QuickLinks 120 - 14 June 1999
Legal and regulatory issues
- Commission authorises joint venture between La Poste and Correos y Telégrafos (RAPID) Under the European Union's Merger Regulation, the Commission has cleared the creation of Chronopost España, a joint venture between the Spanish public postal operator Correos y Telégrafos (Correos) and the French postal company La Poste.
- Network Solutions Says New Service Near Launch (Reuters) Network Solutions plans to launch a new search service based on its massive database of Internet domain names. Listings in the new service would be offered free to customers that register with Network Solutions and would be available for a fee to those that register with competitors.
- USA - Firm Says Intel Rigged Panel On Standards (The Recorder/Cal Law) Intel is accused of wielding improper influence on a standards setting body to block a would-be competitor. MultiVideo Labs claims Intel used its position on the Universal Serial Bus Implementers Forum to deter the forum from accepting MultiVideo's interconnect product as a standard.
- Henry Hyde Seeks Ban On Sex Pictures (Newsbytes) A bill introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep Henry Hyde seeks to outlaw the dissemination of sexual material to minors. The bill also requires the National Institutes of Health to study the effects of videogames and music on child development and youth violence and encourages the entertainment industry to develop standards of appropriate conduct for the programming they show to minors.
- Australia - Porn sites head offshore to beat law (Sydney Morning Herald) Major Australian Internet pornography operators are moving their operations offshore in an effort to frustrate the Federal Government's planned crackdown on "smut sites".
- UK - Concern about sex on TV increases (Guardian) A new survey from the Broadcasting Standards Commission reveals that people are more concerned about sex on television than at any point in the past four years. The monitoring showed there was in fact less sex on screen in 1998 than the year before, but there was a growing sense among the public that sex is everywhere.
- UK - Judge tells porn trio: I've seen worse on TV (The Times) A judge freed three pornographers yesterday after asking the astonished trio if their videos were the best they could do, adding that he had seen worse material on Channel 5. The men admitted publishing material contrary to the Obscene Publications Act and were given 18-month conditional discharges by the judge.
- Hong Kong Software Piracy Battle Succeeding (Newsbytes) The Business Software Alliance (BSA) says its fight against pirated software in Hong Kong is showing some signs of progress with the piracy rate dropping by 8 percent in 1998 compared to the previous year.
- Germany - Musikindustrie läßt 100 deutsche Webseiten schließen (Heise Online) Auch in Deutschland sind Musikpiraten im Internet aktiv. Nach Angaben des Bundesverbandes der Phonographischen Wirtschaft hat die deutsche Musikwirtschaft in den vergangenen Monaten hierzulande rund 100 Webseiten schließen lassen, weil sie illegal Musik verbreiteten.
- USA - High court lets copyright decision stand (CNET News.com) The Supreme Court will not decide whether published court decisions are entitled to copyright protection, meaning that legal research giant West Publishing cannot bar online publisher Matthew Bender and other competitors from copying decisions published in West's legal reference books.
- Privacy legislation delayed indefinitely (Canadian Press) Canada's first shot at privacy legislation has been delayed indefinitely from reaching the lawbooks.
- USA - Banking Official Cites Growing Privacy Concerns (Press Release) The Comptroller of the Currency warned banks to stop what he called the abusive practice of selling customers' personal data to telemarketing firms or face possible action by Congress.
- USA - FTC Critics: Go Slow on Privacy (Wired) The US Federal Trade Commission moved too hastily in drafting new privacy regulations and failed to consider how the rules could harm small Web sites, Congressional leaders charge.
- USA - Minnesota Sues Bank for Customer Data Sales (Press Release) Minnesota's Attorney General filed suit against U.S. Bank, charging that the bank violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act and state consumer protection laws when it sold confidential customer information to a telemarketing company.
- Britain Aims To Lead EU E-Commerce (Reuters) Britain is slipping behind in its goal to be the European center for business on the Internet, and inertia rather than cost or fear is the main reason.
- Compaq Says Internet Rules Pact Is Needed (Reuters) Electronic commerce is booming but a global regulatory framework is needed for similar growth to go on long-term, said Kasper Rorsted, Compaq Europe vice-president.
- USA - Online Pharmacies Busted (Reuters) An undercover sting operation in which a 16-year-old boy was able to purchase Viagra has prompted Kansas to file five lawsuits against Internet providers of prescription drugs. The Kansas petitions seek a permanent injunction against a group of companies and individuals selling prescription medications over the Internet to consumers who can obtain the drugs without ever personally seeing a doctor.
