QuickLinks 131 - 4 November 1999
Forthcomings events | Background items
Legal and regulatory issues
- Blair has first internet lesson (BBC) Tony Blair has been attending his first lesson in using the internet and information technology in an effort to overcome his self-confessed computer illiteracy.
- EU - Quelle politique cinématographique pour les nouvelles instances européennes? (RAPID) Discours de Madame Viviane Reding Membre de la Commission européenne, chargée de l'Education et de la Culture aux Rencontres Cinématographiques de Beaune, le 23 octobre 1999
- Germany - Vergnügungsparks klagen gegen geplanten Medienpark des ZDF (dpa) Drei Vergnügungsparks haben vor dem Landgericht Mainz Klage gegen den geplanten Medienpark des ZDF erhoben. Der Betrieb des Medienparks ist nach Ansicht der Kläger nicht mit den Aufgaben einer öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunkanstalt vereinbar. Das ZDF betont, dass keine Gebührenmittel für Bau und Betrieb des Parks verwendet werden.
- Switzerland - SRG lanciert Digital Audio Broadcasting (Neue Zürcher Zeitung) Vor einer Woche gab die Schweizerische Radio- und Fernsehgesellschaft SRG den Startschuss für die Einführung von Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) in der Schweiz. DAB verspricht unter anderem eine bessere Empfangsqualität und Vereinfachungen bei der Sendersuche. Allerdings braucht es dazu neue Empfangsgeräte, die vorläufig noch teuer sind.
- USA - Guidelines proposed over internet health services (BBC) Guidelines to protect consumers from unreliable health advice and information on the internet are being drawn up by American medical firms. Two separate initiatives aim to regulate advertising, content, sponsorship and privacy, following public concern over the accuracy of information available on web sites and how they use personal data collected from consumers.
- USA - Web Doctors Push for Ethics (Wired) The heads of several medical Web sites are working to develop ethical guidelines designed to protect both consumers and the commercial interests of the online health industry.
- Australia - Yahoo opts for censorship (Sydney Morning Herald) Yahoo has started censoring content from its chat areas, even though it has not received any consumer complaints. The Yahoo Web site lets users post comments on "message boards" to debate a broad range of issues.
- France - Bourges: une régulation de l'internet est "nécessaire" (AFP) Une régulation de l'internet est "nécessaire" et doit être "légitime", et "prendre en compte les enjeux sociaux et culturels", a affirmé mercredi Hervé Bourges, président du Conseil supérieur audiovisuel (CSA), en rendant compte de la préparation du prochain "Sommet mondial des régulateurs sur internet et les nouveaux services". see related story
- USA - "We're researching porn, really" (Fox News) Six public college professors asked a federal appeals court to throw out a Virginia law barring state employees from accessing sexually explicit materials on computers at work. The professors claim the law impedes their ability to conduct legitimate academic research.
- USA - State of First Amendment (Freedom Forum) A survey released by the First Amendment Center reveals that support for Internet free speech has increased over the past two years, although a majority of Americans favor restrictions on online content.
- Ninth Circuit Hears Argument Against Access to Cable Bandwidth (E-Commerce Law Weekly) The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit heard arguments over whether AT&T can be required by the city of Portland, Ore., to open up its cable lines to America Online and other Internet service providers.
- Telewest Unveils Digital TV Service (Press Release) Telewest Communications is launching a new generation digital TV service called 'Active Digital'. The Wired Home Telewest's digital services will hasten the convergence of delivery platforms to the home and to businesses. Telewest's broadband network will connect to the digital 'smart' set-top box - the digital home terminal - to create a sophisticated wide area network.
- Music execs threaten to kill MP3 sites (Reuters) The global music industry outlined plans for a coordinated attack on Internet piracy, taking action against hundreds of outlaw sites in more than 20 countries. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) said its strategy was aimed at paving the way for artists and record companies to deliver music electronically and legally around the world.
- Canada House OKs Privacy (Wired) The Canadian government's privacy law, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, passed its final vote in the House of Commons by a margin of 200-49. However the bill still has to make its way through the appointed Senate.
