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cyberlaw informer #65


Welcome to the 65th issue of the Mishpat Cyberlaw Informer - Law on the Internet newsletter from http://mishpat.net

 

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In this issue:

1. Introduction

2. Interception and Password Protected Sites

3. The Cyberlaw Reader

4. Computer & Internet Law News and Updates

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1. Introduction

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I would like to welcome the many new subscribers who joined the Cyberlaw Informer since the previous issue.

I'm sorry that this issue is a little late. Work pressure at my "real" job forced me to cut back a little on the Cyberlaw Informer project, I hope to be back to the biweekly schedule soon.

An interview with me was published on work.com's law section at: http://www.work.com/index.asp?layout=story_ind_inside&vertical=Professional+Services&industry=Law&doc_id=29490 Your comments are of course welcome.

 

This issue's feature article summarizes a recent decision by a US appeals court, finding that accessing a password protected web site without authorization is equal to "intercepting" communications. As will be explained, this ruling might have a great impact on digital privacy and the powers of law enforcement.

As usual you will find the recommended cyberlaw reader, and the cyberlaw news and at the end of this newsletter. Due to the length of this issue, there will be no resource review, that section will be back in the next issue.

You can recommend resources and discuss various cyberlaw topics at the message boards http://mishpat.net/cgi-bin/bbs/UltraBoard.pl

I hope you enjoy reading the newsletter. Comments, tips, and articles are always welcome. Send them to mailto:editor@mishpat.net

The Mishpat Cyberlaw Informer Archive (issues 1-63) is located at: http://mishpat.net/cyberlaw/archive

 

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2. Interception and Password Protected Sites

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In a decision that might have great impact on online privacy protection, the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit recently ruled that accessing a password-protected website without authorization is considered illegal wiretapping.

Although the decision is based on US federal law, the reasoning might influence the interpretation of similar laws in other countries.

 

Factual background

===============


Robert Konop, a pilot for Hawaiian Airlines, Inc., maintained a website where he posted bulletins critical of his employer, its officers, and the incumbent union, Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). Many of those criticisms related to Konop's opposition to labor concessions which Hawaiian sought from ALPA.


Konop controlled access to his website by requiring visitors to login with a user name and password. Konop provided user names to certain employees, but not to managers or union representatives. To obtain a password and view the site, an eligible employee had to register and consent to an agreement not to disclose the site's contents.


About December 14, 1995, Hawaiian vice president James Davis contacted pilot Gene Wong and asked permission to use Wong's name to access Konop's site. Wong had never logged into the site to create an account, and had never agreed to Konop's terms of use and nondisclosure conditions. When Davis accessed the site using Wong's name, he clicked a button indicating that he was Wong and agreed to Konop's terms and conditions.



Later that day, Konop received a call from the union chairman of ALPA, Reno Morella. Morella told Konop that Hawaiian president Bruce Nobles was upset by accusations that Nobles was suspected of fraud and by other disparaging statements published by Konop. From this conversation with Morella, Konop understood that Nobles had obtained the contents of his website.

Konop claims that his records indicate over 34 logins by Davis (as Wong and another pilot). Konop filed suit based on Davis' viewing and use of his website.

The district court ruled in favor of Hawaiian on all claims, and Konop appealed.

 

 

The Appeal

===============

Judge Boochever delivered the unanimous appeals court decision, reversing and remanding to the district court. Following is a summary of the ruling.

 

Protection against eavesdropping on modern electronic communications was added to the US Wiretap Act and enacted in the Stored Communications Act by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 ("ECPA").

Title I of the ECPA amended the Wiretap Act to prohibit unauthorized "interception" of "electronic communications." Title II of the ECPA created the Stored Communications Act, which prohibits unauthorized "access" to "a facility through which an electronic communication service is provided."


Civil damages are substantially greater under the Wiretap Act than under the Stored Communications Act. As such, it is a significant question whether using false pretenses to view a website constitutes unlawful interception in violation of the Wiretap Act, or unlawful access in violation of the Stored Communications Act, or both.

 

Interception

----------------


Judge Boochever noted that the word "intercept" entails actually acquiring the contents of a communication, whereas the word "access" merely involves being in position to acquire the contents of a communication. In other words, "access" is, for all intents and purposes, a lesser included offense (or tort, as the case may be) of "interception."


