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Volume 2, Issue 97: Wednesday, August 23, 2000
- "Shortages of an Intel Microprocessor Create Backlogs, Headaches"
Wall Street Journal (08/23/00) P. B8; McWilliams, Gary
A shortage of Intel's popular Pentium III Xeon processors is causing a significant backlog of orders for business server computers. Firms have reported waiting as long as three weeks for servers from IBM, Compaq, Dell, and Hewlett-Packard. The same shortage has already led to a backlog of desktop PC orders. An Intel spokesperson says demand this year was higher than expected and has outpaced Intel's production. PC and server suppliers are advising impatient customers to select machines that carry other chips. Adding to manufacturer and customer concerns is a typhoon that reached Taiwan yesterday. The storm could damage the plants that manufacture chips and other computer components, possibly delaying shipments and leading to a dramatic increase in prices.
- "Dancing on 'Dot-Com' Graves"
Los Angeles Times (08/23/00) P. A1; Dunn, Ashley
The failure of many dot-coms that were once the darlings of the media and venture capitalists has prompted gloating and glee both inside and outside the tech world. Several Web sites have appeared to track the imminent demise of dot-coms, including one site that allows visitors to pick a struggling dot-com and then compete with other visitors to see whose fails first. Workers spurned by free-spending dot-com startups because they believed in the importance of turning a profit are fighting the urge to call those now cash-strapped companies and say "I told you so." Management consultant Eli Eisenberg says the stubborn insistence among dot-com founders to spend their way into public prominence and market share is responsible for the recent dot-com falloff and resulting backlash. That backlash has filtered into the public sector, where dot-com heavy cities such as San Francisco have begun protesting the tech invasion. Residents of that city and surrounding areas, including Silicon Valley, protest that dot-com exuberance has sent rents skyrocketing and made common services such as plumbing nearly unaffordable for the average citizen. However, some dot-com executives believe the anger and spite toward dot-coms may come at the expense of truth. Reports of dot-com "failure" often distort the truth while critics seem unwilling to give dot-coms a second chance, the executives protest.
- "How to Spy on Your Employees"
MSNBC.com (08/21/00); Berst, Jesse
Although employers have a wealth of Internet-monitoring tools at their disposal, they should think carefully before using them to spy on their employees. At the very least, spying on an employee's email or Web surfing, if discovered, could lower company morale and lead to a hostile work environment. At worst, monitoring could result in a serious lawsuit. However, employers do have reason to be concerned about their employees' use of the Internet. A quarter of corporate Internet use is for personal purposes, according to the New York Times. Also, firms without clear policies for Internet use could find themselves liable should an employee use the Internet for illicit purposes. To counter this, employers are turning to software programs such as Surfcontrol and Websense that restrict which sites can be accessed and when employees can access them. Employers are flocking to this type of program. Internet-monitoring tools could bring in annual revenue of more than $500 million by 2004, according to International Data.
For information regarding ACM's activities on behalf of privacy matters, visit http://www.acm.org/usacm/privacy.
- "Multilingual Domain Names Promoted"
Infoworld.com (08/22/00); Chidi, George A.
Network Solutions is working to improve Internet domain names--which have historically been available almost entirely in English--through the use of technology that will enable Internet domain names to be registered in languages other than English. On Tuesday, NSI announced that it would begin a test program permitting multilingual domain name registration in 55 languages and character sets via ICANN accredited registrars, which number more than 60. The technology will be supplied by i-DNS.net International, says NSI. The supported languages will include Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Arabic, and Hebrew. Testing will begin in the fourth quarter, says NSI spokesman Brian O'Shaughnessy. Approximately 70 percent of Internet users do not speak the English language, especially in Asia where the Internet is growing the fastest, says O'Shaughnessy. "When the vast majority doesn't use English and doesn't use ASCII-based characters, it's a significant problem," he says. Some sites in Asia have resorted to numerical domain names to avoid confusion, such as Dozo Development in Taiwan, which registered 13579.com. "Numbers make more sense to a Chinese speaker than a domain name with English letters," says O'Shaughnessy. Multiple organizations, including ICANN and the Multilingual Internet Names Consortium, are trying to find solutions to this lingual dilemma, O'Shaughnessy says.
