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Privacy Protection: Progress, Of Sorts

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In This Issue:
1. Editor's Note: Privacy Protection: Progress, Of Sorts
2. Today's Top Story
    - Patent Office Rules In eBay's Favor
    - Related Stories:
    - Content Creators Speak Up On Small Copyright Claims
    - eBay Bidders Push Enigma Machine Over $30K
3. Breaking News
    - Q&A: Riding The Business Cycle More Wisely
    - Industry Groups Pick Bluetooth To Link Home Devices
    - April Fool's Day Starts Early On The Web
    - Intel Brings 'Community PC' To Mexico
    - Vonage Boasts One Million VoIP Customers With E911
    - Mobile Domains For Sale In May
    - Toshiba Begins Selling First HD DVD Players
    - Debate Over Army Contract Continues
    - Peerflix To Add Music, Video Games To Network
    - Alaska Volcano's Web Site Becomes Internet Hot Spot
4. Grab Bag: News You Need From Around The Web
    - Berners-Lee Speaks On Future Of The Internet (Oxford Internet Institute)
    - YouTube: Way Beyond Home Videos (BusinessWeek)
    - How Too Many Long Hours Can Be Bad For Your Career (Career Journal)
    - Apple Joins Windows Benchmark Group (BetaNews)
5. In Depth: Microsoft
    - Gartner: Microsoft Delay Could Affect Office Licensing Rights
    - Disable IE's Active Scripting To Protect Against Bug
    - Vista May Poses Danger To Security Product Vendors
    - Microsoft Gets A Little Help In EU Antitrust Battle
    - Third-Party IE Patches Moving Fast As Spam Attack Starts
6. Voice Of Authority
    - Check Point Made The Right Move In Dropping Sourcefire Bid
7. White Papers
    - Leveraging ITIL Processes
8. Get More Out Of InformationWeek
9. Manage Your Newsletter Subscription

Quote of the day:
"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it, misdiagnosing it, and then misapplying the wrong remedies." -- Groucho Marx


1. Editor's Note: Privacy Protection: Progress, Of Sorts

There's been some recent movement regarding two consumer data-protection bills in Congress. Progress is really slow, however, and I hope I'm wrong on this, but I believe it would be very optimistic to think they're going to be approved and signed by President Bush before the current session of Congress ends in early October, just in time for campaign season.

Speaking of Washington, there's also a new think tank in residence that I worry may be overly skewed toward the tech industry, but more about that in a moment.

The first legislative effort concerns consumers' telephone records. There are bills in both the Senate and the House that would make it illegal to sell phone records without consent and would impose hefty fines on telecom vendors that fail to safeguard their customers' data. The bill in the House boosts penalties to as much as $30,000 per incident and up to $3 million for continuing violations by telephone companies.

The Senate's Commerce Committee has now approved the measure. But before the bill can be approved by the full Senate, language differences in it and its House counterpart must be worked out. Hence my skepticism about it passing before October--but hey, I've been wrong before. And this is a relatively uncontroversial law-in-the-making; I'm betting most politicians see only an upside in going back to their constituents with this particular issue under their belts.

For its part, the fledgling data security bill--the one that mandates financial institutions notify customers if account information is compromised--has made it out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The bill, H.R. 4127, passed the subcommittee unanimously and will next go to the House Judiciary Committee. Some observers are betting it's going to run into some trouble there, wrangling over language and such. One interesting provision is that if banks use encryption and the information is stolen, account holders need not be notified. If it's encrypted, the thinking goes, nobody's going to be able to read the data, so why worry the customer?

Reasonable minds can argue over the specifics in these bills, and they should. But whatever passes, and I do hope that happens soon, at least those bills form some sort of basis for nailing thieves and for holding accountable the companies that are the repositories of our most sensitive data. It also speaks to a beginning of a public policy of sorts.

And speaking of policy, I admit I was a bit concerned when I read about the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), which is being billed as a nonpartisan think tank. It's got impressive credentials, for sure. The ITIF will be chaired by two former House members, Republican Jennifer Dunn and Democrat Calvin Dooley. Day-to-day operations will be headed by its president, Robert Atkinson, who most recently was director of the Technology and New Economy Project at the Progressive Policy Institute, another think tank.

So what's not to like, you may ask. Well, for one thing, the ITIF is being bankrolled by the Information Technology Industry Council, which is a lobbying group of 40 of the most powerful tech firms in the computer industry, including Cisco, Dell, eBay, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle SAP, and Sun.

Second, consider this information from the ITIF's own Web site, which says its mission is "articulating and advancing a pro-productivity, pro-innovation and pro-technology public policy agenda internationally, in Washington and the states." Given who's paying the bills, I've got to wonder whose agenda is really being promoted here. I suppose some education is better than none, but I hope our industry won't be contributing to the confusion in some quarters about all things technology-related. And as a very wise person once said, sometimes a shoebox is better than a PC if all you want to do is store baseball cards.

It's all in how you spin it--and, yes, I freely admit I'm doing that here. The difference is that you know this is an opinion column (I hope); it's not purporting to be a news story with the mission of providing unbiased, or at least balanced, information.

On a much lighter note, Washington has been deemed the most telecommuter-friendly city in America. That's got to be a good thing, don't you think, with less hot air all 'round?

