QuickLinks 111 - 8 March 1999
Legal and regulatory issues
- Group Endorses Microsoft Breakup (Associated Press) The Software and Information Industry Association, formerly known as the Software Publishers Association, is endorsing the breakup of Microsoft in a secret report proposing splitting it up into companies selling separate products, such as Windows software, business programs and Internet content, or breaking it up into three or four "Baby Bills" or "Mini-Microsofts" each with identical product lines.
- Singapore - Triads roll with the changes (Reuters) Singapore's ambition to wire every household to the Internet took an unforeseen twist last month when a technology-savvy member of a criminal society set up a website. The web page was quickly shut down and the 19-year-old charged in court with belonging to the Ji It secret society, or triad, and setting up an Internet chat channel to discuss triad affairs.
- USA - Journalist faces sentencing on child porn charges (Nando Media - Associated Press) Journalist Larry Matthews downloaded images of children in sexually explicit situations and sent them to other people online - an act that he says was legitimate research for a story. Not so, says a judge: Matthews possessed and distributed banned materials, and his actions violated federal law. Matthews is the first journalist to be prosecuted for accessing child pornography.
- Germany - Number of hate sites has doubled (Reuters) Die Zahl der deutschsprachigen links- und rechtsextremistischen Seiten im Internet hat sich nach Einschätzung des Bundesamtes für Verfassungsschutzes seit 1997 nahezu verdoppelt. Seine Behörde habe zuletzt 300 Homepages mit rechtsextremen und 350 mit linksextremen Inhalten registriert. Der Verfassungsschutz werde prüfen, ob darin Aufrufe oder Anleitungen zu Straftaten erhalten seien.
- Brazil - Internet causes Playboy to reschedule publication date (Reuters) Men's magazine Playboy, which carries nude pictures of Brazilian sex symbol Tiazinha in its March edition, is rushing the issue to Brazilian newsstands three days early after some of the pictures were leaked on the Internet.
- USA - 'The Artist' sues Web sites (WSJ Interactive Edition) The Artist, formerly known as Prince, is suing a number of Internet sites, some operated by fans, that he claims have illegally pirated his music and image. The suit claims the Web sites are selling illegal copies of the Artist's copyrighted works, distributing unauthorized copies of his music and making unauthorized displays of his trademarked symbol and his image.
- USA - Microsoft files piracy suits (CNet News.com) Microsoft has turned up the heat against software piracy, filing lawsuits against 15 computer resellers in Chicago and in Los Angeles.
- USA - Professor Joins O.M.B. for Privacy Issues (New York Times) The Clinton Administration has appointed Peter P. Swire, a law professor from Ohio State University as the Government's new chief counselor of privacy, just as the United States and Europe try to resolve a serious disagreement over privacy regulations.
- Microsoft will modify Windows 98 ID number (New York Times) Microsoft moved to defuse a potentially explosive privacy issue today, saying it would modify a feature of its Windows 98 operating system, a unique identifying number that has been quietly used to create a vast data base of personal information about computer users.
- EU - Working Party Recommendation (European Commission) On 23 February 1999, the Working Party on the Protection of Individuals with regard to the Processing of Personal data adopted a Recommendation 1/99 on Invisible and Automatic Processing of Personal Data on the Internet Performed by Software and Hardware. see also Working document: Processing of Personal Data on the Internet and EU regulators seek Internet privacy protection (Reuters).
- Germany - Amendments expected to Federal Data Protection Act (Jörg Tauss) Bis zum Sommer wird eine Gesetzesnovelle zum Bundesdatenschutzgesetz erwartet. Von der datenschutzpolitischen Sprecherin der SPD-Bundestagsfraktion, Ulrike Vogt, und dem Multimediabeauftragten der Partei, Jörg Tauss, wurde der "Expertenkreis Datenschutz" einberufen. Diese Gruppe erarbeitete ein Eckwertepapier für ein "modernes Datenschutzrecht" das nun vorliegt.
- USA - Bank Plan May be Doomed (Wired) A controversial federal plan that would monitor all banking customers may soon be forgotten. The House Banking Committee voted to dump the so-called Know Your Customer scheme, which has drawn over 140,000 complaints from irate Americans.
- UK - Memorandum on electronic commerce (OFTEL) The first part of this memorandum looks at the licensing role proposed for OFTEL under DTI’s E-Commerce Bill. The second part of this memorandum looks at the main infrastructure issues that have an impact upon electronic commerce: the cost of Internet access; the pricing of leased lines and the issue of access to bandwidth.
- USA - House to probe Net pharmacies (Reuters) A group of House Democrats has ordered a congressional study into how many online pharmacies are filling prescriptions after "virtual" doctors' visits in cyberspace and who is watching them.
- Online auctions may yield fakes (Wall Street Journal)
- Germany - Government starts pilot project on electronic voting (Heise Online) Das Bundeswirtschaftsministerium hat heute ein mit 1,4 Millionen Markt gepolstertes Pilotprojekt gestartet, das künftige Wahlen per Internet vorbereiten soll. An dem Versuch sind auch die Universität Osnabrück und die Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) beteiligt.