- "Compaq, Microsoft, IBM Now Plug Web Terminals"
Investor's Business Daily (08/23/00) P. A6; Seitz, Patrick
Web terminals, scaled-down computers used primarily for Internet access, are expected to take off as tech heavyweights move into the market. Compaq this month will become the first major tech company to offer a Web terminal when it launches an inexpensive device that uses Microsoft's MSN Internet service. Acer, EMachines, Gateway, IBM, and America Online will enter the Web terminal sector later in the year. These companies will bring their huge distribution channels, marketing power, and user bases to the Web terminal market, which has grown slowly to this point, analysts say. Currently, Netpliance, which sells its I-opener device with monthly Internet access, is the main provider of Web terminals. International Data believes Web terminal sales will rise from 240,000 this year to 5.5 million in 2004. However, some experts believe other non-PC Internet devices such as TV set-top boxes and handheld devices will significantly outsell Web terminals. Still, companies supporting Web terminals believe the devices will have a large market with consumers who are not comfortable with the complicated features of a PC. Gateway's Peter Ashkin says Web terminals are "lifestyle devices" that could be placed in the kitchen and used to order groceries and access recipes, for example. Meanwhile, IBM plans to offer Web terminals that corporate customers can use to communicate with their own customers.
- "U.S. Companies Dominate This Country Name Game"
USA Today (08/22/00) P. 3D
Approximately 40 percent of the 5 million domain names complimented with a country code are in fact registered in the United States, says Jeffrey W. Johnson of idNames. IdNames, a subsidiary of Network Solutions, provides self-serve registration for 53 countries. There are 192 active country code top level domain names out of a total 242, and although entrepreneurs are marketing only a few of these country code domains to Americans, idNames is able to register in all of the country code addresses, says Johnson. IdNames stays on top of any policy changes, as local restrictions and technology can both complicate the country code registration process, and the country code domain names are registered by an idNames account manager. NetNames and Register.com are both competitors in the country code top level domain name registration arena. Tonic, at www.tonic.to, is in charge of the .to country code, which was originally designated to Tonga. Tonic works to maintain user privacy, so there is not a listing of all the .to registrants, like the WHOIS database in the United States. Spammers are also not allowed at .to Web sites. The Cocos Islands' .cc country code, available through www.enic.cc, is ranked third among country codes, behind Germany and the United Kingdom. BRS Media exclusively registers the .fm country code, designated for the Federated States of Micronesia, and the company is also a registrar for Armenia's .am, although not exclusively. Other country codes distributed through U.S. companies or entities include Niue's .nu, which means "now" in Swedish; Moldova's .md; and the United States' .us.
- "Neo-Nazi Web Sites Reported to Flee Germany"
New York Times (08/21/00) P. A5
Roughly 90 hate-mongering German far-right groups are transferring their Web sites to U.S. access providers to dodge a crackdown on their online activities by German authorities, reports N.D.R. radio. The domestic security agency of Germany's Lower Saxony region has identified nearly 360 sites used by neo-Nazis; some sites provide bomb-making instructions, says N.D.R.'s Rudiger Hesse. The Internet controversy is part of Germany's fight against a recent wave of violence involving the death of an African immigrant and the injury of 10 others. Far-right extremists have been using the Internet to communicate with each other since mid 1997, according to the German federal domestic security service. The service has identified around 320 neo-Nazi Web sites.
- "Dotcoms Pay More Staff on Performance"
Financial Times (08/22/00) P. 18; Foremski, Tom
The Internet economy's burst bubble has led many dot-coms to reward their executives based on performance, the Internet Compensation Survey 2000 revealed. The survey, out today from PwC, found the hiring packages offered by dot-coms now often resemble those in the brick-and-mortar world. Analysts believe this comes as a direct result of Wall Street pressure on dot-coms to turn a profit. The survey also found a movement of dot-com executives back to brick-and-mortar firms that are building their e-commerce enterprises. However, these firms lack the stock options to offer as a hiring perk. The survey also revealed many dot-coms are altering how they provide stock options, offering them every quarter rather than every year. Dot-coms are also finding fewer potential executives and managers willing to take a lower salary in exchange for stock options and other bonuses.
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- "Lacking Laws, the Philippines Throws Out 'Love Bug' Case"
Wall Street Journal (08/22/00) P. A20
Prosecutors have dropped all charges against Onel de Guzman, the former Philippine computer student suspected of unleashing the "Love Bug" virus on the world in May, racking up billions of dollars in damages. Prosecutors decided that the charges against de Guzman could not be applied to computer hacking, and that there was simply not enough evidence to make a case stick. De Guzman has admitted that he might have sent out the virus by accident, but has never stated whether he actually created it. Although Philippine President Joseph Estrada signed new hacking and ecommerce legislation in June in the wake of the love bug incident, there previously was no law covering computer crimes in the Philippines, and the new law cannot be applied retroactively.
