels de l'informatique de "développer des logiciels anti-virus améliorés pour filtrer ou bloquer la diffusion de la pornographie infantile par les fournisseurs d'accès (ISP), à travers une base centrale régulièrement mise à jour de données comprenant des empreintes des images de pornographie infantile". Selon un participant, ce système implique de surveiller constamment les sites pédophiles sur Internet, dont les images pornographiques portent une "signature" informatique, car leurs auteurs changent souvent d'adresse et de code. Les fournisseurs d'accès à internet, dont certains étaient présents à Lyon tel America onLine, s'opposent une limitation des échanges sur le réseau mondial d'ordinateurs, l'assimilant à une censure.
- USA - Guilty Plea in Kid Porn
A 47-year-old New Jersey man who sent and received child porn over the Internet pleaded guilty Monday in federal court to one count of possessing illicit imagery. Eugene Byrnes, of Kinnelon, New Jersey, faces five years in federal prison and a US$250,000 fine when he is sentenced in August.
- USA - Library sued for not filtering Net
A Livermore, California, parent is hoping that a lawsuit she filed against the city will legally persuade it to install filtering software on its library computers that have Internet access--or otherwise limit children's unfettered access to the Net. But the Livermore city librarian said the library board already weighed in on the controversial issue of library filtering, and decided against it. An unnamed woman sued the library yesterday after her 12-year-old son repeatedly downloaded pornographic images to a disk, printed them out at a relative's house, and then distributed them.
Liability, jurisdiction and applicable law
- EU - Online porn case shows global talks needed
The European Commission said the pornography conviction of a former CompuServe manager in Germany was "astonishing" and highlighted the need for global co-operation on how to regulate the Internet. The European Union executive has been pushing countries to adopt an international charter setting out procedures for addressing legal and technical questions affecting the Internet and other electronic networks. A spokesman said liability for information carried across borders on the Internet needed to be addressed.
The Bavarian court convicted Somm even though Germany's new multimedia law says that access providers are not generally liable for Internet content, although they are required to take reasonable measures to block access to banned material. The Commission has promised to propose EU legislation this year on the liability of on-line service providers for content carried over their networks in areas such as obscenity, defamation, privacy and misleading advertising.
- Defendant in Internet porn case expects to be vindicated
|The former Compuserve manager convicted in Germany in a key Internet pornography case said Friday that he is "100 percent confident" that the decision will be overturned. Felix Somm, in an interview with Reuters, also said the ruling by a Munich court was wrong and agreed with others who have said the case could hurt the development of the Internet in Germany and online businesses, including his own. Yet while surprised by the judge's decision, which went against the prosecutor's last-minute request for acquittal, Somm said he was optimistic he would eventually be cleared of the charges. Judge Wilhelm Hubbert on Thursday gave Somm, 34, a two-year suspended sentence and fined him 100,000 marks. Hubbert concluded Somm "abused" the Internet and allowed child pornography to be accessible in Germany when he was head of Compuserve's German division in 1995 and 1996. http://www.techserver.com/newsroom/ntn/info/052998/info18_107_noframes.html|
- UK fights to stop rogue overseas Internet ads
Britain's Financial Services Authority admitted it was fighting an uphill battle in efforts to prevent rogue overseas firms from trying to sell investments to people in the UK via the Internet. "The real problem lies in areas where we do not have powers to seek enforcement," said Phillip Thorpe, head of authorization, enforcement and consumer relations at the FSA. He was speaking Thursday as the regulator issued guidelines to answer concerns of firms which do want to comply with the rules. But he conceded that while the watchdog can take steps against firms working in jurisdictions where there is a regulatory structure and an FSA counterpart, it can do little where this is not the case.
Security and encryption
- USA - Crypto compromise not in cards
As high-tech giants plan to meet with the Clinton administration over its contested encryption export regulations, a lawmaker who has long fought to lift limits on the technology said today that he doubts that a legislative compromise will be reached this year. Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Montana), who wrote the dormant Pro-Code crypto export relief bill, told reporters gathered at Netscape Communications' headquarters here that the heated debate over data security products is still alive and well. "I would like to see legislation this year, but I'm not optimistic about it," he said.
- USA - Tech execs will meet with the FBI over crypto
Top executives from some of the world's largest computer hardware and software companies will meet with FBI Director Louis Freeh and Senator Dianne Feinstein on June 9 to discuss their differences over government limitations over encryption technology. Though a final list of attendees remains in flux, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, Netscape CEO James Barksdale, America Online Chairman Steve Case, AT&T CEO Michael Armstrong, Sun Chairman and CEO Scott McNealy and MCI President Timothy Price are all expected to attend.
Market & Technology
Employment and social issues
- An awful warning to dedicated QuickLinks readers
(Nando.net - Reuters)
People who seem addicted to the Internet often show a bumper crop of psychiatric disorders like manic-depression, and treating those other conditions might help them rein in their urge to be online, a study suggests. Being hooked on the Internet is not a recognized disorder. The study said the excessive online use by the study participants would qualify as a disorder of impulse control, in the same category as kleptomania or compulsive shopping. In fact, he suggested the Internet problem be called "Internetomania" or "Netomania," rather than an addiction. A psychologist said many people with no prior sign of psychiatric trouble have gotten hooked on the Internet too. They may be dealing with other life circumstances like stale marriages or job burnout, she said.
