QuickLinks 122 - 7 July 1999
Legal and regulatory issues
- EU - EbS Is live on the Internet (Europa) The European Union's TV news agency Europe by Satellite (EbS) is a service providing EU related information for professionals working in television and radio stations and for institutions. EbS's transmissions are now available on the Internet, LIVE, in three languages (original, English, French).
- Colombian man arrested for note on Internet (Reuters) A Colombian man was arrested in connection with an anonymous note on the Internet that sparked a limited run on deposits at a leading bank.
- EU - Call for tenders: computer crime (European Commission - DG XIII) Study on legal issues relevant to combating criminal activities perpetrated through electronic communications call for tenders - deadline 29.7.1999. OJ No S 123 of 29.6.1999.
- USA - Nailing Net Hate Mail (Reuters) A man who graduated from a California university while out on bail for computer crimes pleaded guilty to emailing death threats to Latinos across the country and was sentenced to two years in federal prison.
- FTC to set up Internet fraud lab (Computer World) The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is planning to build a special Internet lab to support its efforts to curb an increase in fraud and deception on the Net. The lab will monitor Web advertisements 24 hours a day by using technology such as search robots, which automatically comb the Internet for dubious material.
- EU - Call for tenders: consumer law (CORDIS) The study will examine whether existing consumer law adequately responds to the new environment and the Information Society, identifying gaps, if necessary, and providing suggestions on how to rectify them. The deadline for submission of tenders is 28 August 1999. OJ No S 123 of 29.6.1999.
- Australia Passes Law on Limiting Internet (New York Times (registration required)) The Australian government approved a law that would force Australian Internet service providers to remove objectionable material from Australian sites and to block access to similar sites overseas. see also Australian Net Censor Law Passes (Wired) see related story
- UK - Demon accused of Net libel hypocrisy (BBC) Demon Internet has been accused of hypocrisy by its subscribers for pursuing its own libel action against a newsgroup user and then defending freedom of speech on the Net. But it has since come to light that Demon successfully sued a newsgroup user for a defamatory posting about the company in the UK.legal group three years ago.
- USA - Censorship no answer to media violence (CNET News.com) The Clinton administration is concerned that violence in entertainment desensitizes young people, but the administration will not seek to impose censorship. "We will not be the modern embodiment of the thought police," said U.S. Federal Trade Commission chairman Robert Pitofsky. He said a study of the entertainment industry that he is helping oversee will focus on the effectiveness of self- regulation.
- UK - BT forced to unbundle local loop (Silicon) BT will have to unbundle the local loop - breaking its historic monopoly on the last-mile, copper line infrastructure - to speed the rollout of high-speed Internet access services, according to the consultation paper Access to Bandwidth: Proposals for Action published by the telecoms watchdog OFTEL.
- U.K. goes it alone on broadband WLL spectrum auctions (Total Telecom (registration required)) The U.K. government began the consultation process leading up to the auctioning of spectrum for broadband wireless local loop. It now seems unlikely that spectrum allocation will take place before the end of next year. The U.K. is not following the European regulatory recommendations and is proposing to license spectrum in the 40GHz and 28GHZ range. No other countries are licensing 40GHZ. see also UK broadband service providers face more competition (Financial Times) and Wireless in the Information Age Delivering Interactive Multimedia to Workplace and Home - A Consultation Document on providing Spectrum for Broadband Fixed Wireless Access (Radiocommunications Agency).
- Germany - d-Box: ARD fürchtet Decoder-Monopol (ZDNet News) Die ARD ist nicht zufrieden mit Kirchs Decoder "d-Box" fürs digitale Fernsehen. Die im Januar angekündigte Offenlegung der Betanova-Programmierschnittstelle der d-Box reiche nicht aus, um die Anforderungen der ARD zu erfüllen.
- USA - House to tackle anti-open access bill (CNET News.com) A new bill aimed at speeding rollouts of broadband Internet service and protecting the networks of cable companies like AT&T is headed for Congress.
- Politicians reach a compromise on Y2K bill (CNET News.com) After months of political wrangling, Congress and the White House reached a compromise on a measure that would limit lawsuits arising from the year 2000 technology problem.
- Birt warns of digital threat (BBC) The digital age could have a serious effect on the UK's national culture, BBC Director General Sir John Birt has warned. Sir John is known for being a strong supporter of the digital revolution in global communication. He has argued that specialist TV channels and interactive online services can provide a wider choice of information and entertainment. But his New Statesman lecture conveyed his misgivings.
- Internet Content Summit (INCORE) The Second Expert Meeting on a European system for content self-rating, under the INCORE Preparatory Actions Programme funded by the European Commission, is being run in conjunction with the Internet Content Summit, which is hosted by the Bertelsmann Foundation in co-operation with INCORE. Munich, Thursday 9th September to Saturday 11th September 1999.
