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Volume 2, Issue 53:  Monday, May 8, 2000

  • "'Love Bug' Probe Slows In Philippines"
    Washington Post (05/08/00) P. A6; Schwartz, John; Vise, David A.

    The 'Love Bug' computer virus that devastated business and personal computers throughout the world last week has been traced to the Philippines. The information was given to Philippino authorities on Friday, although U.S. officials have been complaining about the lackadaisical pace of the investigation. Philippino authorities said that they could not find a judge who would grant a search warrant over the weekend, a development that has angered the Clinton administration, which contends that such stalling will give the suspect the opportunity to delete vital information from a hard drive. A group of international virus hunters has traced the source code of the virus to "Michael," a student at Amable Mendoza Aguiluz Computer College in the Philippines. However, experts warn that the Philippino trail could be a red herring used to divert investigators and to mask the real source of the computer bug.

  • "Microsoft Preparing Reply to Justice Dept.'s Breakup Proposal"
    New York Times (05/08/00) P. C1; Lohr, Steve

    Microsoft must submit a response to the government's breakup proposal, including its own remedy recommendations to Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, by May 10. Experts believe Microsoft will repeat the same themes the company submitted during the unsuccessful talks between the government and the company. The remedies submitted by Microsoft would probably include providing technical information to other companies in the industry, and making available the company's pricing and contracts. Specifically, Microsoft remedies would allow others to alter the Windows desktop screen, provide equal access to information pertaining to its operating system, disallow the practice of contractually limiting other companies' ability to use and promote competing software, and set standard prices for those that license Windows. The Justice Department and the 19 states involved in the suit will probably maintain that Microsoft's ideas to curb its own power are not strict enough and contain too many loopholes. Even though Microsoft will submit its own remedies, the company intends to appeal the original decision by Judge Jackson. Experts believe the company will focus on the damage splitting Microsoft could do to the economy and consumers. In the end, Microsoft will ask for more time to take depositions and present witnesses in an attempt to demonstrate the breakup is inappropriate.

  • "Oracle Chief to Unveil Simple Computer"
    Wall Street Journal (05/08/00) P. B8; Clark, Don

    Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison today at an event in Dallas will display a simple device called the New Internet Computer (NIC) designed to let users browse the Internet and send email. The $199 device comes from a startup, also called New Internet Computer, that Ellison owns. Also at today's event, Oracle's charitable branch will donate over 1,100 of the new computers to schools in the Dallas area. NIC is initially targeting the education market, selling the devices to schools through its Web site. The site will also allow consumers to buy NICs and donate them to schools. The NIC includes a 266 MHz microprocessor and 64 MB of RAM. The device uses a version of Linux on a CD-ROM, which lets each computer operate independently and link to the Internet through a modem or Ethernet network. Later this year a consumer version of the NIC should be released. Analysts say NIC will face strong competition in the information appliance arena, for example, from the AOL-Gateway effort to make Internet computers that do not rely on Microsoft operating systems.

  • "A Big Step Forward in Tiny Technology"
    New York Times (05/08/00) P. C1; Feder, Barnaby A.

    Microchip-sized devices are now starting to do the work done by microprocessors. These new machines, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), now function in air bags, printers, and blood pressure analyzers. An area of particular interest, however, is how MEMS mirrors may be able to conduct lightwaves for the Internet. If the new systems work, they could stand to increase the efficiency of the Internet and raise interest in MEMS technology. Companies that are investing in this possibility include Cronos Integrates Microsystems, JDS Uniphase, and Nortel Networks. Lucent has also launched its own MEMS switch, which led to a recent deal with Global Crossing. MEMS technology became popular in the 1980s when it was applied to interesting but practically useless items. The technology could potentially help study DNA, indicate airspeed, and contribute to numerous other functions. If the technology continues to progress reliably into the telecommunications field, it will become less suspicious to consumers. The difficulty MEMS technology has had gaining widespread acceptance is not very different than robots and lasers once had in the commercial market. Now, robotics is used for welding, packaging, and other such functions at companies such as General Electric. The potential of MEMS to reduce the translation steps of fiber optics is one of its most promising elements. MEMS also can carry far more wavelengths than other cables without being changed. The technology has not yet come far enough and is not yet reliable enough that a MEMS explosion is a sure thing. Electronic technology also continues to advance and is not likely to be replaced soon. Different types of devices are also in development, which have similar functions. If MEMS catches on, it can just as easily be replaced by another more advanced technology.

