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News from ISOC


The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Unsolicited
Commercial Electronic Mail Act of 2000 on 18 July by a vote
of 427-1. Under the bill, Internet service providers (ISPs)
can set their own anti-spam policies, which senders must
obey as long as the policy is published. Also, ISPs and
recipients of spam can sue for $500 per spam -- a cause of
action that recipients of junk faxes already enjoy -- and
the U.S. Federal Trade Commission can fine violators of
anti-spam policies. The bill also requires all commercial e-
mail (CE), solicited or not, to have a working return
address, and senders of CE must stop sending e-mail when
requested to do so. Forged headers on CE would become
illegal under the bill. It now goes to the U.S. Senate,
where it must be reconciled with anti-spam bills already
introduced in the Senate. For more information see
http://www.cauce.org/newsletter/v4n1.shtml (Coalition
Against Unsolicited Email Newsletter, July 2000)


South African President Thabo Mbeki has pledged to bring
Africa into the electronic information age, saying that the
availability of technology and its dissemination are crucial
for the continent's economic and social development. In a
speech following the conclusion of the G-8 summit held in
Okinawa, Japan, he said that the focus needs to be on wiring
the continent. Excluding South Africa, the continent has 14
million phone lines -- fewer than either Manhattan or Tokyo.
Even in South Africa, there were only 829 information
technology (IT) engineers and 1,416 IT professionals at the
end of 1999, a fraction of those in either the U.S. or
European countries. Mbeki, along with the presidents of
Nigeria and Algeria, was instrumental in lobbying for the
Dot Force (Digital Opportunity Task Force), which will
investigate ways for poorer nations to harness the Internet
and e-commerce. The G-8 has committed itself to the Dot
Force, which will present its findings at next year's summit
in Genoa, Italy. For more information see
http://sa.internet.com (Internet News South Africa, 25 July


The European Union has announced a plan to remove illegal
and harmful content from the Internet. Under its Internet
Action Plan, 10 new projects will promote safer use of the
Net. One project is establishing a network of hotlines
across Europe that the public can use to report illegal
Internet content; the hotlines will pass the reports onto
Internet service providers, the police, or other
authorities. Another project is the development of software
that rates and filters Internet content, intended for
parents to use to protect their children. The Internet
Action Plan is also funding awareness programs to educate
parents, teachers, and children about the downsides of the
Internet. A new call for proposals is currently under way.
The Plan, begun in 1998, runs until 2002. For more
information see http://www.ispo.cec.be/iap (Nua Internet
Surveys, 3 July 2000)


The International, U.S., and Salt Lake City Olympic
committees have filed suit to have 1,804 Internet domain
names either deleted from the database of Internet addresses
or turned over to the Olympic committees. It is the largest
suit filed so far under the anticybersquatting act passed by
the U.S. Congress last fall; a previous case, involving
domain names using the word "Porsche," covered 260 domain
names. In most cases, Web sites have not been established
under the domain names in question -- they have only been
purchased. Some of the names involve pornography and
gambling, and some appear as if they are offering tickets to
Olympic events. In addition to creating false associations
with the Olympic name and damaging its value, the committees
argue that the Web sites could encroach on the Olympics'
sales of broadcasting rights to Olympic games coverage,
worldwide sponsorships, and licenses -- all major sources of
revenue for the Olympic committees. (Washington Post, 14
July 2000)


If you or your organization is not a member of the Internet
Society, show your support. Join the Internet Society today!
For individual membership, send e-mail to
membership@isoc.org. For organizational membership, see
http://www.isoc.org/isoc/membership or send e-
mail to org-membership@isoc.org.

 ** It might be a good idea for the IUCr R&D group to take out an
individual membership  


ICANN is still hot news, with procedures beginning for the 
attribution of new generic top-level domain names (to work 
along side .com, .net and .org). For more details, see
The at-large membership of ICANN has shot up in the last 
weeks to over 150000 members. Switzerland has nearly 2000, 
on a par with France, the UK, Canada and Australia. The 
overall large membership figure is mainly due to campaigns 
in countries like China and Germany. In the case of 
Germany, the popular press has been selling ICANN as the 
up-and-coming Internet Government, which is quite false. 
As Vint Cerf pointed out to me in Yokohama, there is 
considerable confusion about what governance means. 
ICANN is not a government of the Internet but governance 
of a part of the running of the Internet. It is this 
mixture of the current importance of the notion of 
governance and the confusion about exactly what it is, 
that has led us at ISOCGVA to work on organising an 
international event for next year on the question of 
models of governance. We are preparing this with other 
ISOC Chapters and various organisations around the 
world. If you are interested in getting involved, 
please write to me.