- Programme for the Finnish EU Presidency (Press Release) A Strong and Open Europe into the New Millennium. see in particular A society based on information and knowledge and An area of freedom, security and justice .
- France - Deuxièmes Assises de l'Internet non marchand et solidaire (IRIS) Les deuxièmes Assises de l'Internet non marchand et solidaire se tiendront le samedi 27 novembre 1999 à Paris, mairie du XXe arrondissement.
- For Religious Schools, a Victory on Money for Net Access (New York Times (registration required)) A state program in Wisconsin that subsidizes Internet access at schools, including religious schools, is constitutional and does not violate the First Amendment's provision for separation of church and state, a Federal District Court judge ruled.
- Belgium - Belgacom Appeals Ruling On Internet Access System (Internetnews) Belgacom, the state-controlled telecommunications operator, is appealing against a court ruling ordering it to suspend its new Internet access system. The Brussels commercial court ordered the suspension after six competitors complained Belgacom was trying to squeeze them out of the Internet access market. The freeze was ordered pending a decision on the merits of case by the Belgian Competition Council.
- UK - Police hail Net porn ruling (BBC) Police are claiming a major victory in their fight against Internet pornography after a judge ruled that the content of American Websites can come under British jurisdiction.
- UK - Email costs BG £101,000 (The Register) Andrew Duffield has successfully sued his ex-employer, BG, for defamation of character in an email circulated to all employees.
- Medienwächter gehen gegen TV-Sendungen vor (dpa) Die TV-Sendungen «Peep» und «Birte Karalus» haben nach Ansicht der Landesmedienanstalten gegen die Jugendschutzbestimmungen verstoßen. Die gemeinsame Stelle Jugendschutz und Programm empfahl den für die Sender RTL 2 und RTL zuständigen Landesmedienanstalten, rechtliche Schritte einzuleiten.
- Germany - Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle Fernsehen kritisiert Talkshows (dpa) Einzelne Talkshow-Ausgaben der privaten Fernsehsender geraten immer mehr in die Kritik. Die von den privaten TV-Anbietern geschaffene Stelle Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle Fernsehen (FSF) hat in ihrem Prüfausschuß Sendungen von RTL und ProSieben gerügt.
- Bloomberg Censors Customer Email (ZDNet) The Bloomberg Service, which supplies market information, news, and email, now uses software to reject any communication that contains words the company considers offensive. CEO Michael Bloomberg made the change because he feared that offensive emails could embroil his company in lawsuits, and he has no plans to remove the software, even if customers request it.
- Cybersitter Stops the Music (Wired) Solid Oak Software announced that Cybersitter is expanding far beyond porn-blocking, with new filters that lock out stock trading, auctions, pop-up ads, and MP3s.
- Poll: Would You Subscribe to a 'Filtered' ISP? (Zdnet) An ISP called American Family Online employs what it calls a "pornography filter" that blocks its users' access to almost 10 million websites. The blocked sites include those with sexual content, music sites with explicit lyrics, games with sex and violence, and unmonitored chat rooms and newsgroups. Would you subscribe to a 'filtered' ISP? Current Results: 31% Yes, 68% No
- USA - Dole Proposal Tackles Internet Pornography (Washington Post) Republican presidential candidate Elizabeth Dole, called to cut off federal funds for libraries that allow access to pornography on the Internet.
- USA - Game Blocker to Be Installed on Windows (New York Times (registration required)) Microsoft plans to introduce a feature in its Windows operating system allowing users to determine what kinds of games can be played on the computer. Such a feature could enable parents to keep a game with gruesome violence, offensive language or nudity from being played, based on the game's content rating.
- USA - Net-filtering CEO started at home (The Denver Post)
- Network Solutions targeted by hackers (ZDNet News) Hackers have targeted Network Solutions - the keeper of Internet address suffixes such as.com and .org - redirecting its traffic to some of the companies that will soon compete with it.
- USA - DOJ Seeks Rehearing of Ruling in Bernstein Encryption Case (Electronic Frontier Foundation) The U.S. Government has sought further review of a recent decision holding that the federal government's regulations of encryption is unconstitutional.
- USA - Federal weather Web site goes dark (MSNBC) Computer attackers are continuing to hit federal Web sites, with a national storm prediction center among the latest victims. The centerís director said the attack kept emergency management officials nationwide from using the Web site to check forecasts for thunderstorms and tornadoes. The intrusion followed weekend assaults that defaced the U.S. Armyís home page.
Market & Technology
- New Free Translation Site (URLwire) FreeTranslation.com is a free web site designed to translate text and foreign language web pages from English to Spanish, French, German, Italian and Portuguese, as well as to English from Spanish, French and German.
