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Volume 2, Issue 62:  Wednesday, May 31, 2000

  • "Technology Will Solve Web Privacy Problems"
    Wall Street Journal (05/31/00) P. A26; Lessig, Lawrence

    The Federal Trade Commission has recently been insisting that Congress require Internet sites to comply with fair-information recommendations, but Lawrence Lessig of Harvard Law School believes Congress has been correct to ignore the FTC to this point and should continue to do so until the commission's focus is changed from implementing privacy policies to creating new code. Lessig believes the root of the problem is that the Internet was designed using a code that enables data on users to be easily collected, but also makes it difficult for users to see that this collection is actually occurring. The FTC has ignored code and instead continues a "fair information policy" that requires sites to display information practices and allow customers to decide how the collected information is used. This policy looks good on paper and many sites do comply. However, users often do not understand the written policies or do not have time to read the policies. Lessig believes the best of the current code-based privacy solutions comes from the World Wide Web Consortium's Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P). P3P developed a framework for privacy policies that are easily read by computers and enable consumers to easily dictate their individual privacy needs. PrivacyBot.com offers a tool that lets companies comply with P3P, and Microsoft is developing tools as well. Using these tools, customers simply state their desired level of privacy and the browser will avoid sites that do not comply with their privacy needs. Still, P3P is neither finished nor flawless, and strong privacy legislation is necessary, notes Lessig. However, P3P is at least moving toward enabling consumers to make their own choices on privacy at a low cost to business. Congress should make incentives for privacy solutions based on code, and the market would soon provide code solutions, says Lessig. Congress' best approach would be to adopt the FTC's principles while requiring compliance through code, Lessig says.

  • "Florida Enacts Sweeping High-Tech Reform"
    E-Commerce Times (05/30/00); Enos, Lori

    An information technology bill was signed by Florida Governor Jeb Bush to help strengthen and expand the state's IT industry. The new law creates a state technology office that will coordinate Florida's high-tech efforts, and business incubators that will help IT companies. The law encourages the use of electronic signatures and discourages online fraud. State agencies will be able to buy services and products on the Web, and almost all of the state's financial transactions with individuals and businesses will be conducted online. The law also urges investment in the state's Internet infrastructure and assistance in developing an access point to the network by providing a tax break to companies when purchasing equipment used to disseminate broadband technologies. Beyond having an impact on businesses and individuals in Florida, the law intends to develop an e-government in the state that will use email to expedite communications, and electronic storage to conserve resources and enable different departments to share data. A Task Force on Privacy and Technology will be created by the new law, with the mission of studying how new technology affects privacy and to determine how to keep the state's public records open while not giving away private data of individuals. Technology fraud will be examined as well as the sale of public records to private citizens or companies. The group will give recommendations to the governor and state legislature in February, and must provide suggestions on three pilot programs that would make public records available electronically and decrease the use of paper documents without giving up privacy or confidentiality.

  • "The Challenge for Microsoft Is in the Middleware"
    New York Times (05/29/00) P. C1; Lohr, Steve

    Middleware played a major role in the Microsoft antitrust suit and is now becoming a controversial issue as the Internet expands middleware use. Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson wrote in his ruling last month that middleware threatened to topple Microsoft's monopoly, and the government justified its breakup proposal in part by saying the remedy would prevent Microsoft from thwarting middleware development. Middleware acts as a translator between the operating system and applications. E-commerce is causing more Internet applications to be written for middleware, which runs on multiple operating systems so programmers do not have to write a separate version of an application for each OS. Middleware sales reached $2.77 billion last year, marking 66 percent growth from two years earlier, according to International Data. As applications are increasingly written for middleware, the OS is becoming less important. To prevent software developers from writing Internet applications for middleware, Microsoft is encouraging developers to write programs for Microsoft software by launching its Next Generation Windows Services. By trying to bring Internet software onto the Windows platform, critics say the software giant is repeating the same tactics the government used to support its breakup proposal. With Judge Jackson expected to provide a remedies order this week, Microsoft has delayed an event to discuss its Next Generation Windows Services that was originally scheduled for Thursday.

