QuickLinks 129 - 16 October 1999
Forthcomings events | Background items
Legal and regulatory issues
- EU - Commission approves public funding of a 24-hour news channel in the United Kingdom (RAPID) The European Commission has approved the financing from State resources of BBC News 24. Further to a complaint, the Commission found public funding of the channel through the transfer of monies collected from licence fees to constitute State aid. The Commission found the transfers compatible with the EC Treaty because they allow for public service remits for public broadcasting.
- Global Talks Demand No Child Porn Tolerance On Web (Reuters) World experts agreed that there should be zero tolerance for child pornography on the Internet and that governments, police forces, industry and users should each play a role in achieving this. A high-level international conference on "Combating Child Pornography on the Internet" brought together some 250 representatives from the European Union, North America, central and eastern Europe and Asia. see also Combating Online Child Porn (Newsbytes), and Verstärkte Fahndung im Internet (Der Standard)
- Der EU-Rat zur Cyberkriminalität (Spiegel Online) Spiegel Online veröffentlicht einen bislang unter Verschluss gehaltenen "Entwurf eines gemeinsamen Standpunktes zu den Verhandlungen im Europarat über den Entwurf des Übereinkommens Cyber-Kriminalität" des EU-Rats vom 23. April diesen Jahres.
- G-8 to clamp down on cybercrime (ZDNN) The world's most powerful countries are to meet in Moscow on 19 October to discuss ways to co-ordinate the fight against organised international cybercrime. see also Jagd auf die Logfiles Spiegel Online
- Hakenkreuze und Hetztiraden: Rechtes im Internet boomt (dpa) [Internet use for hate speech on increase] Das Internet wird zur Mobilisierung der rechten Szene ebenso genutzt wie zur Verbreitung von Propagandamaterial - auch wenn radikale Web-Seiten nur einen winzigen Bruchteil des World Wide Web insgesamt ausmachen: Waren dem Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz 1996 lediglich 30 Seiten bekannt, so hat sich diese Zahl inzwischen auf etwa 300 verzehnfacht.
- Infoseek ex-exec pleads not guilty in sex case (Mercury) Patrick Naughton, the former Infoseek executive arrested last month after he allegedly arranged a sexual rendezvous with an FBI agent posing as a 13-year-old girl, appeared in federal court and pleaded not guilty to three felony charges.
- Internet Alliance launches Law Enforcement and Security Council (Press Release) The Internet Alliance announced the launch of an industry council to address worldwide law enforcement and security issues. Citing the need to improve international law enforcement efforts and to continue to build consumer trust, the Washington, D.C.-based Internet Alliance (IA) has established the Law Enforcement and Security Council. The IA Law Enforcement and Security Council will work with law enforcement agencies primarily to address consumer security issues. see also L'industrie de l'internet renforce la surveillance contre les pédophiles (AFP).
- Netherlands - 'Cybercops' to patrol information highway (Nando Media - Associated Press) Dutch police opened their fight against Internet crime by naming 15 "cybercops" to target on-line offenses ranging from pedophilia to credit-card fraud.
- UK - Web war against criminals hots up (BBC) A new Website allows members of the public to e-mail tip-offs to police. The Crimestoppers Trust says e-mails will be filtered to strip them of any information identifying the sender, thus preserving the trust's pledge of anonymity for anyone who gets in touch. The new Website was welcomed by Home Secretary.
- USA - FBI Lagging on Cyber Crime (The Washington Post) Federal officials acknowledged that hackers have broken into Defense Department networks from overseas while the FBI office in charge of America's cyber security is still more virtual than real.
- USA - Cyberporn: 'Good thing' or dangerous? (Reuters) A panel clashed over whether pornography on the World Wide Web is a "good thing" that contributes to the economy, or a danger that sacrifices children on the altar of the First Amendment.
- USA - Internet Law Challenged (The Washington Post) Civil rights advocates and 15 Internet businesses filed a federal lawsuit yesterday challenging the constitutionality of a new Virginia law that seeks to ban from the Internet commercial material that could be considered harmful to juveniles.
