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5/31/2002
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IT Confidential

The rhetoric, and resultant politico interest, is heating up around the issue of spam. Last week, New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer brought suit against a firm for allegedly sending out more than 500 million mostly unwanted commercial E-mails. Spitzer said MonsterHut.com, in Niagara Falls, "fraudulently [represented] the company's E-mail marketing service as 'permission based'" and sent hundreds of millions of E-mails to consumers who never asked for them. Two weeks ago, Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura signed an online privacy bill with a little-noticed addendum that requires E-mail advertisers to include the letters ADV in the subject lines of their messages, which lets companies more easily filter them. California already requires it; two months ago, the high-powered law firm Morrison & Foerster sued an E-mail service provider, in part for not including the designation on its commercial messages.

The Business Software Alliance, a piracy watchdog, reports that nearly half of 1,026 Internet users surveyed download software from the Net, and of those, more than half either seldom or never pay for it. Twelve percent come right out and admit to software piracy. Ironically, 95% of respondents say they believe software creators should be paid for their work, and 85% believe guarding intellectual property protects revenue that companies need for R&D.

Nike promoted its CIO, Gordon Steele, to VP of information technology last week. Steele joined Nike in 1997 as director of IT for the Global Finance group, then led the IT effort for the Nike supply chain. That effort got bogged down-literally and figuratively-last year when an ugly spat broke out between the shoemaker and its supply-chain software vendor, i2. Nike blamed i2's software for costing it $100 million in lost sales. Before joining Nike, Steele spent eight years with electronic-design company Mentor Graphics in various positions, including CIO and corporate controller.

Electronics manufacturer ITT Industries this week will appoint its first-ever CIO. He's Steven Faas, and he comes to ITT from General Electric's energy-products division, where he was also CIO. Faas will report to senior VP and CFO David Anderson. Faas will help as ITT attempts "to streamline and integrate the company's IT infrastructure, including data centers and the wide area network, and work[s] to migrate to a common global messaging system," Anderson said in a statement.

The Sage Group, a midmarket vendor of ERP and CRM apps, has asked the monopolies commission in Denmark to scrutinize Microsoft's proposed acquisition of Danish software vendor Navision. Phil Branston, Sage's head of investor relations, says the company welcomes competition but is concerned Microsoft may overwhelm competitors with a cheap bundle of its database and operating system with Navision's enterprise apps. Sage admits it doesn't do much business in Navision's backyard but denies that the request is aimed at blocking Microsoft's European expansion. "There may be some ramifications in a wider sense [to the Navision deal], but the Danish market is our main concern right now," Branston says.

As if the FBI weren't in enough hot water, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a civil-liberties research organization, said last week that it had obtained FBI documents that show how in March 2000 the Carnivore Internet-surveillance system collected the E-mail of people not on a judge's court order, a violation of federal wiretap law. It happened while agents were eavesdropping legally on another suspect, according to the privacy center, which used the Freedom of Information Act to get the documents. An FBI spokesman says miscommunication between an ISP and the FBI about how to configure an Internet link led to the problem, which was discovered and resolved in days, adding, "It was an honest mistake."

All my mistakes are honest-and all my honesty is a mistake! Wait, that didn't come out right. If it's a mistake, it's honest-if it's not honest, it's not a mistake! That's not right, either. Do you know what I'm trying to say? Send an interpretation, or an industry tip, to jsoat@cmp.com or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to talk about spam, software piracy, or honest mistakes, meet me at InformationWeek.com's Listening Post: informationweek.com/forum/johnsoat.

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