  • "Microsoft Sets Out Response to Breakup Plan"
    Financial Times (05/31/00) P. 6; Kehoe, Louise

    Microsoft's final response to the government's breakup proposal is due today, marking the software giant's last chance to make its case before Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's final ruling. Jackson is expected to enter his final ruling in the next several days, either accepting the breakup plan or creating his own remedies. Microsoft's response is likely to include procedural objections because Jackson required direct testimony to be submitted in writing rather than in person and denied the company's request for extended hearings. In addition, Microsoft is expected to set the stage for an appeal by repeating its argument that splitting the firm would damage consumers, the high-tech industry, and the U.S. economy. Finally, Microsoft's response will take issue with Jackson's findings of fact and rulings. Jackson says his goal is to send the case to an appeals court without issuing a full ruling on remedies.

  • "Bush, Gore Formulate Some Ground Rules for the New Economy"
    Wall Street Journal (05/30/00) P. A1; Seib, Gerald F.; Davis, Bob

    Presidential candidates Al Gore and George Bush both say they believe the government should play a minimal role in setting the parameters of the new economy. "The role of the government is not to interfere," but to "lay the groundwork," says Bush. Gore agrees, noting that the government's primary objective should be to "do no harm." Yet, despite these public assertions, both candidates appear to have their own agendas that would determine how government impacts the Internet. Both candidates favor a federal solution to protecting consumer privacy on the Internet and ensuring the closing of the digital divide. However, the candidates do not see eye to eye on the issue of Internet taxes. Bush backs a three-to-five year moratorium on e-commerce taxes, while Gore favors a moratorium of only two years. Both Bush and Gore profess to be flexible on the issue of states collecting Internet sales taxes. Likewise, both are keen to protect privacy in cyberspace. Bush says he would examine several potential online privacy solutions, but favors a "buy-in," where companies must seek consumer data "in a positive way" before being able to use it. Companies should also be held accountable for protecting consumer data, Bush says. Gore says that two weeks from now he will introduce legislation outlawing businesses' ability to sell Social Security numbers, an idea that was sparked by a tragic stalking case on the Internet. Gore would also like to encourage the high-tech industry to develop low-cost Internet appliances for use in the nation's schools.

  • "India Eyes Role in Net Regs"
    Wired News (05/27/00); Noronha, Frederick

    India wants to have a significant say in how the Internet is governed and is preparing to establish a national Internet body to promote this interest. Officials in both India and China claim the countries are not properly represented on international standards bodies, including the Internet Engineering Task Force, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, and Portable Network Graphics. India's Internet body will become effective by September of this year and will track and respond to Internet developments across the globe that are of importance to the country. India recently hosted a meeting concerning the oversight of the Internet. The dearth of proper tools and technologies for the use of the Indian language on the Internet was one of the key topics discussed during the meeting.

  • "Microsoft Says China Growth May Double in 2000"
    Reuters (05/31/00); Richardson, Karen

    Due to original equipment manufacturing (OEM) agreements, whereby computer makers pre-load Microsoft programs on products before selling them, Microsoft predicts that company revenue growth will double in 2000 in China. OEM customers in China are the primary source of Microsoft's revenue on the mainland. Installed on approximately 60 percent of the Web servers located in China, the company's Windows operating system is a major force on the country's market. However, piracy is a major concern, accounting for up to 95 percent of China's software market. Regardless of higher interest rates that could impede economic growth and commercial activity, Microsoft's Hong Kong business will probably grow 30 percent in 2000. Economists had predicted Hong Kong's economic growth to slow in the second half of the year, but changed their forecasts due to favorable first quarter growth. Microsoft's Hong Kong operation, which is the regional base for the company's MSN Internet service, will provide new services and increase marketing for the 12 months. In an effort to reduce tariffs, Microsoft promoted U.S. permanent normal trade relations with China. Japan, which provides 70 percent of all Asian business, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and India all lead Microsoft's China operation in the revenue-generating market.

