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Volume 2, Issue 83:  Friday, July 21, 2000

  • "U.S. Awards $2.5 Million to Train 300 for High-Tech Jobs"
    Baltimore Sun (07/20/00) P. 2C; Dang, Dan Thanh

    Baltimore County, Md., will be part of an $80 million program to fill high-tech jobs with American workers, the Department of Labor announced this week. Baltimore County will receive $2.5 million to train 300 workers who are presently unemployed and have little or no tech experience. Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman believes that this program is crucial to solve the current shortage of information technology workers--a shortage that has created more than 8,000 job openings in the Baltimore-Metropolitan area alone. Herman stresses that the problem is not a lack of workers, but a lack of workers with the necessary skills. More than 5,000 workers in the U.S. have already benefited from such training, and the Labor Department is now spending $29.1 million to train 5,000 more.
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  • "Fiber-Optics Rivalry Goes to Court"
    Washington Post (07/20/00) P. E1; Noguchi, Yuki

    Fiber-optics company Ciena submitted a patent-infringement lawsuit against rival Corvis in a move that may threaten Corvis' plans to hold a public offering next week. The lawsuit was submitted in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. Ciena alleges that Corvis violated three patents of its optical-networking technology, and is applying for an injunction and an unspecified amount in damages. The outcome of the lawsuit is crucial for Corvis, which intends to offer up to $400 million worth of stock on July 28 in one of the biggest IPO's of an upstart firm this year. Some analysts believe the lawsuit may delay the issue. Current Analysis analyst Chris Nicoll said the IPO may not proceed until Corvis can explain the lawsuit to investors. If the IPO occurs as planned, Wall Street may be cautious considering possible damages and other fees the company may have to pay.

  • "Sign of Trouble: The Problem With E-Signatures"
    ZDNet AnchorDesk (07/16/00); Berst, Jesse

    Now that e-signatures have been legalized, a whole slew of issues confront customers and businesses. Indeed, they will probably postpone the use of the online signatures for quite some time as the particulars are hammered out and the process becomes safer. Although e-signatures and e-contracts will eventually alter the way business is done, the change will be slow in coming and first will be utilized by businesses, then consumers. Digital signatures, which require authentication, non-repudiation, and data integrity, can be a literal signature placed on an electronic document. But because the new laws do not specify standards, a digital signature can also take the form of a smart card and password, an Internet tablet, biometrics, or even an iris scan. ILumin provides a "digital handshake" within a secure environment that has all the required tools to review, edit, sign, and store documents. SignOnline utilizes a combination of authenticated digital certificates and secure e-documents to provide e-signatures, and also has a secure place to store documents. Litronic is developing technology that will use the eye as a fingerprint. Interlink Electronics has an ePad that records the signing date and time, and also cryptographically links the signature to the document and biometrically associates it to the individual. VeriSign and Entrust Technologies both have strong PKI foundations, which are the basis of a majority of digital signatures, and will therefore be doing the most work of all the companies dealing with digital signatures. A lack of standards is one current drawback to digital signatures. Others include difficulty making digital signatures work in the real world, which will require businesses to utilize and implement the difficult new technologies. Further, fraud will be a problem, as will the digital divide because some customers will not have access to the Internet.

  • "New Web Suffixes Coming, But Will It Matter?"
    CNN.com (07/19/00); Stenger, Richard

    A majority of observers believe the Internet domain name environment is overcrowded due to too few top level domain names, and while there is some debate over ICANN's plan to add new top level domain names, some believe ICANN did not set enough rules to regulate the new names implementation. Others say the necessity for domain names will gradually be reduced to nothing. The new domain name suffixes being added by ICANN is a "non-issue" because advances in technologies will lower the need for URLs and increase the use of corporate names to locate sites on the Internet, says Expedia.com spokesperson Suzi Levine. Some current registrars of domain names fully support ICANN's intended expansion. Network Solutions submitted a proposal for the inclusion of .shop and .bank as two of the domain name suffixes to be added by ICANN. The lack of guidance from ICANN on how the new domain name suffixes will be implemented is another issue. "It's my understanding that there are no regulations or proposals in place yet," says Brown & Wood intellectual property attorney Peter Toren.
    For information regarding ACM's Internet governance work related to ICANN, visit http://www.acm.org/serving/IG.html.

