QuickLinks 136 - 12 December 1999
Forthcomings events | Background items
Legal and regulatory issues
- Ombudsman criticises DTI for sluggishness (silicon.com) The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has come under heavy criticism today in the Parliamentary Ombudsman's second annual report into access to government information. According to the Ombudsman, Michael Buckley, the DTI was guilty of "significant delays" in processing information relating to the government's encryption policy.
- Health care goes online (BBC) A major expansion of NHS Direct, a health advice service which helps people get medical help at home via the internet is to be launched by Tony Blair.
- Mortgage advice poised for electronic regulation (silicon.com) The Financial Services Authority (FSA) is likely to turn to intelligent agent software and the Internet to regulate mortgage advisers.
- EU - Commission loses case on access a second time (Press release) Judgment of the Court of First Instance in Case T-92/98. Interporc Im- und Export v Commission. The Court of First Instance has partially annulled a Commission decision refusing access to certain documents in so far as it refuses to grant access to Commission documents on the basis of the public interest exception for court proceedings. On the other hand, the Court has upheld the Commission's contention that it is not required to disclose documents of which it is not the author.
- UK - Hostile reception awaits freedom bill (BBC) The home secretary has defended his Freedom of Information Bill against a series of charges from the opposition and his own MPs, who argue it will make it easier for government to keep secrets.
- UK - Think tank blames civil servants for e-government sloth (silicon.com) Work towards building an electronic government is being thwarted by civil servants, according to a controversial study by think tank, Demos.
- USA - Court Bars Release of Judges' Financial Data (New York Times) Days before an Internet news service was to put the financial disclosure forms of all 1,600 federal judges on the World Wide Web, the chairman of a special committee of judges has blocked the release of the information and says the panel will review the matter this week.
- Anti-piracy raid in Israel (FT) Business Software Alliance has stepped up a campaign against software piracy in Israel with a raid on Nexus Telecation Systems. Dozens of copies of Microsoft and Autodesk software were seized.
- Musique sur l'internet: prison avec sursis pour deux internautes (AFP) Deux internautes de 21 et 24 ans, qui avaient construit un site permettant aux visiteurs de télécharger gratuitement des oeuvres musicales, ont été condamnés à deux et trois mois de prison avec sursis par le tribunal correctionnel de Saint-Etienne.
- Y2K Fixers Are Outraged by Patent Payment Demand (Law News Network) A group that has mushroomed in recent years in an effort to solve the Y2K problem is steamed over one man's attempt to collect patent royalties for a widely used fix known as windowing.
- France - Interdiction au Progrès de mettre en ligne sans accord des journalistes (AFP) La cour d'appel de Lyon a confirmé jeudi l'interdiction faite en première instance au groupe Le Progrès d'exploiter les articles de ses journalistes, sans leur accord, sur l'internet. C'est la première fois qu'une cour d'appel se prononce sur la question des droits d'auteurs des journalistes dont les articles sont rediffusés par voie télématique.
- USA - Clinton Signs Net Theft Deterrent Into Law (Newsbytes) President Clinton signed into law the Digital Theft Deterrence and Copyright Damages Improvement Act, H.R. 3456, which toughens the current penalties for digital misappropriation that already exist under the NET Act.
- USA - Playboy suit against ex-playmate dismissed (Union-Tribune) A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Playboy Enterprises against Terri Welles, a former playmate who ran her own Internet site that the company claimed violated trademark laws.
- USA - RIAA sues MP3 site Napster (zdnet UK) The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has filed a suit against MP3 music site Napster, accusing it of operating as a haven of online music piracy.
- USA - Navy disciplines 500 for raw e-mail (Nando Media - Associated Press) The Navy has disciplined more than 500 employees at a supply depot for sending sexually explicit e-mail over government computers.
- EU - Prodi launches "eEurope" (RAPID) The European Commission has launched an initiative entitled "eEurope An Information Society for All", which proposes ambitious targets to bring the benefits of the Information Society within reach of all Europeans. The initiative focuses on ten priority areas, from education to transport and from healthcare to the disabled. The initiative is a key element in the President's strategy to modernise the European economy. see also eEurope - eAbout eTime eToo! (IT-Director).
- Clinton Addresses Gap in Computer Access (New York Times) President Clinton, leading technology executives and representatives of minority and civil rights groups announced a series of partnerships and initiatives to help "slam shut the digital divide" between technology haves and have-nots, so that access to computers and the Internet is as common as the telephone. see also Digital Divide Summit (NTIA).