The Wiretap Act and the Stored Communications Act do not discriminate between wire communications based on whether they are in transit or storage, but instead attach different consequences to invasions of privacy based on degrees of intrusion.

 

The court rejected the interpretation previously adopted by the Appeals Court for the 5th Circuit, and said that it was unpersuaded that Congress intended one definition of "intercept" to govern "wire communications" and another to govern "electronic communications."


The Wiretap Act defines "electronic communication" as a "transfer" of information without expressly including storage of information. In contrast, the corresponding definition of "wire communication" does expressly include storage of information.

However, the court noted that it is plausible that the express inclusion of stored communications in the definition of "wire communication" was intended not for purposes of contrast, but for clarification.

This addition was necessary because wire communication does not necessarily include storage of that communication. Electronic communication, on the other hand, cannot successfully be completed without being stored. 'Electronic storage' is a part of the entire communication process, and thus, the definition of `electronic communication' impliedly covers 'electronic storage', whether or not that definition includes the specific referto 'electronic storage'. Therefore, it was not necessary for Congress to explicitly include the concept of storage in its definition of electronic communication.

The court continued by stating that an electronic communication in storage is no more or less private than an electronic communication in transmission. Distinguishing between the two for purposes of protection from interception is "irrational".

A 1996 amendment to the Wiretap Act also suggests Congress understood electronic communications to include stored communications unless specified otherwise. The amendment appended a proviso to the Wiretap Act's definition by specifying: "'electronic communication' ... does not include ... electronic funds transfer information stored by a financial institution..." The exclusion of certain kinds of stored information from the definition of electronic communication implies that Congress understood the term in ordinary circumstances to include stored information.



The court added that it would be senseless to hold that Konop's messages his fellow pilots would have been protected from interception had he recorded them and delivered them through a secure voice bulletin board accessible by telephone, but not when he set them down in electronic text and delivered them through a secure web server accessible by a personal computer.

Accordingly the court held that the Wiretap Act protects electronic communications from interception when stored to the same extent as when in transit.



Exceptions

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This ruling raises the question whether every page view is unlawful interception.

The court explained that among the Wiretap Act's many exceptions, one provides: "It shall not be unlawful ... for any person ... to intercept or access an electronic communication made through an electronic communication system that is configured so that such electronic communication is readily accessible to the general public."

This exception means that any viewing any page that is accessible to the public (e.g. not encrypted and not password protected) is allowed.

However, this exception does not exempt Davis' conduct, because Konop's website was configured to require user names and passwords that were available only to certain non-management Hawaiian employees.



Another exception provides that it is not a violation of the Wiretap Act to intercept an electronic communication where "one of the parties to the communication has given prior consent to such interception"

I assume that whenever a site is publicly available, there is at least implied consent from the site owner to any visitor of the site.


The court explained that it would be a mistake to characterize Wong as an intended recipient of the contents of Konop's website merely because Konop included Wong's name on the list of pilots eligible to create passwords and log in.

The additional steps that one with such an account had to take in order to gain access to the site indicate that the intended recipients of site's contents were not all Hawaiian pilots for whom such provisional accounts had been provided, but only those who agreed to Konop's terms of use. Because Wong was at most a potential recipient at the time that Davis initially viewed the contents of the website, Wong was not one of the "parties to the communication" of the website's contents even under a broad construction of the term.

Court Conclusion

------------------------


The court concluded that the contents of secure websites are "electronic communications" in intermediate storage that are protected from unauthorized interception under the Wiretap Act. Because Konop raised material issues of fact regarding his claims of interception under the Wiretap Act, he has also raised material issues of fact regarding his claims that Davis committed the lesser included offense of unauthorized access in violation of the Stored Communications Act.

 

The court further ruled in favor of Konop on most of his other claims based on Labor laws, and accepted Konop's argument that accessing the website interfered with Konop's union organizing efforts, as employers are generally prohibited from engaging in surveillance of union organizing activities

 

Comments

=============

As noted above, this ruling is based on US federal laws. However, since many countries have laws that define criminal acts (and torts) of "interception" and "access", this decision might have a great impact on the way such laws are interpreted. Usually interception carries harsher punishments (in criminal procedures) or higher damages (in case of civil torts).