Please leave your comments on our blog.

Johanna Ambrosio
jambrosio@cmp.com
www.informationweek.com


2. Today's Top Story

Patent Office Rules In eBay's Favor
eBay said it learned this week that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office had upheld an earlier decision in a case involving the auction site's "Buy It Now" feature.

Related Stories:

Content Creators Speak Up On Small Copyright Claims
Illustrators, photographers, writers, and representatives of the music industry appeared before a House subcommittee to address alternatives to the current system.

eBay Bidders Push Enigma Machine Over $30K
eBay bidders have offered more than $30,000 for a World War II-era German Enigma cipher machine, a sum that's "on the high side," according to a dealer who has sold other models.


3. Breaking News

Q&A: Riding The Business Cycle More Wisely
University of California professor Peter Navarro says businesses can be more competitive by better managing the ups and downs of the business cycle, notably via sharper control of inventory and capital outlays such as technology spending.

Industry Groups Pick Bluetooth To Link Home Devices
The decisions are expected to determine how hundreds of millions of televisions, video recorders, and personal computers will be connected without wires by the turn of the decade. Products are expected by 2008.

April Fool's Day Starts Early On The Web
April Fools' Day started a day early on the Web as anxious Internet pranksters couldn't wait to lure the gullible into buying the almost believable.

Intel Brings 'Community PC' To Mexico
Intel and Telmex will collaborate to expand the use of technology in Mexico by making a new type of desktop PC available to first-time computer users.

Vonage Boasts One Million VoIP Customers With E911
The company worked with 911 Public Safety Answering Points throughout the U.S. to turn on the emergency calling service, Vonage said.

Mobile Domains For Sale In May
The .mobi suffix should eliminate core problems associated with browsing on .com sites, including large graphics and multimedia content, according to the CEO of the company behind the new domain.

Toshiba Begins Selling First HD DVD Players
In a race to set industry standards, Toshiba has shipped its HD-XA1 player into the Japanese market.

Debate Over Army Contract Continues
At the heart of the matter are claims by some in the government that the award violated time limitations under existing competitive-bidding requirements.

Peerflix To Add Music, Video Games To Network
The DVD-trading site could add a peer-to-peer platform for digital music and video games as early as next year, a Peerflix executive says.

Alaska Volcano's Web Site Becomes Internet Hot Spot
A site that serves real-time photos of an erupting volcano has received over 253 million hits since January 1.

All Our Latest News

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4. Grab Bag: News You Need From Around The Web

Berners-Lee Speaks On Future Of The Internet (Oxford Internet Institute)
Tim Berners-Lee, director of the World Wide Web Consortium, recently gave a speech at the University of Oxford about the future of the Internet. His essential message: As each development has suggested many new ones, and much of the original vision is still unfulfilled, there's a lot to do. Berners-Lee discussed new challenges and hopes for Web-like systems on the Net. You can read it, watch a video version, or listen to an MP3 file.

YouTube: Way Beyond Home Videos (BusinessWeek)
YouTube could be a new NBC--or another Napster.

How Too Many Long Hours Can Be Bad For Your Career (Career Journal)
Overwork can mask weaknesses and isn't a long-term differentiator because others can send more E-mails and write more reports, according to a former Wall Street executive. Here's how to know if you're working too much.

Apple Joins Windows Benchmark Group (BetaNews)
Apple on Tuesday joined Windows benchmarking consortium BAPco, whose benchmarks are used by Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and others. Some believe that Apple may be interested in having the benchmarking tools ported to Mac OS X to more fairly compare Apple's desktops and laptops to equivalent Windows-based systems.


5. In Depth: Microsoft

Gartner: Microsoft Delay Could Affect Office Licensing Rights
The research firm is cautioning Microsoft Software Assurance volume license customers to check their contract expiration dates, which could be affected by the delay of Office 2007.

Disable IE's Active Scripting To Protect Against Bug
Microsoft's preferred workaround for the createTextRange bug is to disable Active Scripting to prevent any JavaScript code from running. Here's a step-by-step guide.

Vista May Pose Danger To Security Product Vendors
Could it be that Microsoft's vision for security in Vista will aggravate security product vendors? One longtime Windows watcher thinks Microsoft, hoping to fly under the antitrust radar, will sprinkle security throughout the operating system.

Microsoft Gets A Little Help In EU Antitrust Battle
A U.S. software expert is scheduled to testify at Friday's European Commission meeting on Microsoft, according to a Washington trade association.

Third-Party IE Patches Moving Fast As Spam Attack Starts
A spokesperson for eEye Digital Security said its workaround had been downloaded by more than 94,000 users, while another security vendor warned that attackers were drawing people to malicious Web sites that exploit the flaw.


6. Voice Of Authority

Check Point Made The Right Move In Dropping Sourcefire Bid
Once the deal came under the scrutiny of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, both companies would have been wrapped up in red tape for months, says Larry Greenemeier. He calls this "unacceptable" in the fast-moving world of IT security.


7. White Papers

Leveraging ITIL Processes
As IT organizations strive to become more business-aligned and service-oriented, the IT Infrastructure Library offers the industry's most pervasive guidelines for capturing critical processes and process interdependencies. This report provides IT planners with a guide to leveraging their ITIL processes.


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