- EU - European Council decision on a charter of fundamental rights (RAPID) The European Council has decided to establish a Charter of fundamental rights in order to make their overriding importance and relevance more visible to the Union's citizens. A draft should be elaborated in advance of the European Council in December 2000. (Presidency Conclusions, Cologne European Council, 3 and 4 June 1999).
- Only NSA can listen, so that's OK (Heise Online) Giant US software manufacturer Lotus has been lowering the profile of information about how they have installed an NSA-only trapdoor into e-mail and conference systems used by many European governments, including the German Ministry of Defence.
- "Internet Tax" Outrages New Zealand Net Users (7am News) Telecom New Zealand, the country's largest telco and monopoly provider of local loop connections to virtually all households announced ISPs and Net surfers would have to dial a special prefix to go online or face a two cents per minute surcharge on their calls.
- Fast UK Net access coming (BBC) The UK industry minister, Michael Wills, has told parliament during a debate on telecommunications costs and Internet access that the outcome of a consultation process by the regulator Oftel was going to have a significant impact on the UK telecommunications market.
- Free Internet Access In Ireland (Excite) Irish telecommunications firm Ocean, a joint venture between British Telecommunications Plc and Ireland's Electricity Supply Board, announced free Internet access which it said would help Ireland's drive to be a leader in electronic commerce.
- Net strike success claimed (BBC) Sunday's 24-hour telecommunications boycott in protest at the cost of surfing the Internet is being hailed as a success by organisers.
- Should state sell high-speed Net access? (CNET News.com) A proposal by Virginia's state government to sell discounted high-speed Internet access to the business sector has touched off a battle pitting small ISPs against the government.
- France - Accès à Internet par le réseau téléphonique (Autorité de régulation des télécommunications) (Important consultation document on interconnection prcining for Internet access) Orientations de l'Autorité et appel à commentaires. La date de remise des réponses à l'appel à commentaires est fixé le 21 juin 1999.
- Anti-Spammers Nuke E-Commerce (Wired) An anti-spam boycott disrupted credit-card transactions for as many as 16,000 Internet businesses for a four-day period.
- Telco files Net defamation suit (Bloomberg News) Carnegie International, a telecommunications holding company, has brought a lawsuit against Internet users of posting defamatory messages about its executives to drive down the company's stock price and spark a lawsuit by shareholders.
- France - La mise à disposition de pages Web est-elle dangereuse ? (Gérard Haas et Olivier de Tissot) Analyse de l'affaire Hallyday c/ Lacambre.
- Netherlands - Scientologists' copyright suit shapes Net liability (CNET News.com) Linking to a site that contains material that infringes someone's copyright also is an infringement, a Dutch court ruled.
- UK - Demon drops libel appeal (BBC) Demon Internet has quietly dropped an intended appeal against an Internet libel ruling that it said could affect "the entire ethos of freedom of speech on the Internet. An electronic commerce bill is currently being drafted and Demon has submitted its own comments and recommendations on content liability. It suggests the UK bill should include proposals from the draft EU Directive on Electronic Commerce. see related story
- USA - Antiabortion site owner sues MindSpring (CNET News.com) The creator of a controversial antiabortion Web site has sued his Internet service provider for shutting it down.
- USA - AOL Subscribers Can Be Sued in Virginia (The New York Times) A federal District Court judge ruled that a Texas defendant's use of his AOL account to post an allegedly defamatory message was sufficient to warrant jurisdiction under Virginia's long-arm statute.
- USA - Court limits state jurisdiction on Web (CNET News.com) Hosting a Web site with a company whose servers are located in California is insufficient grounds for courts in the Golden State to have jurisdiction over the site, a state appeals court has ruled.
- Ms. Beaudoin surfs the Net (The Montreal Gazette) Editorial by Montreal English-language newspaper criticising Louise Beaudoin, the Quebec minister responsible for language, whose department has threatened to fine a Quebec-based company for failure to give equal visibility to French in a Web site.
- Canada - Study on rating and filtering (Industry Canada) A detailed study commissioned by the Canadian Telecommunications Policy Branch. Version française.
- USA - Senators propose uniform labelling system (http://www.nytimes.com/library/tech/yr/mo/cyber/capital/08capital.html#1) Senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman plan to introduce a bill that would create a uniform labeling system for violence portrayed in entertainment media.
- USA - System wasn't designed to change content (CNN) Sex, violence and crude language have become more common on U.S. prime-time television despite a voluntary ratings system intended to help parents choose shows appropriate for their children, a media watchdog group says.