 

One point that is very important to note is that although the court describes "access" as a lesser included offense (or tort) of "interception", it is not always so.

The courts analysis is only (if at all) correct in regards to "communications". In case the intruder gains access to a user's private computer, and reads locally stored files that where not meant to be sent to others, then there is no "interception" because the files were not "communicated".

In Konop's case, the files were uploaded to the server, and stored on the server, as part of "communicating" them to the people who later download them from the site. In that sense the files stored on the server were stored as part of a communication procedure.

 

The answers get a little more complicated when we consider a situation in which a third-party accesses the files not directly at the server, but from a computer cache memory. In such a case the files have already reached there intended recipient (the person who downloaded them from the server) and are therefor no longer "in transit".

It seems plausible to assume that such a case (accessing files that have already reached the recipient) would be considered "access" but not "interception" since at the time they were accessed they were no longer part of an electronic communication.

 

While this might seem like a hypothetical discussion, it is actually an issue that arises on a daily basis.

When law enforcement officials want to intercept a communication, they need to obtain a wiretapping order. On the other hand, when searching a computer for stored data ("access") they need only a search and seizure warrant. The latter warrants are usually easier to obtain (it of course varies from country to country, but there are almost always greater barriers for obtaining a wiretapping order).

This means that defining files stored on a web server as part of a communication procedure, and therefor requiring a wiretapping order in order to access them, is no doubt a limit on law enforcement officials.

These issues become even more complicated when we consider services such as web based email (e.g. Hotmail and Yahoo mail). It is almost impossible to know in advance if messages in a user's mailbox are still part of a "communication" (i.e. the intended recipient has not yet logged on and read the messages) or whether they are "stored files" (i.e. the intended recipient has read and archived the messages, thus ending the communication procedure).

 

Although the Konop decision offers a new approach to defining "interception" it leaves many issues, such as those mentioned above, unresolved.

 

Full ruling available at:

http://laws.findlaw.com/9th/9955106.html

 

 

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3. The Cyberlaw Reader

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Each issue of the Cyberlaw Reader links to new articles related to cyberlaw and online legal research. Your recommendations are welcome, send suggestions to mailto:editor@mishpat.net

 

* Field Guide for Investigating Computer Crime *

By Timothy E. Wright

This excellent 6 part (so far) seis an introduction to the relatively new field of Computer Forensics. These articles provide a field guide for the computer fraud and abuse investigator. The guide addresses questions and issues fundamental to investigating computer crime, and details a method for doing search and seizures of physical computer evidence, and information discovery of logical computer evidence. http://www.securityfocus.com/focus/ih/articles/crimeguide1.html

http://www.securityfocus.com/focus/ih/articles/crimeguide2.html

http://www.securityfocus.com/focus/ih/articles/crimeguide3.html

http://www.securityfocus.com/focus/ih/articles/crimeguide4.html

http://www.securityfocus.com/focus/ih/articles/crimeguide5.html

http://www.securityfocus.com/focus/ih/articles/crimeguide6.html

(Links to the six parts published so far)

 

 

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4. Cyberlaw news and updates

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The Cyberlaw Informer brings you the latest news about online and computer law, with links to the freports available on the web.

 

Top news

========

* Israeli Youth murdered in "Internet killing" *

Ofir Rahum, a 16-year-old Israeli, was murdered by Palestinians after being lured to a meeting with a Palestinian woman close to the Palestinian city of Ramallah. Apparently Rahum, who had his own web site, developed an online relationship with the woman he met in an Internet chat room. The woman set up a meeting with Rahum, which turned out to be an ambush in which three Palestinian men shot and stabbed Rahum.