- "Workstation Shipments Drop Due to Memory Shortages, Says IDC"
Semiconductor Business News Online (08/18/00); Lineback, J. Robert
A four percent decline in workstation shipments in the second quarter report has been attributed to a shortage of memory chips, particularly Rambus dynamic random access memory (RDRAM), according to International Data (IDC). Second quarter shipments totaled 409,123 units, compared with 424,874 in the first quarter. "Despite the supply constraints, the percentage of systems shipping with RDRAM increased from 38 percent in the first quarter to 75 percent in the second quarter," said IDC analyst Kara Yorkley. Barring severe memory shortages, there should be a return to "good" unit growth in the second half of 2000 thanks to order backlogs for workstations based on the Windows NT operating system. Contributing to the RDRAM shortage was difficulty among manufacturers in gauging the market demand for the products, as well as setbacks and glitches from RDRAM booster Intel. Industry experts and managers say semiconductor production lines are stretched due to a lack of capital investment in wafer fab capacity as well as device feature size reduction. Despite the memory shortage, RDRAM-only vendor Dell shipped 93,000 Windows NT workstations worldwide in the first quarter, capturing the top spot with a 34 percent market share. Behind Dell was Compaq with a 20 percent share in the personal workstation market, followed by Hewlett-Packard with a 17 percent share, according to IDC.
- "Developers' Poll Pressures Sun on Java"
Smart Partner Online (08/23/00); Gage, Deborah
Developers are weighing in on the issue of whether Sun Microsystems should open its Java source code through a poll circulating among developer groups. The poll's organizer, developer Kevin Burton, says he might ask open source developers to abandon Java and embrace a clean-room implementation such as Classpath/GNU compiler, depending on the poll's outcome. "Java isn't getting ported to non-popular operating systems, isn't getting new features, isn't solid," Burton says. Burton, who petitioned Sun in March to open some of its Java technologies, says he does not object to Sun and the Java community process hammering out specifications and advanced features, but that implementation should be an open process. The poll on Monday showed that 28.8 percent of developers do not object to Sun's Java licensing, while 26 percent believe Java should also be offered under a general public license. While Sun considers whether to open Java, the company says developers should present ideas about Java development to the Java community process rather than to Sun. In the meantime, obtaining a Java license can be difficult--cleanroom Java vendor Tower Technology says it had to negotiate for more than three years to get a license to Java 2.
- "Parties Dancing With the Net"
Wired News (08/16/00); McCullagh, Declan
The Democratic and Republican parties both agree on certain Internet-related issues in their platforms, but disagree far more on others. Both the GOP and the Democratic Party call for strong intellectual property laws such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Neither party has taken an official stand on the Internet sales tax issue, although the Republicans oppose dialup connection taxes. Presidential nominees George W. Bush and Al Gore have both promised to extend a temporary moratorium on online taxes. The Democratic platform is stressing government funding of education and research, regulation of corporate data collection, and providing Internet access to schools and libraries. In comparison, the GOP places emphasis on cutting taxes, reducing federal regulation of technology, and increasing efforts to ban online pornography. Other parties have their own ideas about the Internet. The Libertarians want the Web to be censorship- and tax-free, claiming that any restrictions imposed on the Internet will eventually grow into a bureaucratic nightmare. The Green Party wants biotechnology regulation, the reduction of government surveillance of Americans, and more control over mergers of telecommunications firms and ISPs. The Reform Party has said little about technology. The nomination of Democratic vice presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), who holds strong anti-Hollywood and anti-media sentiments, has some people worried about increased censorship. Lieberman has also supported more government surveillance of Americans, while the Democratic platform wants to apply a "Bill of Rights" to the privacy policies of the private sector.
For information regardings ACM's activities in the area of public policy, visit http://www.acm.org/usacm.
- "New World Order"
Industry Standard (08/28/00) Vol. 3, No. 33, P. 51; Koppell, Jonathan GS
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) provides an example of the way governments might function in the future as technology increasingly erases political boundaries. ICANN is a private, nonprofit corporation the Clinton administration has charged with managing domain name registration. Although the U.S. government now supervises ICANN to some extent, the group intends to eventually dissociate itself from all governments. This type of international regulatory body will become more and more necessary in the future as globalization blurs the authority of national governments. ICANN supporters hail the group as a model for the way these regulatory bodies should operate, noting that ICANN is unburdened by the political and ideological debates that hamper traditional government. Still, ICANN's model appears to come with its own set of challenges. Accurately representing the Internet community is one difficulty for ICANN, while the issue of who sits on ICANN's board of directors is especially contentious. Authority poses another challenge for ICANN. Another problem for ICANN is accountability. The U.S. Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration now supervises ICANN, but the U.S. government will be unlikely to guide the group in the future as the Internet population becomes more international and ICANN separates itself from national governments.
