QuickLinks 90 - 13 October 1998
Legal and regulatory issues
Access to public sector information / IT in government
- Commonwealth - Their names liveth - on the Internet
An organisation dedicated to preserving the memories of those who lost their lives in the two world wars is placing its massive database on the Internet. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds information on 1.7m soldiers who came from member countries and were killed during the 1914-18 and 1939-45 wars. Their memories will be preserved on the Internet in time for Remembrance Day next month.
- UK - Commercial radio joins digital air waves
The consortium Digital One has been given the green light by the Radio Authority to launch commercial digital radio in one year. Ten stations - including existing Classic, Virgin and Talk Radio services - will be broadcast on the multiplex, a group of linked stations and the only one planned for national commercial radio.
- EU - Commission clears German Internet joint venture
The European Commission has authorised the creation of a joint venture which will provide free search and navigation services for German-speaking Internet users. The Commission concludes that creating WSI Webseek does not create or strengthen a dominant position on any relevant product or geographic market. In its assessment, the Commission found that search and navigation services provided free of charge do not in themselves constitute a relevant market, but distinguished separate markets for Internet access, advertisement and remunerated content offerings respectively.
- Germany - Kirch-Gruppe darf Mehrheit an TV-Sender Sat.1 übernehmen
Der Münchner Medienkonzern Kirch darf beim Privatsender Sat.1 eine Mehrheit der Anteile übernehmen. Das Bundeskartellamt gab das Vorhaben der Kirch-Gruppe frei, ihre Beteiligung an Sat.1 von 44 auf 59 Prozent aufzustocken. Die ursprünglichen Bedenken gegen den Plan seien durch die Untersagung der Kirch-Bertelsmann-Allianz beim Digital-TV entfallen.
- Apple and Sun to testify against Microsoft
(The Associated Press)
A federal judge agreed to delay the start of the government's antitrust trial with Microsoft four days until Oct. 19. Adding to the roster of witnesses from high-tech rivals, the government says it will call key executives from Apple Computer Co. and Sun Microsystems Inc. to testify against Microsoft at its antitrust trial. The government wants to use testimony from Apple and Sun to show that Microsoft engaged in a pattern of illegal activities, not just specifically to distribute more of its Internet browser software, but also generally to protect its lucrative Windows operating system.
- Big, bad Bill
As Microsoft prepares to enter the dock in its long-awaited antitrust trial, two new books claim to tell the inside story of how the software giant squashes rivals and drives its business relentlessly forward.
- Microsoft demands reporter return secret documents
(Nando.net - The Associated Press)
Microsoft Corp. is requesting that a news reporter return secret documents used for a story about the company, and is complaining in another lawsuit that other reporters were given other confidential paperwork.
- Microsoft is busy on several legal fronts
(New York Times)
Microsoft is currently defending itself against lawsuits filed by three software companies: Caldera, which sells DR-DOS, a competitor to Microsoft's MS-DOS, the operating system underlying Windows; Sun Microsystems, the creator of Java, a programming language; and Bristol Technology, which makes software tools that enable programs originally written to run on Windows to also run on other operating systems. All make the same contention that lies at the heart of the federal-state antitrust suit against Microsoft: they argue that the company has tried to use its dominance to forestall competition.
- The Microsoft case
This collection of articles and readers' letters includes Mr Gates's three-page essay and the Economists's coverage of Microsoft over the past year. It also includes articles on Netscape, the economics of antitrust and a profile of Joel Klein, America's antitrust chief.
- USA - Connecticut Backs Bristol
A federal judge has ruled that Connecticut's attorney general may file a friend-of-the-court brief supporting Bristol Technologies, a small company that sued Microsoft on antitrust grounds, charging that the software giant illegally withheld information vital to its products.
- USA - Court Papers Suggest Microsoft Fears Of Sun's Java
Microsoft Corp. executives were worried about the threat to the company's dominant Windows operating software by Sun Microsystem Inc.'s Java programming language designed to run on a variety of computer systems, according to newly unsealed court documents.
- USA - Microsoft antitrust case splits valley
It sometimes seems as if all the technological world has chosen sides as the big case between Microsoft and the Justice Department unfolds in Washington. The boxing card says it's Java vs. Windows, Navigator vs. Explorer, Barksdale vs. Gates. But it isn't that simple. A big streak of ambivalence runs through Silicon Valley on this case.
- USA - Microsoft litigation
Links to articles about the case brought by the Department of Justice. see also Inter@ctive Week Online and Sun - Microsoft litigation.
- USA - Microsoft ordered to give DOJ access to databases
A federal judge Friday ordered that Microsoft give the government access to databases at its headquarters in Redmond, Wash., so the government may carefully check the software giant's pricing policies.
