QuickLinks 81 - 9 September 1998
Legal and regulatory issues
Access to public sector information / IT in government
- USA - Sex-offender Web site is proving popular
(Seattle Times )
Almost 30,000 people have accessed King County's sex-offender Web site since it went online in July. Prepared by the Sheriff's Office, the site lists the names, descriptions and ZIP codes of the county's more than 3,700 registered sex offenders. In addition, Deputy John Urquhart said he has received more than 200 e-mail queries from people seeking more information about the listed sex offenders, with three or four inquiries daily.
- U.S. Fraud Case Ends in Lifetime Internet-Commerce Ban
(New York Times)
In its continuing battle against Internet fraud, the Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday won an agreement barring a Florida man from engaging in Internet commerce for life as settlement of charges he collected thousands of dollars from people in online auction houses for computers he never delivered. The case was the commission's first to result in a settlement for a lifetime ban from advertising, marketing or selling goods or services via the Internet. It was also the first involving the increasingly popular online auction houses.
Convergence of telecommunications, media and information technology sectors
- Internet fueling cultural diversity says mogul
Internet technology and digital communications are driving the media industry toward an exciting new era of expansion and cultural diversity, the president of Time Warner Inc. said Tuesday. "The concept of media scarcity that has dominated the information and entertainment industries since their inception -- of not enough shelf space, or movie screens or television channels to accommodate the profusion of products -- is being blown apart," Richard Parsons told a conference on Europe's New Digital Economy.
- UK - Watchdog warns digital companies against inaccurate attacks on rivals
Leading media companies were warned yesterday not to attack each other during the prelude to digital TV. Peter Rogers, chief executive of the Independent Television Commission, warned the three main digital broadcasters not to use knocking copy in their marketing campaigns. He said: "We’re happy to see them compete ferociously on the services they offer. But they must be ruthlessly accurate and informative over the information on what they are offering to the public in terms of the set-top (decoder) box and interactive services."
- USA - Digital Television in the US
There have been some recent developments in the transition to digital television, including the recent Federal Communications Commission released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM or Notice) requesting public comment on the effects the transition to digital television (DTV) will have on cable television system operators and subscribers. The Benton Foundation tracks these developments on a website site devoted to the debate on the future of television. Related Article: http://www.digital-law.net/papers/digTV.html
- USA - FCC Paper: Net Needs New Regs
The Federal Communications Commission released a working paper on Thursday that poses a fundamental question: How should regulators classify and regulate Internet service delivered through the cable television infrastructure? Titled "Internet Over Cable: Defining the Future in Terms of the Past," the 129-page paper is a working draft. It carries no regulatory authority, and is intended only to "stimulate discussion." see also http://www.news.com/News/Item/Textonly/0,25,26055,00.html?st.ne.ni.pfv and http://www.wired.com/news/print_version/politics/story/14775.html
Data Protection (privacy)
- Council of Europe publishes Draft Guidelines on data protection
(Council of Europe )
"The protection of privacy on the Internet" - Draft Guidelines for the protection of individuals with regard to the collection and processing of personal data on the information highways, which may be incorporated in or annexed to Codes of conduct.
- USA - GeoCities Settles With FTC Over Privacy Violations
In the first case of its kind handled by The Federal Trade Commission, community Web site GeoCities has agreed to a settlement over Internet privacy charges. The FTC charged GeoCities with misrepresenting why it collected personal information from adults and children. When users registered at the site, the FTC said GeoCities gathered information to create a database. The information was used in targeting markets for advertisers, and third-party marketers were able to obtain the adult and children's personal information.
- $500,000 for new Net names body
(Reuters - CNET News.com)
A group of leading high-tech companies will unveil a plan today to raise "seed money" for private-sector efforts to reform the Internet's name and address system. The Global Internet Project hopes to raise about $500,000 in pledges from major Internet companies to cover the initial expenses of a new nonprofit corporation that will oversee Net names and addresses as the U.S. government phases out its support. "We're going to raise some start-up money to get things off the ground," said a person involved in the fundraising. The money will be donated "with no strings attached" to the new nonprofit corporation, the person said.