- UK - Blair finds 'different world' online (BBC) The internet will transform people's lives in the next decade as they increasingly shop and communicate online, the prime minister has predicted. Tony Blair admitted his computer skills remained "not good at all" but claimed he had started to overcome his technophobia.
- Copyright Decision Threatens Freedom to Link (New York Times) In a ruling that could undermine the freedom to create links on the Web, a federal judge in Utah has temporarily barred two critics of the Mormon Church from posting on their Web site the Internet addresses of other sites featuring pirated copies of a Mormon text.
- USA - Ziff-Davis, others face libel suit (Bloomberg) Ziff-Davis and other online information services, each picking up press releases from the other, defamed Off the Runway, an online retailer whom they accused of running a "cyber scam," a lawsuit contends.
- Child abuse and the Internet (UNESCO) The first regional seminar for the Balkan and Mediterranean regions on the subject of Sexual Abuse of Children and the Internet. Athens, 2-3 December 1999.
- Computer games and Australians today (Press Release) There is little evidence to support fears that playing computer games contributes substantially to aggression in the community, according to a groundbreaking study released by Commonwealth, State and Territory Censorship Ministers.
- Net Nanny - OneWorld Free Access (computer currents) One World Online.com, the Utah-based Internet service provider (ISP), has licensed Net Nanny's Web protection software for use with its Community Dollars program.
- Site Protects Christian Values (computer currents) The Southern Baptist Convention has launched an Internet service to filter what it calls pornography, violence, bigotry and other material religious leaders deem a hindrance to personal and spiritual growth. Church leaders said the new service ensures that Christian values remain un-assaulted online.
- UK - Internet Filtering Products (ESOLmail) Becta [UK government agency supplying IT advice and technology to schools] recently ran a small preliminary investigation into the effectiveness of a number of currently available filtering products. No one filter is outstanding in all areas. Most cope quite well with screening pornography but are less able to deal with other unacceptable sites.
- USA - Libraries Pressured on Web Filters (AP) Libraries that defend unrestricted Internet access as free speech are facing growing resistance from parents and family groups that want to block out porn sites. The pressures prompted one library in Hudsonville, Mich., to drop Internet access altogether, a move the American Library Association called unprecedented.
- Can the Internet censor itself? (Yahoo! Internet Life)
- Man Admits Spreading 'Melissa' Virus (Reuters) The New Jersey man who infected e-mail systems around the world by spreading a computer virus he named "Melissa" pleaded guilty to state and federal charges of disrupting public communications.
- US government kicks off tech security forum (zdnet UK) US Commerce Secretary meets with major corporations to seek ways to protect banks, electrical grids, phone lines from computer hackers.
- PricewaterhouseCoopers offers Net quality seal (CNET News.com) PricewaterhouseCoopers announced today that it has launched its own Web standards program. The company is offering e-commerce sites a chance to be evaluated on how well they disclose sales terms, protect customer privacy and handle customer complaints. To Web sites who meet the firm's standards, PricewaterhouseCoopers will license a seal that companies can post on their sites for a $15,000 annual fee.
- Online festive shopping's hidden duties (FT) Thousands of people planning to enjoy their first "e-Christmas" will take delivery of an extra present this season - a bill from Customs and Excise. Increasing numbers of shoppers complain of unexpected extra charges when non-European Union goods ordered via the internet are delivered to their homes.
- WTO ministers fail to agree on Internet taxation (silicon.com) Ministers at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) meeting in Seattle failed to reach an agreement over the global implementation ofInternet taxation, following the collapse of all talks.
- USA - White House Opposes Tax Ban on Internet Sales (Reuters) The Clinton Administration opposed proposals to ban the collection of sales taxes on Internet purchases and urged consideration of plans to simplify the nation's tangled collection of sales taxes.
Market & Technology
- Windows faces German emergency (vnunet) Scientology is threatening to stymie sales of Windows 2000 in Germany. The forthcoming software contains code licensed from a company owned by wealthy scientologist Craig Jensen. Many Germans see the belief system as an exploitative religious cult.
- Sting of the dot.com brain drain (MSNBC)
- Microsoft, Ericsson make connection (Silicon Valley News) Microsoft and Ericsson of Sweden announced a partnership to offer wireless Internet services. see also Big fish for mobile internet (FT).
