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 email@example.com.
Volume 2, Issue 103: Friday, September 8, 2000
- "Gore Details 10 Mil High-Tech Jobs Plan"
Newsbytes (09/06/00); MacMillan, Robert
Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore this week on his Web site released an economic plan to create 10 million new high-tech jobs over the next 10 years by focusing on IT training initiatives. Under Gore's plan companies would receive a $6,000 tax credit per worker for IT training. The plan also calls for a tax credit of as much as $2,800 for expenses related to higher education. Gore says his job plan would encourage favorable policies for the high-tech and e-commerce industries. Noting that the IT market has accounted for almost a third of U.S. economic growth in recent years, Gore says the government and private industry should both strive to "make the Internet as common as the telephone." To help ease the digital divide, Gore suggests building technology centers in low-income areas. Other suggestions in Gore's proposal include eliminating obstacles to high-tech trade, permanently extending the research and development tax credit, creating an electronic privacy bill of rights, moving nearly all government services online by 2003, and eliminating tariffs on e-commerce.
- "Demand for PCs 'Continues to Expand'"
Financial Times (09/08/00) P. 16; Kirchgaessner, Stephanie; Moules, Jonathan
Global demand for personal computers is expected to rise in the third quarter, according to a recent report from International Data. IDC's predictions contrast sharply with reports of sluggish PC growth that earlier this week caused chipmakers such as Micron and Intel to lose stock value. The global PC market will ship 33.4 million units in the third quarter, marking an 18.5 percent increase over the same period last year. In addition, worldwide PC demand jumped 15 percent year-over-year in the second quarter. The strongest PC demand is in Asia Pacific and the United States. The PC market in Japan this year is expected to grow 35 percent over last year. Meanwhile, the U.S. PC market is expected to grow 10.6 percent year-over-year, fueled by back-to school sales, enthusiasm for the Internet, and special bundling deals.
Click Here to View Full Article
- "ICANN Domain Name Race Is On"
ZDNet (09/06/00); Charny, Ben
Oct. 2 is ICANN's submission deadline for proposals that suggest new top level domain names and methods explaining how these new names will be administered. Each proposal requires a nonrefundable $50,000 submission fee. So far the proposals have been coming in at a trickle. "We did get one phone call, the guy said he had a 'great proposal' and needed more information," says ICANN spokesman Brett Lagrange. ICANN is considering anywhere between three and 20 new top level domains, says ICANN President Esther Dyson. Because ICANN was rather vague on details, applications will probably not arrive until later, according to a majority of observers. Website.ws will enter a bid and plan just before the deadline--if at all--due to the confusion ICANN has caused, says Website.ws co-founder and President Alan Ezier. However, those who are successful and are granted the rights to administer new top level domain name registrations do stand to generate significant revenues, as demonstrated by Network Solutions' success. Although the identities of the applicants will be kept private until October, some of the possible submitters are known, including a coalition of 22 distinct registrars that includes Network Solutions and Registry.com.
For information regarding ACM's Internet governance work related to ICANN, visit http://www.acm.org/serving/IG.html.
- "Making Bad Names for Themselves"
Washington Post (09/08/00) P. 1A; Streitfeld, David
The policy of registering negative domain-name versions of a company name or product in order to make life more difficult for cybersquatters or others with ill intent is becoming popular in the business world. Stamps.com recently registered six derogatory domain-name versions of its corporate label, while Johnson & Johnson picked up 43 negative domain names, and United Parcel Service picked up at least seven, including UPSstinks.com, I-HateUPS.com, and UPSBites.com. Intuit registered negative domain-name versions of its Quicken product. A domain name is really a company's Internet identity and enhances its brand, so a company would understandably want to protect its domain name, says Company Sleuth founder Ram Mohan. The Washington Post asked Company Sleuth, which is an Internet research site, to look for recent domain name registrations that contain negative words such as "bites" and "stinks." As many as 250 companies were found to be registering negative versions of their corporate name, with Wal-Mart taking the prize with more than 200 domain name registrations last month that were derogatory versions of Wal-Mart. Companies are acting foolishly, especially considering the impossibility of registering all possible negative versions of a company name, say some experts on domain names. However, several companies expressed that the practice is a simple method of avoiding future difficulties, as preventive registrations now can cost significantly less than extended court battles in the future. There are currently 17,721 Internet sites that contain the word "sucks," and some are not in the possession of the company that is being referenced. Some are criticism sites while others could be considered illegal. None of the companies contacted by the Washington Post expressed a desire to eliminate free speech; however, more that one thought it was acceptable to make the process more difficult.