- Filtering programme filters out a supporter (Heise Online) Das Zensurprogramm Surfwatch weist die Website von Filtering Facts, eine von konservativen US-Familienorganisationen gesponserte Initiative, als gesperrt aus. Grund: Alkohol- und drogenbezogener Content. Surfwatch gehört zu jenen Filterprogrammen, die Filtering Facts ausdrücklich empfiehlt.
- USA - Senate hearing on Net filters for kids (MSNBC) After failing to pass a similar bill last year, senators were acting early this year on a bill to require that any school or library receiving federal Internet subsidies also use filters to protect children.
- Germans Petition EU Against Spam (InternetNews.com) Trade magazine c't magazin fuer computertechnik and the politically independent information and communication platform politik-digital are calling upon EU citizens to sign an anti-spam (unsolicited advertising via e-mail) petition.
- Raytheon may sue Yahoo users (Bloomberg) Raytheon has sued 21 users of Yahoo for releasing company information over the Internet directory's message boards. Raytheon's suit, filed last month in Middlesex County Court in Massachusetts, also asks that the court order Yahoo to help Raytheon discover the identities of the users, who use aliases and are believed by Raytheon to be its own employees.
- France - Altern, ou la double injustice (Libération / Meryem Marzouki) Notre législation doit reconnaître aux fournisseurs d'accès, de services et d'hébergement sur l'Internet un statut qui les protège en même temps qu'il protège les droits des utilisateurs de ces services.
- France - Court rules against free Web site hosting service (Wired) A court ruling that effectively pulled the plug on more than 47,000 Web sites here has called into question France's willingness to embrace the Internet. The Paris Court of Appeals ruled against a free Web site hosting service similar to the US-based GeoCities.
- France - Reply to parliamentary questions (1) (Altern.org) (Sénat) M. HÉRISSON. ... Quelles mesures le Gouver-nement entend-il prendre afin que les hébergeurs ne soient pas tenus pour responsables des contenus en lieu et place des auteurs? Mme GUIGOU, garde des Sceaux. ... L´hébergeur ne fait que fournir l´accès au réseau, il ne peut être tenu pour responsable du contenu sauf si sa complicité est avérée, ou s´il n´a pas fait toute diligence pour éviter la diffusion des images ou des textes illégaux.
- France - Reply to parliamentary questions (2) (Assemblée Nationale) M. Yves Cochet ... Quelles mesures comptez-vous prendre pour éviter que des prestataires soient tenus responsables de contenus dont ils ne sont pas les auteurs ? M. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, ministre de l'économie, des finances et de l'industrie ... On peut comparer l'hébergeur à France Télécom, qui n'est pas responsable du contenu des conversations téléphoniques mais est capable, si la justice le demande, d'indiquer l'origine d'un appel. De même, l'hébergeur ne doit pas être tenu responsable, mais il faut qu'il nous aide à combattre les violations de la loi, le terrorisme, la pédophilie.
- UK - Internet Web Caching - Reply to a Parliamentary Question (Hansard) Mr. Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of ... the resolution by the European Parliament to outlaw Internet web caching. Mr. Wills: Unauthorised reproduction of copyright material in electronic form is generally prohibited under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. The European Parliament's proposed amendment to the draft Directive on copyright ... would not therefore change the situation in the UK. ... we support moves to clarify the liability of service providers along the lines proposed in the draft Directive on electronic commerce.
- UK - MP attacks UK government inaction on Web caching law (Silicon) MP Michael Fabricant has condemned the UK government for its neutral stance on the European Parliament's copyright proposals. He slammed the statement made by Department of Trade and Industry minister Michael Wills last week as "hopelessly complacent" and said he was not convinced Wills' civil servants understood the issues involved.
- UK - Deadline to tackle cyber crime (BBC) The UK Government has given the IT industry until the end of the month to come up with a solution to criminals exploiting a boom in the use of the Internet. In exchange, it has dropped, for now, controversial plans to give law enforcement agencies easier access to the keys to unlock coded data sent over the Net. see also Building confidence in electronic commerce DTI consultation document.
- EU - Ombudsman has no jurisdiction on complaint over interception plans (Heise Online) [extract from reply to complaint] "Jeder Bürger der Union (...) kann den Bürgerbeauftragten (...) mit einer Beschwerde über einen Mißstand bei der Tätigkeit der Organe oder Institutionen (...) befassen." Eine sorgfältige Prüfung Ihrer Beschwerde hat ergeben, daß diese Bedingung nicht erfüllt ist, denn Ihre Beschwerde betrifft nicht einen möglichen Mißstand bei der Tätigkeit eines Organs oder einer Institution, sondern vielmehr eine politische Entscheidung des Rates.