Sally Najjar, the Palestinian woman suspected of being the one who lured Rahum to the meeting, was traced and arrested by the Israeli police and the Israeli secret service within 48 hours.

http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,41300,00.html

 

* Deep linking stopped in Europe *

StepStone, an online recruitment company, obtained an injunction in Germany preventing Danish rival OFiR from linking to its pages. The injunction is based on new European laws on database and copyright protection. OFiR allegedly used the link to StepStone's online job advertisements to substantiate a claim about the large quantity of jobs available via its own site.

http://news.ft.com/ft/gx.cgi/ftc?pagename=View&c=Article&cid=FT3YQ8AC2IC

 

* Famous hackers plead guilty *

The 16-year-old hacker known as Mafiaboy pleaded guilty to 56 charges related to attacks last year on some of the largest commercial sites worldwide including Amazon, CNN, eBay Yahoo. Sentencing hearing is scheduled for April. As a minor, the maximum penalty that the youth faces is two years in prison and a $650 fine

http://www.newsbytes.com/news/01/160721.html

Ehud Tenenbaum, the Israeli hacker known as "The Analyzer" pleaded guilty in Israel to the 1998 attacks on unclassified US Defense Department systems. The 21-year-old hacker admitted cracking US and Israeli computers, and plead guilty to conspiracy, wrongful infiltration of computerized material, disruption of computer use and destroying evidence. Sentencing is set for 13 March. Tenenbaum is now chief technology officer at computer security consultancy.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/6/15938.html

 

* Italy asserts worldwide jurisdiction in defamation case *

An Italian court ruled that foreign-based Internet sites that contravene Italian law can be shut down. The ruling arises from a defamation suit brought by a resident of the city of Genoa against foreign websites claiming he kidnapped his daughters.

http://www.vny.com/cf/News/upidetail.cfm?QID=151018

 

* Microsoft under attack *

A hacker brought down Microsoft's sites just hours after the company fixed a technician's error that had disabled its sites for a full day. Microsoft's sites, including Microsoft.com, Expedia, MSNBC, and Hotmail, were brought down by a distributed denial of service attack, in which hackers gain control of many computers and use them to flood the target with bogus requests for data.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A47581-2001Jan25.html

 

* EFF files appeal in DeCSS case *

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) appealed an injunction against 2600 Magazine, preventing it from publishing and linking to information about how DVDs work as part of its news coverage of the debate surrounding the encryption applied to DVDs. The banned information is a computer program called DeCSS that decrypts the data contained on DVDs.

In January 2000 major motion picture studios sued the magazine under the "anti-circumvention" rules of the DMCA. The District Court decided that those rules prevent 2600 from publishing or even linking to DeCSS. The appeal argues that the District Court erred in failing to apply the strict First Amendment scrutiny that is required before forcing news magazines to take down news stories.

http://www.eff.org/IP/Video/MPAA_DVD_cases/20010119_ny_eff_appeal_brief.html

 

* Microsoft and Sun settle Java dispute *

Microsoft will pay rival Sun Microsystems $20 million as part of a settlement to Sun's three-year-old lawsuit over Java technology. The settlement grants Microsoft limited use of Java technology for seven years, but bars the software giant from displaying the Java compatible trademark.

http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1003-200-4578025.html

 

 

Intellectual Property

===============

* SDMI cracker can't tell how *

Dr. Felten, an associate professor of computer science at Princeton University, was advised not to publicize the details of his success in cracking the security of a digital music copyright protection system (SDMI) because it could violate the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which makes it a crime to "offer to the public" a way to gain unauthorized access to any copyright-protected work that has been secured by a technology like encryption.

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/01/15/technology/15TUNE.html

 

* Priceline an Expedia settle patent suits *

Microsoft's Expedia and Priceline.com settled patent lawsuits after Expedia agreed to engage in a royalty arrangement with Priceline. Priceline sued Expedia in October 1999, claiming Microsoft's travel spin-off violated three patents covering its buyer-driven reverse auction commerce system.

http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1007-200-4424377.html

 

* French tax blank CDs *

The French Government will impose taxes on blank CDs in a bid to recoup some of the lost copyright royalties due to copyright infringement.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_1120000/1120199.stm

 

* mySimon damages slashed *

A federal district court judge in Indianapolis reduced a jury verdict against Cnet's mySimon e-shopping comparison subsidiary from $26.8 million to $50,010. A jury found that mySimon infringed the trademark of Simon Property Group, a real estate investment trust based in Indianapolis. The court also ruled that if the jury's verdict on trademark infringement is upheld on appeal, mySimon will be required to change its name and domain, but ruled that no changes are required until after all appeals are exhausted.

http://www.internetnews.com/ec-news/article/0,,4_570341,00.html

 

* Microsoft wins $1.2 million from Melbourne pirates *

The Australian Federal Court awarded $1.2 million to Microsoft in the largest ever damages judgment against an Australian software pirate.