- "FBI Gets Web Guru Cerf's Support for Carnivore"
Wall Street Journal (09/07/00) P. B8; Bridis, Ted
Vinton Cerf, widely seen as the "father of the Internet," yesterday gave his stamp of approval to the FBI's Carnivore computer surveillance system, saying that the system as currently employed does not pose a threat to innocent computer users' privacy. Although Cerf admits that the system has potential for abuse, he contends that there are strong limits placed on data collection, and stresses that the system does not interfere with an ISP's network and that it uses a "very, very robust" authentication technique to verify the identities of FBI agents accessing the system from remote computers. Carnivore's detractors had suggested that hackers may be able to gain access into the system. Cerf also said that it would be a bad idea to force the FBI to reveal Carnivore's source code, as many of the system's critics have requested. The Justice Department is in the process of picking a panel of academic experts to conduct an "independent" analysis of Carnivore.
- "Internet Policy Institute Seeking Public Input"
Internet.com (09/06/00); Mark, Roy
The Internet Policy Institute (IPI) has unveiled a plan that will give U.S. Internet users the chance to help shape Internet policy. The "America: On the Net" initiative kicks off with eight town hall meetings, to be held at various college and university campuses in the states of Georgia, Michigan, New York, California, Washington, Nebraska, Texas, and Mississippi. The first meeting will be held at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta on Sept. 14. Citizens may attend these meetings to air their views about the Internet, and the resultant dialogue will be used to inform a Dec. 15 national summit in Washington, D.C. The summit will be attended by the U.S. President-elect, lawmakers, industry executives, and assorted Internet experts. "As the President-elect and policymakers address issues impacting the future of the Internet, they will need to understand the thoughts and concerns of the American people--and we will deliver them," said IPI President Kimberly Jenkins. Yahoo!Broadcast will broadcast the summit and town hall meetings. The Wall Street Journal's Kara Swisher will moderate the town hall meetings.
For information on ACM's work in the area of public policy, visit http://www.acm.org/usacm.
- "U.S. Maintains E-Commerce Edge"
E-Commerce Times (09/06/00); Macaluso, Nora
European businesses still hold only a small portion of the e-commerce market but may be poised to make significant gains on U.S. businesses, a report from Andersen Consulting concluded. The report found European businesses had a 14 percent share of e-commerce revenue in the business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) sectors in 1999, while U.S. businesses represented 67 percent and 76 percent of B2B and B2C revenue respectively. However, e-commerce growth among European business was significant last year. The percentage of European firms engaged in e-commerce increased nearly 20 percent for B2C services and more than 40 percent for B2B services. The report also found European businesses more willing to use e-commerce to expand their global reach. Europe may be in the best position to become the "the hub of a global network economy," the report concludes. Already European firms have taken the lead in technologies such as digital TVs, wireless phones, and other mobile devices. The report says possible obstacles to further e-commerce growth include regulatory concerns and a lack of skilled tech workers.
- "Privacy Bills Seek to Tighten Laws on Wiretaps and Workplace Policy"
Los Angeles Times (09/07/00) P. C8
Congress held a hearing Wednesday on a handful of privacy bills that address wiretap surveillance and privacy in the workplace, including one from Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) that would require employers to notify employees before they can monitor their use of email and the Internet and other workplace activities. A sister piece to Schumer's bill has been introduced in the House. Schumer says his bill, which would require "clear and conspicuous notice" of workplace monitoring is "moderate, reasonable, and fair" and provides workers with "a first line of defense." Lawmakers say the bills appear to have a good chance of being passed by the end of this congressional session. Privacy advocates and civil liberties groups attended the hearing and said that the intent of the bills is good but ultimately falls short of truly protecting employees' privacy. The committee also discussed two other bills, the Digital Privacy Act and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. Conversations conducted electronically, including those over the Internet, are covered by these measures, which concerned some lawmakers, given the recent high-profile controversy over the FBI's Carnivore system. Deputy Associate Attorney General Kevin DiGregory says the bills are "not the kind of balanced comprehensive package that would benefit public safety and privacy."
