QuickLinks 89 - 8 October 1998
Legal and regulatory issues
- EU determined to scrutinise public TV finances
European Competition Commissioner Karel Van Miert on Monday pledged to enforce a level playing field for public and private television despite controversy about the European Commission's scrutiny into state broadcasters' finances. The Commission came under fire last week after its antitrust department circulated a draft paper on how EU state subsidies to businesses apply to the broadcasting sector. The paper recognised the authority of national governments in the 15-nation EU to finance public services programmes carried out by state TV channels. But it suggested that sports in general and entertainment shows did not fall into that category and therefore should be funded with commercial revenues.
- EU discussion paper rouses opposition in Germany
The EU discussion paper has been criticised in Germany. See Fernsehrat des ZDF and DJV. EU-Wettbewerbskommissar Karel van Miert hat sich gegen Vorwürfe zur Wehr gesetzt, er bedrohe mit geplanten Auflagen bei der Gebührenfinanzierung die Existenz des öffentlich-rechtlichen Fernsehens in Europa.
- USA - FTC probes Cisco meetings with networking companies
The Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether talks Cisco Systems Inc. held with other networking companies last year broke the law. Cisco said Monday it received a letter from the FTC last week asking for information about meetings it held with Lucent Technologies Inc. and Northern Telecom Ltd. last year. see also CNET News.com and convergence stories.
Kirch / Bertelsmann
- Germany - Bundeskartellamt untersagt Kirch-Bertelsmann-Allianz
Das Bundeskartellamt hat die geplante Allianz der Medienkonzerne Kirch und Bertelsmann beim Digital-TV untersagt. Das teilte die Bertelsmann-Tochter CLT-UFA am Montag in Luxemburg mit. Anvisiert war eine komplette Übernahme und 50/50-Aufteilung des Abonnement-Senders Premiere durch die beiden Konzerne. siehe auch Bundeskartellamt
- Germany - Polizist Edi verfolgt über 200 Internet-Hinweise
Polizist Edi (Elektronischer Detektiv im Internet), der erste virtuelle Kriminalbeamte in Deutschland, ist in Baden-Württemberg erfolgreich im Internet aktiv. Im ersten Jahr kamen weit über 200 ernsthafte Hinweise, die weiter verfolgt wurden. Sie führten zu acht teils umfangreichen Ermittlungsverfahren. Schwerpunkt ist die Kinderpornographie, auf die sich etwa 100 Hinweise bezogen. Da die Anbieter oft im Ausland sind, wird meist über Interpol und ausländische Polizeistellen ermittelt.
- USA - Cyberwars: Proper vigilance or paranoia?
(Inter@ctive Week Online)
The last war was waged on land, air and sea. The next one may be waged on your computer.
- USA - Man banned from Net for 5 years
A man who pleaded guilty today in an online child pornography case will be banned from the Internet for five years by the Manhattan Supreme Court. In a plea bargain arrangement, Thomas Baskind will not be permitted any computer access to the Internet and his credit card and telephone bills will be monitored. Baskind pleaded guilty to two charges, possession of child pornography and attempting to distribute pornography to a minor.
- USA - Rhode Island man pleads guilty to hacking into computers
A 21-year-old Rhode Island man has pleaded guilty to charges that he hacked into four computer systems, including one that served a tiny indigenous community in Alaska.
- Publisher warns online booksellers over copyright
At the Frankfurt Book fair , a leading publisher issued a stern warning to Internet booksellers: Stop breaking copyright laws. Virtual shopping has become "the write stuff" for book buyers around the world, leaving publishers caught in a complicated legal web over territorial rights for authors and marketing and sales contracts for individual countries.
- Rougher times ahead for music pirates
(Financial Times (registration required))
In an effort to crack down on lost copyright and sales revenue, record companies and performing rights groups are teaming up with software and telecommunications companies.
