ACM TechNews is published every week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
ACM TechNews is intended as an objective news digest for busy IT Professionals. Views expressed are not necessarily those of either Gateway Inc. or ACM.
To send comments, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volume 2, Issue 79: Wednesday, July 12, 2000
- "Internet Companies Criticize Potential for Excess Monitoring by FBI Wiretaps"
Wall Street Journal Online (07/12/00); Wingfield, Nick; Clark, Don
Internet industry representatives are expressing serious misgivings about the FBI's new Carnivore electronic-surveillance system. Industry members and privacy advocates claim the system gives the government too much monitoring power over the Internet. Even top-of-the-line data-scrambling systems may not be a match for the FBI's system. Denver-based ISP RMI.Net has vowed to fight any court orders to comply with the FBI's system. "We would not want the privacy of all users to be compromised on the basis of witch-hunts for one user," says the company's CTO, Ehud Gavron. ACLU Associate Director Barry Steinhardt has sent a letter to members of Congress, expressing his concern about the Carnivore system.
- "Technology Is Heightening Job Worries, Greenspan Says"
New York Times (07/12/00) P. C2
Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan told a meeting of the National Governors' Association that the new technology-driven economy has lessened job security among American workers, even though the unemployment rate remains at near-record lows. Workers, Greenspan said, fear that their job skills will not be able to keep pace with innovations in technology. He believes that workers' fears could keep the demand for wage increases low, thereby reducing inflationary pressure in the economy. Once again, Greenspan discussed how technology is driving the economy's continuing expansion. He told the governors that he does not foresee an immediate end to this growth.
- "Microsoft Bids Bye-Bye to Java"
ZDNN (07/12/00); Foley, Mary Jo
Microsoft will not include the Java programming language in its new .Net framework. The exclusion became public knowledge as Microsoft prepared to release its new Visual Studio.Net application. The .Net Framework supports nearly every major programming language except Java. Microsoft continues to battle Java developer Sun Microsystems in court over licensing agreements for the popular language, and Microsoft officials cited Sun's lawsuit as the reason for Java's omission. Microsoft announced that, in keeping with the openness of the new .Net framework, it would make available everything necessary for any software developer to create a version of Java for .Net.
- "E-Commerce 'Offers Jobs Bonanza'"
Financial Times (07/11/00) P. 2; Simonian, Haig
The Internet could soon have a major impact on Germany's economy, according to a recent report by the economics ministry. The report predicts that there could be as many as 750,000 new Internet-related jobs in Germany by 2010. But economics minister Werner Mueller warns that politics could threaten this growth. The main opposition parties, the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union, currently stand against government tax reforms. Mueller argues that these reforms are necessary to keep German companies from investing abroad and to entice foreign companies into the German market. He estimates that 500,000 jobs could be lost if the German parliament does not pass the government's tax reform package. The upper house of Germany's parliament, in which the opposition parties have the majority, will vote on the government's plan next week.
- "Dell Computer Halts Sale of WebPC Line After Only 7 Months"
Wall Street Journal (07/11/00) P. B6; McWilliams, Gary
Dell is abandoning its consumer-oriented WebPC line only seven months after its launch due to sluggish sales. The WebPC debuted last November, marking Dell's first PC targeted exclusively at consumers. The stylish device initially came bundled with Internet access, online help, and a printer, but with a starting price of $999, consumers favored cheaper alternatives. Dell unbundled the Internet service and lowered the price to $799 last spring, but the WebPC still did not catch on. The failed WebPC effort is not expected to significantly harm Dell's performance, as the company still sells two lines of PCs for both home users and small companies. However, the retreat is likely to benefit Gateway, which is successfully offering PCs bundled with software and printers to first-time buyers. Meanwhile, Dell and other PC makers are preparing to compete with an impending flood of inexpensive Internet appliances.
- "Internet CEOs to Advance E-Commerce at G8 Summit"
E-Commerce Times (07/10/00); Enos, Lori
The Global Business Dialogue on Electronic Commerce (GBDe) is lobbying the Group of Eight (G8) nations to devote a portion of the upcoming G8 summit in Okinawa to spreading e-commerce across the world. GBDe members include America Online, Time Warner, Hewlett-Packard, the Walt Disney Company, and the Sharp Corporation. The group voiced its agenda in a letter sent to the leaders of the G8 countries. The letter touted the "enormous economic benefits" created by the Internet and the medium's effectiveness at giving citizens access to government services. The letter also asked that the G8 establish a regulatory and policy framework that would enable consumers and companies across the globe to access the medium; create a broad program to increase digital opportunities for all countries; and address the issues of online crime and online security through a partnership with the private sector.
- "$1 Bln to Be Spent Coping With E-mails, Net-IDC"
Protecting Internet content has created a business whose value will climb to $952 million in 2004, compared to $66 million in 1999, according to International Data (IDC), which has published what it says is the first analyst report about the Internet security industry. The report says companies are protecting themselves from damage to intellectual property, loss of productivity, corrupted data, and exposure to legal liability from increasing email and Internet traffic. IDC defines content security as the ability to recognize and manage increasingly complex attachments and other files sent over the Internet, along with the ability to apply security policies to them.