* E-mail Privacy

A new law is now in effect in the United Kingdom that makes
significant changes in expectations of privacy of electronic
mail. The law, known as the Regulation of Investigatory
Powers (RIP) Bill, was passed by Parliament on 26 July. It
requires Internet service providers to install hardware that
allows UK security agencies to gain access to electronic
message traffic upon issuance of a warrant. Intercepted
messages will be transferred to a new "Government Technical
Assistance Centre." The law has already been the subject of
considerable controversy and was amended in several respects
before passage. Criticism centers on the ease of obtaining
warrants for interception by security agencies. The law is
likely to face further challenge if the UK becomes a member
of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The
controversy in the UK parallels a similar controversy raging
in the United States over the Federal Bureau of
Investigation's (FBI's) use of Carnivore, a program that can
be used on special hardware installed by the FBI at a
service provider's location. The FBI claims that its program
is selective in reading e-mail traffic that is subject to a
search warrant, but the bureau has so far refused to allow
independent confirmation of the program's capabilities.

The law has already had an impact on the Internet
Engineering Task Force (IETF). At the IETF meeting in
Pittsburgh in August, an open meeting was scheduled to
discuss the possibility of moving the next scheduled meeting
to a country other than the UK. The IETF is also looking
into the possibility that members' laptops will be subject
to examination by UK customs authorities when the members
enter the UK, a practice that has also recently been the
subject of considerable controversy.

ISOC-England is looking for participants and speakers to
take part in an event being hosted by the Real Time Club in
London on 13 September 2000. The topic is control of the
Internet by governments and whether or not it is imperative
for the well-being of society. The topic will be proposed by
Harold Thimbleby, professor of Computing Research at
Middlesex University and coauthor of the Church of England
report on the Internet: Cybernauts Awake! Ethical and
Spiritual Implications of Cyberspace. It will be opposed by
Tricia Drakes, founder and former CEO of International
Banking Information Systems, Ltd, Deputy Master of the
Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, and chair
of the Internet Society of England's advisory board. Rachel
Burnett, who specializes in legal services relating to the
IT industry and is author of Outsourcing: The Legal Aspects,
will serve as chair. Speakers will be called by making
themselves known to the chair from the floor and can give a
five-minute oration. Dinner is provided with the ticket
price. To register, send e-mail to cdel@firsthand.net or
lstroombergen@itnto.org.uk, or see http://www.realtimeclub.org.uk

In an effort to promote electronic commerce, Germany's
Cabinet approved a bill last month giving electronic
signatures the same status as pen-and-paper signatures.
"With the new signature law," said Economics Minister Werner
Mueller, "we are setting the decisive course for a European
single market for e-commerce. I am confident that electronic
signatures will soon become a normality of daily life." The
bill, which is expected to be passed by Parliament in the
fall, will take effect next year. (Yahoo News and AP, 16
August 2000)

The Network Solutions Registry (NSI Registry) announced on
24 August that it will open a testbed for accredited
registrars to register domain names in non-English-language
character sets in .com., .net, and .org. Initially, the
testbed will allow users to register domain names with
registrars in three languages: Japanese, Korean, and Chinese
(traditional and simplified), and soon thereafter in
Spanish, Portuguese, and Arabic. The NSI Registry has plans
to establish a preliminary environment wherein Internet
Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers-accredited
registrars can analyze the Registry Registrar Protocol (RRP)
command functionality prior to entering an operational test
and evaluation environment.

In an official statement made available on its Web site
(http://www.icann.org), ICANN states that it "recognizes
that it is important that the Internet evolve to be more
accessible to those who do not use English-language
character sets. At the same time, the internationalization
of the Internet's domain name system must be accomplished
through standards that are open, nonproprietary, and fully
compatible with the Internet's existing end-to-end model and
that preserve globally unique naming in a universally
resolvable public name space. ICANN strongly supports the
principle stated by the IETF's working group on
Internationalized Domain Names. . . . With those goals in
mind, ICANNN intends to monitor closely the implementation
of non-English language character sets by NSI Registry in
the .com, .net, and .org top-level domains." Complete
information about the NSI Registry testbed can be found at

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) invites
public comments on a comprehensive study of the intellectual
property-related needs of holders of traditional knowledge.
The report is based on hundreds of interviews conducted by
WIPO during nine fact-finding missions in almost all regions
of the world in 1998 and 1999. Comments on the draft,
available at http://www.wipo.int/traditionalknowledge/report/, can be
sent to the WIPO through 30 October 2000. For more
information, see http://www.wipo.int/eng/newindex/press.htm.

Howard Flack        http://www.unige.ch/crystal/ahdf/Howard.Flack.html
Laboratoire de Cristallographie               Phone: 41 (22) 702 62 49
24 quai Ernest-Ansermet             mailto:Howard.Flack@cryst.unige.ch
CH-1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland                   Fax: 41 (22) 702 61 08

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