Internet and Society News -- 051101

"A Blow to Mediocrity Everywhere"



FCC Approves Verizon, SBC Mergers

Two huge telephone mergers approved
with limited conditions in the belief that new technologies will give consumers
choice in an industry that is rapidly consolidating into a few large players.

Department Requires Divestitures in Verizon's Acquisition of MCI and SBC's
Acquisition of AT&T - Divestitures in 19 Metropolitan Areas Preserve Competition
for Certain Business Telecommunications Services (10/27/2005)

Qualcomm Responds
to Antitrust Complaint

Qualcomm is hitting back following a
complaint filed by a group of its rivals in Europe alleging antitrust violations
and attempts from keeping 3G competitors out of the market. The CDMA pioneer
calls the claims "factually inaccurate and legally meritless." Late last week,
Broadcom, Ericsson, NEC, Nokia, Panasonic Mobile Communications and Texas
Instruments filed a complaint with the European Commission accusing Qualcomm of
refusing to license essential patents to potential chipset competitors on fair
terms, while offering lower royalty rates to handset customers that agree to
exclusively purchase chipsets from Qualcomm.

Judge: Microsoft's music player gaffe is 'concern'

Redmond never should have drafted
marketing plan to force player makers to distribute only Windows Media Player,
judge says.

Gates Welcomes Competition With Google

Google Inc. is fierce competition for
Microsoft Corp., but the software giant does not fear the race and plans to
upgrade his search technology in the next six months, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates
said in remarks published Wednesday. On his first-ever trip to Israel, Gates
praised Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Israel's contributions to the global
high-tech market. In interviews with Israeli TV and newspapers, he also answered
questions about Microsoft's fierce competition with Mountain View,
California-based Google.

Circuit Court Grants Appeal of Justice Department and Commonwealth of Kentucky -
Appeals Court Sends Government Challenge to Dairy Merger Back for Trial

A Deeper Probe of Oracle's Agenda

The U.S. government, it seems, has a
bit more digging left to do on Oracle's planned $5.9 billion purchase of Siebel
Systems. Late on Oct. 24, Siebel (SEBL) disclosed that the Justice Dept. asked
for more data on the proposed takeover. Siebel got what's known as a "request
for additional information," which gives Justice officials more time to kick the
tires on the deal and figure out whether it poses a threat to competition.
Oracle (ORCL) observers weren't surprised. It's a big deal, and the swiftly
changing business software landscape isn't easy to navigate (see BW Online,
9/12/05, "Now, Oracle May Finally Rest"). Plus, it's the second big acquisition
by Oracle since its controversial purchase of PeopleSoft closed in January. U.S.
antitrust officials tried in vain to block that transaction. Oracle's spending
spree has totaled some $19 billion so far. And while another big purchase may
not be on the horizon, Oracle probably isn't done gobbling up smaller players.



Google restarts
online books plan

Google is resuming its controversial
project to digitise millions of books and make them searchable on the net. The
search giant is pressing ahead with its plans despite growing legal pressure
from publishers and authors. They object to what they say are violations of
copyright. But in an apparent attempt to reassure critics, the search giant said
on its blog that it would focus on books that were out of print or in the public

Google blinks on office suite

Global search merchant Google is
contemplating hiring engineers to help build OpenOffice applications. Google's
manager for open-source programs Chris DiBona told "We want to hire a
couple of people to help make OpenOffice better." With these innocent, careless
words DiBona started another snowstorm of speculation that Google was all set to
attack Microsoft's Office suite. He told Google staff could help reduce
the download size of OpenOffice. But according to this story on eweek Google
employees have already helped reduce download sizes.

Microsoft Plans Online Version of Windows

Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday announced
online enhancements to its Windows operating system and other popular software
programs, hoping to defuse a growing threat from Google Inc. and other
fast-moving challengers. With a new Web site called "Windows Live," Microsoft
hopes to create a new platform that will unfasten some of its applications from
a computer hard drive. The change reflects Microsoft's recognition of the
growing demand for applications and services that can be used from any place, at
any time, as the lines between the home and office blur and portable computing
devices become more powerful.

Microsoft follows the iPod way

Ray Ozzie, Microsoft's services
chief, says the iPod and BlackBerry are role models for how to marry hardware,
software and services.

Media Moguls Circle the Wagons

Traditional media publishers are
running scared of the internet, which explains why these hidebound conglomerates
have begun scooping up online companies almost at random, a marketing executive

Google Gives Peek at Classified Ad Service

Google Inc. has unintentionally
provided a sneak peek at what appears to be a looming expansion into classified
advertising _ a free service that might antagonize some of the Internet search
engine's biggest customers, including online auctioneer eBay Inc. Screen shots
of the experimental service, dubbed "Google Base," appeared on several Web sites
Tuesday shortly after the legions of people who dissect the online search engine
leader's every move discovered a link to a page inviting people to list things
like a used car for sale, a party planning service and current events.

