QuickLinks 115 - 24 April 1999
Legal and regulatory issues
- Australia - Commercial television industry code of practice revised (Australian Broadcasting Authority) A revised Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice has come into force in Australia. One of the major changes to the revised code is the inclusion of a new classification category for violence. AV classified programs will be permitted to commence only after 9:30 pm. The revised code also sets out clearer limits on the reporting and depiction of suicide, and the depiction of sex and nudity. Additional provisions have been included relating to advertising to children
- New Zealand - Hacking to become a crime (Wellington Newspapers) The Government is to take long-awaited steps towards plugging electronic crime loopholes by proposing four new offences for the Crimes Act. It will become a criminal act to access a computer system with a dishonest purpose, to attempt to access a computer system for a dishonest purpose, to damage or interfere with a computer system, and to have unauthorised access to a computer.
- USA - School bombers' Internet links probed (BBC) Detectives investigating the Colorado school massacre are trying to determine whether the killers learned how to make bombs from the Internet.
- USA - Arrest Made in Internet Stock Hoax (New York Times) A computer engineer has been arrested and charged with securities fraud in connection with the posting of a fake announcement on the Internet about a takeover of the company.
- USA - Groups Use Net To Try To Avert Youth Violence (Reuters) Web site operators from New York to Colorado are offering help to a nation shaken by Tuesday's explosion of violence in a suburban Denver high school. The cyber-safety group CyberAngels launched an Internet tip line for people to report threatening Web sites, with a link to its Web page labeled KIDReportline, where students can list Web sites that threaten violence to fellow classmates or threaten suicide.
- USA - Melissa Virus Suspect Makes First Court Appearance (Internetnews) The New Jersey man suspected of creating the "Melissa" virus that disrupted computers nationwide appeared in court to be charged with violating New Jersey computer laws.
- Cybersleuths find targets, but crime on rise (Reuters)
- Kennard: It's All About Broadband (The Standard) Interactive transmissions empower the viewing audience as never before, said FCC Chairman William Kennard, in his keynote address to the National Association of Broadcasters conference.
- USA - Ninth Circuit Rules on Net Trademarks (The Recorder/Cal Law) Following the standard test of trademark ownership, the court held that the senior user of a mark used to identify goods or services in commerce is the legitimate owner of the mark. The Ninth Circuit also found that using someone's trademark as a "metatag" can constitute infringement.
- EU considers draft US "safe harbor" principles (European Commission) The US Department of Commerce made available for public comment on 19 April 1999 the latest version of its proposed "safe harbor" principles. Publication of the draft principles is part of final efforts by the EU and the US to close the remaining gaps between their positions, so that they can meet their shared target of concluding their dialogue on data privacy before the EU/US Summit on 21 June 1999.
- Expert finds hole in shopping carts (ZDNet News) Internet surfers can tap online shoppers' personal data, including credit card numbers, when common "shopping cart" software used by small retailers is improperly installed, an expert says. see also Online Credit Card Theft Reported (LA Times)
- Internet Hide and Seek: Staying Under Cover (New York Times) New technologies are emerging that enable even casual Internet users to be anonymous online for the first time. At the same time, new technologies are being deployed to gather ever more personal information from users. These were discussed at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy '99 conference held in Washington from 6-8 April. see also Wired.
- USA - New Rules to Guard Privacy of Children on Internet (New York Times (registration required)) Federal Trade Commission proposed new rules to protect the privacy interests of children on the Internet. The rules would require commercial Web sites to obtain parental consent before seeking information from children under 13. It would also require the sites to post notifications about what they do with any information they obtain from children. See also Log On, with a Note from Mother by Declan McCullagh.
- Competition hits the dot domain (Inter@ctive Week) A group of telecom and Internet interests will offer Internet address registration services in competition with Network Solutions. America Online, France Telecom's Oleane , Australia's Melbourne, Register.com of New York and the Geneva-based trade group CORE will launch a test bed for the new system together with NSI April 26. At least 29 more companies already approved by ICANN are expected to join the fray once the new system goes live June 24. AOL and others will pay $9 per name per year to NSI in exchange for its role as the centralized registry for .com, .net and .org.