http://www.it.fairfax.com.au/breaking/20010111/A12967-2001Jan11.html

 

* etoy v. eToys - take II *

The European Internet artists group etoy filed a complaint in a US court against online toy retailer eToys Inc., alleging trademark infringement. The suit breaks a cease-fire which followed the retailer's brief success in shutting down the etoy artists' site at the end of 1999, arguing that its customers might be offended by the site's content. After the site was shut down, etoy supporters rallied to the artists' defense, threatening to block the retailer's site, forcing eToys to cave in.

http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,41438,00.html

 

* Verio backs Cryptome *

Internet service provider Verio is standing up to the movie industry by refusing to remove Cryptome, a site the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) says posted the DeCSS code on hissite, hosted by Verio. Cryptome owner said he didn't post DeCSS but did put up a now-sealed court document that contained the code for CSS, the entertainment industry's scrambling system that DeCSS is designed to crack.

http://www.zdnet.com/zdnn/stories/news/0,4586,2678087,00.html

 

* Eolas claims victory in patent suit against Microsoft *

Eolas claims that the US District Court in Chicago ruled in its favor in a lawsuit against Microsoft, alleging the software giant infringed on a Eolas patent in creating programs such as Windows and Internet Explorer.

http://www.newsbytes.com/news/01/160425.html

 

* eBay sued over TV ad *

Real restate giant Re/Max is suing eBay for a television commercial that uses "for sale" signs that Re/Max says look similar to its own.

http://www0.mercurycenter.com/svtech/news/breaking/ap/docs/830534l.htm

 

* Intel and ATI settle patent dispute *

Intel and ATI Technologies reached a broad cross-licensing agreement that settles a patent infringement lawsuit.

http://www.globetechnology.com/archive/gam/News/20010111/RATII.html

 

* Axcelis sues Applied Materials over patent *

Axcelis Technologies sued semiconductor manufacturer Applied Materials for allegedly infringing on a patent for ion implant technology used to make more powerful chips.

http://digitalmass.boston.com/news/daily/01/010901/axcelis.html

 

* Fight over educational publishing *

The Learning Channel, a unit of Discovery Communications, sued Pearson P.L.C., the world's largest educational publisher, alleging Pearson's learningnetwork.com misleads users into believing that it is associated with the Learning Channel, a cable network.

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/01/23/technology/23LEAR.html

 

* Novell wins piracy lawsuit *

Novell was awarded more than $600,000 in its case against a California man accused of pirating its software.

http://www0.mercurycenter.com/svtech/news/breaking/merc/docs/077948.htm

 

* SIIA files anti piracy lawsuits *

The Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) sued two individuals, accusing them of selling illegally copied software titles such as Macromedia Dreamweaver and Adobe Photoshop.

http://www.newsbytes.com/news/01/161074.html

 

* Online broadcasting ruling appealed *

The US National Association of Broadcasters and several broadcasting companies filed a lawsuit seeking a review of a ruling by the US Copyright Office that means they must pay royalties for music played on the Internet in simulcasts of AM/FM radio broadcasts.

http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1005-200-4619329.html

 

* NetZero wins round in Juno patent battle *

NetZero won a temporary restraining order against Juno Online Services as part of a patent infringement suit in which Juno, one of the largest ISPs, is accused of using NetZero's patent for displaying ad windows.

http://www.thestandard.net/article/display/0,1151,21327,00.html

 

* TVT drops Napster lawsuit *

TVT Records, one of the largest US independent record labels, dropped its copyright infringement claims against song-swap service Napster. TVT said the reason for the move is to provide its support to Napster's new fee-based service.

http://www0.mercurycenter.com/svtech/news/breaking/internet/docs/788672l.htm

 

* File swapping service shut services due to piracy concerns *

FreeDrive shut down its file-swapping service that was created for sharing personal files such as family photos but which instead became a haven for software pirates.

http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1005-201-4565328-0.html

 

 

Domain names

===========

* US court to rule on Canadian domain dispute *

Elliott Salmons, 23, from Toronto, was sued over domain names by Canadian company Heathmount A.E. Corp., in Virginia. Although both parties are Canadian, Heathmount sued in the US because under a unique provision in a US anti-cybersquatting law, it can sue the domain names rather their owner (the registrar is located in Virginia). The defendants asked the case be dismissed on the grounds that Canada provided a more appropriate forum. But the Virginia court expressed doubt about the Canadian court's ability to handle the case noting Canada doesn't have a law similar to the U.S. anti-cybersquatting act.

