Cyber Ramblings - Nov 7, 2000

7 November 2000
China Tightens Grip on Website Operators
Websites in China have less than 30 days now to comply with new government control regulations or be forced to shut down operations. On Oct. 1, the Chinese government gave local sites 60 days to provide detailed information on their business to the Chinese Ministry of the Information Industry. Operators have to give the information in order to gain a license to operate on the Web. If the information is not turned over to the government, or the site doesn't fly with the government, operators could be fined and forced to shut down. In addition to the requested info, Internet Content providers are responsible for preventing "illegal content." This, according to the government, includes items on bulletin boards, or sites, which are "subversive, supports cults, harms the reputation of China or hurts the reunification efforts with Taiwan. Chinese Internet service providers must also keep records of all content and users for 60 days, and hands those records to police on demand.

International Cyber Crime Treaty Close
The Council of Europe (, the U.S. and governments in Canada, Japan and South Africa are reportedly close to agreeing on the first major international treaty on cyber crime. The proposals include common laws to ban hacking devices, permit law enforcement authorities to seize equipment and files, help prevent computer-related fraud or forgery and child pornography, and require telecom operators and Internet service providers to cooperate in identifying online criminal activity.

Microsoft on Defensive Again
On Monday, for the second time in as many weeks officials with Microsoft had some explaining to do about outside hackers getting into its system. Two weeks ago, it was announced that hackers had gained control of the company's precious source codes for its software after breaking into the internal system. On Monday it was announced that a hacker had gotten into the company's Internet Information Server (ISS) through a known vulnerability. ISS is the application that runs the Microsoft website. The Dutch hacker boasted he could access a number of Microsoft Web services and alter files on the company's download site. He didn't, however, gain access to the company's internal network.

China Regulates News on the Web
Not only is the Chinese government staying busy in regulating websites and service providers (as mentioned above), it also is hammering down on the content that is posted in sites. New regulations are aimed at controlling the distribution of news on sites as well as content in chat rooms. Rueters reported that websites are forbidden from reporting or writing news themselves, and must therefore rely on state media with whom they have signed contracts, but there is flexibility in that a clear definition of what constitutes "news" has been omitted. Analysts are hoping that an upcoming document defining "news" will allow for a variety of topics to exist outside of the regulations, such as sports, entertainment or financial stories. Reuters also reported that the rules, published in the People's Daily, are intended to control the flow of news on the Internet, requiring Chinese Web sites to seek approval from a department under the State Council before they can publish news, and also requiring them to cite the sources of all the news that is published.

Voter-Swap Sites Get Setback in Court Ruling
While voters all over America are checking in at the polls today in what looks to be the closest Presidential race in more than 40 years, developers of a radical new idea got a small setback in the courts this week. "Vote exchange" sites have gained an enormous following. The sites, which get backers of either Al Gore or Ralph Nadar to switch votes causing Gore to get the needed Electoral votes and Nadar the needed 5 percent of the popular vote, got a lot of hits even as Federal Judge denied a restraining order which would have prevented prosecution in California. U.S. Central District Judge Robert Kelleher issued a one-sentence order denying the ACLU's bid for a temporary restraining order against California Secretary of State Bill Jones. It was Jones' threats to prosecute creators of that resulted in the shuttering of that site and another,

Heralded as a new forum for political organizing and participation, the vote-swap sites promote an interstate exchange of pledges between Nader supporters in critical swing states and supporters of Democratic candidate Al Gore in Republican and Democratic strongholds. The strategy is designed to help Gore win the Electoral College while at the same time helping Nader's Green Party achieve its goal of getting 5 percent of the popular vote, the threshold required to qualify for federal matching campaign funds in 2004.

Several sites that advocate the strategy--and, in some cases, succeed in matching voters in different states --have been created recently, apparently inspiring thousands of people to exchange pledges. But Jones' office sent a chill through that practice when it warned Voteswap2000's founders that their operation violated California's Election Code, which prohibits offering payment or any other "valuable consideration" to people in an effort to influence their votes.

3G Collusion Rumors Persist in Europe
Austrian and Dutch regulators warned of possible rule infringements last week as speculation of Europe-wide collusion rose to new heights. Regulators are pressuring the European Commission to launch a continent-wide investigation into the relationships of bidders in various European auctions. In the Netherlands, competition authorities launched an investigation into discussions held during July's auction between Versatel, a Dutch-listed Company, and Telfort, a rival Dutch bidder owned by British Telecommunications. If allegations of improper behavior are proved, it could ultimately result in the removal of Telfort's license and calls for the auction to be re-held. Versatel dropped out of the bidding, which raised E2.7bn ($2.3bn).