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Volume 2, Issue 78: Monday, July 10, 2000
- "Agency Cleared For Oversight of Net Names"
New York Times (07/10/00) P. C6
The General Accounting Office has found that the Clinton administration and the Commerce Department observed the correct procedures and was within the law when providing the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) with control over the Internet address system. ICANN will also be permitted to collect fees and make agreements with the Commerce Department, according to the General Accounting Office. ICANN's role and even existence has been disputed since the organization was formed. ICANN intends to unravel all of the issues it now faces, with the election of new board members and the introduction of new domain names being the first items on ICANN's plate. In related news, Afternic.com, a site that auctions domain names that were registered previously, dropped its suit against ICANN. The suit is thought to be the first one ever brought against ICANN, and was conceived of when ICANN forbid the company to register new Web addresses. Afternic.com settled on utilizing a distinct unit to register new names, according to ICANN.
For information about ACM's Internet governance work relating to ICANN, visit http://www.acm.org/serving/IG.html
- "IPlanet Will Unveil Strategy to Bundle Net-Based Software"
Wall Street Journal (07/10/00) P. B8; Hamilton, David P.
IPlanet E-Commerce Solutions, a joint venture between Sun Microsystems and AOL, today will launch its strategy for creating an e-business platform. IPlanet's Internet Service Deployment Platform, a bundle of Internet-based software tools, is designed to help other companies move their operations online. The emerging e-business platform market could reach $100 billion in total sales within 10 years, IPlanet says. Some experts believe that IPlanet will be one of four major contenders in the e-business platform market, competing with IBM, BEA, and Oracle.
- "'Dot-Coms' May Be Sharing Web With 'Dot-Kids' or 'Dot-XXX'"
Los Angeles Times (07/10/00) P. C1; Kaplan, Karen
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will probably introduce between two and 10 new generic top-level domains at the organization's conference held this week in Yokohama, Japan, in order to decrease the Internet's reliance on .com, .net, and .org domain suffixes. Some of those who dispute the need for more domain names believe anyone wishing to create a new suffix should be permitted to do so, while others think it is too early to add more suffixes, and that new domain names would be a boon to cybersquatters. ICANN's next move is to decide the number and type of top-level domains to add. Generic top-level domains were intended to be utilized for specific arenas; for example, .org was meant for organizations. However, the differences between sites with different address suffixes has blurred. ICANN hopes any newer suffixes that are added would again be specific to certain subjects to simplify the users chore of finding sites dealing with a certain topic or idea. The new suffixes would be for noncommercial organizations, such as .museum or .union, or for personal uses, such as .family or .club. The current anxiety about trademark security is excessive, according to David Maher, vice president of public policy for the Internet Society. "What we have now is an artificial shortage [of addresses] that was created as a historical accident," says Maher.
For information about ACM's Internet governance work relating to ICANN, visit http://www.acm.org/serving/IG.html
- "Despite Foes, Spam Thrives"
E-Commerce Times (07/06/00)
Although spam has garnered considerable attention from consumer advocates, lawmakers, the courts, and tech experts, unsolicited commercial email continues, gaining more power as a marketing strategy as time goes on. Congress has not been able to enact anti-spam legislation after several attempts, although a committee voted last month to approve the Unsolicited Electronic Email Act, which would require marketers to include their address and to allow consumers to opt out of spam. However, the anti-spam group Spam Recycling Center does not support the legislation because it does not give consumers the right to bring spam cases directly to court, where consumers could be recompensed for lost time and money. Meanwhile, a number of states have adopted anti-spam laws. However, the courts have not always been cooperative. In Washington, for example, a Superior Court earlier in the year ruled that the state's new anti-spam law violated the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution. Such setbacks have allowed spam to continue to flourish, while recent studies show that anti-spam software and the efforts of Internet service providers are having only a minimal impact on reducing the amount of junk mail that consumers receive.
