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Volume 2, Issue 82: Wednesday, July 19, 2000
- "Sun Looks to Boost StarOffice Suite by Opening Its Code"
SiliconValley.com (07/18/00); Poletti, Therese
Sun Microsystems will make public the source code of its StarOffice applications suite. Software developers will be able to access the code for free at a new Web site, OpenOffice.org, this fall. Unlike its open source policy with Java, Sun will not require a license fee should developers use the code commercially. Sun has positioned StarOffice, which it bought from a German company last year for $73.5 million, to challenge Microsoft Office and hopes that opening the source code will make StarOffice more compatible with Microsoft's suite.
- "British Authorities May Get Wide Power to Decode Email"
New York Times (07/19/00) P. A3; Lyall, Sarah
Britain is on the verge of becoming the only Western democracy whose government has the power to force anyone using the Internet to give it the encryption keys needed to unscramble emails and other information. The bill, which is almost certain to be signed into law later this week, would allow law enforcement agencies to intercept and decode Internet correspondence between individuals, businesses, and organizations. One of the most controversial provisions in the bill would mandate that Internet service providers place a "black box" monitoring system upon the government's request into its network, which would sort out and transfer various amounts of data and emails to a monitoring center operated by British security agency M.I.5. ISPs would be required to pay for this technology on their own. Law enforcement would also not be required to have a court's approval or a warrant if the surveillance is being done to protect national security, to "safeguard the country's well-being,' or to "prevent and detect serious crime." The bill has been widely denounced by an array of groups across the political spectrum because of the broad powers it gives the government. However, the intense opposition is not expected to affect the bill's chance of passage.
- "Web Gender Gap Shrinking"
Associated Press (07/15/00); Jesdanun, Anick
The gender gap among U.S. Internet users is all but closed, as a rush of women logging on for the first time has given women equal representation with men among Internet users. Women accounted for 40 percent of U.S. Internet users as of 1996, but the number recently climbed to approximately 50 percent. Analysts say that women are more apt to use technology when tools and sites are improved and become easier to use. Women over the age of 50 make up about 20 percent of the recent increase in women going online, according to a study from the Pew Internet and American Life Project.
To learn more about ACM's Committee on Women in Computing, visit http://www.acm.org/women.
- "Laid-Off Internet Workers Find Dot-Coms Aren't Quick to Hire"
Wall Street Journal (07/18/00) P. B12; Dunham, Kemba J.
The job market for Internet employees has tightened considerably this year, and many laid-off dot-com workers are having great difficulty finding new positions. Although a recent poll by EmployeeMatters revealed that 75 percent of the 175 startups surveyed are planning to increase their staff, many of those new positions will be in the technical and management fields. There is now less demand for dot-com workers who specialize in marketing or content, according to Internet recruiters. Although EmployeeMatters claims that workers should find another dot-com position in a matter of weeks, consider the case of Charlotte Smith. After losing one dot-com job, the content specialist did not find another until six months later. "I don't think anyone knew what to do with me," she says.
- "U.S. Legal Body: Internet May Need New Cyber-Borders"
The American Bar Association's Committee on the Law of Cyberspace on Monday released the details of a two-year study aimed at squashing the Internet's anarchic nature in matters of international jurisdiction. The report suggests the imposition of new "cyber-borders" to reign in the free-wheeling Internet, which is notoriously fickle about being boxed in by geographical borders. The report proposes that a global standards commission be created to craft guidelines on the issue. Reigning in the Internet will be no easy task, as the issue is complex and still evolving, lawyers said.
- "High-Flyers Seek Follow-Up Act"
Financial Times--ERP and Beyond (07/19/00) P. 8; Manchester, Philip
The customer relationship management (CRM) market is fertile territory for packaged enterprise resource planning (ERP) providers looking to revive their own slowing growth. ERPs saw over 30 percent annual growth in the late 1990s, according to Granville Equity Research, but due to a saturated market, revenue and profit growth is expected to fall to between 10 percent and 15 percent. However, the European CRM market will boom to $34 billion by 2004, claiming 29 percent of the total world market, says IDC. AMR Research predicts that half of all major ERP suppliers' research and development energies are dedicated to exploring such high-growth markets. ERPs' advantages include customers eager for e-commerce solutions, and their business systems integration expertise. Coupling ERP and CRM can largely provide e-business infrastructure. But ERP's back-end applications, such as administration and accounting, must be aligned with CRM's front office emphasis, including human resources and training. CRM specialists such as market leader Siebel are also taking charge of the market. Thus, many vendors are partnering with or taking over CRM suppliers, or as in ERP leader SAP's case, using its mySAP.com enterprise portal to include CRM within an e-business context. Other challenges include integrating ERP and CRM software and enabling interoperability with other providers' software. JD Edwards has re-engineered its ERP offerings by incorporating modular setups and open standards such as XML.