  • "Most Workers Don't Mind Workplace Online Monitoring--Poll"
    Newsbytes (05/03/00); Fridman, Sherman

    Nearly three of every four workers believe employers are within their rights to monitor employees' email and Internet use at work, according to a new survey of 1,000 adults from the Angus Reid Group. In addition, 51 percent of U.S. workers with Internet access at the office are cognizant of their company's regulations regarding Internet usage at work. Nonetheless, 55 percent of those polled said they use the Internet for email purposes and 46 percent said they access the Internet at work. "I'm stunned that so many workers are putting their employers' rights above their own privacy," said Edward Morawski, a senior analyst at Angus Reid. Morawski opined that Internet privacy issues are misunderstood by employees, noting that workers would feel differently if the policies were applied to their phone conversations.
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  • "Federal Regulators Expected to Delay Financial-Privacy Rules Until Next Year"
    Wall Street Journal (05/08/00) P. A44; Simpson, Glenn R.

    A battle is brewing over the implementation date of the new financial-privacy legislation. The rules are slated to take effect in November, but the Financial Services Coordinating Council, citing the industry's state of unpreparedness, is pressing hard for a delayed implementation date of July 2001. Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), co-chairman of the Congressional Privacy Caucus, strongly opposes efforts to push back the date. Markey, with support from privacy advocates, sent a letter to federal regulators arguing against the council's proposal. "The financial-services industry has had ample notice and time to prepare for these new regulations," the letter stated. Regulators have privately told industry officials that the implementation of the rules will be pushed back, industry sources say. Regulators have not denied these reports. The legislation may never truly go into effect if President Clinton's recently announced financial-privacy proposals are passed this year.

  • "Japanese Firms Set to Catch Up on Net Use"
    AsiaBizTech (05/08/00)

    The results of an autumn 1999 IBM phone survey of Internet usage by 2,373 small companies in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan suggest that, due to the Internet, Japanese small businesses will experience significant growth in the near future. Although the survey found that overall 36 percent of small businesses are linked to external computer networks, only 27 percent of Japanese small businesses reported they are online. However, 20 percent of Japanese firms not currently using the Internet claim they want to learn more about it, and 23 percent of Japanese small businesses, as compared to the seven-nation average of 12 percent, say the Internet will become an important business tool for them within the next three years. Additionally, 42 percent of Japanese companies connected to the Internet have Web sites to receive orders, 23 percent use online financial and insurance services, and 73 percent sell products online to consumers. The survey also discovered an 8 percent sales growth rate for Japanese Net companies versus a 1 percent sales growth rate for non-Net Japanese companies.

  • "Linux Kernel Upgrade Faces More Delays"
    InfoWorld.com (05/04/00); Deckmyn, Dominique

    The Linux 2.4 kernel originally slated for release at the end of last year has now been postponed until this fall, but Linux vendors Caldera Systems and Red Hat say they are not concerned about the delays. Vendors eagerly await the new kernel, which will feature increased symmetrical multiprocessing scalability, making it easier to run corporate applications on Linux-based servers. In addition, the 2.4 kernel will support 16 or more processors, while the current 2.2 kernel scales well only to four processors. The 2.4 kernel will also offer improved USB support, facilitating Linux use in desktops and network appliances.
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  • "EU Approves E-Commerce Legislation"
    TheStandard.com (05/04/00); De Bony, Elizabeth

    The European Union yesterday took a big step toward guaranteeing the future viability of the European marketplace by adopting new e-commerce legislation that will be implemented in all 15 member states. The approval of the EU's framework directive provides legal guidelines for issues such as rights of establishment, online contracts, and liability involving illegal transmissions. The directive benefits Internet users by allowing them to use local opt-out registers to take their names off spam lists. The directive mandates that ISPs stay in frequent contact with the registers and also absolves ISPs of any responsibility for unlawfully transmitted material, so long as the providers take quick steps to ensure the removal of such material when notified. ISPs also will not be held liable for illegal material being held by data-storage services unless they have proof that the material is illegal. The framework directive is the hub of the EU's e-commerce plans.