- USA - V-chip is about to become a reality (Reuters) The deployment of the V-chips on schedule. Under terms of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, manufacturers of television sets sold in the U.S. were told to install software that would allow parents to block the reception of programs they considered unsuitable for their children.
- Internet sheriff threatens high noon for office idlers (Guardian)
- Cryptography and Liberty 1999 (EPIC) The Electronic Information Privacy Center has released its latest report tracking cryptography policy around the world. Attempts to restrict encryption, despite some public-relations successes by proponents of restriction, are falling apart.
- Encryption Products Found to Grow in Foreign Markets (New York Times (registration required)) Commercial data-scrambling technology that is made outside the United States has become significantly more available in the last 18 months, according to researchers at George Washington University. *
- USA - Feds batten down the online hatches (CNN) A growing wave of hacker attacks on federal World Wide Web sites, including an attack that resulted in the FBI shutting down its site for more than a week, has raised agencies' awareness of their vulnerabilities and spurred efforts to increase their online security.
- Mobile phone groups agree standard (Financial Times (registration required)) The world's major wireless operators and equipment suppliers have agreed a single technical standard to allow the next generation of mobile phones to be used around the world. The agreement, at a meeting of the Operators Harmonisation Group in Toronto, will apply to so-called third generation (3G) wireless communications systems - also known as Universal Mobile Telephone Services.
- Telekom auf 300 Millionen Mark verklagt (ZDNet Deutschland) Der italienische Festnetz- und Mobilfunkbetreiber Wind will die Deutsche Telekom auf Schadenersatz in Höhe von 300 Millionen Mark verklagen.
- EU - Telepassport klagt gegen Telekom-Gebühr (Heise Online) Die Erfurter Telefongesellschaft Telepassport hat bei der EU-Kommission Beschwerde gegen die Deutsche Telekom eingereicht. Man wolle damit eine Senkung der Interconnection-Gebühren erreichen, die im Vergleich zu den Endkundenpreisen der Telekom zu hoch seien.
- USA - Appeals Court Bars Qwest, Bell Deals (Reuters) A U.S. Appeals Court agreed that a 1996 law barred regional Bell companies like Ameritech and US West from selling long-distance service from Qwest Communications.
- USA - FCC Offers Calling Party Pays Rules (Reuters) Wireless telephone users could see lower monthly bills as the cost for calls they receive shifts to the caller under rules proposed by the Federal Communications Commission. So-called calling party pays, or CPP, is already popular in Europe and Latin America, but inconsistent rules have hampered the service in the United States.
Market & Technology
- Data Basics Federal Sites A Big Hit (The Washington Post) A dozen federal Web sites had more than 1 million visitors in April, with the U.S. Treasury, home of the Internal Revenue Service, predictably leading the pack. Indeed, the Treasury was the only federal agency to make the Web's top 50 sites in April, according to online measurement firm Media Metrix Inc.
- 50000 neue DE-Domains pro Monat (Heise Online) Die Zahl der in Deutschland registrierten Internet-Namen hat sich innerhalb von vier Monaten verdoppelt: Ende 1998 gab es erst 230.000 DE-Domains, Ende April 1999 waren es schon 500.000.
- Amazon May Have Edge In Emergence Of Online Music (Reuters) Internet retailer Amazon.com, which launched a special area on its Web site offering songs for free downloading, is not the first company to venture into online music, but it could turn out to be one of the most successful.
- Amazon UK goes half-price (BBC) The leading Internet bookseller, Amazon, has joined an online price war in the UK, offering its bestsellers at 50% off the list price.
- Internet Anxiety Seizes Britons (The New York Times Company) The concept of publishers' owning and controlling the territorial rights to books is about to be shot dead by the Internet. Which is one reason, although not the only one, that many British publishers are setting up or planning outposts in the United States.
- New UK Web Site Offers Music Bands Free MP3 Break (CNN) An Internet service provider (ISP) has taken the wraps of a new MP3 Web site called Madasafish (mad as a fish) that will allow new bands to upload their music tracks in MP3 format, and the Web site will promote them.
- Prostitution thrives on the Net (MSNBC) Demonstrating the adaptability that helped earn it the title of "world's oldest profession," prostitution is thriving on the Internet, slipping into comfortable new guises like sex-for-money chatrooms and Web sites showcasing fancy call girls and boys.