- "Experts Say Dot-Com Party's Not Over, But Shakeout Has Just Begun"
San Jose Mercury News Online (07/17/00); Ackerman, Elise
The most powerful players in the Internet community came together in Southern California this week to discuss the state of the Internet economy, concluding that e-commerce will continue to be a force, and the hard times currently being faced will simply remove unneeded businesses. Those at the meeting also found that B2B businesses probably will soon be following B2C businesses into hard times, and all of the hurting businesses will receive little help from the stronger competitors. Now the better Internet startups can be purchased for much less, according to VeriSign President and CEO Stratton Sclavos. "You could not approach a mergers-and-acquisitions target three months ago without them thinking they were worth a billion dollars," says Sclavos. Despite the hurting market, there is a lingering conviction that the future Internet will be a competitive but profitable environment, and that consolidation is a primary theme for that future.
- "Is Net's Growth Slowing? Depends How You Look"
Investor's Business Daily (07/18/00) P. A6; Howell, Donna
The Internet is still growing quickly in terms of Web pages and has not yet reached its fastest period of growth, according to a recent study from business intelligence firm Cyveillance. The study predicts that by the beginning of next year the number of pages on the Web will double to 4 billion if current growth rates continue. Each day an average of 7.3 million new Web pages are added, with the U.S. representing almost 85 percent of those pages. Although the rising number of Web pages means that online companies face more rivalry for visitors, the online population is also growing and creating new business opportunities. Last month the U.S. had 137 million Internet users from a population of 275.2 million, and more than half of the people in the U.S. are expected to be online by this month. However, the Internet's growth rate becomes more difficult to maintain as the online population gets larger, and experts predict that growth will eventually slow. Experts note that the enormous online population provides opportunities for companies with more targeted content, since even a site devoted to an obscure topic could appeal to millions of Internet users.
- "Germany's Online Brokers Face Strategic Challenges"
Financial Times (07/17/00) P. 19; Benoit, Bertrand
Internet-based brokerages in Germany, riding high just a few months back, are now threatened by foreign competitors and the recent drop in high-tech stocks. Direkt Anlage Bank (DAB) and Consors both saw trading volume drop in the second quarter, while Italy's Bipop-Carire has purchased the German firm Entrium-Direkt, and BfG, the German unit of SE Banken of Sweden, intends to go online later this year. Analysts say online brokerages are threatened with dropping profits due to the decline in tech shares, high advertising prices, and Entrium's plans to reduce trading fees. Consors will have to turn away from its traditional technique of concentrating on active traders, and all German online brokerages will need to continue their efforts to produce speedy expansion. This could take the form of expanded product lines--as seen at DAB, which offers customers a number of financial services--or the sort of assertive foreign expansion that has been Consors' strategy.
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- "Dot-Com Busts Benefit Blue Light, Others"
Investor's Business Daily (07/18/00) P. A8; Tsuruoka, Doug
A surplus of experienced Internet workers, many of whom were laid off by struggling or failed dot-coms, has increased the applicant pool for hiring e-businesses. Industry Standard reports that 6,033 dot-com workers have lost their jobs so far this year. The applicant pool has received an additional boost from those employees who abandoned troubled dot-coms after their stock options lost value in the recent tech-stock plunge. E-businesses such as BlueLight, Kmart's Web site, are welcoming this influx of experienced workers. As recently as six months ago, it was difficult to find anyone with Internet experience, says BlueLight's Fran Maier. Now, the company receives 50 resumes a week from workers with Internet credentials. But workers who expect the same high salaries and enticing perks offered during the initial dot-com boom will be disappointed, warns Maier. The e-businesses that are now expanding have a better understanding of how to operate and are taking a more realistic approach to their salary offers.