For information regarding ACM's Internet governance work related to ICANN, visit http://www.acm.org/serving/IG.html
- "Come September, Lawmakers Must Tackle Broadband Access"
Washington Technology (08/14/00) Vol. 15, No. 10, P. 20; Gildea, Kerry
Congress is likely to take up the issue of broadband access in September when lawmakers return from their month-long recess. Two bills that lawmakers are set to consider are the Broadband Internet Regulatory Relief Act of 2000, sponsored by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), and the Internet Freedom and Broadband Deployment Act, introduced by Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) and House Commerce Ranking Democrat John Dingell (D-Mich.). The measures are seen as initiatives that could help bring broadband service to consumers at a much faster pace, while providing direction regarding the issue of whether incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) will have to share their digital subscriber lines with potential competitors. Furthermore, the effort to usher in broadband access to make high-speed Internet access widely available could come at the expense of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which would need to be amended. Market observers are expecting a battle over the issue next month, judging from the response of FCC Chairman William Kennard during a July 26 hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee. Kennard, who opposes Brownback's bill, said the Telecommunications Act must remain as it is. In addition to Kennard, large telecommunications companies do not want the Telecommunications Act to be changed.
- "India Faces IT Engineers Shortage"
Nikkei Weekly (08/14/00) Vol. 38, No. 1940, P. 16; Takezawa, Masahide
As India works to expand its software industry, the nation is trying to prevent its IT workers from being lured away by other countries desperate to fill their own labor gaps. High-tech industries around the globe are tapping India's pool of engineers as the IT labor shortage continues. Germany, for example, offers Indian software engineers a minimum salary of $45,850, 10 times more than India offers. Other countries such as the U.S., Australia, and Singapore are raising their immigration caps for skilled foreign workers. Meanwhile, India, whose software exports have risen more than 50 percent for the past eight consecutive years, wants to boost its software exports from $4 billion in fiscal 1999 to $50 billion by 2008. However, those efforts might be thwarted if India continues to bleed IT workers. India would barely meet its own demand for IT workers even if it could boost its supply of engineers tenfold in the next five years, according to a recent survey from McKinsey & Co. In an effort to retain workers, Indian software companies are offering higher salaries, stock options, and bonuses to workers who bring in three additional employees. Some Indian firms are even paying for employees' rent and children's education.
- "Should High-Tech Have Its Own Court?"
Legal Times (08/14/00) Vol. 23, No. 33, P. 1; Groner, Jonathan
Maryland officials say that a high-tech court will transform the state into "the Delaware of the Internet." State officials would like to cash in on the booming high-tech industry by becoming the legal hub for high-tech issues, similar to the way in which Delaware's specialized courts and highly developed body of corporate and commercial law has enabled the state to incorporate 70 percent of the biggest companies in the country. The state has a task force studying the feasibility of a high-tech court. The head of the Delaware Chancery Court was among several participants in the task force's Aug. 9. session. Observers expect the task force to recommend that the state form a special court for business and technology when the group presents its report Dec. 1. The creation of business-only courts has become a trend in recent years, with New York and Philadelphia having decided to give special treatment to business disputes. However, no state has set up a trial court to handle technology cases. Critics of the idea say a special high-tech court would be more for handling commercial cases quickly than addressing the concerns of consumers. Some opponents add that such a court might take talented judges away from other courts, while others are not convinced that a high-tech court will attract high-tech companies to the state.
- "U.S. Wises Up to Smart Cards"
Business Week (08/28/00) No. 3696, P. 64; Matlack, Carol
The smart card market has mainly been confined to Europe, but the Internet and the growth of e-commerce has helped encourage American interest and investment. Worldwide smart card sales are expected to climb from $2.4 billion this year to $8.1 billion by 2004, according to Dataquest. Investment is also climbing; since a Paris listing on July 12, shares in France's Oberthur Card Systems are up 18 percent, and profits of leading worldwide cardmaker Gemplus grew 35 percent last year to $35 million, on $817 million in sales. Most of the growth is expected to come from the U.S. market as a result of online security concerns. A smart card is a more secure way to purchase online than a credit card, and U.S. mobile operators are switching over to chip-based cards. Smart cards are also being used to boost computer network security. To this end, a $1.5 billion security program employing smart-card technology has been announced by the U.S. General Services Administration. To discourage consumers from making their own smart cards, manufacturers are designing more sophisticated tools to raise the technological bar. Gemplus engineers are currently designing chips that enable watches and eyeglasses to receive and process data.