QuickLinks 121 - 25 June 1999
Legal and regulatory issues
- Britain wants EU secrets on net (Guardian) The secretive committees that run most European Union affairs will have to publish details of their proceedings on the internet if a reform drafted by Britain and backed by Germany and Scandinavian countries is passed.
- Canada To Test Tax Filing Over The Internet (Reuters) Half of the seven million Canadians who used software and computer-generated paper returns to file their 1998 taxes will receive an invitation from Revenue Canada to participate in the trial program to file their tax returns over the Internet.
- Federal Search Site Boomerangs (Wired) A search engine "relaunched" itself as a for-profit business in response to Clinton Administration concerns that the site unfairly charged fees for access to government documents.
- UK - Museums call for online funding (BBC) British museums are asking for £35m to pay for an explosion in online access to the country's arts and antiquities.
- UK - New Information Laws criticised (Heise Online) Plans by Tony Blair's government to introduce a Freedom of Information law have been condemned by MPs and campaigners.
- USA - Consumer Protection in the Global Electronic Marketplace (FTC) A conference hosted by the Federal Trade Commission on "Consumer Protection in the Global Electronic Marketplace" was held in Washington on 8-9 June. The conference was intended to encourage a dialogue on how to address issues such as consumer protection in business-to-consumer e-commerce, on-line disclosures, authentication, jurisdiction, and the role of industry, consumers and government.
- USA - Medical Quacks Exploiting Internet Users - FTC (Newsbytes) A new two-pronged FTC campaign, Operation Cure-All, aims to educate consumers about health scams and bring to justice those entrepreneurs who make bogus claims. As a part of the campaign, the FTC has filed cases against four Websites that made deceptive claims about purported cures for illnesses such as arthritis, heart disease and cancer.
- USA - Internet industry group to focus on 'consumer protection' (Computer World)
- Cable ISP choice possible (CNN) GTE and America Online said tests on a local GTE cable system proved the feasibility of operating such networks on an "open access" basis. Such open access would allow customers to select from an Internet service providers (ISP) of their choice. See also AOL, Cable Execs, Sprint Square Off Over Broadband Access (Newsbytes)
- Fight For Open Cable Access Heats Up In San Francisco (Newsbytes) San Francisco's Public Utilities and Deregulation Committee rejected a proposal by city staff that would have granted AT&T exclusive access to the city's cable lines in exchange for a promise to upgrade the city’s antiquated cable system.
- USA - Kennard Promotes Internet Policy (Associated Press) The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission predicts chaos if local governments are allowed to determine the technical standards for high-speed Internet access and cable television systems.
- MS outlines privacy protection policy (PC Week) Microsoft outlined its online consumer protection policies while at the same time pledging not to buy ads on sites lacking similar protections. In particular, Microsoft is making available a new Privacy Wizard that uses a set of guidelines created by the W3C to help Web sites craft privacy policies.
- Judge Rejects Online Critic's Efforts to Remain Anonymous (New York Times (registration required)) A California judge allowed Xircom , a modem company, to request the unmasking of an anonymous online critic, rejecting arguments from the critic's lawyers that the subpoena would violate his free speech rights.
- USA - Consumer Group to Fight DoubleClick Deal (CNET News.com) A group of consumer advocates is planning to demand that federal regulators block the proposed $1 billion merger of Internet advertiser DoubleClick and market researcher Abacus Direct, criticizing the deal as an assault on personal privacy. see also DoubleClick: A cross-media behemoth? (ZDNet)
- USA - Small Banks Speak Up On Privacy (Electronic Banker) America's Community Bankers and the Independent Community Bankers of America - the trade groups representing thrifts and community banks, respectively - are urging members of Congress to reject privacy proposals they say could be particularly harmful to small banks.
- Big brother is watching you (Network News UK)
- EU-US Privacy Accord Falls Off The Summer Agenda (Newsbytes)
- Internet Publisher Receives Suspended Jail Sentence (Newsbytes) An Australian man has been given a two months suspended jail sentence after pleading guilty in a Federal Court to continuing to publish investment advice on the Internet in breach of an order from a court.
- Net gamblers sue credit card firms (ZDNet) Five class-action lawsuits have been filed against MasterCard, Visa USA and individual banks over the use of their cards at Internet-based casinos. The lawsuits charge the companies with violating the federal Wire Act and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), but also that they are breaking state laws that deem gambling debts uncollectable.
- Australia - Boosting confidence in electronic commerce (Press Release) The Government will establish a new peak body to oversee the development of a national framework for electronic authentication of online activity, the Minister for Communications announced.
- Internet setzt journalistische Ethik unter Druck (dpa) Die schnelle Verbreitung von Gerüchten und Nachrichten durch das Internet setzt nach Einschätzung des Medienforschers Jo Groebel die Prinzipien journalistischer Sorgfaltspflicht unter wachsenden Druck.
- UK - Sacked for surfing Net (BBC) An office manager who used the Internet to book holidays at work has lost her claim for unfair dismissal.
- Singapore Declares New Year's Eve A Y2K Bank Holiday (Newsbytes) The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has agreed with a proposal to declare December 31, 1999 a bank holiday so that banks can complete all record-keeping and back-up accounts early before the date changes to January 1, 2000.
- Amazon withdraws Trimble book in UK (BBC) Amazon.co.uk has withdrawn from sale a book containing allegations of links between Northern Ireland's First Minister David Trimble and loyalist paramilitaries, but it remains for sale throughout the world from the Web site's parent company Amazon.com. The first minister's solicitor says it will not prevent him from issuing a writ for libel - and then pursuing the matter through the US courts too.