- "Net Capitol"
Wall Street Journal (07/17/00) P. R10; Anders, Jason
The U.S. government, Congress in particular, is becoming increasingly active in Internet policy matters. Privacy, Internet sales tax, digital signatures, online alcohol sales--all are issues being addressed by the government. Several analysts and observers believe that online privacy legislation is all but a forgone conclusion at this point. Internet sales tax is also an issue on Congress's front burner. State coffers would have been $500 million richer last year had Internet sales tax been collected on out-of-state sales, according to Forrester Research. Over the next few years this number will climb into the billions, claims the National Retailers Federation, which says online shopping can save some state residents as much as 8 percent in taxes. Some observers say both proponents and opponents of online taxes are overstating their cases, an assertion that appears to be backed up by recent research from Forrester and Jupiter Communications. Nonetheless, analysts predict that it is only a matter of time before sales taxes are collected on the Internet. Meanwhile, wine retailers and car manufacturers are finding that their efforts to sell over the Internet are being stymied by outdated regulations.
For information regarding ACM's activities on behalf of privacy matters, visit http://www.acm.org/usacm/privacy.
- "ICANN OKs Additional Domain Names"
E-Commerce Times (07/17/00); Regan, Keith; Enos, Lori
ICANN decided to implement new top level domains on Sunday, demonstrating the popularity of the domain name market, although some are criticizing ICANN for not implementing clearer guidelines for how many new domain names will be introduced and how these names will be worked into the current system. The addition of new top-level domain names will reduce the "artificial scarcity" of Internet domain names; however, ICANN intends to regulate the implementation of the new domain names more closely than previous domain names such as .com, .net, or .org, says ICANN Chair Esther Dyson. The difficulty in currently finding new domain names is highlighted by the large sums of money good domain names sell for in auctions. VeriSign reinforced this example when it purchased Network Solutions earlier this year for $20 billion. VeriSign's competitor, Register.com, does not yet know whether to apply to become a registrar of the new top-level domains, although the company does intend to be "a distributor to consumers," says Register.com President and CEO Richard Forman. "We're looking at our different options in terms of getting to that point," says Forman. Register.com is the second largest holder of domain names behind Network Solutions. Consumers will find that the new domain names simplify the process of searching the Internet. "We think this approach is a great way to eliminate confusion and actually decrease trademark infringement," Forman says. ICANN failed to specify how the new top-level domain names can be issued in a manner that eludes trademark infringement issues with already established domain names.
For information regarding ACM's Internet governance work related to ICANN, visit http://www.acm.org/serving/IG.html.
- "The Politics of Privacy Protection"
InformationWeek (07/17/00) No. 795, P. 40; Rosen, Cheryl; Bacheldor, Beth
As online privacy debates continue, government regulation seems increasingly likely despite the industry's push for self-regulation. High-profile privacy breaches, such as Toysmart.com's attempt to sell children's data to a third party, have made online privacy a hot issue that politicians are eager to leverage in an election year. In addition to Toysmart.com, two other cash-strapped dot-coms, Boo.com and CraftShop.com, recently tried to sell private consumer data. The attempted sales led Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) to announce plans to propose a bill that would outlaw the sale of private information to third parties in the event of bankruptcy. Many online privacy bills have already been introduced in Congress--300 bills altogether--and the FTC is urging Congress to protect consumers with stricter privacy laws. The FTC recently released a survey showing that just 20 percent of Web sites use industry-accepted fair information practices, which include allowing users to opt out of sharing their personal data. The survey spurred a group of senators to introduce the Consumer Privacy Protection Act, which forces Web sites to obtain a visitor's permission to gather data and to allow consumers to opt out of providing information. Meanwhile, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) is expected to introduce a bill this month that strikes a balance between industry self-regulation and government intervention, requiring clear disclosure of privacy policies. The threat of government regulation has led companies to work on their privacy policies, form privacy boards, hire privacy officers, and cooperate with the government. The industry is also working on privacy technologies, including the World Wide Web Consortium's Platform for Privacy Preferences Project (P3P). However, observers say the industry's efforts are too late and are unlikely to ward off legislation.
For information regarding ACM's activities on behalf of privacy matters, visit http://www.acm.org/usacm/privacy.
- "High Tech's Indentured Servants"
Red Herring (07/00) No. 80, P. 234; Nguyen, Pham-Duy D.