  • "Italian City on the Verge of an E-Renaissance"
    Financial Times (05/04/00) P. 3; Taddia, Marialuisa

    Renowned for its entrepreneurial tradition and network of small- and mid-sized companies, the Italian city of Bologna appears poised to undergo a technical revolution and become the country's e-capital. "Bologna has woken up," claims president Romano Volta of Assindustria, the city's employers' association. Bologna university already boasts Cineca, a high-tech research laboratory that also develops software applications and provides global database and network management services, and recently established a $900,000 fund to support promising student ideas for start-ups. The university also has ties with leading Italian venture capitalist Elserino Piol, launched an ISP in conjunction with Norwegian telecom operator Telenor, and is currently engaged in efforts to create an incubator located on the outskirts of Bologna. Additionally, Bologna's local administration is praised by residents as highly efficient and the city council intends to support the basic infrastructure for a multimedia and audiovisual hub. However, only a few local companies to date have embraced e-business, among them motorcycle manufacturer Ducati, security systems specialist Beghelli, and manufacturer Bonfiglioli. Many blame this disappointing figure on high local taxes and the reluctance of successful, firmly established family-run companies in the area to alter their practices.
    Click Here to View Full Article

  • "ASPs Thrive By Rewriting Rules"
    IndiaTimes.com (05/05/00); Tippoo, Sofia

    Application service providers (ASPs) must continuously evaluate their business model to ensure they are properly maximizing the value they are able to offer customers. Nonstop.com, Orcom.com, and Storereport.com are three ASPs that have worked to stay flexible and change their offerings as emerging market and customer realities require. Storereport, for example, which started by providing customers with inventory and accounting software, expanded into securing volume discounts from suppliers once it had enough customers and then began offering tax accounting software. Nonstop attracts customers with its innovative billing model: rather than charge a fee, Nonstop customers pay a percentage of the amount they have saved in inventory costs by using Nonstop's inventory management software suite. In order to survive in today's ultra-competitive e-business market, ASPs must stay innovative to survive, says Tim Schuetz, marketing head of IBM's ASP division.

  • "Bring Down the International Barriers"
    InfoWorld (05/01/00) Vol. 22, No. 18, P. 30; Shewmake, Brad; Sapp, Geneva

    Strategies for conducting business oversees is quickly becoming an e-commerce necessity. Hurdles for e-businesses wishing to compete internationally include language barriers, tariffs, different currencies, and customs regulations. The language barrier is the largest hurdle before the international e-commerce market. "We took a look at the Fortune 100, and we found that only 36 of them had sites in a language other than English...I'm willing to bet 99 of them do business in other countries," says Eric Schmitt of Forrester. Besides language barriers, other obstacles remain. Two companies that have begun the process of simplifying the shipping end of International e-commerce are Global CommerceZone and GoShip. Global CommerceZone has a new payment processing system called Custom Wire that speeds up the movement of goods, data, and funds. The company also has a service agreement with the United States Postal Service called Global Package Link where USPS delivers shipments that can be traced to Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom. GoShip provides services and price plans from multiple carriers when the transaction is made. Therefore the vendor and the consumer both have a choice in how the package is shipped. Capstan Systems focuses on a different aspect of international e-commerce. They have released applications that integrate and automate the international supply chain. MyCustoms helps untangle the web of international laws and customs bureaucracy by hiring customs officials from abroad to file the necessary forms for their clients. Those companies that do not switch to a global outlook could be left behind according to analysts. "A lot of companies out there are building sites with little thought given to globalization. They're building houses that need to be torn down," says Schmitt.

  • "A Bounty of Web Security Abounds"
    PC Week (05/01/00) Vol. 17, No. 18, P. 10; Berinato, Scott

    Several major technology security firms will unveil new products in coming weeks. Network Associates has created a beta version of its PGP Desktop Security 7.0, which provides desktop security by combining virtual private networks, firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and an encryption device in one product. RedCreek will roll out its Personal Ravlin II, a Palm-sized device that provides Triple Data Encryption Standard encryption and firewall protection for broadband users. The company plans to soon release several other more expensive products such as RedCreek e-Director, which offers virtual private network managers a "virtual tool" to create and run encrypted tunnels. Entrust will release its "zero footprint" technology that allows roaming users to obtain public-key infrastructure services. The product, which does not need client software to operate, works by sending digital identity through a tiny Java applet to any other computing device whose user desires to verify a transaction.

