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Volume 2, Issue 57:  Wednesday, May 17, 2000

  • "In the Pursuit of Cybercriminals, Real Detectives Rely on Amateurs"
    New York Times (05/17/00) P. A1; Richtel, Matt

    Many of the most high-profile cyberattack cases in recent times have not been solved by law enforcement officials, but rather by private citizens who act as cybersleuths in their spare time. Many law enforcement agencies readily admit that they often do not have the manpower or the technical know-how when it comes to investigating many hacking and virus cases, and say that the work of private cybersleuths, who often work with police in the most critical parts of investigations, is invaluable. For example, a group of private citizens are believed to have led investigators to the Philippines after they traced the "I Love You" virus to the Amable Mendoza Aguiluz Computer College in Manila. However, police also admit that these cyberdetectives often behave more like vigilantes, and they are concerned that many may commit illegal acts when pursuing their cyberprey, which could result in evidence that does not stand up in court. "Any mistakes they make really come back to haunt us, " says Paul E. Coggins, the United States Attorney in Dallas. Regardless, many cybersleuths contend that they have no desire to be cops, but are merely computer geeks protecting their turf.

  • "Digital Signature Bills Move to Front Burner"
    American Banker (05/17/00) P. 1; Anason, Dean

    Digital signature legislation is likely to move forward today as House and Senate conferees discuss a compromise proposal offered by top Republicans. The compromise plan, released Monday, is similar to the House bill adopted last November that was favored by the financial services industry. Like the House bill, the compromise plan would give digital signatures the same legal weight as their ink counterparts for certain types of disclosures, if a consumer gives permission for electronic delivery. Consumers would also be provided a "clear and conspicuous" statement of fees and would be permitted to change their decision about electronic delivery. The compromise bill would still require that consumers receive paper copies of certain sensitive documents, such as default notices and foreclosure notices. Republicans hope to pass the digital signature law in both the House and the Senate by May 26. Democrats, who have expressed some concern over the bill's potential impact on consumer protection laws, say their deadline for passing the legislation is July 4.

  • "The Great B2B Shootout"
    ZDNet (05/16/00); Foley, Mary Jo

    E-business infrastructure companies are competing to become the suppliers of the emerging business-to-business (B2B) online exchange market. Those companies who emerge successfully, according to International Data's Albert Pang, will develop, market, and support standards-based, scalable, and reliable solutions featuring end-to-end integration of systems, including identity authentication and electronic bill presentment and payment applications. Players include Ariba, Breakaway Solutions, Broadvision, CommerceOne, i2 Technologies, the iPlanet alliance, Oracle, and IBM, who unveiled on Tuesday its WebSphere Commerce Suite Marketplace Edition, featuring support for wireless Internet access and online exchanges based on IBM's RS/6000 Unix platform. To gain an edge in the marketplace, IBM and Oracle have each stressed the Web hostng, support, maintenance, and consulting services they offer to help companies ease the transition to online exchanges. By 2003, as many as 10,000 online exchanges will be in operation, forming a total market expected to be worth $7.29 trillion by 2004, according to the GartnerGroup.

  • "Hong Kong Sunday Communications, H-P, Nortel to Develop 3G Applications"
    Dow Jones News (05/16/00)

    Hong Kong-based wireless operator Sunday Communications announced on Tuesday it will collaborate with Hewlett-Packard, Nortel Networks, and Packet Video to design applications for third-generation wireless phone networks. The three companies showcased prototype applications, including messaging and video conferencing. Sunday acknowledged that the services showcased were already available on 2G networks, but stated that they were of lesser quality due to slow data transmission speeds. With the anticipated allocation of 3G licenses next year in Hong Kong, high-technology networks will be able to provide operators with transmission of voice, data, and video via wireless appliances. Sunday CEO Craig Erhlich says future achievements of 3G networks in Hong Kong depend on easy access to applications.

  • "Can NSA Still Make the Interception?"
    Washington Post (05/17/00) P. A25; Loeb, Vernon

    A report recently released by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence warns that the National Security Agency is becoming increasingly impotent in its attempts to intercept electronic communications due to the use of new encryption software, digital cell phone transmissions, and fiber-optic cable. The committee says that revitalizing the NSA is its highest priority, and blames the Clinton administration for not budgeting enough funds to bolster the agency's investment in technology and personnel. Analysts also predict that "signals intelligence" currently provided by the NSA will probably be obsolete in 15 years.

