QuickLinks 127 - 20 September 1999
Forthcomings events | Background items
Legal and regulatory issues
- UK - Digital TV turn-on outlined (BBC) Culture Secretary Chris Smith has announced a broad time limit for the final introduction of the "digital revolution", saying it will take place only if 95% of homes have a digital receiver. Mr Smith said the switch could take place between 2006 and 2010, but he told broadcasters at the Royal Television Society Convention in Cambridge that viewers' interests must come first. see also Digital TV - broadcasting with one hand tied behind its back (The Register)
- BBC's Online Expansion Plan Generates Static (The Industry Standard) The British Broadcasting Corporation met with criticism for plans to join the band of Britain's free ISPs. The British Internet Publishers Alliance accused the BBC's planned Freebeeb.net service of an unfair advantage through its ability to cross-promote the service using its numerous other online properties. Those concerns were echoed by the London Internet Exchange, an industry group that argues that as a publicly subsidized institution, the BBC will not be competing fairly with other ISPs.
- Commission renews UIP authorisation for five years (RAPID) The European Commission has renewed the exemption under Article 81(3) of the EC Treaty of the agreements establishing United International Pictures BV (UIP). UIP is a joint film distribution company established by Paramount Pictures Corporation, Universal Studios Inc., and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. (the Partners). Within the European Union (EU), UIP distributes and licenses feature films produced mainly by the Partners for screening in cinemas.
- EU - Creation of British Interactive Broadcasting (now Open) authorised (RAPID) The European Commission has authorised for seven years a joint venture, British Interactive Broadcasting Ltd (BiB, renamed 'Open'). Open's parent companies are BSkyB Ltd, BT Holdings Limited, Midland Bank plc and Matsushita Electric Europe Ltd. Open is to provide a new type of service, namely digital interactive television services, to consumers in the United Kingdom (UK).
- France - Gov't confirms Microsoft complaints (Computer World) The French Finance Ministry is checking on complaints concerning Microsoft business activities in the country, but downplayed the scope of the probe. Consumer complaints relate to bundling of software, according to Paris newspaper Le Parisien. Resellers also complain because of high prices they pay for software.
- Image Analysis Cracks Child Pornographers (TechWeb) In a project funded by the European Union, Swedish police are using image-processing knowledge-management software to counter child pornographers, and hope to make the system global. The software uses an adaptive pattern-recognition technology that enables the information about the images to be retrieved quickly as the system compares underlying patterns of images rather than the images themselves.
- Net Hate Speech Serious (Newsbytes) Senate Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, called hate speech on the Internet a "serious situation indeed." To combat what he called the growing problem of Net-based hate speech, Hatch said he has introduced legislation to make filtering technology more readily available and criminalizes using the Internet to teach people how to make bombs. Hatch also re-issued a report prepared by the Judiciary Committee's majority staff. The updated "Children, Violence and the Media: A Report for Parents and Policy Makers" study.
- New York stops sale of killer's art on web (Reuters) A serial killer serving life for murdering at least 11 prostitutes was stripped of his arts privileges after prison authorities discovered he was selling art and poetry on the Internet. *
- Report Lists Over 1,400 Hate Sites (NUA) There are currently 1,426 Web hate sites on the Internet, according to a report by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a human rights centre based in Los Angeles. This compares to 600 hate sites at the end of 1997, and just one hate site in 1995.
- UK police to target online pervs (The Register) Scotland Yard is targeting Net paedophiles with a monitoring service based on a scheme being used by the FBI. Trained agents visit chat rooms and pretend to be teenagers and pre-teens, in an effort to lure the paedophiles into conversation, and eventually into rendezvous, where they will be arrested.
- USA - Gore calls for cyber-stalking laws (ZDNN) Vice President Al Gore has called for stronger federal laws to combat cyber stalking. He referred to a new U.S. Department of Justice study that found that more than two-thirds of states have no anti-stalking laws explicitly covering the Internet or technologies such as e-mail or pages.
- USA - Infoseek exec nabbed in sex scandal (ZDNet) A top executive for one of the Web's biggest sites has been arrested by FBI agents on federal charges for allegedly crossing states lines to solicit sex from a minor.
