QuickLinks 112 - 12 March 1999
Legal and regulatory issues
- Germany - Virtuelle Rathäuser und Marktplätze (Heise Online) Am 1. Juli beginnt in Bremen der Aufbau dieser virtuellen Amtsstube. Ähnliches wird bundesweit in vielen Städten und Regionen umgesetzt. Der Startschuß fiel am 10. März: da gab Alfred Tacke, Staatssekretär im Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Technologie, die drei Gewinner des bundesweiten Wettbewerbes bekannt.
- USA - FTC and Intel Call Off Trial (Wired) Just 24 hours before the antitrust case was scheduled to begin, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Intel have called the whole thing off. Negotiators for both sides over the weekend inked a tentative settlement agreement, which must be approved by a majority of the FTC's five commissioners.
- EU - TPS digital satellite television cleared (Press Release) The European Commission has authorised the agreements creating the digital platform Télévision Par Satellite (TPS), which is positioning on the French pay-television market as a competitor of Canal+ and CanalSatellite, who are the main players on this market, and of AB-Sat.
- Spain - Telefonica Fined for Muscling in on Distributors (Bloomberg News) Telefonica, Spain's No. 1 phone company, was fined 760 million pesetas ($5 million) by Spain's competition court for trying to prevent distributors from selling the mobile phone services of a rival.
- USA - Journalist Sentenced For Peddling Porn (Reuters) A journalist who insisted he was only researching a story, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for peddling child pornography over the Internet.
- USA - Sex Offender Held In Child Porn Case Using Library's Computers (Los Angeles Times) A convicted child molester who routinely used computers at the Los Angeles Central Library to collect and distribute child pornography was arrested after planning what he thought would be a sexual liaison with six youngsters-one as young as 3.
- USA - Web distribution makes offense a felony (The Ledger) Two couples were arrested and charged with wholesale promotion of obscene material on the Internet. One woman was employed as a child-protection worker with the Department of Children & Families until recently. She performed sex acts that were videotaped and transmitted as a live video feed to a Web site. If the obscene material had been sold just to another party, the offense would have been a misdemeanor. The offense became a felony when the couples became involved in the wholesale distribution of obscene materials through the Web site.
- USA - FTC tracking online pyramid schemes (ZDNet News) The FTC, working with other law enforcement agencies, is planning another "Internet surf" to scope out pyramid schemes on the Net. The FTC has conducted 15 "surf days" before, usually targeted at a specific scheme, such as health care claims, credit repair scams and get rich quick plans.
- EU - Results of the Public Consultation on Convergence Green Paper (Press Release) The European Commission has adopted a Communication reporting on the results of the public consultation on the Green Paper on the convergence of the telecommunications, media and information technology sectors. The key messages emerging from the consultation are: Regulation needs to be transparent, clear and proportional and distinguish between transport (transmission of signals) and content. This implies a more horizontal approach to regulation with a homogenous treatment of all transport network infrastructure and associated services, irrespective of the nature of the services carried.
- USA - Rising Prices Accompany Cable Deregulation (New York Times (registration required)) Cable television, one of the last industries to have its prices controlled by the government, is about to become almost completely deregulated. But while the prospect of competition was supposed to drive prices down, the opposite has happened. Cable rates continue to rise, with many companies announcing increases for this year averaging 5 percent, more than twice the projected inflation rate.
- USA - Yahoo takes pot shot at namesake (Wired) Attorneys for search-engine giant Yahoo are not amused by YaHooka, a colorful homegrown index of marijuana-related sites that bears a superficial resemblance to its near-namesake.
- Is There Any Privacy at Work? (ZDNet News) Two recent reports reveal the extent of employer electronic monitoring. A 1996 report by the ACLU estimates more than 20-million Americans were electronically monitored in the workplace-- approximately one in four. And, according to the American Management Association, last year 20 percent of American companies admitted they regularly checked employee email.
- Is Microsoft Tracking Visitors? (Wired) Microsoft passes user data collected during Windows registration onto its Web site Microsoft.com. see related story
- Shockwave password bug fixed (ZDNet News) Macromedia has fixed a hole in its Shockwave 7 player that could let the company view users' passwords and other private information. While the software lets Macromedia monitor Web habits, it also sends information such as passwords back to the company, which Macromedia said it did not intend.
- USA - Who's Taking Privacy's Pulse? (Wired) A Web survey expected to influence the course of federal privacy laws was tailored and funded by industry groups that have battled such legislation for years. FTC commissioner Sheila Anthony said that she was not concerned that the Direct Marketing Association backed the study.
- Israel - Court Freezes Sex Domain (Wired) The Israeli Supreme Court has frozen a sexually themed domain name while it weighs the complaint of an elderly taxi driver whose application for sex.co.il was rejected.