  • "Governments, Businesses Grapple With Cybercrime"
    Houston Chronicle (05/16/00) P. 14A; Seward, Deborah

    The three-day conference on cybercrime sponsored by the Group of Eight industrial nations kicked off Monday in Paris, and most people present said that there was a remarkably high degree of similarity in various nations' cybercrime-fighting strategies. However, some contentious issues have risen, such as customer privacy. European nations want companies to keep information transmitted on the Internet for at least one year, in order to simplify investigation of cybercrime, but the United States says that one year is too long a period to store such huge amounts of data. The meeting in Paris is unprecedented because both governmental and private organizations are attempting to find ways to cooperate and find common ground in policing the Internet. Major topics debated at the conference include methods of tracking cybercriminals, international judicial cooperation, and extradition procedures. French Interior Minister Jean-Pierre Chevenement asked conference attendees to pass a treaty that would mandate European countries to establish laws identifying Internet crimes and make hacking, computer fraud, and child pornography illegal. Chevenement said that other non-European countries could also sign the treaty, giving it a broader scope.

  • "UK Internet Users Up 5 Pct in Five Months"
    Reuters (05/16/00)

    Increases in the number of women Internet users and the number of poorer households going online have helped boost the U.K.'s Internet population to about 14 million, according to a new study from Continental Research. Overall, approximately 30 percent of the U.K. population uses the Internet, up from 25 percent at the beginning of the year and 8 percent at the end of 1997. The numbers are likely to go higher as even more people go online during the second half of the year. These Web newcomers have expressed interest in using the Internet for music downloads, online banking, and to access digital TV systems for email purposes.

  • "Judges May Ask Congress to Restrict Certain Data"
    Wall Street Journal (05/16/00) P. B14

    Federal judges remain troubled by language in the Ethics in Government Act that calls for the judges to make their financial-disclosure reports available to the public. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist recently addressed the American Law Institute and advised that the release of certain types of information raises "troubling security issues" and that "some legislative adjustments" to the Ethics in Government Act may be in order. An Internet company that would like to post the reports on the Internet has been embroiled in legal proceedings over the matter during the past several months. Rehnquist said anyone could access the information if the reports are permitted to be displayed on the Internet.

  • "India Acts Quickly on E-Commerce Rules"
    International Herald Tribune (05/17/00) P. 18; Elliott, John

    A bill that provides legal standards for e-commerce passed India's lower parliamentary house on Tuesday, and is expected to pass the upper house before its summer recess. The government also wants to avoid issues similar to those occurring in the Philippines over the love bug virus. Delay of the bill could hamper India's e-commerce growth, which complements its expanding role as a provider of software and IT professionals for the rest of the world. Workers from India are being hired in countries such as the U.S., Germany, and Ireland to develop software products. The new laws would also promote e-commerce growth in India, where the Internet has been slow to take off because of legal restrictions on transactions and other bureaucracy. Further, India would be equal to other Internet leaders such as Japan and Singapore, and the value of India's e-commerce transactions would rise, according to Dewang Mehta of Nasscom. Analysts believe the number of people using the Internet in India would significantly increase if the bill passes. This could give shoppers the confidence to purchase products online, promote brick-and-mortar businesses to reconsider using the Internet, and enable the government to start reducing the large amount of paperwork necessary to complete transactions, says Ajit Balakrishnan of Rediff.com. Internet use could also assist poorer communities in India, supplying them with information on anything from crop prices to weather data.

  • "Microsoft's Lobbying Largess Pays Off"
    Washington Post (05/17/00) P. A1; Grimaldi, James V.

