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News Archive for July 23 to 29, 2000

News is archived for reference purposes. URLs on the Internet change, so some of these links may no longer work.

Tuesday, July 24

Digital Subscriber Line

Blockbuster video is signing deals to deliver movies on demand to DSL customers, though it isn't clear when the plans will be viable.

ATLANTIC-ACM released a report giving most DSL providers failing grades.


Criticism of WAP continues, with Web usability expert Jakob Nielsen denouncing WAP (Web Application Protocol), an industry standard for web-connected cell phones. The principal complaints - also outlined in a ZDNet article - are limited screen size, a lack of interoperability among cell phone browsers and a partitioning of content by cell phone companies who want to control the portal space.

ZDNet reports on progress in fixed wireless: high speed Internet sent from towers to stationary receiver dishes.

Deutsche Telekom has acquired VoiceStream Wireless in a deal worth US$51 billion.

Computer security and privacy

Two major security holes were discovered in Microsoft Internet software last week. The first embeds code in the time stamp of an email message. Because Outlook and Outlook Express perform calculations on the time stamp, the malicious code is calculated even if you don't read the message. Download the first patch here. The second bug uses Internet Explorer to install malicious code in Microsoft Access. Download the second patch here.

Congress heard testimony concerning the FBI's Carnivore system. The FBI maintains that the email-devouring Carnivore is not a threat to privacy, but some privacy groups and Congressmen are unconvinced.

The Federal Trade Commission settled charges against Toysmart. The agreement prevents Toysmart from selling its customer database, which the company's privacy policy claimed would never be sold. The database can only be sold as part of a sale of the entire Toysmart operation. If the company as a whole isn't sold, the customer data must be destroyed.

The FTC is also filing a complaint against Toysmart for violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA), which prevents businesses from collecting information about children under the age of 13 without their parents' consent. This is the first suit filed under the law, which went into effect April 21, 2000.

Richard Smith's Web Bug FAQ explains how third parties can track visitors using a combination of cookies and images served from another site.

Security experts are sounding alarms that Napster is a potential security threat.

Real Networks is in hot water again. This time the problem is a unique identifier sent from the users' computer to Real's servers.

A California man and a Texas woman have been arrested for stealing money from E*Trade accounts belonging to Ericsson employees and creating fraudulent credit card accounts with their identities. The California woman was a Ericsson employee working in the accounts payable department. The pair's ill-gotten gains totaled US$1.5 million.

Friday, July 27

56K.COM Scheduled Maintenance

To keep up with growing demand, 56K.COM will move to a newer, faster web server in the coming days. This should lead to faster page loading times. It will also mean we can turn the search engine feature back on, and add new features in the coming months.

The old server will stay up during the transition, with one exception. During the last server move, some people posted messages on the message board, then came back the next day to find their messages were gone. What happened was that their message was posted on the old server, and the next day the DNS change was complete so they saw the new server. To prevent this from happening again, the message board on the old server will be turned off once the transition begins.

And now the news

John Stauder suggested that 56K.COM start listing BeOS modem drivers, but neither one of us know of any other than the ones that ship with BeOS. Do you know of any? Share the knowledge.

Services based on the 3G broadband wireless platform are years away, officials say. Not a single cell phone company has stepped up to the plate to support 3G.

EarthLink announced it would drop shell (text-mode) access, though the uproar caused them to rethink their decision. About 2,000 EarthLinks subscribers still have shell access. [Shell access through ISPs is going away, folks. The good news is that it's still widely available as a feature in web hosting packages. Your best bet is to buy a domain ($35/year) and then get a web hosting account with shell access (as little as $10/month). That way you'll have shell access with a permanent email address and web page address for life, no matter where you move or who you get your Internet access through. - Les]

In a deal that could herald the direction of free ISP service, General Motors paid $100 million to sponsor NetZero.

A computer-modeled Internet attack found that disabling the top 4% of Internet nodes would break the network into disconnected islands. The results were published in the journal Nature.

Federal Judge Marilyn Hall Patel issued a preliminary injunction to shut down Napster on midnight Friday. Judge Patel found that the record labels who are suing Napster have a "strong likelihood" of prevailing in their suit.

Computer security and privacy

A group of top Internet advertisers including DoubleClick and AdForce has reached an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission and and Commerce Department. Under the terms of the deal, Internet ad firms will be barred from using a user's medical or financial data, online sexual behavior or Social Security number to determine which ads they see.

BBC News reports that Britain's Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) bill is technically flawed, and will lead to the harassment of citizens without catching bad guys.

One provision of RIP is for ISPs to route traffic through the Government Technical Assistance Center for potential monitoring.



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