QuickLinks 116 - 1 May 1999
Legal and regulatory issues
- EU clears AT&T buy of IBM network business (Reuters) The European Commission has cleared AT&T's acquisition of IBM's global network business, saying it did not create competition problems in the European Union market.
- EU gets C&W complaint against MCI WorldCom (Reuters) The European Commission received a complaint from telecommunications operator Cable & Wireless alleging that MCI WorldCom was not complying with a 1998 EU ruling
- EU - Commission approves the acquisition by Olivetti of Telecom Italia (Press Release) The European Commission has raised no objections to the proposed acquisition of the Italian incumbent telecommunications operator Telecom Italia by Olivetti. Along with the attempted takeover by means of a public bid Olivetti is proposing to sell all its other telecommunications interests. This sale, which is conditional on the success of the current bid, would eliminate any overlap between the two companies.
- Open Source in Open Court (Wired)
- GeoCities Members Complain Over Ads for Adult Sites (New York Times) GeoCities, a collection of Web pages largely built for free by its four million members around the world, has long prohibited individual members from displaying pornographic material. But the recent introduction of adult-themed advertisements which appear if a search is made for sex-related items has prompted some members to accuse the company of a double standard.
- Deja News privacy snafu uncovered (Inter@ctive Week) The Deja News Internet search engine has been quietly scooping up records of e-mail addresses its users click on for a year or more. In many cases, the company can record not just destination but origin of the e-mails,leaving it with a database of who's writing whom through its service.
- Groups take EU privacy fight public (ZDNet) The TransAtlantic Consumer Dialogue, an international coalition of more than 60 consumer groups, meeting in Brussels, vowed to oppose a data privacy compromise now being debated by the United States and the European Union.
- Intel Goes to Battle as Its Embedded Serial Number Is Unmasked (New York Times) Intel gets the makers of Norton Antivirus to classify as "hostile code" a demonstration program showing a way to make a serial number embedded in the Pentium III processor visible again to prying eyes, even when hidden by the owner.
- New UK regulations on unsolicited faxes (Tarlo Lyons Solicitors) Under the Telecommunications (Data Protection and Privacy) (Direct Marketing) Regulations 1998, individuals will now need to specifically provide consent for direct marketing activities conducted via fax and automated calling systems. Companies will be able to list their details on a new database to register and after 28 days unsolicited faxes and automated calls to those companies will be prohibited.
- The end of privacy (Economist) All the marvels of the information age come with a hefty but probably unavoidable price: the loss of privacy. see also The surveillance society
- USA - Ruling May Help Curb Cybersquatters (The Legal Intelligencer) A Pennsylvania federal judge has modified a court order that required Networks Solutions not only to un-register an Internet domain name that violated a trademark, but also screen future applications to avoid ever assigning a similar name. However, the judge said NSI must still screen for applications from the same defendant requesting domain names with one of four variations on plaintiff Worldsport Networks' trademark -- worldsport, worldsports, world-sport or world-sports.
- Australia - ASIO out to spy on e-mail (Sydney Morning Herald) Australia's spy catchers today revealed plans to go after spies and terrorists through their computers, financial transactions and tax records. Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) Director-General Dennis Richardson said the organisation was seeking changes to its powers which gave it a capability to use 1990s technology.
- Belgium - Telecom firms sue Belgacom over Internet (Reuters) Six telecommunications operators - British Telecom, Mobistar, Telenet, Unisource Belgium, VersaTel and MCI WorldCom - will take legal action against Belgacom for allegedly trying to squeeze them out of the Internet market. Belgacom's plans to introduce a single nationwide number for Internet access would force rivals to make costly and unnecessary changes to their technology which would push up their costs to customers.
- Violent Entertainment Has an Impact (New York Times) Hundreds of studies in recent decades have revealed a direct correlation between exposure to media violence -- now including video games --and increased aggression. This is not because people cannot distinguish between reality and fantasy, but because ultra-violent media systematically employ the psychological techniques of desensitization, conditioning and vicarious learning. See also Senator moves against violent games.
- EU - Self-Regulation in the Media Sector at the European Level (German EU Council Presidency) Conclusions of the Experts' Seminar on media self-regulation held at Saarbrücken, 19-21 April 1999.
The Web site also contains reports on Self-Regulation in the Media Sector in the Federal Republic of Germany, and comparative law and European law studies on Self-Regulation in the Media Sector in Europe. The documents are in DE, EN and FR.
Market & Technology
- Fox Is At Home in Broadband (Wired) Fox News Online beat out plenty of bigger competitors and sealed an agreement with At Home to be the primary news provider for the largest broadband Internet service. The agreement gives Fox about five years to experiment with mixing video, audio, and text on At Home's high-bandwidth cable network. It also boots CNN out of the premier position that it formerly occupied on At Home.