- "Clinton: Use Technology to Expand Democracy"
The U.S. government has a responsibility to use information technology as a tool to further the spread of democracy throughout the nation, President Clinton said Saturday during his third Internet Webcast. A large part of this goal depends on closing the digital divide, placing computers in all classrooms, and training teachers to use them, Clinton said. Clinton noted that he ushered the White House into the information age, adding that the first White House Web site was launched six years ago. Clinton used his speech to unveil enhancements to the Web site, which now boasts more than 9,000 pages of information and receives more than 1.2 million visitors a week.
- "Taiwan to Create Cyberwarfare Center--Report"
Newsbytes (07/07/00); Creed, Adam
Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense is calling on the help of civilian experts and academics to help oversee the development of a cyberwarfare center. The center would be used to help craft defenses against cyberattacks from China or other sources. The United States established a similar center in October of last year.
- "The Net Shakes Up Software Licensing"
VNUNet.com (07/06/00); Phillips, Tim
Software vendors do not know how the Internet will change the ways in which they license their software, but they agree that some change is inevitable. Customers no longer want to buy software from a box when they can purchase licenses on the Web, and they want to pay a standardized price for their orders. Microsoft is one of several companies experimenting with per-processor pricing for some of its forthcoming products. Under this model, customers pay based on how many processors are running a particular piece of software. The company hopes that this method will account for the increased number of users who can access their software through the Internet, an amount of users that their traditional licensing methods could not handle. Even if Microsoft's experiment succeeds, it is by no means the final solution to this new licensing dilemma. Vendors are considering plans by which users would pay a rental fee or a "per transaction" fee based on how much they used the software. According to researcher IDC, ecommerce revenue will be worth $23 billion by 2004, and a large part of that growth will be driven by new licensing plans such as these. With that kind of money at stake, software vendors will tread carefully through this unknown, but potentially lucrative new territory.
- "Malaysian Government Smart Card Project Gets Under Way"
Newsbytes (07/06/00); Creed, Adam
The Malaysian Government's MultiPurpose Card project to construct a single platform for a national smart card with a variety of uses is moving closer to completion with the appointed help of EPNCR Malaysia Sdn Bhd and Intellect of Australia, who will together provide software and hardware for the project. The MultiPurpose Card project is a flagship application of the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC), sponsored by the Malaysian government and created to assist the country as it moves into the information age. The smart card system is to be based on the Proton scheme, and the card itself will have a microprocessor or a chip embedded inside that will support multiple applications, including a national ID, a driver's license, immigration information, health information, e-cash, a debit card, and an ATM card. Payment terminals with a range of functions will be provided through Intellect. "It is the first project in the world where a single smart card will be used in multiple environments and it will underpin the future success of smart card-related technology," said Daljit Bahia, manager of Intellect's Asia operations. Electronic government, smart schools, telemedicine, an R&D cluster, the worldwide manufacturing Web, and borderless marketing are all other MSC flagship applications. The electronic government services project, which will enable the public to transact online with government agencies and utilities from an information kiosk, a telephone, work, or home, was sped up after an agreement was signed with Speed, a company that will help the government implement the new online services.
- "Super-worms Threaten PCs"
ZDNet UK (07/08/00); Raouf, Alison
New super-worms could attack users' PCs through emails and Web sites. These worms do not need a user to open an attachment in order to infect a PC. Simply visiting an infected Web site will spread the worm. Antivirus experts believe that virus developers now have the capability to access PCs through Web sites and HTML email without users' knowledge. These worms could be encoded in windows too small for users to notice. Antivirus experts have yet to see such an attack, but they believe it is only a matter of time and urge users to take caution. Microsoft has already produced a patch to protect users of Internet Explorer 5.01 from possible attacks.