  • "Ford Challenges Texas on E-Commerce Ruling"
    Computerworld (05/01/00) Vol. 34, No. 18, P. 40

    Ford Motor and the state of Texas are going head-to-head over the legal definition of online car sales. Ford allows customers to put down an electronic deposit to purchase pre-owned cars listed at its www.fordpreowned.com Web site; the purchase is then completed at a local dealership. This constitutes a direct sale, and violates Texas law prohibiting manufacturers from acting as auto dealers, according to the state. Ford's Peter Olsen disputes this assertion, claiming that Ford sells through its dealers, not direct. Texas announced late last year that it would fine dealers $10,000 if they participated with Ford's pre-owned online initiative, causing Ford to pull the plug on the program in Houston. Ford has taken its challenge to court and a ruling is expected by autumn.

  • "Our Not-So-Private Lives"
    Interactive Week (05/01/00) Vol. 7, No. 17, P. 54; Trager, Louis

    Although many major commercial Web sites have changed their privacy policies in recent months due to pressure from various quarters, a new study by privacy software firm Enonymous.com reveals that a majority of the change went in the direction of liberalizing the policies. Privacy has become a hot issue in cyberspace, particularly since the Federal Trade Commission held a hearing on the issue. According to the Personalization Consortium, 58 percent of Web users will not give out personal information to a site that does not post a privacy policy. However, 62 percent of respondents said most privacy policies are unclear. This is an important point, because many Internet users are becoming increasingly comfortable with giving out personal information in exchange for custom-made content or offers, but most people expect the information to stay at the site where they gave it and not be shared with other e-commerce firms. A recent survey by Cyber Dialogue shows that while 88 percent of Internet users would provide their name in exchange for tailor-made content, almost half of those same people consider consumer data sharing among different Web sites as a privacy invasion. While the biggest commercial Web sites tend to take privacy issues the most seriously because they are more heavily scrutinized and receive the most media attention, only AOL, Digital City, and RealNetworks earned Enonymous' four-star rating for their privacy policies. The rating means that these sites will not attempt to contact the customer and do not share customer information with a third party unless a customer specifically gives permission to do so. The majority of PC Data's top sites had policies that permitted the companies to share personal information without customer consent. These sites include Amazon.com, Yahoo!, MSNBC, and Netscape Communications.

  • "The Munich Model"
    Global Business (04/00) Vol. 16, No. 4, P. 22; Rykken, Rolf

    Although information technology sectors in Sweden, the United Kingdom, France, and Belgium are all aggressively positioning their markets as the Silicon Valley of Europe, the high-tech environment of Germany has given the country the early lead in the continent's New Economy. According to the statistical office of the European Union, Eurostat, 10 of the EU's top 15 high-tech regions--based on the number of high-tech workers--are located in Germany. In fact, more than 27 percent of Europe's 16 million high-tech employees worked in Germany in 1997. Reports now show that Germany received $15 billion of Europe's $56 billion in IT investments in 1997. By 2002, Germany is projected to take in $23 billion of the continent's $80 billion in tech investments. The greatest percentage of high-tech workers in Germany is in Stuttgart, however Munich is considered the place to be. Many of the venture capital firms that are opening up offices in Germany are said to be attracted by the country's stock market for high-growth companies, the Neuer Markt. The U.S. Commerce Department reported last year that Bavaria has excellent research and technical facilities, and also has a good financial support system in place for high-tech companies. Bavaria also has a state-owned venture capital firm, Bayern Kapital, and many entrepreneurs are now staying home instead of pursuing their startups abroad. In addition to Munich and Stuttgart, Germany has other hot markets such as Frankfurt and Berlin. While Frankfurt is distinguishing itself with its private telecommunication networks, Berlin is becoming more known for its Internet content and design companies.

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