- Hackers stay a step ahead of China's cyber-police
As China becomes ever-more wired, computer police must raise Internet security standards to catch the growing numbers of cyber-criminals, the People's Daily said on Monday. China has detected more than 100 cases of computer crimes in the past two years, the most serious case involving the theft of $1.2 million.
- France - Pédophilie sur Internet: un informaticien écroué
(Agence France Presse)
Un informaticien soupçonné de recel de cassettes pornographiques à caractère pédophile a été mis en examen et écroué à Grasse..
- Itaky - Internet organ racket uncovered
Italian police have arrested a United States citizen in Rome in connection with the sale of human organ parts on the Internet, according to Italian police reports. A 48-year-old man from Los Angeles was arrested in a sting operation by Italian police posing as buyers. Police were alerted by an Italian doctor who was accidentally sent an email in March offering a kidney for 30 million Italian lire ($19,000). Subsequent investigations uncovered a Website offering human hearts and pancreas glands for sale at undisclosed prices, in what appeared to be part of an international network smuggling human organs.
- USA - Crackdown on Internet pedophiles passed unanimously by House
Pedophiles who find victims on the Internet will face substantially tougher penalties under bill H.R. 3494 passed by the House Monday and sent to the White House. Among its provisions, the bill would establish fines and up to five years in prison for anyone using the mail, Internet or other means to contact a minor for criminal sexual activity.
- USA - Crime solvers get high-tech boost
An FBI database of the DNA of up to a million convicted criminals from all 50 states will be activated Tuesday to help solve past and future crimes. The federal DNA Identification Act of 1994 limits the database to DNA from convicted criminals. Access will be restricted to law enforcement, and a court order will be required to use the information in judicial proceedings. For security, the location of the database will be secret.
- USA - Finance group goes on line to fight fraud
Investors can report suspected financial scams on the Internet to a new e-mail address created by the North American Securities Administrators Association, the state securities group said on Friday. Cyberfraud@nasaa.org will act as a neighborhood watch program where investors "look out for themselves and their neighbors on the Net and alert regulators when they see something suspicious".
- USA - House clears copyright bill
The House today passed legislation to impose new safeguards for software, music, and written works on the Net, and to outlaw technologies that can crack copyright protection devices. The Senate cleared the bill on Wednesday, and President Clinton is now expected to sign it into law. See text and liability provisions.
Data Protection (privacy)
- WebTV is watching you
Microsoft Corp.'s WebTV Networks Inc. is quietly using a system-polling feature that can extrapolate subscriber information from each of its 450,000 users to better serve advertisers.
- Germany - Online-Klage gültig
Deutsche Gerichte gehen zunehmend dazu über, die modernen Kommunikationstechniken im Umgang mit der Justiz anzuerkennen. So hat das Verwaltungsgericht Karlsruhe jetzt in einem Urteil die Online-Übermittlung einer Klageschrift per Computerfax anerkannt. Und das, obwohl die Klage nicht die eigentlich vorgeschriebene eigenhändige Unterschrift trug.
- Group opposes Net privatization
(The Associated Press)
Fearing commercial interests may co-opt cyberspace, scores of educators, activists and computer professionals gathered Saturday to marshal forces in a battle against privatizing the Internet. The two-day meeting, organized by Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, aimed to bring together dozens of organizations with a stake in cyberspace.
- OECD asks business to help shape Net's future
Representatives from the 29 developed countries that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development wrapped up a conference in Ottawa with declarations on the future of electronic commerce and the flow of goods and services over the Internet. They all agreed that business cooperation was necessary. OECD members adopted a joint declaration with business that no new taxes should be levied on goods purchased on the Web. Digitized products, such as software and music downloaded over the Net, would also escape new taxes. see also TechWeb and Conference documents
Employment and social issues
- USA - Foreign High Tech Immigration Bill Dies In Senate
A bill that would have increased the number of U.S. visas granted to foreign high tech workers died in the Senate on Friday, with backers of the bill warning its demise could have dire consequences as the computer industry tries to solve the year 2000 millennium bug.
Information society and Internet policy
- Gore Opens ITU conference with call for Internet expansion
(Bloomberg News - Total Telecom (registration required))
U.S. Vice President Al Gore will outline in a speech today government programs aimed at broadening an Agency for International Development effort to expand Internet services in parts of Africa and other areas, and to train Peace Corps volunteers to bring the Internet to remote areas. Gore, speaking at the opening of the 1998 ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in Minneapolis, will also push for improving telecommunications service and making it easier to provide information on health care and agriculture.
- Germany - Der besondere Charme des Internet
Klaus Eierhoff, Bertelsmann-Vorstandsmitglied für den Bereich Multimedia, will den Konzerntanker für E-Commerce flottmachen und fordert flexible Geschäftsbedingungen für das Netz sowie Nachbesserungen bei der Multimediagesetzgebung.