- UK - Former leading Tory now says encryption policy was 'wrong' (vnu|net) Ian Taylor, the former minister responsible for pioneering the UK's controversial plans to allow tapping of encrypted messages through "trusted third party" rules, now says his decision was wrong.
- USA - Pentagon and hackers in 'cyberwar' (MSNBC) For two days in January, hackers repeatedly tapped into military computers at Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio -- the center for the most sensitive Air Force intelligence, the kind of information critical to American troops now on patrol over Iraq and in Bosnia.
Market & Technology
- IBM and 3 Others Develop Copy Guard for Audio DVD's (Bloomberg) IBM, Intel, Matsushita and Toshiba have developed a way to prevent illegal copying of a new music format by creating technology standards to "mark" and code music electronically on audio digital versatile disks, or DVD's. Top music companies including EMI, Sony, Bertelsmann's BMG, Seagram's Universal Music Group and Time Warner are backing the technology.
- NSI Confirms Domains Mistakenly Shut Down (InternetNews.com) Network Solutions officials Wednesday confirmed the firm erroneously pulled the plug on 10 domains as part of a broad effort to thwart domain speculators. The accidental deletions occurred during the company's regular monthly review of delinquent domain registrants, which the company defines as customers who register a large number of domains and fail to make timely payments on them.
- Singapore - Heavy Investments In E-Commerce & Broadband (InternetNews.com) Singapore is rapidly developing the infrastructure for broadband and home grown e-commerce capabilities, according to Michael Yap, the new chief executive of the country's quasi-governmental National Computer Board (NCB).
- UK - Freeserve scoops ISP Oscars (BBC) Freeserve, which has introduced hundreds of thousands of computer users to the Net, won the Best Consumer ISP award. The Dixons Group offering has changed the face of the ISP industry in Britain. It gained more than a million members in less than five months, set a trend for free ISPs and forced others such as Tesco and Virgin Net to abandon their subscription business models. The awards were organised by the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA).
- UK - Freeserve's lines are busy (BBC) Dixon's Freeserve, launched in September, has now reached 1,350,000 accounts, with a million of those active. It is the UK's leading and fastest growing Internet Service Provider (ISP). But users have been increasingly complaining of slow access speeds and an inability to connect at all at peak times. The telecommunications regulator Oftel told the Commons' Trade and Industry Select Committee that UK Net users could now get cheaper access than their counterparts in the United States, where local calls are usually free. A National Opinion Poll survey suggests 10,900 new users are now getting onto the Internet every day in the UK. 10.6m adults used the Web, e-mail or other Net services in 1998.
- Big Insider Sales at Yahoo (Wired) Eight top Yahoo executives filed to sell off 903,494 shares, signaling a possible lack of faith that their company's stock price will bounce back any time soon.
- IBM, Dell in $16 billion technology pact (CNet News.com) IBM and Dell have announced a $16 billion agreement which calls for massive purchases of IBM products by Dell. Dell will purchase "storage, microelectronics, networking, and display technology from IBM for integration into Dell computer systems". The seven-year agreement also stipulates "broad patent cross-licensing between the two companies and collaboration on development of product technology".
- Streaming Media Battle Heating Up (InternetNews.com) Later this month, Microsoft will launch a renewed attack on Real Network's commanding market share, which analysts put at 85 percent. Microsoft will bundle the Windows Media Player into the final release of Internet Explorer version 5. And when the company ships the next service release of Windows 98, the player will be there too.
- The Media Gets a Message (Washington Post)
- HotBot in the Hot Seat Over Bug (ZDNet) A bug in the Lycos's HotBot and MailCity free email services can compromise user privacy. The flaw is exploited after email users click on any hyperlink contained with an email. After clicking on the link, the website hosting the site automatically receives encrypted information about the user's login-in name and password.
- European Telecoms: Buy, Buy, Buy (Wired) Desperate to beef up their Internet technology, European telecoms are waving dollars in front of US equipment makers. France's Alcatel has agreed to buy California-based Internet firm Assured Access Technology for US$350 million. following plans to buy Internet equipment maker Xylan Corp. for $2 billion.
- Canada - Long distance giants buy up telcos (CNet News.com) In the space of just two days, the two largest U.S. long distance companies have signed deals that give them a strong position in the Canadian telecom market. AT&T Canada agreed to merge with Metronet, the country's biggest upstart local phone provider. And MCI WorldCom struck an alliance with Bell Canada, the country's biggest telco.
- LABnews (European Commission) LABnews January-February 1999 is online in HTML format. It can also be downloaded in Word, Postscript, RTF and .pdf formats
- Sign up to this service (Network Abuse Clearinghouse) A service intended to help the Internet community to report and control network abuse and abusive users. The service forwards reports of abusive behavior to system administrators.
- Genealogy bounty coming to Web (MSNBC)
Links to news items about
legal and regulatory aspects of Internet and the information society, and
market and technology
edited by Richard Swetenham
- Contributors: TKRNews, Gerhard Heine, Meryem Marzoulki, Angela Mills, Günter Wilms
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