- Tunis Fishes for Net Control (Wired)
- FCC: Hands off the high-speed Net (Bloomberg News) U.S. regulators should maintain a hands-off approach to overseeing the high-speed Internet business to encourage the fledgling technology's growth, a new Federal Communications Commission staff report concluded.
- Net name row ends in silence (The Register) The threat of legal action against ISP Freenetname has failed to materialise despite the promise by Web company NetNames that it would "protect its trade mark most vigorously".
- Ticketmaster: Think Before You Link (The Standard) In the hopes of sparking industrywide debate on the topic, Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch is set to post a statement on its Web site that argues against certain types of linking.
- USA - Court deals blow to online publishers (WSJ Interactive Edition) Publishers can't put freelance articles online and onto CD-ROMs without permission from writers, a federal appeals-court panel ruled, reversing a prior victory for media companies.
- USA - Customs to target media pirates (Reuters) The U.S. Customs Service is stepping up the battle against the illegal copies of computer software, movies and music. A new center, based at customs headquarters, will coordinate investigations by several agencies, including customs and the FBI, into the theft of intellectual property.
- USA - Free-Lance Writers Win Electronic Victory (San Francisco Chronicle) A union representing free-lance writers has won a federal appeals court ruling that print publishers cannot freely reproduce their work in electronic media.
- Enonymous Offers Free Online Privacy Protection (Reuters) Enonymous.com has unveiled a free online privacy utility that protects the identities of shoppers on the Web from marketers.
- New Internet protocol plan could compromise user privacy (Associated Press) Engineers creating a new Internet address system are proposing to include a unique serial number from each personal computer within every parcel of data. That could vastly simplify the sometimes befuddling job of setting up computers so they can talk to each other on a network. But critics warn that, if adopted, the move could potentially strip away a measure of anonymity and security
- Web site holders surrender privacy (MSNBC) All Web site owners are required to list their name, address and phone number for billing purposes. All that information is contained in a publicly available online database called "whois." And because of a mandate from the Department of Commerce, all the "whois" information is completely stripped of any privacy protections.
- The Big Privacy Lie (ZDNN)
- These Web sites know your past (ZDNN)
- Domain Name Agreement (DoC factsheet) A series of agreements between Network Solutions, the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers and the U.S. Commerce Department.
- Governing the Commons: The Future of Global Internet Administration (Heise Online) The two-day conference felt like a golden-age usenet group come to life: alt.conspiracy.org.icann, say. Nowhere else could one find a motley group of geeks devoted to the fascinating and frustrating project of deconstructing, disassembling, or simply destroying ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.
- Internet Oversight Body Starts Election Process (New York Times (registration required)) The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers opens its first round of elections for board members this week, kicking off a unique and complex process that promises to be as controversial as the Internet oversight body's creation.
- USA - Mattel sues X-rated Barbie site (Reuters) Mattel has sued an adult entertainment site using the Barbie trademark name.
- AuctionWatch nips at eBay's heels (CNET News.com) AuctionWatch provides a search engine that combs the leading auction site for listings. Now, eBay is threatening to close off the company's access to its listings and to take legal action against the auction service firm.
- Dispute Over eBay Auction Listings (The New York Times (registration required)) In a dispute over Internet auction listings, the Web site AuctionWatch.com said it will continue to provide its visitors with lists of items for sale on the site of industry leader eBay Inc., which is threatening to sue to stop the practice.
- Visa forgives online gambling debt (CNet) Settling an unusual lawsuit, Visa has agreed to forgive the debts of a woman who gambled away more than $70,000 on the Net, and to warn consumers of the legal risks of using its cards to roll the dice online.
- C.I.A. to Nurture Companies Dealing in High Technology (New York Times (registration required)) Hoping to insure that the nation's spies have the latest information technology in the rapidly changing Internet age, the Central Intelligence Agency has established a venture capital company to nurture high-tech companies.