    Outside of court, Microsoft is using a number of strategies to gain public and political support for the company's cause and to put pressure on the courts to keep the company together. Microsoft has contributed to trade groups, think tanks, and foundations over the past two years that have moved against the government's antitrust case. The company has also helped create lobbying groups that support the company against the government. Spending on lobbying by Microsoft has increased threefold over the past four years, and the company has contributed over $2 million to political campaigns this year. Microsoft has also given contributions to causes unrelated to the antitrust trial, such as the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and minority scholarships. Recipients of Microsoft's donations for causes not related to the trial insist no mention was ever made of the trial. A major concern of those allied with the government is that the foundations and lobbyists supported by Microsoft do not always reveal that Microsoft has given them contributions. The Association for Competitive Technology and Americans for Technology Leadership do not publicly provide the total amount of support they receive from Microsoft. Craig Smith, formerly the campaign manager for Gore and political director for the White House and Democratic National Committee, wrote a letter warning both parties that even discussing the breakup of Microsoft could make candidates open to attack during the general election. Smith failed to mention that he was a paid consultant of Americans for Technology Leadership. Other organizations funded by Microsoft, such as the National Taxpayers Union, have attempted to personally embarrass or smear lead figures of the trial supporting a breakup. Microsoft claims to be countering the lobbying efforts of rival tech companies, although those rivals say Microsoft initiated the lobbying.

  • "House Reacts to Cyber Rumor With Ban on Net Fee"
    Philadelphia Inquirer (05/17/00) P. C1; Anderson, Curt

    The House yesterday passed by voice vote a measure that would permanently prevent federal lawmakers from imposing telephone fees on the Internet, including per-minute fees for Internet access. Some criticized the measure as being unnecessary. "We have here a bill that solves a problem that doesn't really exist," said Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.). Dingell's assessment is off the mark, according to Rep. W.J. Billy Tauzin (R-La.). Tauzin says the measure gives teeth to an existing FCC universal service access charge exemption for ISPs and will stop local telephone companies from successfully challenging the exemption in court.

  • "Retail Group Plans Shop Search Engine"
    USA Today (05/15/00) P. 7B; Grant, Lorrie

    The National Retail Federation (NRF) is creating a search engine that will help consumers when they shop online for shoes and apparel. Currently, using search engines to find specific, non-branded merchandise on the Internet is difficult. NRF's search engine FastFind, which is due out in September, will make searching for a specific product simpler, and will then provide shoppers with links to the Web sites of well-regarded retailers. From there, shoppers may be directed to cataloguers or stores in their area. The NRF plans to make its search engine more trustworthy than others, and according to the NRF, the listing of well-regarded retailers will ensure that customers do not unwittingly purchase counterfeit goods. According to the federation, which has 3,000 members, even nonmembers' Web sites will be connected to FastFind. The federation is currently approaching major portals such as AltaVista, Yahoo, and AOL in order to provide consumers with access to FastFind.

  • "Saudis 'Defeating' Internet Porn"
    BBC News (05/10/00); Gardner, Frank

    Technicians in Saudi Arabia are managing to prevent the country's 130,000 Internet users from accidentally accessing major pornographic sites on the Web, says Fahad al-Hoymany, director of the government unit charged with monitoring Internet activity. New pornographic sites pop up at a near-hourly rate, but the technicians, some from Finland, use filtering programs developed in other countries to block them out. Saudi Arabia has 30 ISPs, and all are tied to a central node that controls access to the Saudi Arabian Internet. Saudi officials also control access to sites that provide bomb-making instructions and sites that could provoke religious hatred. Saudi authorities are turning their attentions to developing a framework of rules for e-commerce, says Hoymany.

  • "Shameless in Seattle"
    Forbes (05/01/00) Vol. 165, No. 10, P. 148; Woolley, Scott

    TeraBeam hopes to offer an alternative to excavating streets to install fiber optic cables by using laser transmitters to send laser light over the air at one trillion bits a second. The technology, while not proven legitimate as of yet, has caught the attention of at least six other companies. While the idea of air laser networks has been around for quite some time, many companies seeking to develop this technology have failed. The expense and technology requirements for developing a laser to hit a 16-inch wide receiver from over a mile away has not proven economical or otherwise feasible. TeraBeam's plan departs from most of its competitors by using a sole laser transmitter to send signals to 96 accounts, instead of only one. As of yet, the company has not proven this possible in trial tests. But founder C. Gregory Amadon is confident that with TeraBeam's advanced technology this will not remain the case. By keeping TeraBeam's laser equipment to itself, Amadon sees the company eventually developing into a larger carrier.

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