  • "U.S. Companies Take Aim at Hacker Threat"
    Financial Times (05/30/00) P. 5; Lerner, Dan

    The Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) is leading U.S. companies in the development of a system that will allow participants to anonymously share information about hacker threats and software flaws. The system, scheduled to launch in the next several months, will give companies a way to defend themselves against cyber-threats rather than depending on antivirus software and consultancies. ITAA President Harris Miller says an information sharing system would have helped prevent the denial-of-service attacks on major e-commerce sites in February. However, several issues must be resolved before the system launches, Miller says. For example, the committee creating the system needs to decide whether to make data available to non-members. In addition, the system must protect companies' proprietary information. Since the government might participate in the system, members might be concerned that sharing information could lead to an investigation. The committee is designing the system so the public will not gain access to proprietary data shared with the government under the freedom of information laws.
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  • "Site Supports Hiring IT Consultants Online"
    Network World Online (05/25/00); Marsan, Carolyn Duffy

    IQ4hire.com, a new online exchange for buyers and sellers of IT professional services, intends to empower corporate decision makers with the information and references they need to make important decisions regarding IT development. The site enables companies to post complex systems integration projects online and invite consultants to bid for them. "These are large projects for large companies serviced by large integrators," says IQ4hire CEO Brain Sommer of the type of jobs the exchange plans to broker. IQ4hire, which is scheduled for launch this summer, already has 20 systems integrators and 5 corporate buyers with $27 million in outstanding projects signed up. IQ4hire will collect a small percentage of the total transaction for its services.

  • "Europe Stalls on Crypto Exports"
    Wired News (05/26/00)

    The European Union last week was expected to formally announce that it would stop regulating encryption exports, but the decision has been put off until June 13 due to an overloaded agenda. European officials recently said that a preliminary agreement about encryption regulation had been reached among EU members. Indications are that France and the United Kingdom have become more flexible on the issue of liberalizing encryption export regulations.

  • "Malaysia Says Cheaper Technology Would Cut Piracy"
    Reuters (05/30/00)

    At a recent seminar for Asian and European businesses, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad recently said that foreign software producers would continue to lose money to intellectual piracy unless they lowered their prices enough to satisfy the Southeast Asian market. Malaysia and Southeast Asia have been identified as hotbeds of copyright piracy, according to the Business Software Alliance, which says that those countries lost $4.8 billion in sales and $411 million in uncollected tax revenues last year because of pirated copies. At the seminar, Malaysia said that it will soon pass a law that would allow officials to seize the equipment in optical disc factories that allows for the copying of audiovisual and computer discs, but said that foreign manufacturers should still consider lowering the costs of their products to reduce piracy.

  • "Melissa Has Another Copycat"
    TheStandard.com (05/26/00); Niccolai, James

    Another version of the Melissa virus called Killer Resume hit U.S. companies on Friday, spreading through Microsoft Outlook. The virus, which has hit 10 large U.S. companies, arrives in an email with the subject line "Resume-Janet Simmons." If a user opens an attachment called "Resume.doc" or "Explorer.doc," the virus transmits itself to everyone in the Outlook address book. After the user closes the attachment, the virus begins erasing files from the hard drive. Antivirus firm McAfee.com rates the virus as medium-risk, but could change its assessment to high-risk if the virus starts to spread more rapidly as employees return to work on Tuesday after the holidays. Users should delete the contaminated email immediately and install the most recent version of their antivirus software, says McAfee.com's Sal Viveros.

  • "U.S. Firms Want to Invest in Indonesian IT, Car Sectors"
    Asia Pulse News Wire (05/31/00)

    As Indonesia tries to normalize its political situation and improve its economy, a few U.S. companies have said they will invest more in the Indonesian automotive technology and information sectors, according to Luhut Pandjaitan, the nation's Minister of Industry and Trade. He reported to the U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia that General Electric in Yogyakarta will make a larger investment there. General Motors, Ford, and DaimlerChrysler also plan to purchase equipment in the country. U.S. companies want to improve information technology in Indonesia as well. The ambassador expressed the encouragement and backing of the United States for the continued improvement of politics, security, and the economy of Indonesia.

