More Good News from New Jersey for Anonymous Critics
12/1/2000; 1:30:53 PM
'New Jersey Superior Court Judge Kenneth MacKenzie on Tuesday affirmed the nonymity of four 'John Doe' defendants accused of publishing unkind and false statements about the company for which they work.... 'Judge Wettick ruled that an anonymous author's identity must not be disclosed until s/he is given an opportunity to argue and produce evidence that the defamation lawsuit facing them is frivolous or otherwise lacking in merit.'
This is very similar to this week's Pennsylvania ruling but is in fact a different story. It's been a while since I've seen a single judge reach the proper balance on an issue like this, it's cool to see two judges doing it in such quick succession.
Privacy from Companies12/1/2000; 12:16:53 PM 'Real world security company Securicor is spending £7 million on an online shopping service which will allow users to shop online without passing credit card details to online stores.... 'In effect, Securicor has set up an online mall. People who sign up to the service give all their financial details to Securicor, and the data is stored on the company's site. 'Its site will have links to participating retailers, and when a customer wants to buy something online, they go to the Securicor site where their funds are checked, and when the sale is processed. Securicor then delivers the package.'Sounds interesting. There are a number of services that will do the equivalent for web browsing but I'm not sure I've ever heard of anyone doing this for shopping. I hope it works well.'Taylor says that the site has been thoroughly tested against external hacks or system overloads. 'Yeah, well, they always say that.I think this is Securicor's web site, but I can't tell, because it mistakenly tells me I don't have Netscape Navigator 3+ (it's wrong, this is Netscape 4.73) and refused to let me in.
Germany's Kampf Furor Renews
Country Watch: Germany12/1/2000; 12:05:15 PM 'News this week that a Munich state prosecutor was investigating allegations that Yahoo Deutschland had sold copies of Mein Kampf could help build momentum in Germany for more sweeping restrictions on such material....'The German case differs in that it concerns a German company doing business via the Internet in Germany, as opposed to an American company doing business internationally via the Internet....'But contrary to some press accounts, Mein Kampf is not illegal per se in Germany -- what's illegal is the sort of unrestricted sales that can take place via the Internet....'As a German Justice Ministry spokesman explained at the time: "If you go to a bookshop, the bookseller can have a look at you and decide if you are really interested, like if you are a student. It's not the book that's forbidden, it's selling it to everyone. If you sell it through the Internet, you don't know who wants to buy the book; you give it to everybody, and that's forbidden."'I think I like the idea of flatly banning the book better. Still, I wanted to 'blog this because it's an interesting issue in places like Germany where intent can matter. (I'd submit that a person in a store can't truly do a heck of a lot better then a website, but it at least makes people feel better, right?)
Europe Will Not Allow Software Patents for Another Year
11/30/2000; 11:59:15 AM
'First, I should point out that the Conference agreed not to delete computer programs from the list of non-patentable inventions. For the meantime, the existing legal position therefore remains unchanged.... As before, computer-implemented inventions can be patented if they involve a new and inventive technical contribution to the state of the art. Technical solutions for use in data processing or for carrying out methods of doing business therefore remain patentable.
'This follows from the concept of invention itself, which draws a clear distinction between technical solutions and non-technical methods. On this basis, patents cannot be granted for computer programs or business methods which are not of a technical nature.'
Online Privacy's New Hot Button: Access
Privacy from Companies
11/29/2000; 4:41:51 PM
'Forget the opt-out, opt-in debate: The thorniest online privacy issue on Capitol Hill is whether Web retailers, network advertisers, and other companies should be required to provide consumers with the ability to access, correct, and delete their personal data from the firms' databases. "If the health-care industry can figure out how to provide access in a fair way, then we will have a framework for financial firms, online retailers, and everyone else," says Lawrence Ponemon, the head of Pricewaterhouse Coopers' privacy compliance unit.'
Yes, we should be allowed. And it should be extended off-line, too. If you can't handle the expense of this, then stop collecting the data.
This is so fair it's a miracle that anybody thinks that it might be unfair. How many people's lives have been ruined by inaccurate data that nobody would let them change? These problems aren't going to be made any less serious on the Internet.
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