- WH Smith backs Internet and interactive TV (vnu|net) WH Smith, which announced its own free access ISP and portal earlier this week has signed up with digital interactive TV service Open to establish a book selling channel.
- Teen goes on eBay buying spree (ZDNN) A New Jersey teenager went on a spending spree with his parents' eBay online auction account, bidding for a classic car, a Van Gogh painting and the bed of Canada's first prime minister.
- Students sour on high-tech jobs (ZDNet) As the demand for U.S. college graduates with high-tech degrees grows, fewer students are seeking them. And perhaps more alarming to the worker-hungry high-tech industry is the fact that a huge proportion of advanced technical degrees now awarded by the U.S. higher education system is being earned by foreign nationals.
- The battle for the last mile (Economist) Anti-trust law might make it hard for AT&T to buy local telephone companies. But cable companies are fair game. If AT&T acquires MediaOne, it will own, wholly or partially, more than half of America’s cable industry. But the bid is also part of a bigger battle between the cable, telephone, satellite and wireless companies to control what the industry calls "the last mile". see also MediaOne and the War Over Cable Access (The Industry Standard).
- Landmark Net deal for UK (BBC) UK Internet users are being offered totally-free Internet access. Electrical retailer Tempo is going head-to-head with its rival Dixons with its screaming.net. The no-subscription Net access and free connection calls means 118 off-peak hours a week online at no cost.
- France - Trawling for surfers (Economist) Libertysurf in France, a new free Internet service, does not have a special advantage that Dixons’s Freeserve enjoys: a generous cut of the increased telephone bills.
- Internet Service Is Now A Foot In The Door (tele.com)
- @Home readies Dutch service (CNET News.com) @Home, the leading cable modem service in the United States, is expected to announce soon that Dutch subsidiary @Home Nederland will begin service next month. @Home also will also roll out an agreement with a third cable affiliate in the Netherlands, cable operator N.V. Nutsbedrijven Maastricht.
- Big Radio Finally Tunes In to the Internet (The Industry Standard) After a slow start, offline broadcasters are beginning to set up shop online.
- France Telecom Attacks Deutsche Telekom Deal (TechWeb) France Telecom is hopping mad about the planned merger announced by Deutsche Telekom and Telecom Italia. It issued a stinging statement, effectively saying its partnership with the German carrier was at an end.
- From Dow Jones, a Free Site (New York Times) The niche market for business-oriented sites on the World Wide Web is getting a little more crowded. Dow Jones, which has attracted 283,000 paid subscribers to The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition, is introducing dowjones.com, a free site for business users.
- Time Warner to close Pathfinder (ZDNet) Pathfinder, the monolithic Web site for Time Warner's extensive collection of magazines, is being broken up and mined for raw materials.
- United News & Media to buy CMP Media (Reuters) Britain's United News & Media agreed to buy U.S. technology media company CMP Media Inc. for $920 million, putting United in a leading position in high-tech business print and online publishing.
- Go Network launches translation service (Computer World) The Go Network has launched a free, automated service that offers translation to or from English and French, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. The site will translate text that's typed in or a Web page if a site address is entered. The service uses technology developed by the French company Systran. Other translation sites have appeared on the Web, such as at AltaVista, which also uses Systran technology.
- Sun blames MS as Java ISO plans die (PC Week) Sun Microsystems' long-standing plans to submit its Java language for standardization via the International Standards Organization are dead.
- IBM, Singapore Join Forces On Net Development (CMP) IBM said that it will collaborate with Singapore's research network on development of advanced Internet technologies. Cooperation will include R&D projects, technology updates and field trials for an emerging Internet standard called multi-protocol label switching (MPLS).
- EU - Entry into force of the Amsterdam Treaty on 1 May (Press Release) The Amsterdam Treaty will enter into force on 1 May, the 15 EU Member States having completed their ratification procedures on 30 March. see also Consolidated versions of the EU Treaty and the EC Treaty incorporating the changes made by the Treaty of Amsterdam.
- Measuring the Information Society (European Commission DG XIII) The Information Society Activity Center - ISAC organises an annual survey on the use and awareness of information society technologies and services. This study, called "Measuring the Information Society" is a customized research tool created on the basis of Eurobarometer for the measurement of Public Opinion and for behavioral research managed by DGX.
- EU - Internet Action Plan - work programme, calls, Information Day, expert meetings (European Commission) New documents on the Internet Action Plan Web site include the Work Programme 1999-2002, the full documentation of the two calls for proposals published on 1 April (deadline 2 July) covering European network of hotlines, filtering / rating and awareness actions. The presentations made at the Information Day on 19 April and the list of participants have also been posted. A link has been included to information about the first expert conference on a European system for content rating Brussels on 18/19 May.
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edited by Richard Swetenham (email@example.com). - Contributors: TKRNews, Gerhard Heine, Alan Reekie
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