QuickLinks 72 - 5 June 1998
Legal and regulatory issues
- UK - Scout Leader Held In FBI Child Porn Swoop
Five men, including at least one scout leader, have been quizzed by detectives over alleged child pornography following an operation by the FBI. Detectives in Lancashire arrested the men as part of a worldwide sting to target paedophiles using the Internet.
Data Protection (privacy)
- USA - FTC Urges Privacy Law
The Federal Trade Commission called today for a new law to limit the collection of information about children surfing the Internet, after a survey by the US agency found rampant abuses. FTC Chairman Robert Pitofsky said the results of the agency's survey of 1,400 Web sites were "disappointing" and required immediate congressional action. "The failure of self-regulation so far is particularly disturbing when it comes to protecting children," Pitofsky told a news conference. FTC Press release http://www.ftc.gov/opa/9806/privacy2.htm
- France - Vers une Cnil rénovée
(Le Monde Informatique)
La directive européenne sur le traitement de données à caractère personnel doit être adaptée en droit français avant octobre prochain. Un rapport remis à Lionel Jospin avance des propositions pour toiletter la loi de 1978 et rénover l'instance chargée de la faire appliquer, la Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés, qui devrait voir ses pouvoirs largement renforcés.
- USA - AOL revamps security policy
After several highly publicized security breaches, America Online has posted a new version of its membership policy that addresses some of the privacy concerns raised by users and critics. As part of the privacy statement, AOL said it would take extra steps to protect children from online smut and solicitations, and gives further assurances to safeguard account and membership information.
- USA - Marketers: Privacy laws won't help kids, parents
Officials from around the Internet and computing industries insisted that new laws aren't necessary to safeguard consumers' personal data and they began a concerted campaign to fend off new regulatory strictures. Instead of government intervention, parents need "support in the form of education and tools" to protect their children in cyberspace, said Patricia Faley, vice president of ethics and consumer affairs for the Direct Marketing Association in Washington, D.C.
- USA - US Policy Statement on the Internet Domain Name System released
The National Telecommunications and Information, an agency of the Department of Commerce, held a press conference on Friday, June 5 to release a Policy Statement on the Internet Domain Name System (DNS) that will lay out the Clinton Administration's policy for the transition of DNS functions to the private sector.
Internet access and use
- European ISPs protest costs
European Internet service providers declared war against high telecommunications costs today, saying they were tired of paying up to 20 times more than their U.S. counterparts. The European Internet Services Providers Association launched two days of speeches and workshops to explore ways to bring down prices for communications bandwidth in Europe. EuroISPA, which represents 500 Internet service providers across the European Union, hopes one outcome will be the creation of a new consortium, or a broker, that can bypass telecommunications giants and buy bandwidth at reasonable prices.
- 'Family' Site Gets Stung
The most popular Internet filtering software, The Learning Company's Cyber Patrol, had recently added the AFA Web site to its "CyberNOT list," making it inaccessible to users who choose to block sites deemed offensive or inappropriate for children. The American Family Association has organized boycotts against the Disney corporation, Levi-Strauss, Pepsi, and ABC for perceived moral violations. Cyber Patrol lumped AFA.net into its "Intolerance" category covering sites which include "pictures or text advocating prejudice or discrimination against any race, color, national origin, religion, disability or handicap, gender, or sexual orientation." At issue are statements on the AFA site that oppose homosexual rights.
- Filtering and rating
Special edition with articles on various aspects of rating
- Turkish teenager sentenced for criticizing police on Internet
(Nando - Reuters)
A Turkish court gave a teenager a 10-month suspended jail sentence for making comments on the Internet criticizing rough police treatment of a group of blind protesters, a court official said on Tuesday. In a landmark case, 18-year-old Emre Ersoz was charged with "publicly insulting state security forces" after comments he made on Turknet's on-line daily forum last December.
- Germany - Prosecutors Appeal Somm's Case
State prosecutors who originally pressed for a guilty verdict before making an about-face took the unusual step today of filing an appeal against the conviction of Felix Somm in a key Internet pornography case.
Liability, jurisdiction and applicable law
- UK - Net provider sued for libel
A University lecturer who claims damaging allegations about him were posted on an Internet bulletin board is bringing the first libel action against an Internet service provider (ISP) based in the UK. Laurence Godfrey is suing Demon Internet Limited for defamation over a message posted last year on a UseNet newsgroup. He claims the message, which purported to come from him and which contained highly damaging allegations of a personal nature, was a forgery. When he asked Demon to remove it, he alleges the company refused. In Britain the defence of "innocent dissemination" is available to bookshops, printers and others unaware their wares are defamatory. But Dr Godfrey argues this is not available where a provider is warned a message is libellous.
Security and encryption
- USA - Cable Piracy Device Outlawed Variety
The maker of a cable TV descrambler that allows people to steal premium channels must pay US$52.3 million to Hollywood's biggest studios and was barred from making or selling the devices or related equipment in the United States.
Market & Technology
- Netscape's 'Smart' Browser
Netscape has unveiled its plan for "smarter" Web browsing. The new features are intended to help users find information faster and easier, the company says. A new Internet Keywords feature lets a user type a single word into the browser's location bar (where Web addresses are normally entered). A second, "What's Related" feature will provide a pull-down menu in Navigator's location bar. A third feature is meant to help parents keep tabs on Web content seen by their children. Similar to current third-party, Net-monitoring software, Navigator's new NetWatch feature offers parental control over Web content that can be viewed with Navigator.
- Brits fear the Internet, survey indicates
(Nando.net Scripps Howard)
Far from embracing the brave new world of the Internet, most Britons view it with fear and suspicion, a report published Monday reveals. Fears that it aids fraud, creates unsociable computer nerds and cultivates porn addicts abound among the largely technophobic public. The survey, by the consumer magazine Which? Online, found people were most concerned about the accessibility of pornography and other illegal materials on the Internet, with nearly six out of 10 (58 percent) believing it undermined public morality. Only 13 percent said they would feel comfortable allowing their children to use the Internet unsupervised, and 72 percent believed it should be regulated.
Links to news items about
legal and regulatory aspects of Internet and the information society, and
market and technology
edited by Richard Swetenham
- Contributors: Stephen Balkam, Pierre Bischoff, Angela Mills, Alan Reekie
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