IT Confidential: The FCC, VoIP, And Spyware--Oh, My!

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates wasn't the only high-profile executive explaining his organization's strategy at last week's International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

John Soat, Contributor

January 7, 2005

3 Min Read

HIGH-PROFILE, LOW IMPACT? Microsoft chairman Bill Gates wasn't the only high-profile executive explaining his organization's strategy at last week's International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell detailed his position on several contentious issues, such as the FCC's role in promoting ubiquitous broadband access to the Internet. On the plus side, Powell cited the FCC's hands-off approach to the development of voice over IP. "I think you should, for once, be proud of the FCC," Powell told interviewer Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Electronics Association. "The technology was nascent and the province of peer-to-peer geeks two years ago, and we saw it coming." The FCC monitored its development and allowed VoIP to emerge unfettered, Powell maintained. "We had several VoIP proceedings, but they were all about protecting it." (For more of the Powell interview, go to

PHISHING, SPYWARE, AND SPAM, OH, MY! Microsoft estimates that one-third of PC crashes can be attributed to spyware infections (see story, "Microsoft App Aims To Attack Spyware"). But that's last year's number--this year, things could get uglier. Ferris Research, a San Francisco messaging-industry research house, published its "Predictions About Messaging In 2005" last week, and No. 2 on its top 10 list was this: "Phishing and spyware will be demonstrated as a problem not limited to consumer mailboxes in the coming year." Ferris said, "Phishing attacks will attempt to steal organizational credentials, and spyware will increasingly be viewed as a corporate threat."

PHISHING, SPYWARE, AND SPAM, PART 2. Sanford Wallace, affectionately known as the "Spam King," has agreed to stop sending out spyware disguised as ads for his spyware products, according to The Associated Press. Under an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission last week, Wallace will stop sending out advertising programs until a federal lawsuit brought against him last October is resolved. U.S. District Judge Joseph DiClerico had issued a temporary restraining order to prevent Wallace from sending ads, and a hearing on that order planned for last week was canceled because of the agreement.

HAVE YOU BEEN PEEKING IN MY ATTIC? More than half of all U.S. households have working, but unused, electronic items stashed away somewhere, according to a survey commissioned by online auction site eBay and released last week at the Consumer Electronics Show. To help deal with the potentially negative environmental impact of throwing away all that electronic gear, eBay is introducing a recycling initiative called Rethink (, where eBay users can get information about how to sell, where to donate, or where to dispose of unwanted electronics. In a statement, the company said, "We believe that the eBay community can be a powerful force for good, especially when provided with the right information and tools to take action."

People hang on to electronic equipment because they become attached to it--like a pet. So don't think of it as recycling, think of it as adoption. And if you think of an industry tip, send it to [email protected] or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to talk about the role of the FCC, spyware, or the environmental impact of electronics, meet me at's Listening Post:

To discuss this column with other readers, please visit John Soat's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about John Soat, please visit his page on the Listening Post.

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