- Sony to send hard-to-find music directly to stores (Associated Press) Sony Music Entertainment plans to pipe 4,000 hard-to-find albums directly to record stores via a high-speed digital network.
- An online retailer lets customers find the latest fashions (Electronic Telegraph)
- Will the internet kill Britain's car cartels? (Guardian)
- BT Quietly Launches IP VPN Service (Network Week) British Telecommunications' business IP networking subsidiary, BTnet, has quietly launched a nationwide IP VPN and Internet-access service called equIP. The service undercut access prices offered by local ISPs.
- Dell Launches Free Net Access (Sm@rt Reseller) Sending ripples through the ISP market, Dell Computer is offering free, unlimited Internet access in Europe. See also DellNet Internet Access Service Raises Questions (Sm@rt Reseller), BBC offers free Web access (Wired) and Microsoft joins free Net spree (BBC) .
- ISP casualties 'are inevitable' (BBC) Western Europe's Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are facing cut-throat competition and inevitable casualties, according to a report by the telecoms strategy consultant Analysys. Analysys says the market cannot sustain such a high number of suppliers .
- Kostenloser Internet-Zugang bei Debitel (ZDNet Deutschland) Ab Mitte Juli bietet die Stuttgarter Telekommunikationsgesellschaft Debitel allen ihren zwei Millionen Kunden mit Debitel.net und dem neuen Tarif Start.net einen eigenen Online-Dienst zum Nulltarif an. Die Nutzer müssen lediglich die Telefongebühr von knapp sechs Pfennig pro Minute bezahlen.
- Motorola and Sun to Build Joint System for Fast Net Access (The New York Times) Motorola and Sun Microsystems are teaming up to create a new wireless network to provide high-speed Internet access. The two companies said that the new system would allow consumers within the next few years to tap into the Internet through cellular telephones, pagers, hand-held computing devices and other wireless devices.
- Dixons to float Freeserve (BBC) Dixons, the UK's leading electrical retailer, is planning to float a minority stake in its Freeserve Internet Service on the stock market.
- Is Onebox the Next Hotmail? (The Industry Standard) Free unified messaging - voice-mail, e-mail and faxing - is set to take on the Web.
- AltaVista Partners With Sina.com For Search (TechWeb) AltaVista and Sina.com are entering a partnership to provide search capabilities for Chinese-language Internet sites on the Sina.com websites. Sina.com offers a Chinese-language Internet gateway and provides news, e-mail, chat, dating clubs, and financial and shopping services to more than 700,000 registered users, delivering 150 million page views a month .
- Majority of Users Will Be Non-English Speakers (NUA) 57 percent of Internet users will speak a language other than English by 2005.
- IE passing Netscape in browser race (ZDNN) Microsoft's Internet Explorer has finally surpassed Netscape's Web browsing products, according to a new study. Microsoft's browser has 50 percent of the marketplace.
- TV-Werbeblocker vorerst abgeblockt (Heise Online) Die "Fernsehfee" hat vorerst ausgezaubert, jedenfalls bei RTL und Vox. Die beiden privaten Fernsehanstalten setzten ihre einstweilige Verfügung wegen Vernichtungswettbewerbs durch. Fernsehfee bietet einen über Radio-RDS (Deutschlandfunk) übermittelten Werbeblocker-Service an, der bei Werbung den Kanal umschaltet oder den Videorecorder anhält.
- Virus Worms Its Way Through Net (TechWeb) A new worm spreading across the Net is very dangerous and moving fast. The worm spreads by sending a copy of itself as a reply whenever someone sends e-mail to an infected user. The reply e-mail will come with the following body message: "Hi (recipient's name)! I received your email and I shall send you a reply ASAP. Till then, take a look at the attached zipped docs. Bye." When the user opens the attached file, they are given a fake error message. By that point, the worm has already gone into effect, reasing the contents of Word, Excel and PowerPoint files. see also How to Guard Against ExploreZip and its Mutants (ZDNet AnchorDesk).
- Net music players closer to security (CNET News.com) The Secure Digital Music Initiative, a recording industry-led group seeking to make music downloads more secure online is a step closer to its goal after the meeting of the portable device working group reached consensus on the "reference architecture" for the first generation of compliant devices.
- Web creator displeased with his creation (Gannett News Service) Tim Berners-Lee, the man who invented the World Wide Web and then gave the information away, is frustrated. "I'm embarrassed at how difficult it is," he said. Nor is he pleased with the direction the Web is taking. "It's not supposed to be a glorified television channel," he says.
- UK - Webcam nets Nessie? (BBC)
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