Cyber Ramblings - Dec 12, 2000

12 December 2000
Compiled by Kevin Smith

NCAA Wins Partial Victory in Fight for 32 Internet Addresses
The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) was awarded 20 Internet domain names last week in a U.N.-arbitrated dispute, but failed to win control of 12 addresses that appeared to offer gambling on college sports. The NCAA claimed that the addresses, registered by Rosemary Giancola of San Jose, Costa Rica, created a risk of confusion with its own trademark and with its NCAA Basketball and NCAA Football names. Arbitrator Roderick Thompson ordered 20 addresses including,, and transferred to the NCAA. But he threw out the association's complaint about 12 other names that included terms related to gambling. Among them are, and The NCAA and several high profile college coaches maintain that the U.S. Congress should outlaw all college sports betting to keep gamblers from influencing young athletes to throw games.

European Jurisdiction Regulation Receives Approval
European justice ministers have approved a new regulation that will enable consumers to sue in their own country in the event of a dispute with a business based in another member state. The move follows a decision by the European Parliament to convert a convention on the recognition and enforcement of court judgements into a regulation while at the same time updating some of its provisions. There has been a split between industry and consumer representatives. Industry groups argue that the new approach will discourage companies from trying to set up EU-wide e-commerce sites. Consumer groups argue that without the new law, there is a denial of justice, as consumers cannot be expected to incur the cost of suing abroad.

Professor Wins Precedent-Setting Net Libel Suit
A former Emory University professor has won what is believed be the first successful libel lawsuit brought against an anonymous Internet user. Last week, U.S. District Judge Richard L. Williams awarded $675,000 to Samuel D. Graham, Jr., former chair of the urology department at the University of Emory in Atlanta. Graham filed a libel suit after learning that an unnamed Yahoo user had posted a message accusing him of accepting kickbacks from Oklahoma-based Urocore Inc. The messages, posted by a Yahoo user named "fbi informant," said Graham lost his job as head of Emory's urology department after it became known that he was accepting kickbacks from Urocore. Through a string of subpoenas to Yahoo, MCI WorldCom, and several Internet service providers (ISPs), Graham attorneys J. Burke McCormick and D. Alan Rudlin learned "fbi informant" was actually former Urocore pathologist Jonathan R. Oppenheimer. Oppenheimer, currently the owner of Nashville-based Prost-Data Inc., said his attorneys have already begun the process of appealing the verdict and that he was looking forward to a new trial.

Spammer Pleads Guilty to Second-Degree Forgery
A man who took over an Internet service to send millions of anonymous e-mails about pornography and get-rich-quick schemes has pleaded guilty to second-degree forgery. Jason Garon, 46, allegedly sent millions of unsolicited e-mails to America Online subscribers and disguised them to look as if they had been sent from, IBM's Internet provider. He executed the scheme using the computer resources of the Market Vision graphics studio company, authorities said, and an overload of data crashed the company's internal network. Ed Greenberg, owner of Market Vision, said his losses amounted to about $18,000. Garon's e-mails were traced to his apartment, where Orange County, Calif. investigators arrested him and seized his computer. The Internet forgery prosecution is believed to be one of the first in the country, according to Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro. Garon, who entered his guilty plea Friday, faces up to seven years in prison.

AOL Rival Drops Instant Messaging Service
One of the harshest critics to the world dominance that America Online has secured, Tribal Voice, has scrapped its instant-messaging product. PowWow, the instant messaging software owned by CMGI's CMGion division, will no longer be available to users come Jan. 19. A notice was posted on CMGion's website notifying users that the division was closing its doors. The move comes just months after CMGion acquired PowWow's parent company, Tribal Voice, in September. "Please take the time to find a new service before January 19, 2001, to ensure no disruption in your instant messaging, chat and community services," the notice reads.

Concerns Still Linger from Draft Cybercrime Convention
A global coalition of IT industry associations, the World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA), has issued a statement to the Council of Europe voicing concerns over its latest revision of a treaty that aims to harmonize laws on hacking, online fraud and child pornography. In its statement to the Council, WITSA expressed concerns with a number of provisions in the new draft version of the Convention. The group says that, in its present form, the Convention could impose burdensome data preservation requirements on ISPs, make ISPs liable for third party actions and restrict legitimate activities on the Internet. It described many of the changes to previous drafts as being "largely cosmetic" and falling short of addressing the concerns of the IT industry.

German Officials Warn of Net 'Big Brother'
German officials in charge of protecting personal data freedom are warning of a threat to Internet users' privacy rights if the country approves a proposal to require Internet service providers to track and store data on Net surfing. Germany's Conference of Interior Ministers proposed the legislation last month. The ministers, in a statement dated Nov. 24, called on authorities in Europe and worldwide to develop "international minimum penal standards" for combating online crime. They said it is "urgently necessary to require providers to register and store the 'digital footprints' that every Internet user leaves behind in principle." The lack of clear legislation on the issue, the ministers said, makes the fight against Internet crime more difficult.

Police in Tokyo Searching for Source of Nude Picture
A nude picture was placed on the top page of the website of the National Public Safety Commission in Tokyo this week, and officials are trying to find the perpetrator. Police on Tuesday were investigating how an image of a nude woman made its way onto the website of Japan's top security organization. NPA officials say that the investigation has revealed very little about the source of the deed, however, they have concluded that it wasn't the result of a virus. The image appeared on the top page of the site when a police agency staff member updated the page late Friday. The website was temporarily suspended until early Saturday when it was fixed. The commission supervises the police agency and the agency oversees the website. Hackers broke into several Japanese government agencies' websites earlier this year.