- USA - Judge says 'tax' on Net registration is legal
A U.S. district court judge has reversed his earlier finding and ruled that a fund consisting of more than $50 million in domain-name registration fees collected by Network Solutions Inc. (NSI) on behalf of the National Science Foundation (NSF) was imposed via a legal tax. In April, Judge Thomas Hogan of U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the collection of the NSF funds constituted an illegal tax -- essentially since U.S. Congress had not officially approved of the collection. Since then, the fund has retroactively been approved via Congressional appropriations legislation, paving the way for Hogan's decision, announced Wednesday.
- Clinton, Ahern digitally signs e-commerce agreement
President Clinton and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern tipped their hats to electronic commerce in Dublin Friday, when the two leaders used digital signature technology to append their personal "signatures" to a statement endorsing broad e-commerce policy concerns. It was the first time a major agreement between countries had been finalized with digital imprimaturs.
- Supporters launch Web site for ousted Malaysian official
(Agence France Presse - Nando.net)
Supporters of Malaysia's ousted deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim raised the propaganda stakes in their battle with the government Friday by launching a Web site to defend him. The site, described as "the original, unauthorized, unofficial site for Anwar Ibrahim's fans" is in English and Malay, focusing on Anwar's calls for political reform and his allegations of a high-level political conspiracy.
- Australia - Electronic dirty tricks campaign backfires
The Australian Labor Party has become embroiled in an unsavory slice of Web history -- the first mainstream political party to be accused of electronic dirty tricks during an election campaign.
Information society and Internet policy
- Crackdown on Net child porn
About 100 people in 12 countries were arrested in what police said was the biggest-ever worldwide swoop on pedophiles operating on the Internet. British police coordinated the raids, code-named "Operation Cathedral," in Europe, Australia, and the United States. They recovered more than 100,000 indecent images of children as young as two from one U.S.-based pedophile club known as "Wonderland." Police said 11 people were arrested in Britain in dawn swoops across the country. In cooperation with other police forces and Interpol, 32 addresses were raided in the United States, 18 in Germany, 16 in Italy, 8 in Norway, and 1 or 2 in Finland, Belgium, Austria, France, Sweden, and Portugal. See also "Wonderland" case: selection of articles http://www.qlinks.net/quicklinks/wonderland.htm
- Child rights defenders urge action against Internet porn
Defenders of children's rights from 10 European countries urged governments Friday to do more against abuses through the Internet, two days after a massive international police swoop on suspected traffickers of child pornography. The call came at the end of a two-day conference of children's ombudsmen in Copenhagen, which adopted a four-point plan aimed at raising awareness of Internet exploitation possibilities.
- Germany - Nicht den Anschluß verlieren
Wie reagiert das Bundesinnenministerium auf den jüngsten Fall von Kinderpornographie? Welche Konsequenzen wird es für die derzeitige Strafverfolgungspraxis im Internet geben? c't sprach mit Prof. Dr. Kurt Schelter, Staatssekretär im Bundesinnenministerium.
Filtering and rating
- Teen cracks Netscape filter
Hours after Netscape Communications debuted the 4.06 version of its browser with a new content filtering mechanism--provided for parents, teachers, and librarians who want to restrict access to "potentially offensive" Web sites--a teenage developer posted what he describes as a simple means of bypassing the filtering feature's password controls.
Junk mail (spam)
- USA - ISP Gumshoes Track Down Porn Spammer
After months of detective work, a notorious spammer has been located and served with legal papers by a New York-based ISP. Juno Online Services said Thursday it tracked down Ronald Alvin, who is believed to run the high-volume e-mail pornography marketer TCPS. One of the most troublesome bulk mailers online, TCPS has allegedly forged return addresses and damaged the reputations of ISPs, company officials said.
Liability, jurisdiction and applicable law
- Company sues over Yahoo! Postings
(The Associated Press)
An investment firm is suing the people who posted online messages on a Yahoo! bulletin board accusing managers of incompetence, even though the firm has no idea whom to sue. Itex Corp. listed 100 "John Does" in its lawsuit filed this week. An Itex lawyer said it was necessary to sue in order to find the authors of the message, but he declined further comment. Yahoo! disclaims all responsibility for the messages that are posted on its message boards. Yahoo's policy is to refuse to surrender any user information unless a court orders it to do so.
- Lawsuit could set crucial year-2000 precedent
By asking a Massachusetts State Superior Court for a declaratory judgment against retailer J. Baker Inc., Andersen Consulting fired the first salvo in what many lawyers say will be a full-scale war between vendors and companies over the year-2000 problem. This case may either intimidate companies from suing vendors, or it may trigger a barrage of similar lawsuits.