For information regarding ACM's activities related to security, visit http://www.acm.org/usacm/crypto
- "When Checking Network Security, Can You Hire Hacker Think Tank?"
Investor's Business Daily (07/11/00) P. A6; Korzeniowski, Paul
The high-tech industry is debating whether hackers should be enlisted in efforts to secure corporate networks. Supporters of the idea contend that hackers are able to discover security holes that might otherwise go unnoticed, while opponents argue that hackers are untrustworthy. The hacker controversy was underscored in January, when startup AtStake purchased hacker think tank Lopht Heavy Industries. Lopht is known for its discovery last year of a flaw in Microsoft's Internet Information Server 4.0 Web server software that allowed users to access any file under certain circumstances. In addition to reporting the problem, Lopht found a way to fix the flaw. However, Lopht objects to the way some software firms respond to glitches, arguing that companies should post the flawed code on the Web to allow customers to understand the problem and to let hackers offer fixes. Although some security experts agree with Lopht's contention that posting flaws allows for faster fixes, others say drawing attention to a problem only allows more hackers to exploit the situation.
- "U.N. Agency Broadens Fight Against Cybersquatters"
Reuters (07/10/00); Drees, Caroline
Following requests from the United States, Australia, and the European Union, among others, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is launching a new attack on cybersquatters, this time focusing not only on the improper use of trademarks in domain names, but also making consultations on the protection of other intellectual property rights, including trade names, personal names, and geographic names. This newer focus on intellectual property rights outside of trademarks is a little blurry from a legal perspective because there is less uniformity in the way countries around the world understand these areas. The aim of these consultations is to broaden the range of issues that organizations such as the WIPO are able to arbitrate in cybersquatting cases. The WIPO plans to submit a report to the Internet community in April 2001, and then members will decide on whether to expanded these organization's range of abilities, as approval is necessary for the changes to take effect.
- "UK Net Use Leads Europe"
E-Commerce Times (07/10/00); McDonald, Tim
AOL Web sites are the stickiest in the United Kingdom, the leading European country in terms of numbers of Internet users, according to a new study from MMXI Europe. The Web sites of Yahoo!, Freeserve, Amazon.UK, and the BBC round out the top five most popular sites among Britons. Although Britain leads Europe with more than 10 million Internet users, it trails several other countries, including the U.S., which leads the world with 75.7 million Internet users; Japan, with 16.4 million; and Canada, with 11.9 million. Germany, with 8.7 million Internet users, lags behind only Britain among European countries, and is followed by Austria's 5.5 million users, France's 4 million, and Sweden's 3.9 million. An argument could be made that MMXI's estimate of the number of U.K. Internet users is on the conservative side. After all, previous surveys by Fletcher Research and Continental Research placed the number of U.K. Internet users at 15.7 million and 14 million, respectively. Most Internet users in Britain are men, according to MMXI. Research from MMXI and others indicates that sports Web sites are about to explode in popularity. Disappointing WAP technology has depressed U.K. sales of mobile phones with Internet access, according to MMXI.
- "Computer Creators Pursue Light Speed"
USA Today (07/12/00) P. 8D; Yaukey, John
Scientists are experimenting with optical computers, quantum computers, and DNA computers as they look for technologies that will continue to provide gains in computing power once silicon reaches the limits of its potential. Optical computers are based on light rather than electricity, eliminating some of the problems with today's silicon-based systems. For example, optical computers can move data at light speed without producing a significant amount of heat, since light photons have no mass. By contrast, the electrons in silicon-based systems have a mass, and therefore produce heat and have difficulty reaching light speed. Optical computing is the closest of the new computing approaches to becoming a reality, due to advances by the fiber-optics industry. The major challenge for scientists developing optical systems is making optical computing components, which include lasers, lenses, mirrors, crystals, and fiber-optic gear, the size of a chip. Meanwhile, quantum computing is based on the idea of turning an atom into a computer using the theories of quantum mechanics. Because of the strange laws that govern atoms, allowing them, for example, to exist in different energy states at the same time, scientists say quantum computers would be able to perform many different calculations simultaneously and to find all possible answers to each question. Finally, DNA computers would substitute the nucleotides of DNA for the ones and zeroes of traditional computing. A set of nucleotides representing the problem to be solved would be attached to a glass chip, and exposed to another set of nucleotides representing potential solutions. The nucleotides would then bind together according to their specific rules to find the correct solution.
- "The Newest High-Level Position: Chief Privacy Officer"
Philadelphia Inquirer (07/12/00) P. C1; Hopper, D. Ian
With privacy seemingly a topic on everyone's lips these days, companies are attempting to placate consumer concerns by hiring chief privacy officers (CPOs), a new position that often reports directly to a company's chairman or CEO. Privacy was once a minor issue but has now become so big that it threatens businesses' basic revenue models, says privacy expert David Westin, who helped craft the Privacy Act of 1974. The introduction of new technology is one factor that has helped to underscore the consumer privacy threat, says Westin. Lance Hoffman, head of the George Washington University Cyberspace Policy Institute, says a CPO's job entails educating the company, general public, and legislators about privacy. Already, such industry titans as AT&T, Citigroup, American Express, and Prudential Insurance have CPOs. AT&T CPO Michael Lamb says, "Some companies name a CPO because they have problem, and so do because they don't have a problem and want to keep doing the right thing."