- USA - Republicans Mock Gore's Internet Claim (Reuters) House Republicans gleefully pounced on Vice President Al Gore's televised remark that he had taken "the initiative in creating the Internet." The Internet has its origins in U.S. defense research in the 1960s, although it has only become widely available in the past few years.
- Australia - NSW gambling rules provide for exemption for ISP liability (IIA) Under the New South Wales Racing Administration Act 1998, it is unlawful for a person to provide, via the Internet or other online communications system, any service that enables a person to access the gambling operations carried on by a person who is not a lawful bookmaker. The Department of Gaming and Racing has made a regulation exempting members of the Internet Industry Association of Australia who are bound by the Internet Industry Code of Practice.
- EU - Web Site protests reported monitoring plan (IDG) Privacy advocates in Germany have erected a Web site called Freedomforlinks to protest what they perceive as plans by the European Union (EU) to allow "legally empowered authorities" to put in place European-wide surveillance systems.
- UK - Net could be policed by hackers (Sunday Times) Legal hackers should be employed by the government to read messages on criminals' computers, says Tim Pearson, chairman of the Internet Service Providers Association, in his response to the government's consultation paper on the electronic-commerce bill.
- USA - Hacker 'Attacks' on Military Networks May Be Closer to Espionage (New York Times (registration required)) Government officials involved with defense have described a new kind of "cyberwar" being fought on the Internet, with unknown hackers unleashing relentless assaults on military computers.
- ITU - War over wireless future (CNET News.com) The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is discussing the possibility of a single, worldwide standard for wireless phones, now divided among several largely incompatible technologies in various geographies. But the process has been controversial, with groups from the U.S. and Europe fighting hard to make sure their own standard comes out on top. See also ITU boss urges compromise over 3G mobile (vnu|net).
Market & Technology
- Big names to ally on broadband (ZDNet News) Intel, Nortel, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft will embark on an effort to bridge their semiconductor, PC, Internet browser and data networking technologies.
- China - Bill Gates unveils Venus set top box (vnu|net) Bill Gates gave a preview of Venus, a new technology developed specifically for China. Venus, which has been developed at the Microsoft research centre in Beijing, is a Windows CE based set top box aimed at making advanced computing as easy as using a domestic appliance. The low cost device will be used to bring entertainment, education and communication technology into the homes of many families in China.
- USA - AT&T's Embrace of New Technology Signals Next Era (New York Times (registration required)) By the end of this year, the long-distance giant AT&T wants to stop buying traditional telephone switches for the core of its network.
- USA - Survey Shows Viewers Want Interactive HDTV Options (New York Times (registration required)) Results of a recent study by the Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association, the industry's main trade group, showed that consumers are at least as interested in using digital television sets for interactive services as for watching high-definition programming.
- While You Weren't Looking, WebTV Grew (The Industry Standard)
- Amazon claims top video spot (Bloomberg News) Amazon.com, the top online bookseller, is laying claim to the title of No. 1 online video store after saying its fourth-quarter movie sales passed those of top rival Reel.com.
- Coming Soon: Round-the-Clock Trading (The Industry Standard) Get ready for round-the-clock trading on the Web. Until now, the online brokerage community has stayed out of after-hours trading. But an increasingly demanding customer base is clamoring for a method of trading outside normal hours.
- Focus blockiert Werbeblocker (Heise Online) Als erste große deutsche Web-Site hat Focus Online Anwender, die den Werbeblocker Web Washer von Siemens benutzen, zeitweilig von ihrem Angebot ausgeschlossen. Es handelte sich um einen Test. Man habe dabei festgestellt, daß weniger als ein Prozent der Besucher den Web Washer einsetzten.
- Medical journals refuse to print ads for online rival (Newsbytes) When the British Medical Journal approached three of the world's largest medical journals to place an advert in their print publications for its free online full text access service it was told -- not at any price right now.
- Volume, Volume, Volume: A Web Buyers' Club (Washington Post) Accompany's new online buying service feels like a combination game show and big-box buying club, but it is unlike anything you've seen. Instead of making consumers compete, as they do in auctions, Accompany allows them to cooperate by negotiating volume discounts on their behalf. Prices drop as more buyers sign up.
- Internet Retailers Work to Turn Shoppers Into Buyers (New York Times (registration required))
- The Online Bookstore That Makes Money (The Industry Standard)
- Microsoft, 3Com seal home networking deal (ZDNet News) Microsoft has signed a pact with 3Com which calls for a product that networks via home phone lines by this summer. A wireless product will follow by year's end, with one based on sending data over power lines within the home expected in 2000.
- E-Law Updates (Blake A. Bell / David J. Loundy) E-Law Updates cover Internet Law developments and are sponsored by The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, Illinois.
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edited by Richard Swetenham (firstname.lastname@example.org). - Contributors: Gerhard Heine, Alan Reekie
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