- RealNetworks Probe Begins (Wired) Web privacy watchdog group Truste will launch an investigation into RealNetworks' controversial data collection practices. Truste launched the investigation in response to a report CD Software Is Said to Monitor Users' Listening Habits published in The New York Times that RealNetwork's RealJukebox software monitors users' listening habits and other activities and sends the information and the user's identity to the company. See also Can you trust TRUSTe?(ZDNN)
- USA - Proposed Federal Medical Privacy Regulations Released (EPIC) The President presented a set of proposed federal regulations protecting the privacy of electronically stored medical records. The regulations are the first federal protections of medical privacy. The Department of Health and Human Services began drafting the regulations when Congress failed to pass federal legislation covering medical privacy on August 21 of this year.
- USA - Revised Banking Legislation Raises Concerns About Privacy (New York Times (registration required)) If Congress votes to overhaul the nation's Depression-era banking laws, it will be doing more than paving the way for the creation of one-stop financial supermarkets. It will also be offering companies unprecedented opportunities to amass and share reams of private data about their customers.
- ICANN Elections Complete, Vint Cerf Only US Member (Newsbytes) The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) selected three Europeans, one Canadian, one Asian and one US candidate to fill six remaining available board seats. MCI WorldCom vice president and Internet pioneer Vinton Cerf today became the sole American elected to serve on the ICANN board. see also One American Elected to Internet Board (New York Times (registration required))
- Foundation Gives $1 Million for Public Internet Efforts (New York Times (registration required)) The Markle Foundation has committed $1 million to get the general public more involved in Internet governance issues. At least half of the money will go to help the global network's controversial new oversight board create a voting membership of individual Internet users.
- ICANN Mulls Domain Handover (The Industry Standard) Network Solutions Inc. will still have an unfair advantage over other domain name registrars once it hands over control of its central registry, say some competitors.
- Lockheed Suit Over Domain Names Crashes (The Recorder/Cal Law) Network Solutions Inc. is not liable for contributory infringement when it registers a domain name, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled. Lockheed sued NSI in 1996 over use of the domain name "Skunk Works," a trademark that refers to the company's Southern California aircraft design and construction laboratory.
- USA - House Passes Cybersquatting Bill (New York Times (registration required)) The House passed legislation to crack down on so-called cybersquatting, the practice of buying up popular words as Internet addresses in the hopes of reselling them to companies and trademark holders at a hefty profit.
- European E-Commerce: Stymied By 1950s Law? (The Industry Standard) Four hundred e-commerce advocates are converging on the European Commission in Brussels to complain about a consumer-protection law. What's special about it? The law allows a consumer to sue a company in the country in which the consumer resides, regardless of where the company is based. Critics say the law could harm the development of Europe's burgeoning online shopping market.
- Global regulation of e-commerce (Internet Intelligence Bulletin) International intergovernmental bodies like the United Nations must speed up their policy processes or be rendered impotent in regulating the fast-changing world of electronic commerce, according to a new report.
- Providian may bar customers from Net gambling (CNet News.com) Hitting cybercasinos where it hurts, Providian National Bank, the sixth-largest Visa card issuer in the United States, is taking steps to block its 11 million customers from making illegal bets on the Net.
- USA - Capitol E (Business 2.0) Meet Elizabeth Echols, the White House's new point person on ecommerce issues.
- UK - Trade and Industry - Fourteenth Report (House of Commons) The Select Committee on Trade and Industry today released its report on the Draft Electronic Communications Bill. see also Summary of the Conclusions of the Committee
- UK - Bishops bash Web pornmongers (The Register) A Church of England report into the "ethical and spiritual implications of cyberspace", Cybernauts Awake!, encourages Christians to involve themselves with the Internet - something that it believes will become the dominant form of communication in the future.
- France - Nouvelle mission pour le SJTIC (Service d'information du gouvernement) Le Premier ministre vient d'adresser une lettre de mission à Christian Phéline, directeur du S.J.T.I.C. (service juridique et technique de l'information et de la communication) lui demandant de proposer les conditions dans lesquelles ce service pourrait devenir une véritable direction des médias afin de mieux exercer ses missions de réglementation et de tutelle et d'animer la mise en uvre du programme gouvernemental pour la société de l'information en ce qui concerne l'ensemble du champ de la communication et de la culture.
- Global spy network revealed (BBC) Imagine a global spying network called ECHELON that can eavesdrop on every single phone call, fax or e-mail, anywhere on the planet. It sounds like science fiction, but it's true. Two of the chief protagonists - Britain and America - officially deny its existence. But the BBC has confirmation from the Australian Government that such a network really does exist and politicians on both sides of the Atlantic are calling for an inquiry.