- AltaVista: Not just a search engine (ZDNet News) AltaVista rolled out several new services intended to begin the company's transition from a single site to a network, including search capabilities, portal services and shopping.
- Netscape Search Engine Too Late, Analysts Say (TechWeb) Netscape launched its own search service, but according to some analysts, it may be three years too late.
- RealNames To Appear On Internet Explorer (TechWeb) Microsoft will use Centraal's RealNames system on both the Internet Explorer browser and the Microsoft Network portal. RealNames is a system that allows users to find websites without URLs. Users who type "Michael Jordan" into the address bar on IE will be taken directly to the basketball legend's official site. *
- Under pressure, Yahoo! clarifies terms (ZDNet News) Responding to the concerns of GeoCities users, Yahoo! altered its terms of service agreement to reassure its customers it does not plan to steal their intellectual property. According to Brady, users objected to draconian-sounding legalese that allowed Yahoo! to distribute the contents of its service to "mirror sites" at various locations around the world. see also Warner Bros. targets Yahoo's backlash (C>NET News.com)
- What can CMGI do with two portals? (CNET News.com) With its acquisition of Compaq Computer's Web portal AltaVista and its existing stake in Lycos, CMGI finds itself owning two birds of a similar feather, and some analysts speculate that the company may have to let one fly. see also Gains Seen for Both Sides in AltaVista Deal (Los Angeles Times)
- Giving Voice to Net Security (Wired) The Home Shopping Network will be able to automatically identify customers on the phone by their voices. In the first large-scale deployment of its kind, HSN's speech-print service will allow frequent shoppers to dispense with passwords and personal identification numbers, the company said.
- ITU Ratifies Full Range Of ADSL Technologies (Newsbytes) The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has formally ratified all ADSL speeds and standards.
- Standards Body Nears Accord on 3G Mobile (Total Telecom (registration required)) The standards tangle hampering the development of third generation (3G) mobile, is set to be unknotted a little. The Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) - a group formed by GSM-supporting standards bodies - will meet with the intention of bringing its specifications for 3G mobile standards in line with the proposal drawn up by the Operators Harmonization Group.
- EU - Call for expressions of interest (European Commission) The European Commission is setting up an advisory panel on Information Society standardisation initiatives. The panel should include representatives of industrial users, the public interest, academia and consumers. Expertise is sought in the following areas: technological expertise as regards IT and related technologies; legal expertise related to standardisation, intellectual property rights, competition rules and anti-trust regulations; socio-economic expertise; and consumer protection and representation of public interest, in particular regarding accessibility, security, data protection and privacy. The closing date is 5 August 1999.
- Almost One Million Online in Arab Countries (NUA) Over 920,000 people had Internet access in the Arab region. The report estimates that there are now approximately 338,200 Internet subscribers and on average there are 2.5 users per subscriber across the region.
- Are portal sites losing their magic? (ZDNet News) Internet users are getting more sophisticated, and that could mean trouble for the portals, the biggest sites on the Internet. Nielsen//NetRatings Inc., which measures Internet audiences and traffic, says that the growth of portals such as Yahoo!, Excite@Home and Go Network has leveled off recently, even as the Internet population as a whole continues to grow steadily.
- China's Net Market Booming (The Industry Standard) The world's most populous country will become the one of the world's largest Internet markets as early as 2003. China is already the fastest growing Net market in Asia, with the number of online users expected to reach 6.7 million by year end,
- English Speakers In Asia More Likely To Be Online (Newsbytes) A new survey illustrates a growing information gap between English speakers, who are on the whole better educated and have more money, and those who cannot speak the language.
- Girls on top in UK Web survey (The Register) Teenage girls are outnumbering their spotty male counterparts online in the UK
- Internet Reaches 18% Of Australian Households In February (Newsbytes) The penetration of the Internet continues to grow in Australia where almost 1.3 million, or 18 percent, of households had Internet access in February 1999, according tofigures from the Bureau of Statistics.
- Irish Users More Willing to Buy Online (NUA) There has been a 20 percent increase in the number of Irish Internet users that have made an online purchase in the past twelve months, according to the Irish Internet Association.
- Many top websites said to have slipped in May (Reuters) The number of visits to many of the Internet's leading networks fell again in May, or failed to fully recover from an April drop, despite a slight overall rise in visitors to the top 50 Web networks last month.
- Webcast Audiences Aren't Just Sitting There (New York Times (registration required)) Internet users treat so-called streaming media differently than traditional radio and television. Nearly 70 percent clicked on links to get information related to the Webcast, and 59 percent clicked on nearby advertisements.
- Brazilians Take to the Web With Uncommon Speed (New York Times (registration required))
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edited by Richard Swetenham (email@example.com). - Contributors: NewsNow UK, TKRnews, MediaGrok, EPIC, David Goldstein, Gerhard Heine, Alan Reekie
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