Cyber Ramblings - Jan 23, 2001

23 January 2001
Compiled by Kevin Smith

Hackers Hit Microsoft
Hackers continue to target big business and government websites to spread their message. The latest victim was Microsoft Corp. The company's New Zealand site was hacked with the message being left, "security wuz broke'n!", a site that tracks hacking incidents said Microsoft sites have been defaced five times. In addition, a hacker, or hackers, gained access last fall to Microsoft's secret blueprints for software that is still in the early stages of development. A group called Prime Suspectz claimed responsibility for the latest attack. According to Attrition, the group has vandalized foreign sites for high-profile companies such as eBay and Visa International.

ICANN Looks into Multilingual Sites

ICANN's new CEO, M. Stuart Lynn, will be thrown right into the fire as he takes rains over the international body. Outgoing president and CEO Mike Roberts addressed the storm brewing around the issue of registering domain names in non-Roman languages, especially those containing Asian-language characters. Speaking at the 23rd annual Pacific Telecommunications Council (PTC) conference in Honolulu, Hawaii, Roberts addressed concerns resulting from the proliferation of new domain names, particularly as many of the newly registered names are intended to be used outside their home regions or countries. The discussion comes on the heels of multiple controversies surrounding the registration of multilingual domain names during the last two months. Last week, the Japanese corporation Sankyo Seiki Manufacturing Co., Ltd. filed a complaint with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) against a cybersquatter who had possession of the company's Japanese-language trademark domain name. According to news sources, more than 700,000 multilingual domain names have been registered since ICANN began its "testbed" stage. These listings, often registered through private services such as VeriSign Global Registry Services, are causing confusion. Many conflict with government-sponsored agencies, such as the China Internet Network Information Center (CINIC), which logged almost 500,000 applications during its first two days of operations. Exposes Personal Information
Online travel agency Inc. acknowledged Tuesday that personal information about some customers was read by some visitors to its website. The breach exposed the names, addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses of about 45,000 Travelocity customers, said officials of the Fort Worth-based company. Jim Marsicano, Travelocity's executive vice president of sales and service, told the Associated Press that the information was stored on a back-office server that was put into use on the company's website. The customer information should have been deleted first, but wasn't, he said. The breach affected customers who entered contests on Travelocity's website last year by submitting online forms that asked for some personal information. Marsicano said that customers' credit card information was never exposed, however.

Europe Getting Close to Expanding Copyright Law
A hearing on Wednesday on updating European copyright laws to include the digital age is expected to be a heated event. Music industry lobbyists are looking to add language that will restrict private copying. Industry officials argue that the shape of the final directive, which has been hotly debated for more than three years, will determine in part the viability of selling music online in Europe. The legislation would serve as the 15-nation European Union's adoption of a 1996 treaty drafted by the World Intellectual Property Organization, which covers copyright issues. EU ratification would tip it over the minimum number of countries needed to come into force around the world. Two years after the WIPO treaty, the United States implemented it through the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which among other restrictions requires that "Webcasters" pay licensing fees to record companies.

Yahoo! Inc. Faces Suite over Auction Items
Holocaust survivors and their families said Tuesday they have filed suit against the chief executive of Yahoo! Inc., accusing the company of downplaying the Holocaust with its former online auctions of Nazi paraphernalia. The decision to sue chief executive Tim Koogle for a symbolic one French franc--about 15 cents--was a further step in French human rights groups' high-profile, trans-Atlantic legal battle to hold the U.S. Internet portal responsible for racist material that has appeared on its Web pages. The suit was filed two months after a French court, in response to an earlier lawsuit, ordered Yahoo! to block Web surfers in France from auctions where Nazi memorabilia are sold. Yahoo pulled the offensive material from its site earlier this month, while continuing to oppose the ruling.

AOL Japan Takes on New Name
Less than four months after taking the leading Japanese cellular carrier NTT DoCoMo as a partner, AOL Japan said Tuesday that it plans to change its name to DoCoMo AOL. The new name is part of a re-branding campaign that company executives hope will result in a wider membership of the service and provide a new image for AOL as it rolls out services that link with DoCoMo's cellular services. The new services, known by the partners as fixed-mobile communications, are under development by DoCoMo, AOL Japan and its U.S. parent, America Online, and are aimed at taking the AOL brand to cell-phone screens. DoCoMo already has plenty of experience of providing Internet service to cell phones. Its I-mode service has attracted more than 17 million customers in just under two years of service and is currently adding around 300,000 users per week.

EC Looking at Spam Laws
The European Commission is considering rules that would increase Internet privacy and has proposed the banning of spam, or unsolicited commercial e-mail. The proposal is to extend certain existing rules of data protection to unsolicited e-mail and mobile phones. An e-commerce directive was passed May 4, 2000, but is not yet in force in member states, which have until January 2002 to implement its provisions in their domestic laws. Under this law, unsolicited commercial e-mail must be clearly and unequivocally identifiable as such as soon as received by the recipient, i.e. in the header of the e-mail. The new proposal goes further, saying that companies must not send spam to an e-mail address unless the owner of that address has opted in to receive such communications.

Stop the Deep Linking!
Online recruitment company StepStone has obtained a court order under EU copyright and database regulations preventing a rival from providing hypertext links to StepStone's online job advertisements, a practice known as deep linking. The injunction was granted by a German court against Danish media group OfiR, restraining it from using hypertext links to StepStone's German job site. It is one of the first cases in which the new EU copyright and databases regulations have been successfully used to control hypertext links over the Internet. StepStone sought the injunction because OFiR was using the link to substantiate a claim about the large quantity of jobs available via its site. StepStone deemed this action to be prejudicial to its brand position in the long term. In addition, OFiR was deep linking to the StepStone site, which meant visitors were not taken to the home page and therefore did not see its banner advertising.