QuickLinks 124 - 28 July 1999
Legal and regulatory issues
- Courts of Law in the Information Society (Ministry of Justice, Finland) The seminar will look into the relationship between courts of law and the information society from two distinct points of view: how the courts can make use of the developments in the IT field in their everyday work and how they can provide the best possible service to their customers. Rovaniemi, Finland 6 - 7 September 1999.
- Report attacks EU secrecy (BBC) A highly critical report has accused the European Commission of operating a culture of secrecy. The report, published by a group of independent experts, follows an earlier investigation into mismanagement in the European Union's executive which forced the resignation of Jacques Santer and his team of commissioners in March.
- Forum on Audiovisual Policy (Ministry of Education, Finland/ European Commission (DG X)) The seminar will concentrate on the new opportunities and challenges for content creation in the digital environment. The main themes to be discussed include digital television - prospects for European content, Internet - opportunities for the screen media industry, development of financial support mechanisms, WTO Millennium Round and GATS 2000. Helsinki, Finland 9 - 10 September 1999.
- Mandelson backs digital TV licence (BBC) Viewers of digital television should pay an extra TV licence of £35, according to former minister Peter Mandelson in a speech to the European Media Forum. see also BBC set for big sell-off and digital licence fee (Guardian) and BBC accused of digital TV tax (ZDNet UK).
- EU - Commission authorises SNCF-Cégétel agreements (RAPID) The European Commission has authorised the agreements between Cégétel, a new telecommunications operator in France, and Société nationale des chemins de fer (SNCF), the French national railroad company, to develop and run a national long-distance telecommunications network built along the French national railway network. see related story
- EU - Commission clears merger between AT&T and MediaOne (RAPID) The European Commission has cleared an operation by which AT&T acquires control of the whole of MediaOne Group. The merger focuses almost entirely on the United States and its effects on competition in the European Union will be marginal.
- UK government outlines 'e-hallmark' plans (Silicon) The UK government has outlined plans for an 'e-hallmark' to protect consumer interests online. The measure was introduced by Trade Secretary, Stephen Byers, at the launch of the government's Consumer White Paper "Modern markets: confident consumers". The White Paper suggests the drafting of an ecommerce code of conduct, drawn up in conjunction with industry and consumer groups. The e-hallmark would be awarded to companies which agreed to meet that range of standards, from the quality of goods sold to delivery times. see also End to 'rip-off Britain' (BBC).
- Services of General Interest (Ministry of Justice, Finland) The seminar discusses the availability, price and quality of the services which consumers need in everyday life include e.g. water and electricity, traffic as well as telephone and basic bank services. In addition, the seminar considers whether particular services related to information society (e.g. Internet and mobile phone connections) could be regarded as services of general interest in the future. Helsinki, Finland 9 - 10 September 1999.
- Germany - Court Bans Advertising-Sponsored Phone Services (Handelsblatt) The District Court in Berlin has ruled against Teleflash, a private telephone firm offering free, advertising-sponsored phone calls. The adverts invaded the privacy of the person being called, who has no choice but to listen to the advertisements.
- Copyright - or wrong? (Salon) The Church of Scientology takes up a new weapon - the Digital Millennium Copyright Act - in its ongoing battle with critics.
- Japan Mulls Intellectual-Property Reforms (EE Times) A proposed industrial-revitalization plan for Japan would give private companies ownership of intellectual property developed through government-funded research.
- USA - Congress Tackles Database Law (National Law Journal) Two bills are pending in separate committees in the U.S. House of Representatives. Both bills seek to prevent unfair competition in the form of unauthorized copying of databases but approach the problem differently.
- EU - Update of Brussels Convention (RAPID) The European Commission has adopted a draft Regulation on jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement of judgements in civil and commercial matters. When adopted by the Council of Ministers, this Regulation will replace and update the 1968 Brussels Convention. The Commission has noted that the wording related to consumer contracts has given rise to anxieties among those looking to develop electronic commerce. The Commission will organise a hearing on this subject in the autumn of 1999. see also EU backtracks on ecommerce regulations (VNU Newswire) see related story
- Internet Agreement Leads to $1 Mil. Suit (The Legal Intelligencer) An Internet "linking agreement" has spawned a $1 million federal lawsuit in which CDnow Inc., an online music seller, claims that Lycos, a popular search engine, broke its promise to run its ads and to reject all ads from its competitors.
- AOL Drops Teen-Age Volunteers (New York Times (registration required)) America Online, which relies on a network of 14,000 volunteers to moderate chat rooms, monitor message boards and answer e-mail, will no longer allow minors to participate in the program.
- Dänemarks Regierung will TV-Werbung für Kinder verbieten (dpa) [Denmark will ban TV advertising for children] Ministerin Elsebeth Gerner-Nielsen will Kindern unter zwölf Jahren per Gesetz "reklamefreie Zonen" im Fernsehen sichern. In Norwegen und Schweden gibt es schon ähnliche Regelungen.
- Germany - Bundesjustizministerin ruft Eltern zum Widerstand gegen TV-Gewalt auf (dpa) [Minister tells parents to switch off TV to protect children form violence] Bundesjustizministerin Herta Däubler-Gmelin (SPD) hat Eltern zum Widerstand gegen Gewaltszenen im Fernsehen aufgerufen. Eltern sollten den Fernseher ausmachen, sich mit den Kindern beschäftigen und sich bei den Aufsichtsgremien beschweren
- Germany - Erstmals Photos von mißbrauchtem Kind im Fernsehen gezeigt (Süddeutsche Zeitung 30-Tage-Archiv (registration required)) [Police show photo on TV to identify victim of child pornography] Zum ersten Mal haben Polizei und Staatsanwaltschaft in Deutschland den Schritt gewagt, Bilder eines sexuell mißbrauchten Kindes aus dem Internet im Fernsehen zu veröffentlichen und das Opfer damit der Anonymität zu entreissen. Die Aktion hatte Erfolg: durch Hinweise von Fernsehzuschauern wurde das Kind identifiziert.