Foreign workers coming to America on H-1B visas appear to be the latest variation of the indentured service theme that is an undercurrent of the American economy. Although the temporary H-1B visa is not the root of the problem, many foreign workers become emotionally enslaved and intellectually trapped as a result of the green card, which requires applicants to stay at the same job at the same company while their application is undergoing the review process. Although not all H-1B visa holders wish to stay in the U.S., the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service says 40 percent of green card applicants are H-1B workers. For foreign workers who wish to remain in the country, it is not wise to switch jobs, for they would have to reapply for a green card and go back to the end of the line. The current backlog for green card applications is 1,045,000, and the average wait is 33 months. For H-1B visa holders, the wait can last longer. With an H-1B visa, foreign workers can remain in the country for three years, and renew their visa for an additional three years. As the backlog of green card applications continues to grow, only 15 percent of applicants can expect to receive one. Intel's Tracy Koon objects to the idea that foreign workers "are cheap and temporary." However, the situation is now playing out as a merry-go-round in which a new batch of foreign workers replaces a previous group every six years. High-tech companies have lobbied politicians for more H-1B visas, but several experts are now saying that conditional green cards should be given to foreign workers. However, some legislators maintain that working in the U.S. does not mean that people can live in the country forever. Moreover, many foreign workers are content with returning to their homeland after their time in America.
- "Women, Minorities Could Fill More High-Tech Jobs"
Network World (07/14/00) Vol. 17, No. 29, P. 9; Gaudin, Sharon
High-tech companies should recruit more women, minorities, and people with disabilities, according to a report by a congressional commission. The commission told the House Committee on Science that this would solve the worsening shortage of high-tech workers. This shortage has already cost the U.S. as much as $4 billion and could threaten the country's high-tech supremacy. Dr. Neal Lane, president of the White House Office of Science and Technology, says, "If the current trend persists, we, as a country, will fall short."
To learn more about ACM's Committee on Women in Computing, visit http://www.acm.org/women.
- "'New Democrats' Have E-Genda That Pumps Up and Protects High Tech"
Washington Technology (07/17/00) Vol. 15, No. 8, P. 20; Gildea, Kerry
The New Democrat Coalition (NDC) has released its second annual edition of its "e-genda," a new economic policy heavy on closing the digital gap, increasing high-tech training, and improving cybersecurity. The group of House centrists, 65 strong, says the latest e-genda targets specific legislative initiatives and bills that the NDC is committed to working on; it also promotes issues such as H-1B visas, Internet privacy, and the promotion of trade opportunities. The NDC says its e-genda is more specific and comprehensive than the Republican "eContract" and does more for those who cannot afford to join in the new economy. House Republicans contend that the only way to support the new economy is to get the full Democratic leadership behind the trade and high-tech issues that were not supported this year, arguing that more bipartisan activity is needed. The e-genda includes initiatives supported by House Democrats and the Clinton administration, such as support of the administration's Home Internet Access proposal and the Digital Divide Elimination Act of 2000. The e-genda supports legislation that would increase funding for school education technology, funding for low-income schools, and resources to help teachers integrate technology into the curriculum. In addition, the e-genda has a proposal that would provide tax credits for individuals and employers who provide IT training. One proposal would establish a commission to examine the legal issues of whether Americans need more safeguards for the online privacy of their personal data and needs.
- "A Safer World for Software"
Global Business (06/00) Vol. 16, No. 6, P. 67
Patent and copyright protections for software-related inventions are finally catching up to the furious pace of such technological innovations in most markets in the world, although degrees of protection differ drastically from country to country, according to a new report by law firm Fenwick & West. Among the 73 nations surveyed, software is among subject matter protected by copyright laws in all but a few countries. However, 29 nations do not protect subject matter in their national or supranational patent laws, including India, Russia, and Thailand, and only 23 nations provide subject matter protection for software in both copyright and patent laws. Analysts say countries that are members of international conventions such as the Berne or Paris Conventions will have greater copyright and patent protections for software than those nations that are not members of conventions. As for the U.S., the largest legal change in terms of software protection was when the Commerce Department loosened export rules on encryption software last year, allowing U.S. firms to export encryption commodities, encryption software, and encryption components to virtually any country, with a few exceptions based on national security concerns.