  • "Security Hole Found in E-Mail"
    Associated Press (07/18/00); Hopper, D. Ian

    Hackers could use the email feature in Microsoft Outlook to gain nearly unlimited control of a user's computer, according to a Microsoft security official. Users need only to download an infected email to expose their computer to malicious code. After researchers at labs in Australia and South America alerted the company to the potential problem, Microsoft announced that it will soon release a patch to correct the flaw and users can protect themselves in the meantime by downloading Internet Explorer version 5.1 Service Pack 1 or version 5.5. The company also said it is almost exclusively home users, not corporate users, who are at risk.

  • "George W. Bush Re-Focuses on Tech Agenda"
    Newsbytes (07/19/00); MacMillan, Robert

    About 130 members of GOP presidential candidate George W. Bush's high-tech council will meet in Austin, Texas, today to discuss hot-button technology issues, including online privacy, cybercrime, and the digital divide. The Bush for President High-Tech Council includes many illustrious members of the tech industry, including Dell Computer CEO Michael Dell and venture capitalist Floyd Kvamme. The meeting will coincide with the launch of a new Web site for the Bush campaign.
    (Access for paying subscribers only.)

  • "Digital Task Force Holds First Meeting"
    Internet.com (07/19/00)

    The Virginia Commonwealth's Digital Opportunity Task Force recently held its first meeting, adding 49 members to its roster from the private sector, nonprofits, and local and state government departments. The task force was created in May by Gov. James Gilmore and is charged with guaranteeing that all Virginia residents have access to computers and the Internet. The task force will also work on a variety of initiatives meant to foster digital opportunities across the state. This includes the construction of an online Virtual Opportunity Center where community groups and local governments can turn to find information on implementing plans and solutions. "It is vital that government and business representatives work closely with each community in the Commonwealth to ensure all Virginians share in the wealth of information the Internet provides," said Gilmore. Virginia Secretary of Technology Don Upson said other states are increasingly looking to emulate Gilmore's technology agenda.

  • "Protocol Prompts Privacy Spat"
    Interactive Week (07/10/00) Vol. 7, No. 27, P. 72; Brown, Doug

    The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has developed a protocol, supported by Microsoft and President Clinton, that is supposed to enhance online personal privacy, but has also generated much controversy. The Protocol for Privacy Protection (P3P) is intended to act as an online privacy guide for surfers. Users fill out a form that details their privacy preferences, and the browser looks at the P3P-implemented privacy policies on Web sites, informing the user if the policies do not match the listed preferences. P3P does not hide a user's identity, but it does explain the policies in clear language. Center for Democracy and Technology analyst Ari Schwartz says P3P is a tool that "improves the privacy situation." However, others say P3P is not sufficient. Junkbusters President Jason Catlett says P3P will make people think they are getting privacy rights when they are not; Catlett and the Electronic Privacy Information Center reported to the W3C that P3P will probably undermine public confidence in Internet privacy. Catlett is afraid that lawmakers will think P3P solves the privacy problem. Hewlett-Packard's Barbara Lawler says P3P is the first step toward a privacy standard. Microsoft says it will incorporate P3P technology into its next Windows release, due out in 2001, and intends to make all its Web sites P3P-compliant and offer free compliant privacy policies for companies to download and install. Chris Hunter, an online privacy scholar at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School of Communications, does not support P3P; he says a better architecture would be built around anonymous surfing that would get rid of cookies.
    For information regarding ACM's activities on behalf of privacy matters, visit http://www.acm.org/usacm/privacy.