- "PC Evolution Continues"
TechWeb News (07/05/00); Hachman, Mark
Small PC original equipment manufacturers continue to tout the "box" while their larger competitors look to expand their computing base to include access devices, business-focused portals, and more. This was evident at the recent PC Expo when small OEMs such as Quantex focused on the low cost and strong performance of their machines, while big computer makers countered by saying they are pursuing "beyond the box" strategies. International Data analyst Roger Kay says the trend among big computer companies is gathering momentum. Gateway announced a "beyond the box" plan last year, which it hopes will bring in 20 percent of its revenue during the first quarter of 2000. Now other big competitors are moving toward Web appliances and Web services. Hewlett-Packard says it has a unified small business portal with vJungle.com. Dell Computer is also working on its small and midsize business portal DellEWorks.com and has a new DellEPro access service through a partnership with AT&T. Dell is also going beyond the PC and cell phone categories by licensing the Blackberry email pager technology from Research in Motion, and by selling the co-branded Rio home audio player with S3 alongside a Dell PC or as a stand-alone device. And IBM has licensed the Palm operating system to create the WorkPad, and also has a low-cost lineup of NetVista information-access appliances. Meanwhile, Quantex is considering an aggressive product mix so that it can gain more market share. By this fall, for example, the small OEM hopes to roll out a mobile-Celeron-based notebook with a 14-inch display for $999.
- "Report: Native Language Key to E-Sales"
E-Commerce Times (07/05/00); Conlin, Robert
U.S. companies would do well to focus more of their attention on the global nature of the Internet if they intend to become leaders in the new economy. A new report from Forrester Research says multilingual Web sites are now a "critical imperative." The report, "The Multilingual Site Blueprint," noted that 63 of the Fortune 100 Web sites were available only in English. Forrester analyst Eric Schmitt says U.S. companies will have to adjust to a marketplace by 2004 in which half of all online sales are likely to take place outside the country. About 60 percent of Web surfers already reside outside of the U.S., and Western Europe and Asia recorded sharp increases in Web users last year. International Data projects that e-commerce spending in Western Europe will soar from $5.8 billion in 1998 to $430 billion in 2003, while spending in the Asia-Pacific region will expand from $2.7 billion in 1998 to $72 billion in 2003. Forrester predicts that more Web-based globalization software and services will become available, and that U.S. companies will also look to e-commerce integrators to expand their globalization efforts. Some companies have already started to address the issue.
- "Digital Signatures Based on Encryption That Verifies Identity of Buyer, Seller"
Fox News Online (07/06/00)
Digital signatures, which utilize encryption techniques to ensure buyer and seller identities and no alterations have been made during a transaction, make private online documentation requiring a signature rather easy to manage. A digital certificate and two digital keys are the tools necessary to safely sign a document online. Digital certificates can be bought through companies such as VeriSign and Entrust Technologies, which are licensed to issue the certificates. Some companies provide banks with the necessary technologies to do the transaction, as well as a location to store the documents after the transaction has been completed. Many banks, loan companies, and other businesses will probably issue the certificates directly as a service in the future. The issuer transfers the certificate onto the user's computer. The private key is attached to the file as a signature and the public key makes sure the signature is authentic. Both keys are made up of algorithms. The public key and certificate are then sent to the other party, which uses the public key to verify the user's signature, signs the document, and returns the document to the user with the date and time documented. When the signed document returns to the user, the encryption technology compares the newly signed document with the original to ensure no changes were made. A secure hard drive usually handled by a third party then holds the documents, which can be accessed by both parties at any time, although the original remains in the hard drive.
For information related to ACM's work in the encryption arena, visit http://www.acm.org/usacm/crypto
- "A Hill of Online 'Beenz' Translates Into Cash"
InfoWorld.com (06/30/00); Ryan, Denise
Beenz.com, which provides "beenz," an entirely digital currency that can be utilized around the globe, was created to give customers spending power and businesses a way to attract customers as well as track customer actions. Online companies give consumers beenz for doing a task, such as utilizing the company's Web site, completing customer satisfaction surveys, or shopping, and the consumers can then buy products or services with beenz from any merchant that accepts the online currency. The primary goal is to attract and then hold onto Internet consumers. Beenz.com charges a cent for each beenz and then pays half a cent for each beenz a consumer spends, says Charles Cohen, beenz.com's chairman, CEO, and CTO. Beenz.com is user friendly, and beenz are easy to locate. Those interested can find beenz trading sites at beenz.com or via online advertising banners that have the beenz logo. The beenz.com site, like many other Internet sites, has had to overcome the tendency for technological and business functions to blend together. That is partially the reason why Cohen was appointed the joint CEO/CTO of beenz.com, a position that may be a rarity now, but will become more common in the future, according to Cohen. Product development and strategy will remain the focus of the company with Cohen as CEO. "You can basically go anywhere and if you've got 10 bucks' worth of beenz, you can spend 10 bucks," says Cohen.