Data Protection (privacy)
- Survey: Privacy Laws Common
A new study has found that more than 40 countries around the world have enacted, or are preparing to enact, laws that protect the privacy and integrity of personal consumer data. The study, Privacy And Human Rights: An International Survey of Privacy Laws and Practice, will be formally released by the Global Internet Liberty Campaign.
- US, EU making privacy progress
Commerce Secretary William Daley said the United States is making progress in talks with the European Union to avoid a looming showdown over protection of online privacy.
- USA - Privacy ad campaign to launch
In a major industry push on Internet privacy to be announced tomorrow, nine Internet portal sites including Yahoo, Excite, Altavista, and Infoseek are donating $3 million in Web ad banners for a campaign to educate Internet users on privacy issues. Users who click on the banners will be taken to a Web site containing privacy education materials for both consumers and businesses. The site is hosted by campaign sponsor TRUSTe. The timing of the three-week campaign, due to launch October 12, is no accident - it launches as the European Union is slated to implement strict privacy regulations October 25. see also The Washington Post and Internet Magazine
- Domain name plan resolved
The U.S. government and the contractor in charge of parceling out the vast majority of Internet addresses now in use have reached an agreement for the handoff of the domain name system to the private sector. Network Solutions Inc. will begin to abandon its government-sanctioned monopoly on registrations for .com, .net and .org by handing over the necessary technical information for other companies to register addresses between March 31 and June 1. see also MSNBC and New York Times.
- US government Request for Comments
The US government has made available for public comment the proposals by the private sector, including that of IANA and IFWP, on transferring the DNS to private sector management and the new Internet corporation. Public comments will be accepted through 13 October 1998.
- USA - House Science Committee hears testimony
(House Committee on Science)
The House Science Committee held a hearing on transferring the Internet domain name system to the private sector. The hearing was well attended, and key players -- Becky Burr (NTIA/DoC), Gabe Battista (NSI), Joe Sims (Jones & Day, representing IANA), and Tamar Frankel (IFWP) -- provided testimony.
- UK sees Net benefits
The UK government has published Net Benefit, an agenda for electronic commerce which Telecoms minister Barbara Roche says will enhance the government's vision of Britain as a leading digital economy.
- European Parliament: Submitting a petition to the EP via Internet
(EP Web site)
A petition can be submitted online to the European Parliament. This form must completed in one of the official languages of the European Union. In order to be considered, the petition must be confirmed by a signed letter, written on paper.
- USA - Web surfers shape online democracy
(New York Post)
Web surfers are turning to the web to make their voices heard in true democratic fashion. One site, Policy.com, has moved over 191,541 e-mails from politically minded web surfers to members of the Senate and House since the Clinton video was released on the web. When the site was added to the Clinton area of America Online, over 100,000 e-mails were sent within four days. Other sites include MoveOn, Politizen and Web White & Blue, a website focusing on the upcoming elections.
Information society and Internet policy
- USA - Congress pushes Net issues
With the end of its session looming, both houses of Congress are working furiously to move a number of Internet bills forward. At the forefront are taxes, keeping adult content away from wired children, and copyrights.
see related story
- Did EU Scuttle Echelon Debate?
The European Parliament has swept aside concerns about alleged surveillance and spying activities conducted in the region by the US government, a representative for Europe's Green Party said Monday. Specifically, the EU allegedly scuttled parliamentary debate late last month concerning the Echelon surveillance system. Echelon is a near-mythical intelligence network operated in part by the National Security Agency.
- CDA II stalled? Legislators may not get to it this session
Lawmakers supporting controversial new restrictions on Internet pornography scrambled Wednesday to find a legislative strategy for enacting their proposals before time runs out. Congress is scheduled to adjourn Friday but may run a few days late.
see related story
- Steinhardt Says EFF Will Sue If CDA Passes
The EFF, along with the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Privacy Information Center, is helping prepare a lawsuit they will file against the proposed restriction on Internet content harmful to minors if it is signed.
- Malaysia - Net patrol
Police in Malaysia have set up an Internet unit to monitor sites and newsgroups which have been organising protests against the jailing of the former Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim. The national Bernama news agency reported that the unit was set up on the instructions of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. Its mission was to watch for information and messages which could affect public security.