For information regarding ACM's activities on behalf of privacy matters, visit http://www.acm.org/usacm/privacy.
- "Microsoft to Try Again With Version 2 of Its Handheld PCs"
International Herald Tribune (09/08/00) P. 16
Microsoft on Wednesday announced that it will release the second version of its Handheld PC in the next two weeks, correcting some of the marketing errors it made with the initial product. Handheld PCs are hybrid devices that fall midway between a handheld and a laptop. The first version of Microsoft's Handheld PC debuted in November 1998, targeting mobile business users and students. The devices had almost full-size screens and keyboards as well as modems for Internet access, but lacked hard-drive storage and had weak processors. Consumers were deterred by the device's $800 to $1,000 price tag, but the product succeeded in a few niche markets such as the medical community, which used the Handheld PC for patient charts. Based on its experience with version 1, Microsoft plans to target the new Handheld PC 2000 at businesses that need versatile devices for Internet access, but do not require the power of a laptop. Version 2, which will be priced the same as version 1, offers scaled-down versions of Microsoft Word and Excel.
- "High-Tech Industry Pushes Congress to Pass Legislation"
Hearst Newspapers (09/06/00); Helm, Mark
The high-tech industry on Tuesday urged legislators to act on bills relating to H-1B visas, trade with China, and Internet taxes before Congress adjourns next month. The H-1B issue is a top priority for high-tech companies, whose growth and innovation is restricted by the current shortage of IT workers, says William T. Archey, president of the American Electronics Association. The proposed H-1B bill in Congress would raise the visa cap from 115,000 a year to 200,000 a year for 2001 through 2003. Although the H-1B bill was originally expected to pass smoothly through Congress, the measure is now stalled in the House due to a conflict between Democrats and Republicans over the issue of amnesty for about 2 million immigrants now living illegally in the United States. Another important piece of legislation for the high-tech industry is a bill that would give China permanent trading privileges with the United States without an annual review. "America simply can't turn its back on legislation that will open up the world's largest market," Archey says. Although the trade bill is expected to pass, some legislators are concerned about the possibility of China providing powerful weapons to nations the United States views as hostile. Finally, high-tech leaders encouraged lawmakers to pass measures that would prolong the moratorium on new Internet taxes for five more years, and boost research and development tax credits.
Click Here to View Full Article
- "Survey Reconfirms IT Staffing Woes"
Federal Computer Week Online (09/04/00); O'Hara, Colleen
Federal agencies are struggling to retain their IT workers, according to a new study from the Office of Personnel Management. The study reveals that federal agencies are having almost as much trouble retaining IT workers as recruiting them. The problem is particularly acute for systems security and systems and software engineering personnel, while federal agencies based in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco have been hit hardest by retention problems. The agencies surveyed said increased compensation for their IT workers would improve retention rates, but federal officials say the problem will only worsen in coming years, as half of all current federal IT workers will reach retirement age by 2006. The government faces the same concerns with its IT workforce as many private-sector firms, the officials say, as few workers have the necessary tech skills and those that do are more loyal to their areas of specialty than to their employers.
- "Pakistan Boosts Internet Access"
BBC News (09/01/00); Ahmed, Zubair
As part of a policy to boost Pakistan's e-readiness and bring the country into the digital age, the Pakistani government has provided 96 cities in the country with Internet access. But in terms of high-tech infrastructure, data security, and trained personnel, Pakistan received the lowest rating in a survey of 42 countries. The country currently has little more than 200,000 people, out of a population of 140 million, who pay for Internet service. Pakistan makes about $20 million a year in total software exports, but the government hopes to raise that figure 200 percent by 2002. In fact, the government's minister of science and technology, Atta-ur Rahman, has introduced an e-commerce policy that aims to help usher the country into the Internet age and better compete with rival India's software success. The policy focuses on the expansion and modernization of the IT infrastructure and calls for the establishment of four universities dedicated to IT studies and personnel training. Pakistan's new Universal Internet Access plan permits government subsidization of online access and encourages the development of ISPs in the private sector.
