Cyber Ramblings - July 11, 2000

11 July 2000
Compiled by Mark Balestra

Death of a Spam Law
Two years ago, the state of Washington passed an anti-spam law that quickly gained acknowledgement as one of the United States' toughest cyber crime bills to date. But, it didn't take long for the law to bite the dust. King County Superior Court Judge Palmer Robinson, hearing the first case brought under the law, stomped it by ruling it unconstitutional. The suit was brought by Washington Attorney General Christine Gregoire, who accused Jason Heckel, a Salem Oregon IP professional, of sending between 100,000 and 1 million spam messages per week under the business name Natural Instincts. The court said that emails which helped Heckel sell 50 packages of his "How To Profit From The Internet" program violated the Washington law because they didn't leave a valid return address. Judge Robinson ruled, however, that the anti-spam law violated the Constitution's commerce clause because it hurts a legitimate business more than it helped consumers. If that's not enough of a slap in the face of Gregoire (and tax payers), Heckel is also entitled to recover costs from the state. Looks like Mr. "How To Profit From The Internet" knows what he's talking about.

Setting the Guidelines for Wireless Advertising
The Wireless Advertising Association (WAA), an independent strategic organizational unit of the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), held its first meeting last week in New York City to establish voluntary guidelines for the wireless advertising industry. During this meeting, the association's board and participants further defined the first four areas for which the association will seek to establish voluntary guidelines for the wireless industry. The initiatives include ad measurement (defining the metrics and methods for tracking ad delivery and determining ad effectiveness); creative standards and ad models (defining ad formats and sizes as well as appropriate display methods); consumer issues and privacy (determining how best to garner consumer acceptance while maintaining consumers' privacy; and ad delivery (determining the processes and associated technology standards for ad delivery).

The WAA's board of directors is composed of executives from wireless operators, wireless ISPs, content providers, ad sales firms, and wireless and ad serving infrastructure companies. Companies represented on the board include AdForce, AvantGo, Contra, DoubleClick, Engage, FusionOne, Lot21, Lycos, Media Metrix, Motorola, Nokia, OmniSky, OpenGrid, Oracle Mobile, PCS Innovations, Phase2Media, 24/7 Media, SF Interactive and Turner Broadcasting. Over 150 companies were represented at the meeting.

The Wireless Advertising Association was formed in May of 2000 with the merger of the Internet Advertising Bureau's Wireless Ad Council and the Wireless Advertising Industry Association.

Going Once, Going Twice...
The post-monopoly era for Internet domain registrar Network Solutions hasn't been a walk in the park, as it appears that the recent arrival of competition may be causing the company to play hardball. Many among the Web community are outraged at the company's new approach toward handling the failure of domain registrants to pay their fees. It used to be that if you registered a domain name and didn't pay up, the name would become available again to the general public. Now, Network Solutions is notifying delinquent registrants that their names will be auctioned with Network Solutions collecting the loot. The company stresses, however, that auctioned domain names will not be had for more than the original amount that was owed. Nonetheless, many are concerned that the buyers of the auctioned names will try to resell them at outrageous prices to the registrants who let them expire. Rival registrars have protested the policy adamantly, and ICANN, the body in charge of governing domain registration for .com, .net and .org domains, says it is investigating the matter.

One Small Step for Cybersquatters
In other domain-related news, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) has ruled that a man who registered a domain name in bad faith cannot be stripped of the name because it couldn't be proved that he was actually using it. Sporoptic Pouilloux S.A., the sunglasses manufacturer that owns the registered trademark "VUARNET," brought action against William H. Wilson because he registered the name "" in bad faith. Wilson won't be forced to relinquish the name, however, as lengthy investigations uncovered no proof that Wilson set up a site under the domain or was profiting from it in anyway.

A Human Rights Dilemma for the Chinese Government
The explosion of Internet usage and e-commerce in China has prompted much discussion about how the country's government will maintain tight control over the flow of information to and from its citizens. With that in mind, it's quite feasible that cases like that of the case of Huang Oi could become commonplace. Huang is being detained by the the People's Republic of China Government for publishing a website that discussed human rights abuses in China, and New York-based Human Rights Watch is asking global companies involved in the Chinese Internet market to protest.

Japanese Firm Strengthens Japan/US Pipe
Internet Initiative Japan Inc. (IIJ), one of Japan's leading Internet-access and comprehensive Internet solution providers, announced this week that it has completed an upgrade of its Japan-U.S. backbone lines from 7775Mbps to 1.085Gbps. The upgrade adds 320Mbps to IJJ's current 465Mbps and completes a connection from Tokyo to Palo Alto. With 1.085Gbps in bandwidth, the company now controls one of the largest and fastest Internet backbones between the two countries.