Dell Says New
Focus Will Cut Into Profit

Dell Inc. warned investors yesterday
that its shift in strategy to focus on higher profit margins would result in
lower-than-expected revenue and earnings in the third quarter. The surprise
announcement, made after the close of trading, pushed its shares down more than
4 percent in after-hours trading; shares were up 82 cents, to $31.88, in regular

SAP challenges Oracle's Air Force contract

Germany's SAP asks the GAO to review
the U.S. Air Force's decision to award an $88 million contract to Oracle,
potentially putting the contract up for grabs.

IBM, Sun to create 'OpenDocument Foundation'?

Two companies will hold a meeting
this week to evangelize adoption of the document format, which Microsoft does
not support.



SCO lodges
'infringing' code with court; But we can't see it yet?

After two and a half years of waiting
for the shoe to drop, the SCO Group has finally filed the evidence it alleges
was misused by IBM, and incorporated into the Linux kernel, to a Utah court. SCO
lodged the five page document, which identifies 217 areas of concern, in
compliance with an interim deadline on Friday; the company disclosed the fact to
journalists late yesterday afternoon Mountain Time. However, the document
remains under seal.

Microsoft to offer book search

Company joins Yahoo's book
digitization project, paying to bring 150,000 books online. Will MSN Book Search
stay out of legal trouble?

BlackBerry Maker Denied High Court Appeal

The maker of BlackBerry e-mail
devices on Wednesday lost an emergency Supreme Court appeal which sought to put
a long-running patent suit against the company on hold. Research In Motion Ltd.
is appealing an infringement verdict to the high court and wanted the lawsuit
stalled while the appeal was pending. Chief Justice John Roberts denied the
company's request for a stay, without comment.

Jack Thompson Versus Gamers

What ensues when anti-games crusader
Jack Thompson shifts his attention from video-game publishers to enthusiast
websites like Penny Arcade? Unbelievable weirdness.

BitTorrent Conviction Unlikely to Be Copied in US

Hong Kong officials have successfully
prosecuted a BitTorrent user for sharing three copyrighted movies on the
file-sharing network. The user faces up to four years in jail and a fine of up
to about US$6,400. He had pleaded not guilty to copyright infringement for
sharing movies "Miss Congeniality," "Daredevil" and "Red Planet."



Supreme Court rejects Microsoft appeal in Eolas case

With the denial of an appeal about
how damages in the case should be calculated, focus now shifts to the District
Court that is examining the validity of the Eolas patent.



The battle to shape data security laws

It has been a bad year for data
security. In response, more than a dozen bills have been introduced in Congress
this year.

Federal commission looks to push e-health record adoption


A federal commission looking for ways
to make digitized health care information more widely available to patients and
providers in the U.S. is calling for a nationwide patient authentication system.

Data Security
Laws Seem Likely, So Consumers and Businesses Vie to Shape Them

It has been a bad year for data
security. In response, more than a dozen bills have been introduced in Congress
this year.



House to Onion: Stop using seal

The White House is not amused by The
Onion, a newspaper that often spoofs the Bush administration, and has asked it
to stop using the presidential seal on its Web site. The seal was still on the
Web site on Tuesday at the spot where President George W.
Bush's weekly radio address is parodied. With headlines like "Bush To Appoint
Someone To Be In Charge Of Country" and "Bush Subconsciously Sizes Up Spain For
Invasion," The Onion is popular with readers looking for a little laughter with
their politics.

No Porn for You, Video IPod!

Usually the adult industry races to
embrace new technology -- but not so with the video iPod. Thanks to fears of
litigation and a government crackdown, the porn peddlers will not get caught
with their pants down.



New Rules On Internet Wiretapping Challenged

New federal wiretapping rules that
would make it easier for law enforcement to monitor e-mails and Internet-based
phone calls were challenged by privacy, high-tech and telecommunications groups
in federal court yesterday.

U.S. Passports to Go Electronic

The new radio frequency
identification chips will include a photo and all the other information
currently printed in passports.

U.S. Cell Phone Tracking Clipped

Judges reject Bush administration
arguments that law enforcement should be able to use cell phone signals to track
users' movements, ruling that the feds first need "probable cause" to believe
someone's committed a crime.



New BlackBerry gets juice from Intel

Xscale-powered handheld debuts as
RIM's rivals step up their wireless e-mail offerings.

AOL Founder Resigns From Time Warner

Steve Case, the America Online
co-founder who shepherded the company through its merger with Time Warner Inc.,
said he is resigning immediately from the Time Warner board of directors.



Developer expresses concerns

A developer expressed his fear that
he may be letting the city take advantage of him during a Richfield City Council
meeting Oct. 25. Seth Thurgood said when he started the Fairway Landing
subdivision, he wanted to do a quality job. However, Thurgood said additions and
changes the city has requested after its initial acceptance of the plan for the
subdivision continually increase the costs of building the subdivision.

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