- EU - Directive online
Directive 98/10/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 1998 on the application of open network provision (ONP) to voice telephony and on universal service for telecommunications in a competitive environment
- USA - Three Regional Bells Lose Appeal
The government won an important victory when a federal appeals court ruled that provisions governing the entry of regional Bell telephone companies into the $90 billion long-distance business are constitutional. The 2-1 decision Friday by a panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals dealt a legal setback to efforts by regional Bell telephone companies to freely provide long-distance service to local phone customers without first having to obtain government approval.
Market & Technology
Convergence of telecommunications, media and information technology sectors
- Canada - Movies and TV meet the interactive world of the Internet
Welcome to the new world of "Netertainment," where movies and television meet the interactive world of the Internet. Canadian movie makers and Web developers have unleashed a ground-breaking film on the Net that invites viewers to choose the order in which they watch its scenes. The creators claim their baby, made exclusively for the Web and called "Monster Home," is the first of its kind.
- Repelling the Net pirates
UK music rights societies have taken their first technological step towards tackling Internet piracy with the launch of an online licensing system. The Mechanical Copyright Protection Society (MCPS) and the Performing Right Society (PRS) say their MusicTrial.com website represents a world first in integrated music licensing software for the Net. MusicTrial.com has been created as part of the EC-funded Imprimatur project - a consortium of commercial companies and academic institutions looking at the secure trading of copyright on the Internet. In a 90-day pilot programme, they are encouraging composers, musicians and record companies to apply for licences for their material - filling in details such as how much they would want to charge for a download and whether they want to allow burning to a CD.
- Europe Slow To Exploit E-Commerce, Study Says
The number of businesses embracing electronic-commerce strategies in Europe is considerably lower than in the U.S., according to astudy released yesterday by Andersen Consulting. The research indicates that the hesitation of European businesses to adopt E-commerce could cause them to fall behind or lose business their American partners and competitors.
Employment and social issues
- Study: Net use causes depression
Spending just a few hours a week online appears to leave people feeling more socially isolated, lonely, and depressed, according to a two-year study of nearly 100 families with Internet access. Although the effect is slight, the more time people spend online, the more isolated, lonely, and depressed they appear to become, the study found.
Internet access and use
- German Net Access Gets Cheap
Online Access in Germany is about to get significantly cheaper. On Wednesday, upstarts Mannesmann Arcor and Viag Interkom both announced Internet access fees that would significantly undercut market leader Deutsche Telekom and the German arm of America Online. Both services said they would eliminate fees for local calls and monthly subscription rates. Deutsche Telekom (DT), chiefly owned by the German state, still holds a monopoly on local calls. The upstarts plan to get around Deutsche Telekom by offering special, nationwide access numbers that would bill online access by the second.
- Internet users go on strike in Spain over rates
Internet users in Spain called a strike to protest high fees, but Spain's dominant telecoms company Telefonica said it was unable to set its own tariffs and blamed the government for a new price rise. When the strike was called, the number of connections made to the internet fell by between 12 and 18 percent, depending on the time of day.
- German Net use exploding
(Reuters - CNET News.com)
The number of private Internet users in Germany soared 60 percent to 6.6 million adults this year compared to 1997, according to a study released today. Public broadcasters ARD and ZDF said the increase in private Internet use had caused the heaviest online traffic to shift to between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. weekdays from late mornings. ARD and ZDF noted that this new focus on the evening hours was leading to greater competition between television and the Internet. The typical German online user is young, male, educated, and employed. Women still comprise a minority of Internet users, ARD and ZDF said. Among Germans 14 years old and over, 10.5 percent use the Internet.
- More Internet Safety Resources
Parents, teachers, librarians, and government officials have given a lot of thought to keeping children safe on the Internet. And you can benefit from their collected wisdom. The following sites will provide you with any additional information you may want to have at your fingertips.
- New York Times drops payment requirement
The New York Times Cybertimes section contains well-written and well-researched articles, and is likely to feature regularly in QuickLinks now that the paper has discreetly ended its previous discriminatory practice of requiring paid subscriptions from users outside the US. Registration is now free to all Netizens!
Links to news items about
legal and regulatory aspects of Internet and the information society, and
market and technology
edited by Richard Swetenham
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