- Die IETF überlegt, ob sie Abhörmöglichkeiten in Standards integrieren soll (Heise Online) Die Internet Engineering Task Force ( IETF), ein internationales Gremium, das sich mit den Standards des Internet beschäftigt, die die Interoperabilität des Netzes aller Netze garantieren, sieht sich offenbar einem schwierigen Problem ausgesetzt, nämlich ihrer Haltung zu Technologien, die das Abhören im Internet ähnlich wie bei Telefonsystemen ermöglichen.
- Germany - Bundestag berät über Zugriff auf Verbindungsdaten (Spiegel Online) Ein veralteter Paragraf erlaubt schon anlässlich kleinerer Vergehen einen staatlichen Zugriff auf Verbindungsdaten im Telefonverkehr. Gegen dessen Fortbestand sprachen sich jetzt Datenschützer und Grüne aus.
- Microsoft and M.I.T. to Develop Technologies Together (New York Times (registration required)) In a move that is expected to have a significant impact on the role of technology in university education, the Microsoft Corporation and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announce a singular partnership to develop educational technologies.
- Courses That Teach How to Learn Online (The New York Times (registration required)) A free class offered through the Web site of Pennsylvania State University is known formally as World Campus 101. But a more descriptive title might be: How to Take a Course Online.
- Exams go online (BBC) Students around the UK are trying out a computer program that lets them take exams at home - or anywhere else with Internet access.
- Government not doing enough to wire schools (ZDNet UK) The government is not doing enough to get UK schools online, claims Chris Thatcher, president of the National Association of Head Teachers.
- Net solution for expelled pupils (BBC) Disruptive pupils should be taught via the Internet, says Birmingham's director of education.
- Pupil citizens in Web link (BBC) Primary school pupils in the British Isles have used the Web for a live video link to launch a site promoting good citizenship.
- Teachers Block Microsoft Deal (Newsbytes) Teachers in the Australian state of Queensland have complained about an exclusive educational software licensing deal with Microsoft causing the local teachers' union to issue a ban on its implementation.
- Canada - E-Mail Harassment (Newsbytes) A teacher in a small Ontario town has reportedly lost his license to teach following allegations he sent inappropriate e-mails to a 14-year-old female student.
- Germany - Hamburger Lehrer machen Dienst nach Vorschrift (Heise) Die Netzadministratoren der Hamburger Schulen sehen sich gezwungen, nur noch die dienstplanmäßige Arbeitszeit für den Aufbau und die Wartung der Netze aufzubringen. Durch entsprechende Webseiten kündigen sie an, dass die Hamburger Schulen deswegen auf Dauer aus dem Netz aussteigen werden.
- USA - Kentucky Reaches for High School Students With Internet Courses (The New York Times (registration required)) Beginning in January, students in Kentucky who wish to delve into Catullus, Cicero and other masters of Latin will be able to log on to a new Web site and work through the classics in a course offered entirely online.
- USA - Skepticism About Online Law Degrees From a Supreme Court Justice (The New York Times (registration required)) Earlier this month, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg touched off a lively discussion among law school professors, law students and others when, during a speech on the history of legal education, she criticized efforts to offer law degrees online.
- Grüner Schleim statt rotem Blut (Heise Online) Wie gefährlich sind Computerspiele wirklich und reicht die Selbstkontrolle der Softwareindustrie zum Schutz der Kids?
- Justice Dept. Funds Antihacking Campaign (Industry Standard) With its $300,000 funding of the Cybercitizen Partnership, an awareness campaign coordinated by the Information Technology Association of America, the Justice Department is helping to educate budding Web users about how to be responsible, law-abiding surfers. The campaign will initially target children 12 and under, aiming to teach them proper online behavior and to instill a healthy disdain for hacking.
- Minister presents safety pack for schools (BBC) The Superhighway Safety pack has been produced by the Department for Education and the British Educational and Communications Technology Agency, responsible for developing the National Grid for Learning, with help from the charity NCH Action for Children, the Parents Information Network, the British Educational Suppliers Association and Disney. The pack includes information on software to filter out unsuitable material and has suggested good practice for parents. see also Can the internet damage your child's development? (Guardian)
- EU - Protecting Children who use the Internet (PCMLP, ERICA (European Research into Consumer Affairs), Center for Media Education) Project financed by the European Commission, DG Health and Consumer Protection.
