Jan 11, 2001

Do You Even Know Who's Watching?
Privacy from Companies
1/11/2001; 11:48:41 AM 'A Virtual Privacy Center, established in Germany as an outgrowth of a state privacy office, could be in the vanguard of an international effort to promote and protect privacy on the Internet.

'Marit Koehntopp, head of the state-run Independent Center for Privacy Protection in Kiel, Germany, said she hopes to attract participation from around the world on behalf of the common cause of educating citizens about their rights to control access to information about themselves.'

Interesting, but how will they handle the different standards of privacy around the world? I'll be looking out for more news about this.

Jan 11, 2001

Argentina's Anti-Corruption Net
1/11/2001; 10:20:20 AM

'In a move to reduce corruption by functionaries in faraway places, Argentina mandated its provincial governments to publish all official transactions on the Internet.

'Under the new law, Argentina's 23 provinces must report their budget, contract and payroll information on the Net every month for public review....'

'But let's say that a Net-savvy Juan Citizen does find something fishy on a government website? Would he dare do something about it?

'Exposing graft has been a dangerous job in Argentina. According to Amnesty International, Argentina's judiciary routinely hands down verdicts for slander and libel against journalists who criticize government actions. According to an Amnesty report on press freedoms, "attacks and harassment have become occupational hazards for journalists in Argentina."'

Another "Internet-as-magic-cure" approach that will probably fail miserably. The real problem is the tolerance for corruption and graft. Telling 'the people' about it only matters if the people care, and consider it something other then normal, which so many people do. If everybody in a country is simply resigned that "that's the way it works", then it will continue, pretty much no matter what the government does... or claims to do.

Jan 11, 2001

Fear of a Web planet
Free Speech
1/11/2001; 10:14:27 AM 'I say "perceived anarchy" and "apparent absence" because in truth, though the Internet is more decentralized and anarchic than any preceding medium with similar mass availability, it is not nearly as "out of control" as its more wild-eyed prophets have envisioned, or as its more paranoid critics, à la Carr, have insisted. The Internet is the creation of human beings and -- it's almost too obvious to point out, isn't it? -- human beings remain subject to the laws of their nations.

'If child pornography is against the law in the U.S., it remains against the law, online or offline. If selling "Mein Kampf" is against the law in Germany and your store wants to do business in Germany, you will have to figure out a way to stop selling it in Germany. Yahoo has recently faced a French court order to block access to pro-Nazi sites and sale of Nazi paraphernalia through its auction service -- and while Yahoo's core U.S. operations may not be subject to French law, the company has a French subsidiary that surely is.'

While this hueristic can't solve the whole 'problem of the Internet' (whatever you may define that to be), I think this article does do a good job of concisely demonstrating that the Internet is hardly 'out of control'. In the final analysis, at least here in America and most other Western societies, the Internet is simply a communication device that makes it easier to do things we could already do in the past.

Jan 09, 2001

VeriSign in struggle with China over registration of Web add
Country Watch: China1/9/2001; 2:41:03 PM 'The issue: Who has the right to register Chinese-language Internet addresses?'In November, VeriSign announced it would begin accepting Web addresses written in Chinese as well as Japanese and Korean.'The China Internet Network Information Center, the government agency that oversees the registry in China, quickly responded by unveiling a competing system. Officials quoted in state-run media called the system China's sole legal cyber-registry.'State-run newspapers, ever given to nationalistic passions, stoked the controversy. They proclaimed that the Chinese language belonged to China and that VeriSign was trampling on Chinese sovereignty.'There was even talk in the press of blocking access in China to addresses using VeriSign's system, as Beijing does now for Web sites of some foreign media and critics of communist rule.'That raised the prospect of China cutting itself off from the rest of cyberspace.'

Jan 09, 2001

Coalition makes concession on anti-piracy technology
Misc.1/9/2001; 2:36:30 PM 'After an outcry from privacy advocates, a group of leading computer hardware makers has agreed to give consumers the right to turn off a controversial new copy-protection feature on computer hard drives.'The technology, developed by an IBM-lead consortium called 4C, would prevent consumers from making copies of music or movies without the permission of the record label or studio that holds the rights. The copy-protection feature could start appearing as early as this spring in portable devices, such as MP3 players, digital cameras and handheld organizers. But fears that it would reach computer hard drives prompted fierce backlash -- and an agreement Thursday from the consortium to set curbs on the technology....'Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy said the furor over the 4C copy-protection plan reveals a basic misunderstanding of the technology. It is intended solely for removable storage, such as flash and compact memory cards that can be swapped from device to device. The technology effectively locks a music track or video clip to the memory card, preventing the consumer from making duplicates or from uploading it to the Internet.'Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy's comments reveal a basic misunderstanding about why people were upset. First, why should we be less upset that only our removable media is being bastardized that way? And second, we can hardly be expected to complacently believe any large company's promises about what it will or will not do in the future. The "outcry" was fully justified, and it's completely reasonable to assume that once the technology was deployed in removable media, some interests would have wanted to have it deployed on static media as well.

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