Jan 19, 2001

ACLU calls for public hearings on new top-level domains
1/19/2001; 9:58:58 PM

'The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and several other groups championing "cyberrights" this week sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Commerce criticizing the planned addition of seven new Internet top-level domains under a November decision by the organization that manages the domain-name system.'

Observation: "Cyberrights" shouldn't be in quotes!  They're just "rights" that happen to be exercise online.  Do we talk about "public park rights"?

'The letter from the ACLU and its allies, addressed to outgoing Commerce Secretary Norman Mineta, argued that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) placed artificial limitations on the number of generic top-level domains that threaten freedom of expression for individual Internet users and noncommercial organizations.

'The groups also charged that the processes used by Marina Del Rey, Calif.-based ICANN to select the new top-level domains and the companies that will act as registries for them were "woefully inadequate by any measure." The letter claimed that the selection process was undemocratic and may have violated federal laws designed to ensure openness and public participation.'

Another observation: Do the issues get any more obscure then this? The effects of allocating responsibility for domain names as a free speech issue?

Jan 19, 2001

Copyright: Your Right or Theirs?
1/19/2001; 12:28:10 PM

The article rehashes much of what has been said before. The news is that the EFF will be going to court on Friday.

Also, for what it's worth, I don't think the co-author of the DMCA's defense of the DMCA is very compelling, because he doesn't seem to address the concerns of the opposition, he just says that they don't understand the bill or the nature of copyright, which I find highly unlikely. Ad hominem, anyone? 

(Also recall that one of the co-authors of the DMCA publically repudiated some of the ways it has been interpreted by the movie and music industry; even the authors don't agree what they wrote!)

Jan 18, 2001

The New Old Economy
Technology & Sociology
1/18/2001; 11:23:25 PM

A truly fascinating article on the impact of information technology on oil drilling, which is used as a prototypical example of many "Old Economy" industries being revitalized by the staggering increase of computing power and the ways in which it can be used.

The Internet is big and flashy, but it tends to obscure many equally interesting effects of the machines that enhance our minds.

Jan 18, 2001

AltaVista to become only Net search engine
1/18/2001; 8:54:18 PM

'AltaVista may have a crap search engine (did we say that?) but in these days of corporate-owned Internet that doesn't matter. It's patents and lawsuits that decide what we can get on the global "free-market". And if it's patents you want, AltaVista has got a few. Thirty-eight in fact, and more on the way.

'So what? Well, Internet World magazine has just run an interview with the chairman and CEO of AltaVista's parent company, CMGI, David Wetherell in which he said the company would be pursuing its search engine patents and we can expect lawsuits coming this quarter.'

Oh, boy!

'In case you were wondering what patents AltaVista has, they include: indexing duplicate records of information of a database; parsing, indexing and searching Web pages; mapping an index of a database into an array of files; ranking documents "in a hyperlinked environment using connectivity and selective content analysis"; searching an index; optimizing entries for searching an index; and storing an integrated index of database records.'

Jan 18, 2001

Filter THIS! Librarians to sue over new law
1/18/2001; 8:37:37 PM

'The American Library Association has decided to file a lawsuit challenging a new federal law that would require filtering in public schools and libraries....

'In its suit, the ALA will focus on the effect the law will have on all libraries, arguing that the requirement could further widen the so-called digital divide. Critics of mandatory filtering argue that the requirement forces people who rely on public computers for Internet access to see only pre-screened content--a restriction that those with home computers don't have.

'The ALA is one of several groups that have challenged tech restrictions on free speech in the past. However, the group will likely pursue legal action on its own this time because of its broad focus on all libraries. The ACLU, on the other hand, is expected to address only public libraries. The Center for Democracy and Technology, a vocal opponent of mandatory filtering, doesn't plan to sign on as a plaintiff at this point but instead will provide research and support.'

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