  • "Network Solutions to Offer Free Names in China"
    Newsbytes (05/30/00); McGuire, David

    Network Solutions is expected to announce today that it will offer approximately 300 dot-org and dot-net domain names to Chinese government agencies, free of charge. Network Solutions' Cheryl Regan said the initiative, known as the China Government Getting Online Project, is a "show of goodwill" that will allow the company greater access to the gargantuan Chinese market. Network Solutions will also slash the prices for several thousand domain names in China. Regan noted that the Chinese market, where less than 1 percent of adults are on the Internet, is the fastest-growing market in the world. In related news, the fight in Congress over the China-trade legislation is not quite over, as some resistance is expected in the Senate. The Information Technology Association of America and other industry groups say they will continue to support the bill until it becomes law.

  • "Bill's New Web Menu"
    Business Week (06/05/00) No. 3684, P. 104; Greene, Jay; Kerstetter, Jim

    As the Internet threatens to make the PC obsolete, Microsoft is trying to establish itself on the Web by launching its Next Generation Windows Services (NGWS). The new services will allow users to perform online activities more quickly and easily by tying together unrelated Web sites. For example, if a user wants to buy stock online, NGWS could link an online brokerage with an online bank to allow the user to make the purchase with one click. Although the technical details of NGWS have yet to be announced, Microsoft says the technology uses Internet standards and is compatible with any operating system. Microsoft will have a time-to-market advantage over other companies, but others will be able to profit from NGWS without paying the company since the technology uses Web standards, Microsoft says. NGWS is designed to help Microsoft offer more Web services such as its Passport service, which allows Internet users to store credit card and shipping data online. However, experts predict that Microsoft will have difficulty succeeding with NGWS. Web site operators and developers might be reluctant to cooperate with the effort because of concerns about giving the software giant too much control over the Web. In addition, rivals are moving forward with their own Web services initiatives, such as Sun with its Jini technology and Hewlett-Packard with e-speak. Finally, NGWS could complicate Microsoft's antitrust woes, and the services might never get off the ground if the company is ultimately divided.

  • "Users Upset at New Rules for Windows Certification"
    Computerworld (05/22/00) Vol. 34, No. 21, P. 6; Deckmyn, Dominique; Dash, Julekha

    Microsoft's requirement that its certified engineers must pass a Windows 2000 test by the end of next year is viewed by some corporate IT professionals as an attempt to force companies to upgrade to the new operating system. Microsoft plans to revoke Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) certifications for holders who do not pass a Windows 2000 test by Dec. 31, 2000, and to stop administering Windows NT 4.0 exams at the end of this year. Therefore, by the end of this year no one will be able to receive MCSE certification without Windows 2000 training. Companies complain that Microsoft's new rules do not allow them enough time to implement Windows 2000, learn how to use the new platform, and have employees pass the updated exam. Furthermore, IT staffing firms are concerned that they will not be able to meet client demand for engineers certified in NT 4.0. Although no NT 4.0 certificate will be available from Microsoft, NT 4.0 courses will continue to be available as long as the platform is in use.

  • "Governments Mull Net Crime Rules"
    Interactive Week (05/22/00) Vol. 7, No. 20, P. 104; Brown, Doug

    As the love bug virus recently proved, the Internet does not recognize borders, boundaries, or jurisdictions. The subject of how to police the Internet was discussed at the recent meeting of the Group of Eight countries in Paris, with the main goal being to create a global agreement on Internet regulation so no country becomes a haven for Internet criminals and hackers. The U.S. delegates at the meeting suggested that people be required to register with a central agency before being allowed to use the Internet, and also advocated establishing a global cyberpolice force whose sole mission would be to police the Web. However, the U.S. has come under fire from many quarters for its heavy reliance on increased surveillance and its desire for decreased anonymity on the Web. Privacy advocates suggest that a less restrictive method of securing the Internet would serve to increase the use of security mechanisms, such as firewalls and encryption products, and give law enforcement agencies the resources they need to find and prosecute online crime and criminals. Other critics worry about certain plans proposed at the meeting that would mandate that ISPs store all data traffic for three months and monitor the information passing through their networks. However, others say the dangerous possibility of governments overstepping their bounds and turning the Internet into a cyberpolice state should not deter governments from working toward international cooperation to fight crime and fraud on the Web.

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