- Analysts Rip Network Solutions (Wired) Network Solutions shut off the Web site of the Aberdeen Group, a respected analysis shop, claiming that the firm hadn't paid its registration fee. Aberdeen claims that it had paid, andpublished a nasty report on its site detailing "unacceptable flaws" in Network Solution's domain-termination practices.
- Porn site squats in cancer charity domain (The Register) The Marie Curie charity, Britain's foremost cancer care charity, has lost the domain www.mariecurie.com to the Hardcore Cafe porn site after Network Solutions failed to inform the charity that its renewal was due in February.
- Porno company sued for using Citibank name on Web (Reuters) Citigroup, the international financial services firm, filed a lawsuit alleging that a pornographic Web site business was wrongfully using its Citibank subsidiary's trademarked name to direct users to X-rated advertisements. Citibank has a legitimate web site at "www.citibank.com". If Citibank customers mistakenly omit the period after the three w's they will be directed to the defendants' web site. See also 'Typo Pirates' Run Into Trouble With Corporations and Courts (new York Times).
- USA - Killings Spark Rush On Domain Names (TechWeb) In the wake of the mass killings at a Colorado high school, some Internet users have sought to snap up domains and keywords related to the event to keep them from being used in inappropriate ways. But they weren't fast enough to stop one domain name speculator seeking to make money off of the tragedy.
- UK - Royal warning on Internet porn (BBC) The Duke of Edinburgh has warned of the danger of the Internet being exploited by pornographers and other criminals. Speaking during the royal visit to South Korea, he said technicians, computer programmers and managers needed to be trained in ethics and morality. He said: "The Internet is a fantastic development but it is difficult to estimate the harm it can do when it is exploited by the peddlers of pornography and other crooks.
- USA - ISPs get bad reception at cable hearing (Bloomberg News) America Online and other Internet providers made little headway at a Senate committee hearing in their battle to gain access to the high-speed networks of U.S. cable-television companies such as Time Warner. see also ZDNet.
- Action Against Spam Heats Up In Europe (TechWeb) Virgin Net announced it had filed suit against businessman Adrian Paris saying Paris sent out more than 250,000 unsolicited e-mail messages using a Virgin Net account. The ISP gave Paris 14 days to respond to its lawsuit in which it sought damages for breach of contract and trespass.
- Oxfam nixes Kosovo 'spam' campaign (ZDNet) A plan to use e-mail for fund raising to help Kosovo's refugees has been stymied by furious anti-spam campaigners. Britain's largest foreign aid charity, Oxfam, had planned to experiment with direct e-mail canvassing for the first time, using 10,000 e-mail addresses from users of a free e-mail service, and Auto Trader magazine's Web sites, alongside a banner-ad campaign.
- Music industry: access providers can and do monitor information (The Register) The International Confederation of Music Publishers (ICMP) has written to MEPs, warning of the consequences to the music industry in Europe if cacheing isn't outlawed. ICMP is "particularly concerned about the misconception that access providers are 'mere conduits' of information. In reality, access providers can and do monitor the passage of information through networks, and are always more than 'mere conduits'."
- France - La responsabilité des intermédiaires techniques (Jnet) [French highest criminal court holds creator of bulletin board liable for content of an anonymous message] La chambre criminelle de la Cour de cassation a rendu le 8 décembre 1998 un arrêt concernant le créateur d'un service télématique de messagerie, poursuivi suite à la diffusion de deux messages anonymes sur son forum. En prenant l'initiative de créer un service de communication audiovisuelle dans le but d'échanger des opinions politiques, l'accusé savait à l'avance les thèmes qui y seraient abordés. De ce fait, il pouvait être poursuivi en tant que producteur sans pouvoir opposer un défaut de connaissance des contenus.
- USA - Video violence: From mouse to gun? (ZDNet) Parents of students who were murdered at school in Kentucky are claiming the entertainment industry and media violence made the killer do it. The group of parents intends to file a US$130 million lawsuit against several game companies, two Internet porn sites, and movie producers.
- USA - Yahoo! subpoenaed over postings (ZDNet) A restaurant chain has asked a judge to subpoena Yahoo! to find the identities of the people who posted the messages about its poor financial performance. Postings discussed the closing of poorly performing restaurants and possible bankruptcy.