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- "Web Gives Twist to Human Services Arena"
Federal Computer Week Online (07/03/00); Harreld, Heather
State and local government agencies are designing online human services portals to spread information about government programs to constituents. Web portals are particularly well suited to human services, because they allow citizens to anonymously research potentially sensitive programs such as welfare, and provide a central area where citizens can view the array of programs available to them. Montana's Virtual Human Services Pavilion, developed jointly by the state's labor department and Department of Public Health and Human Services, offers customizable data about public assistance programs, child care, and senior care, among other services. Next, the state plans to add interactive features to allow site visitors to apply for government aid online. Officials in the city of Palo Alto, Calif., built a human services portal to connect the community by offering a centralized source of information. Using kiosks distributed in public places throughout the city, constituents can learn more about the site by viewing a hard-copy version of the site's information. Although these Internet portals can be accessed by citizens without home Internet access in public areas such as libraries or community centers, observers acknowledge that some may not consider the Web an option. "There's a certain way of thinking about information that makes the Web accessible to some and not to others," says Richard Peterson, professor of sociology at Cornell College. "It's new and it's different, and they're not used to it." Yet advocates of the portals say that once the Internet is accepted, it can provide much more convenient access to information.
- "Uncertainty Surrounds Microsoft's .Net Plans"
Computerworld (07/03/00) Vol. 34, No. 27, P. 12; Deckmyn, Dominique
Microsoft's recent announcement of its .Net platform for next-generation Internet applications left many users wondering about issues such as pricing, security, and the future of existing technologies. Over the next two years Microsoft will release development tools, a user interface, and hosted "building block services" for .Net. Analysts are questioning whether .Net will enable faster and easier application development than alternative technologies such as Enterprise JavaBeans. Questions have also been raised over the pricing scheme for the building block services. Meanwhile, some users worry about potential security concerns involved in relying on services hosted by Microsoft. However, Schneider Automation's Gene McNair says Microsoft's proposed identity service is essentially the same as using VeriSign for digital certificates, adding that he would consider using Microsoft's service for his company's site. The .Net initiative has also caused confusion about the future of technologies such as Windows 2000 and Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM). To bind its various .Net services together, Microsoft is supporting a standard called Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) that replaces DCOM to a large extent. Users are also concerned that few software developers or corporate users attended .Net's debut. Meanwhile, observers are waiting to see whether Microsoft will keep its promise to embrace open standards.
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- "In the Digital State, Connections Count"
National Journal (07/01/00) Vol. 32, No. 27, P. 2172; Stone, Peter H.
E-government companies such as Ezgov.com, Link2Gov, and govWorks.com are depending on high-power insider connections to convince the government to go digital. More than 99 percent of government services remain offline, representing huge growth potential for the Web integrators. By 2005, local, state, and federal spending on such services may total $6.2 billion, and analysts predict e-government services could eventually top $2.2 trillion. Ezgov.com boasts star lobbyist Haley Barbour of Barbour Griffth & Rogers on its advisory board, and former Gov. Mario M. Cuomo of New York and former Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.), hold equity interests and leadership positions. Ezgov.com has already signed on 20 state and local agencies, and in an effort to land federal contracts, partnered with IBM in June. Link2Gov and govWorks have each attracted federal contracts through Department of Commerce connections, and govWorks is expanding globally: the government of Colombia recently decided to use the start-up for some e-government services.