http://www.nationalpost.com/tech/eworld/story.html?f=/stories/20010113/435695.html

 

* Government seized domains *

Two Spanish nationals pleaded guilty in Los Angeles federal court to selling counterfeit software online and agreed to forfeit $900,000 in profits and the site's domain name to the government. It is believed to be the first time prosecutors claimed domain names as part of a criminal case.

http://www0.mercurycenter.com/svtech/news/front/docs/dom010601.htm

 

* First Japanese character UDRP claim *

In the first dispute over Asian-script Internet domain names, a Japanese company filed a complaint to retrieve its cyberspace name - which in English is Sankyo.com.

http://www.computerworld.com/cwi/stories/0,1199,NAV47-68-84-88_STO56149,00.html

 

* Volkswagen won vw.net *

Th4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Volkswagen's right to the domain name vw.net which was registered by online service provider Virtual Works. Court records indicate that Virtual Works contacted Volkswagen in December 1998 and said it would auction vw.net to the highest bidder if the automaker did not make an offer within 24 hours. Full ruling in PDF format:

http://pacer.ca4.uscourts.gov/opinion.pdf/001356.P.pdf

 

* New Belgian domain names rules *

DNS BE, the Belgian domain names registrar, lowered its requirements regarding acceptable ".be" domain names, and names can now be registered by non-Belgians.

http://www.dns.be/eng/index.htm

 

* ICANN names new CEO *

ICANN, the organization that manages, among other responsibilities, the Internet domain name system, chose that former University of California CIO M. Stuart Lynn to take over as its president and CEO in March.

http://computerworld.com/cwi/story/0,1199,NAV47_STO56795_NLTpm,00.html

 

* ICANN pays lawyers *

ICANN paid $465,553.67 to its law firm Jones Day Reavis and Pogue. The decision was made by the six-man Executive Committee of ICANN, at a meeting that excluded at-large board members.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/6/16084.html

 

* Shoot down over domain *

Gun-control group Handgun Control Inc., along with its legal arm, the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, threatened to file a lawsuit against a pro-gun rights organization named the Center For the Prevention of Handgun Violence, claiming the pro-gun group is cybersquatting. The threatened legal action has the pro-gun rights organization to file a suit of its own against Handgun Control.

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=21367

 

* Attempt at reverse hijacking *

DiamondWare Ltd., a software development company, won its fight to keep DW.COM, which it has used since 1994. Deutsche Welle, the German government-sponsored broadcast company, filed a UDRP complaint, but an arbitration panel ruled it was clear case of reverse domain name hijacking.

http://arbiter.wipo.int/domains/decisions/html/d2000-1202.html

 

 

Cyber Crime

===============

* Pedophiles plead guilty *

Seven men pleaded guilty in the UK to conspiring to distribute indecent images of children. The men were arrested as part of a worldwide criminal investigation which led to the arrest of more than 100 men suspected of belonging to an Internet pedophile ring.

http://www.thestandard.net/article/display/0,1151,21391,00.html

 

* Virus writer arrested in Taiwan *

Taiwan's Criminal Investigation Bureau computer crimes division arrested a local college student for allegedly creating and spreading a Trojan program that allows hackers to gain remote control over compromised computers.

http://www.chinatimes.com.tw/english/esociety/90010501.htm

 

* FBI, Private sector join forces *

IBM and more than 500 other companies joined forces with the FBI to fight cybercrime, setting up InfraGard, a system that lets the FBI and the companies alert each other and share information about attacks.

http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1005-200-4388133.html

 

* Brothers plead guilty to online date rape drug sales *

Brian and Kenneth Suggs, a pair of Arkansas brothers, pleaded guilty to using the Internet to sell date rape drug kits. Under terms of the plea agreement, the Suggs will be sent to prison for three to five years when they are sentenced March 23.

http://www.newsbytes.com/news/01/160929.html

 

* IRC under attack *

A Romanian hacker launched a major distributed denial-of-service attack, forcing Undernet, one of the largest Internet Relay Chat (IRC) networks, to shut down much of its service.