- Demon ruling prompts eBay to reconsider UK future (Silicon) eBay, the Internet auction company, is reconsidering its future in the UK following developments in the Godfrey vs Demon Internet defamation lawsuit.
- Spain Wants Spanish on Internet (AP) The government will give firms a tax break for using Spanish on the Internet in a bid to keep the language from falling too far behind English in global communications, the newspaper ABC reported.
- International Effort to Fight Online Child Pornography (New York Times (registration required)) A new group, Innocence in Danger, working under the aegis of the United Nations (UNESCO) hopes to combat online sexual exploitation of children through such projects as an online tip site and a study of discrepancies in national child protection laws.
- U.S. Supreme Court to decide adult cable TV law (Reuters) The Supreme Court agreed to decide the constitutionality of a 1996 law that requires sexually explicit cable television channels to block their signals to non-subscribing households.
- Australia - Sex industry's crossed line on phone sex (Press Release) 'Legislation has now passed the Senate to establish safeguards to prevent children being able to access 1 900 sex lines,' the Minister for Communications said.
- USA - ACLU Sues Michigan Over Ban Of Sexual Content To Kids (Newsbytes) The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit to stop the implementation of a Michigan law that would criminalize communications considered harmful to minors. The law criminalizes the "dissemination or display of sexually explicit material to minors".
- USA - NY Internet Pornography Law Upheld (New York Law Journal) A New York law enacted to protect children from receiving pornography over the Internet has withstood its first appellate challenge. The Appellate Division unanimously affirmed the conviction of a man who was found guilty of attempting to send explicit pornography to a state trooper posing as a 15-year-old girl.
- USA - Top entertainment executives reject Littleton blame (Reuters) Executives from some of the leading entertainment producers defended their right to produce violent and sexually explicit programming, despite calls from Washington for the entertainment industry to exercise greater self-restraint.
- USA - Schools Careful About Posting Photos Online (New York Times (registration required))
- Canada - Furor Over Net Filters (Wired) The Ontario provincial government is limiting the access its employees have to the Internet by installing a filtering device that prevents them from connecting to certain sites.
- USA - House likely to mandate Net filtering (CNET News.com) The House passed an amendment to the Juvenile Justice Bill to require schools and libraries to install technology to screen out "harmful" material as a condition of receiving a federal Net access subsidy. Rep. Henry Hyde's amendment to prohibit the sale to minors of any image or content that contains sexually explicit or violent material was defeated, as was an amendment to impose labeling on violent audio and visual materials, including online content. see also Senate panel advances filtering bill (Reuters).
- USA - Net tax panel pinching pennies (ZDNet News) The 19-member Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce set up to advise Congress on what should happen after the current e-commerce tax ban runs out has no budget, and raising funds is a problem.
Market & Technology
- eBay blacks out yet again (CNET News.com) Despite a frantic, around-the-clock effort to keep the auction site running after two embarrassing and costly outages, visitors to eBay received no response from the site, marking at least the third unplanned outage in five days. see also EBay Blames Sun for Outages (Reuters)
- DSL modem standard gets final approval (CNET News.com) The International Telecommunications Union gave final approval the G.lite standard, a lower-speed DSL technology aimed at the mass-market consumer.
- Rivals agree on Web buying standard (ZDNet News) Filling out forms on e-commerce sites could get a little easier, thanks to an agreement by a group of major tech companies on a single standard for electronic wallets, the Electronic Commerce Modeling Language (ECML).
- 829,000 Irish Adults Online by 2001 (NUA) An estimated 829,000 Irish adults will have Internet access in Ireland by the end of 2001, according to a recent report by Amárach Consulting.
- More People Spent More Time On The Net In May (Newsbytes) Overall Internet activity was up nearly 9 percent during May, and the average time users spent on a site jumped more than 21 percent for the month, according to the latest Nielsen/NetRatings report.
- Net Population Swells to 92 Mil (Wired) Some 92 million Canadians and Americans age 16 and older surf the Net, according to Internet Demographics, a survey conducted by CommerceNet and Nielsen Media Research.
- BT Swallows NZ's No. 2 Telecom Carrier (Reuters) British Telecommunications emerged on Friday with full ownership of New Zealand's second largest telecommunications company, Clear Communication, after setting out to buy just half.
- Qwest heats up telecom bidding war (WSJ Interactive Edition) Qwest Communications, a long-distance company, has entered a hostile $55 billion bid in cash and stock to acquire U S West and Frontier -- topping Global Crossing's offer to merge with both companies in separate transactions now totaling more than $42 billion in stock.
- Sony to build own telecom infrastructure (Reuters) Sony Corp will build its own telecommunications infrastructure offering network services for small businesses and consumers.
- Telecommunications Price Cuts by Iridium (New York Times (registration required)) The satellite telecommunications company Iridium World Communications Ltd. has cut prices as much as 65 percent for its phone services and equipment and strengthened its sales and marketing efforts in a bid to win clients.
- Greg Dyke is new BBC boss (BBC) The chief executive of Pearson Television, Greg Dyke, is to become the director general of the BBC. He takes over from Sir John Birt next April.
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edited by Richard Swetenham (firstname.lastname@example.org). - Contributors: NewsNow UK, TKRnews, MediaGrok, EPIC, David Goldstein, Gerhard Heine, Angela Mills, Alan Reekie
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