- "UK Govt Warms to Spam"
Register Online (09/06/00); Richardson, Tim
Members of the U.K. Internet industry breathed a collective sigh of relief upon hearing that the U.K. government will scrap its tentative plans to regulate unsolicited email in favor of a self-regulatory approach. "The government has decided that the most effective way to control unsolicited commercial email is through self regulation by the industry," said a Department of Trade and Industry spokesman. Proponents of spam regulation held up the move as additional proof that the government lacks a consistent vision for the Internet and e-commerce. The government spokesman said ISPs would still be involved in the fight against spam and would be required, as called for in agreements, to crack down on problem spammers. The U.K.'s stance on spam may not matter if the European Union's anti-spam legislation becomes law.
- "Germany Considering Copyright Fee"
Associated Press (09/05/00)
The German government is considering an amendment that would impose taxes on manufacturers of certain technology devices, including computer printers, CD burners, hard drives, and high-speed modems. These devices are being targeted because they are considered conducive to permitting the duplication of copyrighted information. For instance, high-speed modems speed up the downloading of files from the Internet. Many industry members are outraged by the proposal. Joerg Menno Harms, deputy chief of the high-tech lobbying group Bitkom, says that many companies will leave Germany rather than pay such a tax. The tax will raise the cost of some devices by as much as 30 percent, according to the estimates of some industry members.
- "Republicans May Outflank Democrats on H-1B Visas"
Roll Call (09/07/00) Vol. 46, No. 15, P. 14; Crabtree, Susan
The controversy over the H-1B visa legislation in the House of Representatives is intensifying as the result of political wrangling over immigration issues. The H-1B bill was originally expected to pass easily through Congress with bipartisan support, but conflict arose when the Clinton administration and Congressional Democrats proposed an attachment that would provide amnesty for up to 2 million immigrants, mostly from Central and South America. In a move the Democrats view as retaliatory, House Republicans then threw their support behind a revision to the H-2A agriculture guest worker program that would allow foreign workers, primarily from Mexico, to come to the United States temporarily. The Latino community is sharply split over the agriculture guest worker program, and President Clinton has said he would veto the revision. Republicans say the revision has been on their agenda for several months, but Democrats believe the move is an effort to coerce a vote on clean H-1B legislation.
- "Local Heroes"
Business 2.0 (09/12/00) Vol. 5, No. 17, P. 44; Donahue, Sean
Although many companies view the Internet as a tool to connect individuals with the larger world, some are working to help connect individuals and small businesses with their local communities. "People in smaller communities are very comfortable eating there, going to movies there, buying from local stores, talking with their friends, and that's a huge opportunity for the Web," says Mike Read, COO of OneMain, an ISP specializing in rural communities. Companies such as OneMain, Streetmail, eLocal, MyTown, and AOL's Digital City provide local content and online services to the small towns and rural areas overlooked by other national Internet companies and advertisers. The top challenges to local content providers, however, are to cost-effectively provide content that locals will find relevant and to generate revenues from sites that tend to have traffic levels too low to attract high paying advertisers. As for quality local content creation, "we've found the most effective content comes when people in the community create the online environment," says Jim Riesenbach, vice president of programming for Digital City. With good content to attract visitors, local businesses will be willing to advertise, generating revenues. But analysts say the real money is in providing services and collecting transaction fees from local businesses in exchange for brokering sales or providing referrals.
- "The Internet Policy Paradox: Less Is More"
OnTheInternet (08/00) Vol. 6, No. 1, P. 23; Brownstein, Charles
Internet policy has become a hot topic in recent months, and as public policy is thought to be a remedy for societal ills, people are associating various issues such as freedom of speech and literacy with Internet policy. However, policy fans should realize that such problems require solutions that are the right size and have the right amount of interactivity. The Internet is in some ways a blueprint of a way to move bits among information processors, using networks. The simpler functions are at the center and the more complex and expensive ones are at the edges. The Internet expands easily and its use and impact keep growing. The Internet can link everything but does not have to do so. As a cooperative enterprise, the Internet's value is determined by what can be shared and extended. Governments have not learned this lesson and instead tend to compete against one another, but the Internet is really beyond their control--it is a worldwide phenomenon. Public programs and policies cannot keep up with technological changes if they set their assumptions beforehand. The government should have little to do with the Internet beyond policies that sustain numbering and naming, and those that prevent the stifling of competition and innovation. Internet policy should not deal with issues such as fiscal stability or health care because they require too much law enforcement and attention.
For information on ACM's work in the area of public policy, visit http://www.acm.org/usacm.