Cyber Ramblings - July 18, 2000

18 July 2000
Wireless Broadband Consortium Formed
ADC, Conexant Systems, Gigabit Wireless, Intel, Nortel Networks and Vyyo have jointly formed a "Wireless DSL Consortium" to accelerate the development of broadband wireless solutions. The consortium's goal is to provide standardized, timely, multi-vendor solutions for broadband access. Additionally, the consortium will provide a forum to define, develop, and implement a set of open interfaces for broadband wireless access products, along with a forum for rigorous testing and verification of standards-based products. They will also offer technical advice to carriers on technology issues, and be available as a resource to the FCC, ITU and other regulatory bodies on spectrum management and interoperability. Information about the Wireless DSL Consortium is available online at

Add a Wireless Broadband Forum to the List
In order to provide cost-effective, broadband wireless access with industry-leading performance and reliability for compelling end-user applications, the IEEE Industry Standards and Technology Organization (IEEE-ISTO) announced the formation and first meeting of the Broadband Wireless Internet Forum. BWIF is an incorporated, non-profit association of industry companies jointly working to ensure adoption of a single, unified broadband wireless access industry standard. Members have agreed to cross-license on a worldwide royalty-free basis with other BWIF members the technologies that are needed to implement the standards. The group's first meeting is scheduled for July 26, 2000 in Denver, Colorado. Information about the group and its meeting is available at

Protesting the FBI's Carnivore
Carnivore, the FBI's email snooping tool, has been targeted by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) under Fourth Amendment search-and-seizure issues. "Carnivore is roughly the equivalent to a wiretap capable of accessing the contents of the conversations of all of the phone company's customers, with the 'assurance' that the FBI will record only conversations of the specified target," the ACLU protested in a letter to the House Constitution subcommittee. The FBI places Carnivore with an Internet service provider to view all the incoming and outgoing email messages for the target of an investigation, whether or not the other party is included in the investigation. One sticking point with the ACLU is that, unlike a more traditional phone wiretap that is placed and maintained by the telephone company, Carnivore is controlled solely by the FBI. The agency reportedly has 20 Carnivore systems, which are PCs with proprietary software.

More Snooping Identified
A Newsbyte article reports that photographer/webmaster Christopher Specht launched a potential class action lawsuit against America Online, owners of the Netscape browser, claiming that a new download feature, SmartDownload, allows the company to track users' downloads all across the Web. Further, investigation shows that Netscape can also track what customers research with the browser's search function. "Not only does Netscape log who downloads what files from the Internet, the search feature of the Netscape browser even takes the whole story one step further," IDG publication tecChannel told Newsbyte. "So here Netscape even records how surfers have searched for interesting offers - and what they were looking for in the Web." Specht filed suit in the New York U.S. District Court claiming that the browser's spying contravenes both the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).

Small But Mighty, Banner Ads Honored in New Museum

Measuring small in size, banner ads are recognized as a mighty advertising weapon that delivers a targeted message, along with the company's identification while convincing a viewer to click-through for more information., opening in September, is looking for some submissions. The site, owned and operated by SNX, a privately held, NY corporation, will have galleries featuring "The Best of," "The Worst of," and everything in between with visitors given the ability to rate banners according to category and strategy effectiveness. Banners in the standard eight sizes, identified by category, e.g. B2B, and strategy, e.g. clickability, are welcome for submission.

The Value of E-Signatures Is Questionable
Although President Clinton recently signed legislation making e-signatures legally binding, the wide variety of e-signature technologies available may land many documents signed this way in court, according to writer Jesse Berst. The ensuing standards battle has plenty of choices among products, such as SignOnline (which issues its own signature for customers' use and provides authenticated digital certificates with secure e-documents), Litronic (which uses iris technology as a legal identifier) and Interlink Electronics (whose ePad records the date of the signature, linking it through cryptographic and biometric means to both the document and the signer.) Berst estimates that widespread use of e-signatures is still five years in the future.

More Trouble for Outlook Users
MSNBC is reporting that a newly found security hole enables outsiders using Microsoft's Outlook email program to take over your computer. Previously found glitches required victims to open an email attachment, but now simply opening an email could open your computer to someone else's control. A South American security research team, Underground Security Systems Research, discovered the hole, which MSNBC learned about on June 11 and promised not to publish before Microsoft could develop a fix for the problem. But, someone leaked the news before Microsoft had the patch ready, prompting MSNBC to come out with the bad news. There's no word yet on when the patch will be available.