http://www.securityfocus.com/templates/article.html?id=135

 

* Los Alamos worker arrested for hacking *

An employee of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the US's top nuclear weapons research facility, has been arrested on charges of computer hacking and tampering with a witness while a student, before he joined Los Alamos.

http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1005-200-4438378.html

 

* Arrests of new year hacking planners *

FBI agents arrested a Seattle youth as part of an investigation into a ring of seven juvenile hackers - three in the US and four in Israel - who are suspected of plotting virus and denial-of-service attacks on Christmas and New Year's Eve 2001. Four Israeli hackers were also arrested.

http://www.thestandard.net/article/display/0,1151,21489,00.html

 

* Pro-Napster hacker boasted too much *

Robert Lyttle, a California teenager who showed his support for Napster by defacing sites - including some operated by the US military - led investigators to his house, and told reporters that he was indeed the hacker.

http://www.newsbytes.com/news/01/160475.html

 

* NASA caught hacker *

NASA nabbed a hacker who allegedly broke into one of its sites and left a message urging the space agency to fix security problems.

http://www.zdnet.com/zdnn/stories/news/0,4586,2671675,00.html

 

* Egghead.com claims hacker didn't get credit cards *

Online retailer Egghead.com said that the hacker who broke into its systems last month probably did not abscond with any of the 3 million or so credit card numbers in its customer database.

http://www.newsbytes.com/news/01/160173.html

 

 

Securities

========

* FTC settles with investment software maker *

Indigo Investment Systems, a company that claimed its software could help investors reap huge profits from the stock market with little risk, agreed to settle charges filed by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Indigo agreed to immediately stop making any unsubstantiated claims about the ability of their products to predict earnings or generate profits for customers.

http://www.newsbytes.com/news/01/161143.html

 

* Canada warns from online stock 'tips' *

Canada's securities regulators warned investors not to rely on information they get from Internet chat rooms or bulletin boards because much of it may be false or misleading.

http://www.globetechnology.com/archive/gam/News/20010123/RNETT.html

 

 

Privacy & Spam

===============

* DoubleClick gets FTC approval *

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) closed its investigation of the data-collection practices of online advertising network DoubleClick, saying the company has not violated its privacy policy. The investigation began a year ago after the company announced plans to combine consumer information collected online with personally identifiable customer data from its merged subsidiary, Abacus Direct. This combination never took place.

http://www.thestandard.net/article/display/0,1151,21584,00.html

 

* Michigan settles eGames privacy dispute *

Michigan's Attorney General settled with eGames Inc., ending a dispute in which the AG claimed the vendor of family-oriented game software was not pradequate warning that some of its products allowed third-party advertisers to secretly interact with customers' computers over the Internet. eGames agreed to stop producing software containing the spyware by March 31, although it will be allowed to sell existing inventory containing the technology.

http://www.newsbytes.com/news/01/160454.html

 

* Agent charged with selling data from law enforcement computers *

A US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent pleaded not-guilty to charges of illegally selling sensitive information about private citizens pulled from law enforcement computers.

http://www.securityfocus.com/templates/article.html?id=142

 

* US defense department interested in kids' surfing habits *

In a Freedom of Information Act request, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) requested correspondence between the US Defense Department and filtering provider N2H2 and an or Internet marketing research firm. EPIC claims the Defense Department paid $15,000 for reports about where school kids are going online.

http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,41476,00.html

 

 

Online Speech

================

* US Supreme court rejects Virginia government-porn-law challenge *

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a free-speech challenge by university professors to a Virginia law that bars public employees from using state computers to access sexually explicit material on the Internet. A U.S. appeals court ruled by an 8-4 vote that banning access to the material on computers owned or leased by the state was consistent with the First Amendment.

http://www.newsbytes.com/news/01/160217.html

 

* Ford settles with online critic *

Ford Motor dropped its legal battle against Robert Lane, who operates blueovalnews.com. Ford claimed Lane illegally published trade secrets after documents detailing the automaker's future product plans and business strwere posted on the site. The sides reached a settlement under which Lane agreed not to post entire Ford internal documents but he will be allowed to publish articles based on those documents.

http://detnews.com/2001/technews/0101/20/b01-177520.htm

 