Market & Technology
- Online Merchants Grow Uneasy as Web Portals Sell More Goods (New York Times) Many Internet merchants are feeling nervous these days about their partnerships with portal sites. Portals like Yahoo, Excite and America Online attract users and a diverse roster of advertisers. Yet, analysts are questioning the portals' ability to sustain growth with a business model that relies heavily on advertising. The obvious answer: grab a piece of the growing e-commerce pie.
- Net threat to Euro economy (BBC) European economies could be hit hard by an acute shortage of network professionals, according to research by the International Data Corporation. An IDC report, The Internet Economy - An Employment Paradox?, predicts Western Europe will experience a shortfall of nearly 600,000 network experts by 2002.
- AOL membership tops 17 million (Reuters) America Online said its worldwide membership exceeds 17 million, up about 42 percent from a year ago, and users are spending more than 20 percent more time on its network.
- Intel will provide hosting services for ISPs. (ZDNet UK) The processor maker plans to deploy worldwide centres built to provide data centre services to Internet service providers and other companies offering Web-based services. The centres will range in size from small $50m (£30.4m) facilities housing fewer than 2,000 servers to facilities costing $100m to build and averaging 5,500 servers.
- Time Warner programs Net entertainment (CNET News.com) Time Warner's upcoming entertainment hub site will offer original programming that rivals television, the latest sign of the media giant's commitment to the Net. Entertaindom is one of five hubs the company is planning, with others covering news, sports, business news, and lifestyles. The site will "give birth to a new breed of original entertainment only possible on the Internet". Entertaindom is comprised of four domains: video-based entertainment, animation-based entertainment, music-based entertainment, and game-based entertainment.
- Will Disney's Go Network pay off? (Cnet News.com) Disney, one of the most widely recognized brands in the world, is pinning its Internet hopes on a newborn brand: the Go Network. But three months after Go Network's unveiling, questions remain as to whether it makes sense for the entertainment giant to focus all its Web efforts on a new company and a new brand.
- Alta Vista Invites Advertisers to Pay for Top Ranking (New York Times) Alta Vista, one of the leading services that search for information on the World Wide Web, is inviting advertisers to pay for the right to be listed atop its search results.
- Lycos beats Yahoo in hits in March (ZDNet) More than half of all Internet users visited a Lycos property last month, helping the online service surpass Yahoo's long-standing lead, according to the new Media Metrix survey. Lycos attracted 31.9 million users in March, compared with Yahoo's 31.3 million. By other gauges, Yahoo arguably remains the leader. In its latest quarter, Yahoo averaged 235 million page views a day, or more than four times Lycos' average.
- Netscape to offer free Web hosting (ZDNet) Netscape has joined the crowded business of providing free home page hosting services. Registered NetCenter users will get 11 megabytes of Web space to post personal files, plus authoring tools, access to a library of images and the ability to include automated content through MyNetscape channels. Netscape, now a subsidiary of America Online, says it already has 15 million registered NetCenter users.
- MS Net music format to challenge IBM (ZDNet) Microsoft is set to launch software to deliver pirate-proof music over the Internet, raising the stakes in its battle with IBM and other companies for supremacy in online audio.
- Sony and IBM Create Alliance on Internet Music (New York Times) IBM and Sony announced that they would make their competing standards for delivering music over the Internet mutually compatible. Several companies, including AT&T Corp., IBM, Liquid Audio, Microsoft Corp. and Sony, have developed technologies intended to deliver CD-quality music online while preventing illegal copying. Each is pushing for its technology to be adopted as the standard.
- Germany / Italy - Global deals for telecoms giant (BBC) The new telecoms giant created by the merger of Telecom Italia and state-controlled Deutsche Telekom will create the world's second largest telephone company . However the European competition commissioner, Karel van Miert, has already said that the deal will come under close scrutiny from the regulators.
- EU - Accelerating Electronic Commerce in Europe Technology (European Commission) Development and Business Pilot Projects 2nd edition, March 1999. The book contains about 350 descriptions of projects in the field of electronic commerce with EU support and funding. Text can be browsed online or downloaded.
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