Cyber Ramblings - July 17, 2001

17 July 2001
Compiled by Kevin Smith

2600 Files Motion to Dismiss Ford Case

The publisher of hacker magazine 2600 has presented a motion requesting that the legal action brought against it by Ford Motor Company be dismissed. It principally argues that Ford has failed to state a valid legal claim, but also asserts that the case should be dismissed on technical grounds relating to jurisdiction.

The complaint made by Ford concerns the (expletive) website, which had been registered by 2600 Enterprises, but pointed toward the Ford website. Ford had claimed that this would lead the public to believe that the derogatory domain name in some way reflected its views on General Motors.

In response to this assertion, 2600 Enterprises argues that since it is clearly identified as the official registrant of the domain name, there can be no confusion over any connection between the opinion expressed in the domain name and that of Ford.

Consumer Watchdog Group Targets Search Engines

Attacking an increasingly popular Internet business practice, a consumer watchdog group Monday filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission asserting that many online search engines are concealing the impact special fees have on search results by Internet users.

Commercial Alert, a three-year-old group founded by consumer activist Ralph Nader, asked the FTC to investigate whether eight of the Web's largest search engines are violating federal laws against deceptive advertising.

The group said that the search engines are abandoning objective formulas to determine the order of their listed results and selling the top spots to the highest bidders without making adequate disclosures to Web surfers.

The complaint touches a hot-button issue affecting tens of millions of people who submit search queries each day. With more than 2 billion pages and more than 14 billion hyperlinks on the Web, search requests rank as the second most popular online activity after e-mail.

EDS, Sun Team Up

Computer-services provider Electronic Data Systems Corp. and Sun Microsystems said Monday they will package each other's goods and services to appeal to more corporate technology customers. Company officials estimate the alliance will generate $3 billion in new sales over the next five years. An EDS official said Monday the estimate was based on likely improvement in each company's ability to win new contracts.

Sun, based in Palo Alto, Calif., will provide servers, other hardware and software while EDS will provide the services to run websites and data centers for large corporations.

The companies have ties going back about 15 years. EDS, based in the Dallas suburb of Plano, runs a data center for Sun and uses its products with some EDS customers.

ICANN Paper Comes under Fire

ICANN's paper on the organization's governance policies for Internet top-level domains has been ridiculed as "wishy-washy" by one board member.

The first official statement from the group charged with deciding how and whether ordinary citizens should be allowed to participate in the Internet governance process was met today with a chilly response from one member of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers' (ICANN) influential board of directors.

Karl Auerbach, an ICANN director (and longtime ICANN critic) today called the ICANN At-Large Membership Study Committee's first discussion paper "wishy-washy," saying that the paper does not show any firm commitment on the part of the committee to basic democratic principles.

But Esther Dyson, a former ICANN director who sits on the study committee, said today that the discussion paper is supposed to be somewhat vague, adding that the document was intended to spark discussion, not to be the final word on the issue.

Critics Target Death Row Inmate Game

A Web-based game that invites players to predict the correct outcome for death row inmates is drawing criticism from death penalty opponents and Texas prison officials. features profiles of people on state and federal death rows, most from Texas.

Players can win points and prizes for correctly picking whether an inmate gets commutation, clemency, a stay or dies on the appointed date. Points are totaled until the game ends December 31st.

Greg, a 30-year-old self-employed computer programmer, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he created the site last November.

He identified himself only by his first name because he fears for his family's safety and says he receives threatening e-mails from death penalty opponents.

Still Hope for Spam in Europe

The European Parliament Committee on Citizen's Freedoms and Rights has voted to give member states freedom to choose between "opt-in" and "opt-out" schemes for dealing with unsolicited e-mail. The move may leave the door open for unsolicited mail or "spam" to be sent to E.U. citizens without prior permission, provided they are given the opportunity to ask to be removed from mailing lists.

In a press release following the vote, Marc Cappato, MEP, commented on the decision of the committee:

"The decision of leaving to member states the choice between opt-in and opt-out systems on electronic commercial communications is a liberal approach that respects subsidiarity, and that takes into consideration freedom of expression (prohibiting "hidden" spamming) and the different experiences of the member states."

Net Insight Inks Deal with Qmedia

Net Insight, a leading provider of advanced real-time broadband infrastructure technology, announced that New York City-based Qmedia, one of the world's leading digital media service providers for the professional media industry (PMI), has selected Net Insight as its media transport solution and will begin deploying Net Insight's Nimbra series optical switches in its new North American network this fall.

Qmedia's digital network build-out project, involving a team of selected vendors, is estimated to be well into eight figures over 24 months. Subsequent to the new contract, Net Insight has received its first order from Qmedia.

Qmedia is building one of the first nationwide digital networks for the PMI in North America. The network will enable the $100 billion industry to produce and distribute content at dramatically lower cost and with high definition quality. The optical network will consist of over 10,000 fiber route miles interconnecting the media centers of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, Toronto and Vancouver. The network will also reach over 50 cities covering 65 percent of the United States' television-viewing households.