- Broad FBI computer monitoring proposed (New York Times (registration required)) The Clinton administration is reportedly drafting a plan to create two broad, FBI-controlled computer monitoring systems designed to protect the nation's key data networks from interlopers.
- USA drängen auf Internetverbot für Kryptoprodukte (Heise Online) [US Attorney-General has written to request Germany to forbid export of cryptography products] Ende Mai forderte US-Justizministerin Janet Reno in einem Brief Bundesjustizministerin Herta Däubler-Gmelin auf, sich für die Kontrolle der Verschlüsselungssoftware einzusetzen, die "über das Internet verbreitet" wird. Dazu gehören auch "Public Domain"-Produkte.
- Virus informatiques: un lycéen suédois travaille avec le FBI (Agence France Presse) Un lycéen suédois de 18 ans, Jonathan James, travaille avec le FBI, la police fédérale américaine, pour traquer les créateurs de virus informatiques.
- USA - [B]Crypto battle reaching a climax (Sm@rt Reseller) There's a strong chance the Security and Freedom through Encryption (SAFE) act could pass in September. At the same time, however, recent litigation ironically may leave the administration without any encryption regulations at all.
- USA - Report: Crypto Will Harm Society (Wired) Two House committees are warning that widespread use of encryption technology would be "devastating" for US law enforcement and the national security establishment.
- Prior information notice - Open calls for tenders (Official Journal) DG XIII/E intends to launch open calls for tenders for services in the following domains in the framework of the Internet Action Plan: i. Technical assistance to projects supported by the Internet Action Plan ii. Gathering and dissemination of relevant information for the IAP work programme and its funded initiatives iii. Select organizations that can assist self-regulatory bodies in developing and implementing codes of conduct. Provisional date for initiating award procedures: August/September 1999. OJ S144 28/07/1999.
- Australian regulator opens access to local networks (ZDNN) Tthe Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has ruled that the country's biggest telco, Telstra, must grant its rivals access to its local network.
- Regulators Create Pan-European Club (CommunicationsWeek International) Europe's national telecoms regulators have formed a policy review and consultation group designed to harmonize regulatory practice in the European Union. The Independent Regulators Group (IRG) acts separately from government agencies and the European Commission but will carry out its work without challenging existing EU institutions, according to its leading participants.
Market & Technology
- BBC pays £200,000 for .com domain Index (ZDNet UK) The BBC has lashed out a reported £200,000 of licence payers' money on the domain name bbc.com currently owned by Boston Business Computing in America.
- Dell set to launch ISP, e-commerce portal (CNET News.com) Dell Computer launches the DellNet Internet service and is expected to announce a new e-commerce site called DellZone, with special offers from top-tier brands, exclusively for Dell customers
- The All-Porn Internet (Wired) An adult entertainment company in Canada, is readying a whole new Internet called Adult Cyberspace, devoted exclusively to porn. It is run as a subscription-based online service via a special browser, similar to the early days of America Online and Prodigy.
- Microsoft streaming in Real's shadow (CNET News.com) Despite a three-year campaign to rule the streaming media market, Microsoft is still playing second fiddle to RealNetworks. see also Apple renews streaming bid with QuickTime. According to Media Metrix, RealNetworks' software was used by 13.5 percent of users. About 6.2 percent used one of several versions of QuickTime, and the Windows Media Player was used by 5.3 percent of users.
- NTL Becomes Top U.K. Cable Operator with CWC Buy (Bloomberg News) NTL, backed by France Telecom, agreed to buy the cable television business of Cable & Wireless Communications for 8.2 billion pounds ($13 billion), doubling its customers in Britain. see also NTL to dominate UK cable industry (Financial Times (registration required).
- Symantec buys URLabs to focus on Internet (InfoWorld Electric) Symantec has acquired URLabs, a company that develops software and technologies designed to manage content accessed over the Internet.
- Germany - Telekom und Kirch planen gemeinsamen Weg (dpa) Die Deutsche Telekom will dem Münchner Medienunternehmer Leo Kirch beim Ausbau des Pay-TV-Programms Premiere helfen. Der Telefonkonzern werde über seine Tochter-Gesellschaft Media Service in den «T-Punkt»-Läden für den Abonnementsender werben und auch Abos verkaufen.
- Netscape releases Chinese-language browser (Reuters) Netscape Communications is searching for more partners in China to expand its Internet business, a top company official said today. The company announced today the release of its first Chinese-language browser, Netscape Communicator 4.51.
- AltaVista ends paid search practice (New York Times (registration required)) AltaVista has discontinued its practice of auctioning off search results. The portal was giving the highest advertising bidder premier placement on search result pages for specified inquiries.
- Free ISPs halt growth of subscription-based rivals (Silicon) Subscription-free Internet service providers (ISP) have all but halted the growth of providers charging a flat monthly fee. Figures from Durlacher Research: UK subscription-free dial-up market Freeserve 1,250,000 Total 3,930,000 UK subscription-based dial-up market AOL 600,000 Total 2,034,000.
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edited by Richard Swetenham (firstname.lastname@example.org). - Contributors: NewsNow UK, TKRnews, MediaGrok, Gerhard Heine, David Hughes
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