- USA - Democrats, Republicans fight for Silicon Valley's attentions
In recent weeks, both Republicans and Democrats have barnstormed through California, looking to ingratiate themselves with the leaders of the state's technology community.
Internet access and use
- Saudi Arabia awaits Internet connection
The Saudi authorities have once again postponed the allocation of the country's first Internet Service Provider (ISP) licences. Over 40 IT companies have been short-listed to provide Internet access in Saudi Arabia. In order to filter out material which the authorities consider undesirable, a government-appointed body will become the node through which all web-sites will be accessed. Using technology imported from abroad, the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology in Riyadh has installed a system that will prevent end-users from viewing pornographic, politically sensitive, or fanatically religious material.
- Spanish Netizens Strike for Flat Rates
Fighting to replace per-use dial-up charges with an American-style flat rate, Spanish Net users let their fingers walk the picket line in virtual "strikes" against the phone company. With the slogan "Don't Call, Don't Answer, Don't Connect," users nationwide boycotted Telefonica de Espana, S.A., on Sept. 3 and Oct. 3. Strikers stayed off the Internet and kept phones off the hook. Strike leaders now prepare to negotiate with politicians and industry leaders.
- China 'blocks' BBC Website
The main state-controlled Internet service provider in Beijing, China Net, is believed to be blocking access to the BBC's Webpage server at www.bbc.co.uk. The blocking appears to have begun within the last month and applies to all pages on that server. The BBC's English Language news provided on the server news.bbc.co.uk is not affected.
- Germany - Nazis im Web aggressiver
Seit der Bundestagswahl haben Rechtsextremisten ihre Propaganda im Internet forciert. Laut Verfassungsschutz verfünfachte sich in den vergangenen zwei Jahren die Zahl der Homepages deutscher Neonazis. Das volksverhetzende und antisemitische Gedankengut werde vor allem über amerikanische Provider und Server verbreitet.
- USA - Papers' names link to racist material
(The Associated Press)
Internet surfers attempting to see the Web site of The Philadelphia Inquirer got racist material instead this week if they used the logical but incorrect Web address "philadelphiainquirer.com". At least nine other newspapers suffered the same headache. Someone registered Internet addresses that included part or all of the newspapers' names, then linked those addresses to the "Stormfront" Internet site. That site features the words "White Pride World Wide" and includes racist articles and links to other racist sites.
Taxation and tariffs
- U.S. Senate Votes Historic Ban on Taxing Cyberspace
Senators voted 96-2 for the Internet Tax Freedom Act, which would bar states and towns from enacting new taxes aimed at Internet users for three years, until a commission studies the matter and issues recommendations. But software vendors were disappointed by a last-minute compromise that excluded "digitally delivered products" from the moratorium.
- U.N. body to debate future of global telecommunications
(The Associated Press)
Delegates from nearly 200 countries will spend a month in Minneapolis helping shape the future of international Internet access and telephone calls. The International Telecommunication Union, a Geneva-based U.N. agency, is holding the four weeks of Conference talks that could set the tone for communications regulation and policy-making around the world.
see related story
- USA - Phone firms seek Net call policy
Two U.S. senators wrote federal regulators asking them to decide whether major local phone companies should continue paying hundreds of millions of dollars per year to upstart carriers serving Internet access providers. Several parties have asked the Federal Communications Commission to rule on the matter, which turns on whether a call to an Internet service provider is considered a local call or more like long distance.
Market & Technology
- Germany - Murdoch steigt bei tm3 ein
Der australo-amerikanische Medienunternehmer Rupert Murdoch will seine Position auf dem deutschen Fernsehmarkt über den Münchner Spartensender tm3 ausbauen. Murdoch wird 66 Prozent der tm3-Anteile übernehmen und den bisherigen Frauensender in einen Kinderkanal verwandeln.
- Firm cashes in on copyrights
Online Monitoring Services, a company that ferrets out copyright infringements on the Internet, is changing its name and relaunching its site. The company now will be called Cyveillance. Cyveillance's clients include the Recording Industry Association of America, the Motion Picture Association of America, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), Time Incorporated-New Media, and the Software Publishers Association.
- USA - Diamond Multimedia faces lawsuit over its Rio player
Diamond Multimedia Systems was sued by the Recording Industry Association of America, alleging that Diamond's Rio player, a portable Walkman-like device for playing MP3 music files downloaded from the Internet or recorded on a user's home PC, violates a federal copyright infringement law.
- Amazon.com to launch service in Germany
Internet book and music seller Amazon.com will launch a service in Germany on Oct. 19.
- AOL to test digital wallet
(Inter@ctive Week Online)
America Online Inc. plans to begin trials later this year for a "digital wallet" application that is designed to speed the process of buying merchandise at the company's flagship online service. AOL will offer a system that stores key purchase information, such as a user's credit card number and preferred shipping address, that can be recalled instantly when a user is prepared to buy a product via the AOL service.