- Hysteria grips U.S. over violence in video games (Mercury News)
- Filtering Now a Business Liability Issue (NUA) According to analysts at International Data Corp. 17 percent of all Fortune 1000 companies have installed software to monitor employees at work and by 2001 80 percent of large companies will be monitoring employee behaviour at work.
- The World's Wide Web: The Rating Game (The Industry Standard) At the Bertelsmann-sponsored Internet Content Summit in Munich, Jack Balkin, the director of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School, proposed nothing less than a global "common language" for rating content.
- Widening Consultation on Rating and Filtering Internet Content (INCORE) European experts held their second meeting under the EU funded project on self-rating and filtering systems at the Internet Content Summit in Munich in September. They now wish to open up the consultation with Internet users and content providers through a consultation paper on the INCORE Web site, translated into all the official EU languages.
- Microsoft Out of Hot Water in Hotmail Review (The Standard) Microsoft is in the clear on a security breach that in August left Hotmail accounts accessible to anyone just by typing in a user name. An outside accounting firm has completed a review of the situation and says Microsoft resolved the problem adequately.
- EU - Trust and Security in Electronic Communications : The European Approach (RAPID) Speech by Mr Erkki LIIKANEN, Member of the European Commission for Enterprise and Information Society, Information Security Solutions Europe (ISSE 99) Conference, Berlin, 4 October 1999
- USA - Court to review Bernstein crypto ruling (ZDNN) A full U.S. Appeals Court will review a decision by a panel of its judges that declared U.S. export regulations on computer data-scrambling technology unconstitutional. see related story
- USA - New Center Will Combat Computer Security Threats (New York Times (registration required)) The Federal Government and the financial services industry have established an information clearinghouse, which will be managed exclusively by private industry, to combat threats to computer security and vulnerabilities in computer systems.
- USA - Privacy Groups Wary Of Encryption Reforms (TechWeb) Privacy groups and some lawmakers are concerned about legislation the Clinton administration has proposed that gives law enforcement potentially wider berth to access secure data to balance the relaxation of encryption-export controls.
- Regulating Internet Content (Newsbytes) The Australian "co-regulatory" system whereby "the government provides a legislative framework and industry comes in and establishes rules".
- U.S. seeking global ban on Internet taxes (Associated Press) Legislation introduced by Rep. Christopher Cox, R-Calif., and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., urges U.S. trade officials to work during the World Trade Organization's November meeting in Seattle for a permanent global ban on taxes and tariffs that specifically target Internet commerce.
- Recommendation on universal access to Internet services (Council of Europe) The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg has adopted Recommendation (99) 14 on universal community service concerning new communications and information services. Member States are recommended to support the establishment of public access points and the provision of universally accessible information and services for the public at large. An international conference will be held in Malta on 2-3 November 1999 on this topic, where leading international experts will present examples and strategies for governments and industry.
- Telia-Telenor Merger Gets EU OK (Bloomberg) Telia and Telenor, the Swedish and Norwegian state-owned phone companies, won European Union approval to merge after agreeing to sell assets to preserve competition in Nordic phone and cable TV markets. In addition, the companies pledged to open up access to final users of telecommunications services in Sweden and Norway. The so-called "local loop unbundling" could set a precedent for future phone industry mergers, EU Competition Commissioner Mario Monti said in a statement. see also Commission clears merger between Telia (Sweden) and Telenor (Norway) with substantial conditions (RAPID)
Market & Technology
- Battle over Japanese Net access heats up (ZDNN) Fifteen Japanese firms will team up to offer a flat-rate, high-speed Internet service, heating up the battle to provide cheap access to the young but potentially lucrative medium in Japan.
- BT, Microsoft ally on wireless Internet (BBC) BT is to join forces with Microsoft in the battle for domination of the future wireless Internet market. The UK telecoms giant will be working with the world's largest software developer on developing consumer uses for the wireless Net, as well hardware for accessing it.
