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U.S. House Passes Anti-Spam Bill
(Coalition Against Unsolicited Email Newsletter, July 2000) - 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. More information.

Flag image Copyright 1997 Xoom Software, Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.South African President Wants to E-nable Africa
(Internet News South Africa, 25 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. More information.

Internet Democracy Project Launched
Flag image Copyright 1997 Xoom Software, Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.(The Human Rights Information Network, 6 July 2000) - The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR), and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) have launched the Internet Democracy Project, a program dedicated to strengthening civil society's role in Internet governance. Hans Klein, chair of CPSR, noted that quasi-governmental organizations such as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) have been making key governance decisions about the Internet. He said that the views of "civil society" must be taken into account in making these decisions. The Project sponsored a forum, "Civil Society and the ICANN Elections," during the ICANN board meeting in Yokohama, Japan, last month. ICANN is not the only focus of the Project. "Our work will be broader and we will encourage the participation of the Public Voice at every opportunity," said Marc Rotenberg, EPIC's executive director. More information here or here.

EU Hopes to Rid Internet of Illegal Content
Flag image Copyright 1997 Xoom Software, Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.(Nua Internet Surveys, 3 July 2000) - 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. More information.

Olympics Sue over Domain Names
IOC Logo(Washington Post, 14 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.

Japan's PM Touts Information Technology
Flag image Copyright 1997 Xoom Software, Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.
(Reuters, 18 July 2000) - Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori has been touting information technology as the solution to Japan's domestic problems. Since the spotlight fell on Tokyo leading up to the G-8 summit in July, Mori has launched a panel to advise him on boosting Japan's competitive profile and an IT Strategy Council containing well-known people such as the chairman of Sony, Nobuyuki Idei. In a speech to his Industrial Rebirth Council, Mori pledged to set a schedule for making Japan more of an IT nation. He said that Japan's initial budget for the fiscal year starting in April 2001 would put priority on spending for IT infrastructure and related projects. Some disagree with his plans to increase spending. "What is important is to promote structural changes in Japan," said Jesper Koll, chief economist at Merrill Lynch in Tokyo. "To talk of promoting the Internet just skims the surface. It is all related -- to the basic structural reform of Japan overall and to administrative reform as well."

China's Post Office Advancing E-Commerce
Flag image Copyright 1997 Xoom Software, Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.
(Asia Internet News, 31 July 2000) - China's State Postal Bureau is clearing the way for e-commerce to take hold in China. Postal officials have been seeking input from distribution and Internet companies on how best to do this. The postal bureau has established 236 distribution centers, according to a report in People's Daily Online. In addition, it has recently begun offering limited banking services, delivering packages COD, and remitting payments to vendors, according to Shanghai e-commerce executives. The problems that electronic merchants face in China could be alleviated by the postal bureau's Green Card, a combination debit card and ATM card for postal services. More information.

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