- Bertelsmann Pleads for Self-Regulation Online (internet.com) In a paper presented at the Internet Content Summit, the Bertelsmann Foundation called for greater user control over content regulation. The paper recommended user implementation of rating, filtering and security technology for content regulation, and that international hotlines and "credible self-regulatory institutions" be created to resolve user complaints. The foundation stated its belief that freedom of speech and child protection online go hand in hand. What is needed, it said, is "a new culture of responsibility." see also Plan Calls for Self-Policing of the Internet and Yale Law Professor Is Main Architect of Global Filtering Plan (New York Times (registration required)), Who Polices the Net? (IDG) Internet Ratings Redux (Wired), Global Internet Liberty Campaign (GILC) Press Release, Queasy About Online Ratings(Newsbytes), Net censorship: An impossible task?(IDG), Self-Rating Of Sites Assailed (The Washington Post), Munich, The Censors' Convention (slashdot), Großindustrie und Politik wollen mit unliebsamen Inhalten im Internet aufräumen (Heise Online).
- China bans Internet investment (BBC) The Chinese government is planning to ban all foreign investment in the Internet. Information Minister Wu Jichuan said that foreign investment was not allowed by law and that China now planned to clean up the "irregularities." Up to now, ambiguity about the role of content providers, like portals, has led to big foreign investments in Chinese sites, even though ISPs (Internet Service Providers) who provide Internet access have been banned.
- Cable Access Opened for AOL Canada (InternetNews.com) Unlike its American parent firm, AOL Canada has taken steps to enter the high-speed cable Internet access market by forming an alliance with Regional Cablesystems, a cable television company serving Canada's non-urban communities.
- Oftel blames Net for phone changes (The Register) Three out of ten people would consider using video on demand, Net access via their TV and broadband Net services when they become available, according to the telecoms watchdog Oftel.
- USA - Bells Don't Have to Lease Broadband Gear (The Industry Standard) The FCC votes against requiring local telephone carriers to unbundle and lease the equipment they use to provide high-speed Internet service.
- Global business group seeks new e-commerce order (
Redherring.com) Business leaders from more than 200 companies around the world made a joint call for industry-led regulation for electronic commerce, in a bid to help form global policies for Internet-based trade. The GBDe issued policy positions in nine areas: consumer protection, privacy, copyright, communications infrastructure, online security, trust in transactions, jurisdiction, content and advertising, and taxes and duties. see also Industry leaders propose 'trustmark' for the Internet (News Wire), Startups Absent at Global Business Dialogue (TORNADO-INSIDER.COM), Does Self-Regulation Have a Future? and Global E-Commerce Group Slow-Going on Net Regulations (Reuters), E-Commerce Without E-Privacy is E-Theft (Junkbusters)
- Boots, Telegraph Group to Launch Women's Net Service (Internetnews.com) Calling it handbag.com, The Boots Company and Hollinger Telegraph New Media announced plans to launch a complete Internet service for women.
- New international e-commerce initiative (IDG) A new nonprofit organisation called Global Trust Authority (GTA) has been created which will work as a certification authority. It is backed by more than 800 banks and financial institutions from several European countries, including Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, Ireland, Spain, Switzerland, Holland and the U.K., as well as Canada and Japan. The U.S. has not joined the initiative so far. The authority will have its headquarters in Belgium.
- UK - Get business online - Blair (BBC) UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has urged British industry to make the leap into online trading or face the prospect of bankruptcy in the face of international competition. Mr Blair's visit to Cambridge coincides with a report rom the Cabinet Office's Performance and Innovation Unit (PIU) warning that Britain is in danger of lagging behind in e-commerce. see also Blair Goes Back To School To Learn Net Skills (Reuters). see related story
- USA - FBI, Cos. Strike Software Agreement (Associated Press) The FBI reached a first-of-its-kind agreement enabling telecommunications companies to use computer software made by Nortel Networks to assist law enforcement agencies in conducting lawfully authorized wiretapping.
- Internet fördert Kinderprostitution (Heise Online) [ECPAT meeting in Bangkok: globalisation affects child prostitution] "Die Globalisierung hat auch vor der sexuellen Ausbeutung von Kindern nicht haltgemacht", sagte der Neuseeländer Ron O'Grady, Gründer und Vorsitzender der gegen Kinderprostitution gerichteten Organisation ECPAT ("End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes"), auf der ersten weltweiten Mitgliederversammlung in Bangkok. Kinderpornographie im Internet sei weltweit binnen Sekunden abrufbar. Der kommerzielle Handel mit Kindern habe durch offenere Grenzen zugenommen.