- Erotic e-commerce vendors warn against backlash
The top adult Web sites rake in more than Yahoo! and Amazon.com. But the $1 billion industry is still looking for legitimacy, as purveyors of adult content meeting here expressed concern about a possible backlash against their businesses.
- Web Ratings Firms to Merge
(The Industry Standard)
Online ratings companies Media Metrix and RelevantKnowledge are planning to merge and create a ratings giant. The deal will create the largest Web site measurement firm in the industry and will dwarf rival NetRatings and future challengers Nielsen Media Research and PCData.
- Yahoo! to Acquire Yoyodyne
Yahoo! acquired Internet direct marketers Yoyodyne Entertainment, Inc. in a stock deal worth $29 million. Yoyodyne markets a variety of services to consumers who agree to receive the information in return for the chance to win cash and prizes. The companies plan to integrate Yoyodyne's consumer database and direct-permission marketing with Yahoo!'s sales and service organization.
- Germany - Goldgräberstimmung im Online-Buchhandel
Eine Branchenstudie geht davon aus, daß die Einnahmen aus dem Online-Handel mit Büchern in Deutschland von derzeit rund 20 Millionen Dollar bis 2002 auf etwa 650 Millionen Dollar steigen. Nach Angaben des Börsenvereins des Deutschen Buchhandels gibt es in Deutschland derzeit rund 1200 Online-Buchhandlungen.
- USA - Direct Marketing Association takes over Net lobby group
The Direct Marketing Association agreed Monday to take over the Association for Interactive Media, creating the biggest trade association of offline and online direct marketers.
Internet access and use
- Attention: Free Internet Access
(The Industry Standard)
Ericsson Network Intelligence is launching a software product that allows ISPs and other carriers to offer free or reduced-cost Internet access to users who are willing to receive advertisements.
- Cable Net access outpacing DSL
Within just a few years, millions of homes will be connecting to the Internet through cable modems at speeds 50 to 100 times faster than ordinary telephone modems. Many fewer will be hooking up with DSL (digital subscriber line) technology, which is being pushed by telephone carriers. Telephone companies must allow customers to subscribe directly to any Internet or online service. But cable operators plan to act as both access provider and online service, charging about $40 a month in addition to television charges. A customer wanting another service provider would still have to pay the full cable company fee. This raises regulatory issues.
- Is the modem market heading into a 'death spiral'?
The analog modem market has entered into a "death spiral." For months, a combination of factors has been chipping away at the profitability of modem makers. Modem makers will continue to suffer as they wait for service providers to build the infrastructure to support next-generation cable and DSL services, whose slow build out has created a profit vacuum that is affecting companies like Hayes Corp., which on Friday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
- Microsoft memo offers a glimpse of Gates
(New York Times)
An internal memo -- whose title, "The Era Ahead" evokes his 1995 best-selling book, "The Road Ahead" -- spells out the main opportunities and threats that Bill Gates sees for Microsoft in the next five years. Yet the memo implicitly also provides further indication that Gates is withdrawing from operational management of Microsoft to return to his programmer-geek roots and become the company's chief technologist.
Security and encryption
- Another Cache Cow bug lets Web sites steal cookies
Finding bugs in Netscape Navigator has become almost a full time job for Dan Brumleve, a Sunnyvalle, CA, computer consultant. This time, he’s found a bug that allows Web masters to pull cookies off visitors’ hard drives.
- Czechs are entangling themselves in the Web
There are still only about 533,000 Web pages on the Czech top-level domain .cz - tiny in comparison to the 56 million pages registered on AltaVista in the .com domain. However, when compared with its central European neighbours, the Czech Web outstrips countries such as Hungary with 300,000 sites, 370,000 for Poland and just 135,000 for Slovakia.
- Letting your fingers walk on the Net
More than 17 million people -29% of those with Internet access- used one of the 21 most popular directory Web sites in August, according to Media Metrix, The PC Meter Co. Usage continues to grow. Switchboard.com, the most popular directory site, had 6.2 million people use the site at least once in August, up from 4.7 million in June.
- Study: Consumer Net buying doubles
The Web lured 20 million consumers to buy something in the first six months of 1998, a 100 percent increase over the same period a year ago. That's the statistical projection of Nielsen Media Research, which conducted telephone interviews with 5,000 randomly chosen people 16 and older in June.
- Internet Case Digest
(Perkins Coie law firm )
Compilation and brief synopsis of U.S. court cases and international cases of especially high interest that address specific issues of Internet-related law, or that reach decisions that, although not directly related to the Internet, have significant implications for Internet legal issues.
- Internet Law Resources
Links compiled by the Internet Law and Policy Forum
- The Link Controversy Page
Comprehensive list of links to cases and articles about whether there is liability for links.
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