- Télévision: Murdoch concrétise ses ambitions en Europe continentale (AFP) [Rupert Murdoch buys a minority sharehlding in KirchPayTV] Au prix d'un investissement de près de 1,5 milliard d'euros, Rupert Murdoch, le patron de News Corp va prendre un quart du capital de KirchPayTV, filiale du groupe du magnat Leo Kirch et numéro un sur le marché allemand de la télévision payante. see also Murdoch mischt bei Kirch mit (Focus)
- A Tiny Company With Dim Prospects Goes Public With a Bang (New York Times) Internet mania reached new levels of frenzy as investors paid huge multiples on an initial public offering, giving a market value of almost $10 billion to a tiny company with powerful competitors, little revenue and no expectation of earnings in the foreseeable future. see also IPO makes VA Linux instant $10bn company (The Register).
- BMG to launch MP3 sales site in January (The Register) The Japanese wing of Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG) will launch an Internet-based digital music distribution service.
- Copyright Holders Must Lead in Music Distribution (AsiaBizTech) Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) will launch an online music distribution service called bitmusic, positioning it as the first full-scale service in the world from a major label.
- Indie musicians now sing the MP3 blues (CNN - Salon) In August, MP3.com sold 15,600 CDs on behalf of 26,700 artists listed in its online database. That's about half a CD per artist.
- KPN Deals France Telecom Huge Blow (Reuters) France Telecom's expansion plans were dealt a huge blow when U.S. operator BellSouth and Dutch KPN Telecom struck an alliance to foil its bid for German mobile phone company E-Plus.
- MILIA 2000 (Press release) Launched in 1994, Milia is the World's Interactive Content Marketplace for interactive entertainment, broadband internet, interactive television and digital media distribution. 7nd edition Think Tank Summit: 14-15 February 2000 Exhibition: 15-18 February 2000 Place: Palais des Festivals, Cannes, France
- AOL Uber Alles After All (Wired)
- Digital Music Will Cost You (wired)
- Judge Approves Financing Plan For ICO Global (Total Telecom)
- Netscape's Volunteer Army Indexes Web (PC World) Once synonymous with the Navigator browser, America Online's Netscape Communications is gaining a reputation as a search leader. Through its Open Directory Project, Netscape harnesses the power of thousands of Internet volunteers to index the Web.
- Net Performance Decreases (computer currents) Last week the overall performance of online Websites decreased by a slight 2.5 percent over the previous week, reflecting the higher Internet traffic and increased online shopping activity.
- E-Commerce Traffic Up 44% (computer currents) The number of Web surfers visiting electronic commerce-related Web sites increased by 44 percent for the week ended Dec. 5, as compared to the same week in 1998, according to new-media research firm Media Metrix .
- European Internet Users to Double (NUA Internet Surveys) Internet penetration across Europe will almost double by 2003, according to new research from Forrester Research. Thirty-three percent of Europeans, nearly 60 million people, will have access to the Internet by then, compared with the current figure of 19 percent. Almost one third of users will have broadband access.
- Europeans Catching Up on the US (NUA Internet Surveys) European home Internet users are catching up with those in the United States in terms of the time they spend online each month. see also Germans at Home Surf Almost As Long As Americans (Reuters).
- Sex and chips lose out to computer (BBC) People in the UK are such computer addicts they prefer it over sex or a bag of chips.
- The E-Generation: Who are they? (IDG)
- Sweden Claims Victory In Nordic Telecom Battle (Total Telecom) Sweden claimed victory in the latest battle within the newly merged Swedish-Norwegian telecoms group Telia-Telenor, winning a boardroom fight over where the company's 12 business divisions would be located.
- New Education & Culture Director-General (RAPID) New apointments of Directors General include Mr Klaus van der Pas (Education & Culture DG). Mr Domenico Lenarduzzi becomes Deputy Director General for Education and Culture. These appointments will become effective as of 1 January 2000.
Links to news items about legal and regulatory aspects of Internet and the information society, particularly those relating to information content, and market and technology.
QuickLinks consists of
- a free newsletter appearing approximately once a week. The newsletter is distributed by electronic mail through an "announcement only" mailing list. To be included on the mailing list, either fill out the form at http://www.qlinks.net or send an email to quicklinkshtml-subscribe@eGroups.com (HTML)or quicklinks-subscribe@eGroups.com (Text)
- a Web site with frequent updates, an events page, news items organised by category as well as chronologically by issue and full text search.
QuickLinks is edited by Richard Swetenham firstname.lastname@example.org
- Contributors: NewsNow UK, MediaGrok, David Goldstein, Gerhard Heine, Alan Reekie, Rupert Selzer