- USA - Web technology helps trace kids (CNN) The FBI, the Customs Service and the U.S. Postal Service are linked through new World Wide Web-based technologies to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which has opened a new headquarters in Alexandria, Va. Charles Wang, chairman and chief executive officer of Computer Associates International and the center's top benefactor contributed $5 million in funding and technology.
- UK Games Ratings Not Kids' Play (Wired) The European Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA currently operates a self-labeling system for the computer game industry, and only 5 percent of games need to be submitted to the British Board of Film Classification. predicted that existing regulation would become "redundant," and that "there will be a self-rating system in five years. The BBFC is obliged under the 1984 Video Recordings Act to apply film classification standards to computer games so that they may be classified as suitable only for certain ages.
- Australia - Internet Industry Association releases Code of Practice. (Press Release) The latest revisions to the draft address amendments to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 in relation to Internet content. The Code does not impose any requirement for ISPs to engage in universal blocking of content which the ABA deems prohibited. Rather it requires that ISPs provide certain classes of end users with tools by which means they can control the access of content into the home. see also Aussie Ethics Code Still Rankles (Wired).
- Commission takes Belgium to Court over telecommunications legislation (RAPID) The European Commission brought an action before the European Court of Justice following on from the administrative proceedings for failure to implement a Community directive. Belgium has still not adopted provisions concerning the cost accounting method that must be implemented by the incumbent operator, Belgacom, in accordance with the relevant EU rules.
- Failure to rein in Telecom is damaging NZ business (IDG) New Zealand businesses now pay more for telecommunications services than virtually any other developed country, according to Clear Communications CEO. He also slammed Telecom's move to force Internet users onto the 0867 number range as being "about controlling access to the Internet".
- UK - Oftel plans to make complaining easier (VNU Newswire) Telecoms watchdog Oftel has proposed appointing an independent arbitrator to deal with customers' legal disputes with their fixed line phone operators.
Market & Technology
- Book Wars Heat Up (InternetNews.com) Booksellers in the UK are beginning to match ISPs for the intensity of their rivalry. Coinciding with the opening of Waterstone's largest bookstore in Europe, online bookseller BOL will feature Book Track bestseller lists on its site - and discount the titles of top 10 books by 50 per cent.
- UK - BT PC - a mere 90p a day for three years (VNU Newswire) BT and Fujitsu Computers have come up with a PC and Internet access package that will cost less than 90 pence a day - the catch is it will take three years to pay for it. Consumers who purchase the package, which costs £25.99 per month including Vat for three years, will have 0800 unlimited Internet access at weekends through BT Internet.
- Cheap Net access key to wooing German users (CNET News.com)
- Microsoft shunned by Digital Broadcasting Group (IT-Analysis.com) Microsoft received one in the eye from the Digital Video Broadcasting Group as it announced that it would use Java as the underlying technology for its digital broadcasting standard, instead of Windows CE.
- Names, Numbers and Networks () Metadata, Intellectual Property and E-Commerce - the Way Ahead, 15 November 1999, Washington DC. Organised by (interoperability of data in e-commerce systems) an Info2000 project, supported by the European Commission DGXIII, an international initiative of rights owners creating metadata standards for e-commerce. The conference is formally co-sponsored by the US Copyright Office and the US Patent and Trademark Office and is financially supported by Muze Inc.
- Java Drills Deeper Into European DTV (EE Times)
- Over 18 Million Online in Japan in April 1999 (NUA) There are now over 18 million Internet users in Japan, of which women account for 35.6 percent, according to a study by Nikkei NetBusiness.
- Which? Online: Study Looks at British Net Usage Patterns (NUA) One in ten UK users now describe themselves as regular online shoppers, according to a survey by MORI Research. The study estimates that the typical British user spends five hours or less online per week, visiting 13 Web sites in that time. 75 percent of British users feel that the Internet should be regulated. Pornography was a major concern for 56 percent of those surveyed, followed by morality, 51 percent and fraud, 51 percent.
- World Wide Web Home to 3.6 Million Sites (NUA) There are now an estimated 3.6 million sites on the Web, of which 2.2 million are publicly accessible, according to a report by OCLC Research. The largest 25,000 sites account for 50 percent of the total content available on the Web.
- Belgium - ISPA releases updated survey of the Internet market (Press Release) ISPA (the Belgian Internet Service Providers Association) has released the updated figures of the independent market survey of Belgian Internet providers conducted by Heliview.
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