IT in education
- EU - Lancement de FAME, fondation pour l'audiovisuel et le multimédia éducatifs
(Agence France Presse)
La Commission européenne a lancé lundi en ouverture du Mipcom 98, le marché des programmes audiovisuels, la "Fédération européenne pour l'audiovisuel et le multimédia éducatifs" (FAME) afin de généraliser l'usage des nouveaux médias à l'école, dans les bibliothèques et les centres de formation.
Protection of minors
Security and encryption
- WebTV in the UK will have 128-bit encryption
Microsoft-owned WebTV is the first US company to obtain a licence to export non-key, 128-bit encryption outside of the US for use in its interactive service through the TV set.
Market & Technology
Internet access and use
- France Télécom Plans Update for Minitel
(New York Times)
France Télécom which pioneered the quirky Minitel online information service years before anyone ever heard of the World Wide Web, announced plans Tuesday to bring its aging child into the modern world. Working with the International Business Machines Corporation, the French telephone company said it would develop a network to let customers surf the Internet with simple and cheap screen-based telephones, which would also be inexpensive.
- Bertelsmann pays $200M for stake in online bookseller
Reversing its previous plans to enter the U.S. online market on its own, German media giant Bertelsmann AG paid $200 million on Tuesday to buy a 50 percent stake in the online venture of U.S. bookselling heavyweight Barnes & Noble Inc. see also New York Times
- AOL, Bertelsmann eye Australia
Internet service provider America Online and European media group Bertelsmann said they would launch an Australian Internet service, AOL Australia, tomorrow.
- EarthLink charging content sites
EarthLink has signed on some 20 Web content sites that will pay the ISP to be included on personalized start pages for EarthLink subscribers. EarthLink is promoting its agreements with partners such as ABCNEWS.com, ESPN.com, Excite, MiningCo.com, PC Quote, and Wired Digital as a new source of revenue, a key consideration for consumer-oriented ISPs struggling to make money at $19.95-a-month rates.
- MCI WorldCom expands in Europe
(The Industry Standard)
MCI WorldCom is setting its sights on the growing amount of telecommunications and Internet traffic within Europe with a plan to expand its network here to offer national coverage in France, Germany and the U.K. The newly-created telecom giant plans to double the capacity of its existing fiber-optic network in Europe by adding national networks in the three countries totaling 7,150 kilometers.
- Yahoo earnings, traffic soar
Yahoo today posted third-quarter profits that blew past Wall Street's expectations, driven by stronger-than-expected revenue growth and higher-than-anticipated interest income from its investments.
- New study says portals are all the same, to their detriment
Big Internet portal sites have far more in common than they like to admit -- and that could be why they fail to generate user loyalty. While most users mainly use portals for searching, an increasing number are logging onto them for entertainment and leisure. Rather than stick with a favorite, the majority of portal users patronize several Web sites.
- Lycos buys Wired for $83 million
Lycos Inc. has agreed to acquire Wired Digital Inc., a deal which includes Wired's search engine HotBot, in a $83 million stock swap. Beyond the search site, Lycos, will get its hands on Wired's online editorial properties, which include Wired News, Suck, HotWired and Webmonkey. see also CNET News.com
- Two ways to simplify Web addresses
A system of simplifying Web addresses may be on its way to widespread use thanks to a pair of recently proposed Web standards. The Internet Engineering Task Force this week took under consideration proposals by Centraal and Network Solutions (NSI) that would standardize the way firms replace Web addresses, or uniform resource locators, with common or proper names.
- Internet brands hit the big time
The Internet has helped a handful of young U.S. companies become "household names" much faster than it took the brand giants of the past to carve out strong identities, according to a study released Monday.
- Study Finds Ad Banners Make an Impression
(New York Times)
According to a study conducted by NetRatings, a Web audience measurement company, sites that invest in even a modest banner advertising campaign can significantly increase their audience size, regardless of the number of people who actually click on the advertisement.
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