- Fill up and surf: Shell et World Online se lancent dans l'internet gratuit (AFP) Shell produits pétrolier Europe, filiale du groupe anglo-néerlandais Royal Dutch Shell, et le fournisseur d'accès World Online vont lancer un service d'accès à internet gratuit, sous le nom de "12move". Disponible d'ici quelques semaines aux Pays-Bas, ce service gratuit devrait ensuite être étendu à tous les pays européens.
- Hong Kong Slashes Internet Connection Charges (Total Telecom (registration required)) Hong Kong said it reduced the cost of accessing the Internet by reducing telephone connection fees to among the lowest in the world.
- Vatican goes online with 'virtual' ISP (Inter@ctive Week) A new company, iConnect, offering support for virtual Internet service providers will launch a family-friendly ISP called Catholic Families Network, created and approved through direct involvement of the Vatican.
- European Portals Advised to Form Alliances (NUA) Among the key conclusions of the most recent USWeb/CKS study on the European portal market is that local portals need to engage in multi-country alliances to offset the financial clout of established US portals.
- Email Now Primary Reason People Go Online (NUA) Email has replaced research as the primary reason why people in the United States go online. PriceWaterhouseCoopers' 1999 Consumer Technology survey found that 48 percent of US users polled said they went online for email while 28 percent said they went online to research. Last year those figures were exactly in reverse.
- Europeans Opt for Local eMerchants (NUA) European consumers are increasingly buying from local vendors as opposed US vendors, according to a new Ecommerce study commissioned by Europay International and conducted by Jupiter Communications. In 1997 5 percent of European shoppers polled bought from European based retail sites; in 1999, 15 percent buy locally.
- Europeans Remain Coy Online Shoppers (NUA) eRetailers in Europe will be caught off guard by European consumers, according to Forrester Research. Europeans are not spending online right now but soon they will be and retailers may not be able to meet their needs.
- New Indicators (OECD) update of Internet hosts (July 1999) and secure servers (August 1999) for OECD countries.
- Online Gambling Revenues Increase by 100% (NUA) A new study has found that online gambling yielded USD834.5 million in revenue last year. The figure represents a 100 percent increase on revenues in 1997.
- Information access, filtering, analysis and handling call for proposals (IAF) IAF is a theme in the EU's Information Society Technologies research programme. It aims to make rich multimedia content easier to use, on the Web, CD, DVD or other media. The 1999 IST Workprogramme focuses on two key aspects: - Action Line III.5.1 : Multi-sensory forms of content, where creativity is needed to develop and design new types of "sensory-rich" content, which appeal directly to the human senses of sight, hearing, touch etc. - Action Line III.5.2 : Media representation & access, where new coding and indexing technologies, models and standards are needed to improve access, filtering, analysis and handling of multimedia content. Call publication date: 1st October 1999 Call deadline: 17th January 2000.
- NSI's policy chief to phase out duties (CNet) Network Solutions senior vice president Don Telage, the company's chief negotiator in the domain name system policy wars, is planning to step down from his post by next year.
- Romano Prodi meets Bill Gates (RAPID) European Commission President Romano Prodi met with Mr Bill Gates, chairman and CEO of Microsoft. The general purpose of the meeting between Mr Prodi and Mr Gates was an exchange of information and views on recent developments in the field of information technology, the use of the Internet as a commercial, cultural and educational tool, and the role of information technology in creating new jobs and fostering economic growth.
- Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy (PCMLP) The Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy at Oxford University provides the necessary study, information and analysis on legal, regulatory and policy response to media globalisation, new technologies and democratic transitions worldwide. PCMLP also organises and collaborates with a network of similar law and policy centres designed to assist in responding to sweeping changes in the media and telecommunications fields.
- Take It Offline: enhancing online discussion (TBTF) TIO provides a convenient, lightweight venue for ad-hoc, online group discussions. Did someone on your mailing list just raise an off-topic but intriguing idea? In less than a minute you can create a private TIO discussion space and post its URL to your list.
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