  • "A Taxing Problem"
    Global Technology Business (06/00) Vol. 3, No. 6, P. 41

    While state governments in the U.S. continue to lobby for taxes on e-commerce, across the Atlantic the European Commission has taken up the issue in an effort to prevent U.S. dot-coms from having an unfair advantage on the continent. European dot-coms would not be on an equal playing field as U.S. companies because EU member states require that they collect a sales tax, or VAT (value-added tax), on goods bought by Europeans from other member states. As a result, Frits Bolkestein, commissioner in charge of the internal (European) market and competition, is proposing a draft directive that would force U.S. dot-coms to register for VAT in a European country and pay VAT to the host country. The directive, partly based on European rules for telcos that U.S. companies such as MCI WorldCom now follow, has its critics, including Alistair Kelman, a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics and advisor to the congressional panel. Kelman says jurisdiction, or adhering to some standard for a European presence, might raise some significant issues, adding that such a directive would be difficult to enforce. In the U.S., efforts to hold dot-coms accountable for paying taxes will encounter the same issue of enforceability, even though Forrester Research estimates that the U.S. lost $500 million in tax revenue last year because of the Internet. Although Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Stuart Eizenstat earlier in the year urged state and local officials to simplify their tax systems, it would be difficult for the federal government to force states to do so without changing the constitution. All in all, the European Union would elicit a mixed response from U.S. companies concerning such an initiative.

  • "Chello's Marketing Chief Spreads Broadband Belief"
    Ad Age International (07/10/00) Vol. 71, No. 29, P. 28; Koranteng, Juliana

    European ISP Chello has quickly become the Continent's biggest broadband service provider, thanks to phenomenal growth of its subscriber base since its launch in March 1999. The service is now available to European Internet users in Germany, Austria, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, and Belgium. Chello's managing director of marketing and communications, Iain Osborne, says he plans to use the company's "Hello I'm Chello" ad campaign to make Chello Broadband a global affair. Osborne is optimistic that Chello will go over well. "Our users are among the biggest e-commerce spenders in Europe because Chello is always on and they get content down much quicker," Osborne says. Since its premiere, Chello's European subscriber base has grown from roughly 36,000 to over 200,000, and plans are afoot to establish Chello in New Zealand come August. Also in the works is a partnership with U.K. cable operator Telewest, and a possible merger with ExciteAtHome in the United States. In September, Chello unveils its next ad campaign, with a tagline summarizing its ambitions: "No limits." In 1999, broadband Internet penetrated 8.2 million homes in Germany, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, and Sweden, according to Forrester Research. Forrester expects broadband Internet to reach 21.3 million homes in those same countries by 2003.

  • "Internet Imperialism? Mais Oui!"
    Washington Techway (07/10/00) P. 20; Arlen, Gary

    With Vivendi's purchase of Seagram and the merger of Saatchi & Saatchi with Publicis, Europeans are staking their own Internet territory and reflecting the rapid growth of the European market. These developments send a message that Europe does not want the United States to have an unbreakable, imperialistic hold on Web development. A survey of 15 nations by Pro Active International indicates that European customers are more comfortable with Web sites in their native language. The European Internet market is fragmented, partially as the result of expensive telecom connections that discourage customers from going online in some countries. Vivendi hopes to use Universal Pictures and Universal Music Group, both Seagram holdings, to build an organization to rival AOL-Time Warner in Europe. AOL's efforts in Europe are progressing slowly and have suffered noticeably from Bertelsmann's defection as a partner.

  • "What Is a Domain Name Anyway? Impact of 'Network Solutions Inc. v. Umbro' Ruling"
    E-Commerce Law & Strategy (07/07/00); Agin, Warren E.

    There has been confusion over how domain names mesh with current property law structures, and the ruling of the Supreme Court of Virginia in Network Solutions (NSI) versus Umbro International produced even more confusion over when to apply property law rules. The court found that the domain name is an intangible asset, but is limited to the contractual rights between the domain name holder and the registrar, and concluded that Virginia's statutory garnishment procedure may not be utilized to seize the contract rights that go with the domain name. This leaves open the option of seizing the domain name through a different procedure. The decision also greatly reduces the domain name's value to a creditor who seizes it, as the ruling restricts the rights of the entity in possession of the domain. Domain names are not transferable, according to some domain name registrars, including NSI. NSI may alter its service agreement to make clear that the domain name contract may not be assigned, but a domain name can be transferred as long as NSI's specified procedures are followed. NSI's service agreement also includes a provision that allows NSI to cancel the agreement if a creditor tries to take control of an interest in the domain name. NSI has participated in the unwanted transfer of domain names, usually during the process of bankruptcy, but does not normally remove rights to a domain name because of a creditor attempting to collect. NSI will usually transfer a domain name only when given a court order requiring a transfer.

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