- "A Second Chance: The Potential of Politics Online"
Interactive Week (07/03/00) Vol. 7, No. 26, P. 22; Raney, Rebecca Fairley
E-politics proponents are hoping that political sites can rouse a sleeping U.S. electorate and loosen big money's hold over Washington. Political Internet visionaries say they do not want to repeat the mistakes of television, which they believe encourages voter passivity. Using the Web, citizens could access candidate information, engage candidates in virtual town halls, and even volunteer for their candidates of choice. Advocates say that inexpensive Web sites are alternatives to campaigns funded by special interests, which have jaded U.S. voters. Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura is an Internet believer: he says that his Web site and email allowed him to win the 1998 election, even without campaign headquarters. Some question whether the Internet is fundamentally different from traditional media, as John McCain's presidential campaign was reportedly fueled by online monetary contributions. Grassroots e-political projects fear that commercial political sites such as Start-up Voter.com will, like TV, only be viable for the most well-financed candidates. Though federal regulation and political spamming scares have been quelled, scarcity of funds continue to confront these civic-minded sites. The long-term viability of online activism will be determined by this election year, says Ben Green, Internet strategist for Vice President Al Gore. "For us, this is still an unfolding story," Green says.
- "Not Enough Privacy?"
Industry Standard (07/17/00) Vol. 3, No. 26, P. 116; Perine, Keith
The European Parliament was scheduled to vote on July 4 on a proposed agreement between the European Union and the U.S. that would make U.S. companies that want to transfer personal data about Europeans commit to detailed standards of security, notice, data access, and user choice. Complying would provide companies with a safe harbor against regulation under the EU's Data Protection Directive. The U.S. Commerce Department would keep a public list of eligible companies, though U.S. financial services and telecom companies are currently exempt; the FTC would investigate privacy complaints. The agreement would give Europeans more online privacy protection than Americans. Companies choosing the safe harbor would be acceding to European privacy laws, but industry lobbyists argue that these laws are too burdensome to implement in the U.S. The EU law allows businesses to collect private data only for specifically stated purposes and bans data disclosure to third parties unless consumers give permission. Europeans can then sue companies that violate the rules. The FTC will be able to prosecute U.S. companies that agree to the safe harbor and then violate the rules; the agency used to promote industry self-regulation, but has since moved toward federal legislation. Meanwhile, some states are setting up privacy rules that the online industry does not like, and some industry representatives have asked Congress to pass online privacy legislation that would preempt the new state laws.
For information about ACM's activities on behalf of privacy concerns, visit http://www.acm.org/usacm/privacy
- "Can Amazon Make It?"
Business Week (07/10/00) No. 3689, P. 38; Hof, Robert; Sparks, Debra; Neuborne, Ellen
The inability of Amazon.com to turn a profit has market observers second guessing the e-tailing industry. The company has a huge customer base, more than $1 billion in cash, and sales are growing. However, it still does not appear that Amazon will make money anytime soon. And Amazon needs to start generating cash or profits because it is likely that the e-tailer will no longer have access to new capital shortly. Critics of Amazon point out that the company primarily relied on investors and the debt markets to grow, and that now the e-commerce giant will have to replenish its depleted cash by generating positive cash flow through its own operations. The company was openly challenged in mid-June by Lehman Brothers debt analyst Ravi Suria. As Suria criticized Amazon's credit situation in a scathing report, the stock price of the company had settled into a trading range between the mid-40s and mid-50s. In comparison, Amazon's stock price was valued at more than $106 on Dec. 10. In his report, Suria holds Amazon up to the standard business measures of traditional retailers, which got the attention of Wall Street. In removing the rose-colored microscope often used by analysts evaluating dot-coms, Suria maintained that the cash-flow situation at Amazon will only get worse because it has excessive debt and poor inventory management. Suria spoke to Wall Street fears about flaws in the Amazon business model, and essentially most e-tailing business models. CEO Jeff Bezos vehemently defended the company, and many market observers added that they thought Suria was overly pessimistic in his view that Amazon's bankroll would run out in six quarters. Amazon still has its backers on Wall Street who believe the company will be able to survive the financial squeeze on money-losing e-businesses.