- Conference addresses World Wide Law (BILETA) The 15th Annual International BILETA Conference entitled "World Wide Law" will take place in Coventry, UK, on 17-18 April 2000. The event takes as its theme the impact of technology-led globalisation on legal education, practice and law. The Call for papers is open until 1 December 1999.
- Spam Bill Is Focused on Porn (IDG News Service) Sponsors of an antispam bill, which is scheduled for its first Congressional hearing, called attention to what they say is the pornographic nature of a high percentage of unsolicited e-mail.
- Kinder: Unser bester Kumpel (STERN Online) Computer sind für die meisten Kinder so alltäglich wie Fernsehen, Fahrrad fahren oder Fußball spielen. Der STERN fragte Eltern, wie ihre Kids den digitalen Spielgefährten nutzen
- The V-Chip Arrives, With a Thud (New York Times (registration required) Program-blocking technology is now in tv's, but few consumers are aware of it.
- USA - What the TV Parental Guidelines Mean (V-Chip education project) In 1997, the TV industry began using a TV ratings system designed to give parents more information about the content and age-appropriateness of TV shows. These ratings are called the TV Parental Guidelines.
- Australia - Hackers crack local network (Sydney Morning Herald) More than 100,000 Optus Internet and Microplex network customers are being asked to change their log-on passwords to the Internet, after hackers broke into the Optus Internet Service Provider yesterday.
- UK - Electronic communications bill fails human rights audit (FIPR) Justice, the legal human rights organisation, and the Foundation for Information Policy Research warn that those aspects of the Government's draft Electronic Communications Bill which deal with police powers to unscramble encoded e-mail are likely to breach human rights standards under the European Convention on Human Rights.
- USA - Federal Sites Cyber-Attacked (Newsbytes) A total of three Web sites having to do with the federal government were infiltrated apparently by the "phreak.nl" hacker - more accurately known as "cracker" -group.
Market & Technology
- Germany - Kölner Provider bietet bundesweit Flatrate (Internetnews.de) Bereits vor einigen Wochen schnürte der Kölner Provider inWest.com ein umfangreiches Bundel-Paket mit kostenlosem Internet-Zugang. Der Provider hat sein Angebot "entbündelt": Der reine Internet-Zugang ist nun für 188 Mark monatlich zu haben.
- UK - Totally free Internet access (ZDNet UK) Totally free Internet access will be offered for the first time in Britain by ISP CallNet. Users of the service will be given a CallNet 0800 number to connect to the Internet for free and do not have to pay for setup costs or subscription fees.
- DSL will threaten telcos, driven by porn (ZDNet UK) The emergence of DSL technology, driven in the consumer arena by a lust for porn, will have a "drastic effect" on the revenues and tariffs of telcos and service providers according to Tim Johnson, the founder of research firm Ovum.
- Espanol.com Joins Crowded Spanish-Language Field (E-Commerce Times) Shopping portal Espanol.com launched its service yesterday, becoming the latest in a long line of Spanish-language Web sites to target the Spanish-speaking market in the United States and Latin America.
- Holy See - Überlastung: Vatikan schließt Mailbox des Papstes (dpa) (Pope got too much e-mail] Die Mailbox von Papst Johannes Paul II. ist wegen Überfüllung geschlossen worden. Das berichten heute italienische Zeitungen. Nach Angaben von Vatikan-Sprecher Joaquin Navarro-Valls erreichten das Oberhaupt der katholischen Kirche "zu viele Botschaften".
- Divide in European Internet Experience (NUA) A new study from Dutch research firm, Pro Active International, finds that there are significant differences in Internet user patterns between European countries in the north and those in the south.
- Net catches the UK (BBC) The UK is much more wired than previously thought. According to a major new survey, 40% of adults in the UK now have some way of accessing the internet and over a quarter of UK adults used the net in the last month.
- Sweating Over Fingerprint Sensors (Techweb) Solid-state fingerprint sensors are nearing the point where pricing and reliability make them suitable for use as replacements for easily forgotten passwords. As the technology and pricing hurdles are overcome, many people think privacy is a key roadblock in the acceptance of the new generation of low-cost fingerprint sensors.
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legal and regulatory aspects of Internet and the information society, and
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edited by Richard Swetenham (firstname.lastname@example.org). - Contributors: NewsNow UK, MediaGrok, David Goldstein, Gerhard Heine, Alan Reekie
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