* US Supreme court to hear child-porn constitutional challenge *

The US Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments about the constitutionality of a 1996 law that expanded the ban on child pornography to include computer-generated images designed to simulate child pornography. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the legislation was unconstitutional. The US Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to take up the case.

http://www.newsbytes.com/news/01/160835.html

 

* MSN removes child-porn site *

MSN, Microsoft's Internet service provider, shut down a user's Swedish-language site that featured hundreds of pornographic pictures of children.

http://www.nandotimes.com/technology/story/0,1643,500296776-500473000-503213505-0,00.html

 

* Police arrest online critic *

Salem Police arrested Christopher Hemmah, 19, for creating several obscene Web sites that mocked the Salem Police Department.

http://www.boston.com/news/daily/13/obscene.htm

 

* Turkish children arrested in Internet cafes *

The police in Kirikkale, Turkey, detained around 130 children for hanging out in Internet cafes that officials feared would corrupt them.

http://www.thestandard.net/article/display/0,1151,21354,00.html

 

 

E-commerce

===============

* eBay fake memorabilia case dismissed *

A California judge ruled that eBay is not liable for the sale of fake sports memorabilia on its auction site. Buyers sued eBay claiming they bought baseball bats, trading cards etc. with forged signatures of professional athletes, and argued that eBay was liable under a California law that requires sellers of sports memorabilia to provide certificates of authenticity with those items. The ruling means eBay isn't responsible if a third party abuses its site.

http://www0.mercurycenter.com/svtech/news/breaking/ap/docs/864429l.htm

 

* Gateway must refund Australian PC customers *

Personal computer vendor Gateway will refund customers, after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) found that the company misled them with advertising promotions.

http://www.newsbytes.com/news/01/160406.html

 

 

Regulation

===========

* Argentina to use the net to fight corruption *

In an aim to reduce corruption, Argentina mandated its 23 provincial governments to publish all official transactions on the Internet. Under the new law the provinces must report their budget, contract and payroll information on the Net every month for public review.

http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,41132,00.html

 

* Clinton administration eases computer exports *

In its final high-tech policy initiative, the Clinton administration further eased restrictions on the export of fast commercial computers.

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/01/11/technology/11EXPO.html

 

* US Supreme Court to hear cable Internet access *

The US Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that overturned a law allowing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate prices that telephone and power companies charge cable operators for sharing their lines to offer high-speed Internet access.

http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,41330,00.html

 

 

Labor

========

* Dutch employers can monitor employees' Internet usage *

The Registratiekamer, the Dutch Data Protection Registrar, says that under a new data protection ordinance employers now have the right to monitor web and email usage by their staff. However, companies must discuss the monitoring system and its usage with the unions.

http://www.newsbytes.com/news/01/160295.html

 

* Connecticut sues Walker Digital over layoffs *

Connecticut's attorney general is suing Walker Digital Corp. for failure to give employees 60 days advance notice of layoffs, as required by law.

http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1007-200-4451073.html

 

* Workers suspended at Ford over net-porn *

Three workers have been suspended at Ford's largest UK factory on suspicion of downloading porn from the Internet.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/6/16144.html

 

 

Misc.

=====

* Microsoft and Amazon ads on terrorist site *

Amazon and Microsoft pulled advertisements off a site for the Lebanese guerrilla group Hizbollah, saying they were posted without their consent. Amazon said that because the company has more than 600,000 affiliated sites it does not review every individual member before admitting them to the program.

http://www0.mercurycenter.com/svtech/news/breaking/internet/docs/852252l.htm

 

* Verizon sued over slow high-speed installations *

Verizon Communications is sued by customers frustrated that it took the company weeks or months to get their high-speed Internet access installed.

http://www.newsbytes.com/news/01/160639.html

 

* Online adoption *

The British government warned UK Internet service providers from carrying ads for illegal adoption agencies and services. The warning follows the controversy over the Internet adoption of two baby girls from the US by a couple from North Wales that paid several thousand dollars to a US mother for the rights to adopt her twins, but other couples claim they too paid money to the twins' mother.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/6/16292.html

The case also led to conflicting rulings as to custody over the children.

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/01/25/technology/25TWIN.html

 

 

That is all for this time,

Yedidya (Didi) M. Melchior

Editor

 



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