Internet access and use
- British Net project loses power
An ambitious project to provide high-speed Internet access through electricity lines hit a snag when street lights using the same power supply turned into rogue radio transmitters. Trials of the systems in Manchester showed that Norweb's Digital PowerLine technology was fast but Internet users discovered that the data they were downloading was being broadcast as high-frequency radio waves through the street lamps. Physical similarities between the street lights, which are the right vertical length of a conductor, caused them to act as radio aerials.
- UK - Permanent, fast Net access for consumers by 1999
The UK is to get its first permanent, high speed Internet service for consumers by the first quarter of 1999. ComTel, the Thames Valley and Midlands cable company, yesterday announced the development in conjunction with the U.S. cable modem Internet provider @Home Network. The planned service will combine Net access with news video on demand (NVOD), audio, games and software downloading.
- Cable & Wireless Buys MCI Internet Backbone
Cable & Wireless PLC said it will acquire MCI Communications Corp.'s Internet backbone for $625 million in cash. The speedy sale of the network could clear the way for European Commission and U.S. approval of the MCI-WorldCom Inc. merger. "By divesting MCI's Internet backbone, we have eliminated any overlap with WorldCom's Internet business," said MCI Chairman Bert Roberts in a statement. "We have formed an agreement that addresses antitrust concerns with the MCI-WorldCom merger."
- Kirch négocie avec Murdoch pour la TV payante, selon Die Welt
(Agence France Presse)
Les deux magnats allemand et australo-américain des médias Leo Kirch et Rupert Murdoch négocient actuellement en vue d'une alliance dans la télévision payante, a affirmé le quotidien allemand Die Welt dimanche. Ces négociations se sont ouvertes immédiatement après que la Commission européenne eut opposé son veto mercredi au projet d'alliance de Kirch et de Bertelsmann dans la télévision numérique, selon le journal. Kirch a annoncé mercredi aux collaborateurs que DF1 continuerait à émettre, affirme le journal. Le patron de Bertelsmann Mark Woessner a assuré dans la nouvelle édition du Spiegel qu'il ne laisserait pas Kirch en plan "s'il a des problèmes" après l'échec de leur projet d'alliance. Il s'agit pour Bertelsmann, explique l'hebdomadaire, d'éviter que Kirch, dont les finances sont mal en point, ne s'allie à Murdoch. Le veto de la Commission européenne a enfoncé un coin entre Kirch, désireux de faire des concessions pour redemander le feu vert, et Bertelsmann qui refuse.
- Microsoft Allows Gateway To Customize PCs
Even though a ruling on the government's antitrust case against Microsoft Corp. is still months away, the software giant is showing signs of loosening its grip of influence on the way PC makers customize their personal computers, a practice that represents one of the central anticompetitive charges facing Microsoft.
- NEC forgoes Internet Explorer in new laptops
NEC Computer Systems Division's new laptops will not be bundled with Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer browser. The move comes on the heels of Gateway Inc.'s decision earlier this week to offer users a choice of browsers -- Microsoft's IE or Netscape Communications Corp.'s Navigator.
Multilingual content and software
- L&H Readies Web Translation Software
Lernout & Hauspie, which is partially owned by Microsoft, has begun a second beta test of Coronado, its language translation software for the Web, in preparation for release later this month. Coronado is a combination software product and service that translates Web page text into foreign languages on the fly.
- Microsoft sued over Vietnamese keyboard layout
A Little Saigon businessman claims Microsoft Corp. incorporated features of his Vietnamese-language accent key program into its products without his permission. Barry Weiss, a partner in a Chicago law firm that specializes in technology law, said Ho has a tough fight ahead. Weiss said there is very little legal precedent to address the questions raised by Ho's lawsuit.
- Norway - Opera Software releases French version of Opera 3.21
(Company Press Release)
Opera is available in English, German and French. Norwegian, Spanish, Hungarian , Afrikaans, Italian, Portuguese and Russian versions are under way. Opera sells for USD 35, a price Opera claims their customers gladly pay for a better product than the "dumped" free browsers of larger organisations. Small, fast, customizable, powerful but user-friendly, it takes the wait out of the Internet.
- Study Shows Two-Thirds of All Teenagers Now Wired
It's 1998, do you know where your teenage audience is? Chances are they're surfing the Internet or sending e-mail. That's the finding of the Simmons TeenAge Research Study (STARS), released by Simmons, a market research firm. According to STARS, nearly 65% of teens ages 12-19 claim to have used or subscribed to online services over the past 12 months, a 50% increase over the 43% who said they were wired two years ago.
Links to news items about
legal and regulatory aspects of Internet and the information society, and
market and technology
edited by Richard Swetenham
- Contributor: Ola-Kristian Hoff
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