For information related to ACM's activities on behalf of privacy matters, visit http://www.acm.org/usacm/privacy
- "Cash Is King for Indian E-Commerce"
Financial Times (07/11/00) P. 4; Donald, Angus
India is expected to see tremendous growth in e-commerce over the next year, but cash on delivery will be critical since the country's credit card penetration is so low, experts say. Acknowledging the importance of cash on delivery, Indian Internet portal Rediff.com recently signed a deal with UPS associate Elbee Services. Elbee will deliver goods ordered from Rediff to consumers' homes, where they will collect payments in cash. With a population of 1 billion, India has only an estimated 3.5 million to 3.8 million credit cards. Meanwhile, e-commerce in India is expected to grow by as much as 500 percent over the next year.
- "ACLU Eyes Net Governance"
Newsbytes (07/06/00); McGuire, David
The ACLU has joined with two public interest groups, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR), to form the Internet Democracy Project (IDP). The initiative is meant as an effort to dissuade several different private Internet governance bodies, such as ICANN, the Internet Engineering Task Force, and the World Wide Web Consortium from becoming Internet "super-governments" and to educate non-governmental organizations from around the globe on Internet governance. By highlighting online governance groups' actions to the rest of the world, the IDP hopes that these groups will become "more respectful about privacy and free expression" and will "limit their roles to technical [matters]," says ACLU Associate Director Barry Steinhardt. Currently the IDP is focusing on ICANN, scheduling its own launch a week before ICANN's meeting in Japan. The IDP already scheduled a forum that will be held in the same city and at the same time as ICANN's meeting. One of the IDP's goals is to get more Internet domains added to the legacy root server. The ACLU, in conjunction with other civil liberties groups, is aiming to have a much larger number of these domains established. "The dominance of the .com domain is having a severe impact on the right of noncommercial speakers to be heard on the Internet," says Steinhardt.
For information regarding ACM's Internet governance work related to ICANN, visit http://www.acm.org/serving/IG.html
- "U.S. Lawyers Want Net-Rules Body"
Wired News (07/10/00)
The American Bar Association (ABA) has released the results of a two-year study on such Internet issues as privacy, consumer protection, taxes, and gaming, concluding that a global commission should be formed to lay down legal rules governing cyberspace. The ABA will hold a meeting in London on July 17, where industry executives will likely give their official comments on the report. New global rules would help streamline e-commerce, as individual states and governments are unable to keep pace with technology's rapid evolution, said ABA Global Cyberspace Jurisdiction Project Chairman Thomas Vartanian. The report suggests that industry councils and regulatory authorities voluntarily participate in efforts to develop ways to settle e-commerce disputes and apply laws to financial products and services.
- "Bricks n' Clicks"
Far Eastern Economic Review (07/06/00) Vol. 163, No. 27, P. 39; Goad, G. Pierre
Many retailers are learning that the best sales strategies combine the Internet with traditional channels such as physical stores or call centers. Computer maker Gateway, for example, has found that its growing number of physical stores boost market presence and sales. "Our experience shows that different people buy in different ways," says Todd Bradley, vice president of Gateway's global operations. The multichannel strategy has allowed Gateway to expand its customer base by reaching technology novices through its brick-and-mortar stores and call centers while targeting more experienced online shoppers through its Web site. Gateway intends for its stores to build the brand, give customers a chance to experience the product before buying, and produce feedback. Some customers, according to Bradley, leverage all three sales channels, using the Internet for research, the store for testing, and the phone for ordering.
- "Industry Cautiously Eyes Effort to Fight Cybercrime"
Washington Technology (07/03/00) Vol. 15, No. 7, P. 1; Welsh, William
At a recent Cyber Crime Summit, government and IT industry executives discussed how to better share cybercrime information between the private and public sectors. Although Attorney General Janet Reno urged the IT industry to immediately report cyberattacks to the appropriate authorities, company executives were adamant in their demand for assurances that company names be kept anonymous after reporting cyberattacks. The executives said the cut-throat competitiveness of the dot-com world makes reporting cybercrimes risky for companies, as competitors will use such information in public relations and marketing battles. In fact, corporations currently working in conjunction with the Clinton administration through the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Council have been hesitant to share information with the government and have asked for a new exemption from the Freedom of Information Act as it relates to critical infrastructure protection. High-tech companies have said they would be more willing to give the government the information it wants in return for promises of anonymity in cyberattack cases, up-to-date briefings by prosecuting attorneys about investigations, and new Department of Justice guidelines for the investigation and prosecution of Internet crimes.
- "Global Brain"
New Scientist (06/24/00) Vol. 166, No. 2244, P. 22; Brooks, Michael