TBTF for 3/9/98: Pushy

Keith Dawson (dawson@world.std.com)
Sun, 8 Mar 1998 17:20:11 -0600


TBTF for 3/9/98: Pushy

T a s t y B i t s f r o m t h e T e c h n o l o g y F r o n t

Timely news of the bellwethers in computer and communications
technology that will affect electronic commerce -- since 1994

Your Host: Keith Dawson

This issue: < http://www.tbtf.com/archive/03-09-98.html >

C o n t e n t s

Draft Netscape Public License released
Brits fighting to stave off crypto ban
Strict EU privacy rules coming
Open Market awarded three basic patents
Yep, they're listening
Centerfold attacks Web site
Lower-cost PowerBooks on the way from Apple
Short domain names are almost gone
Cosmic push
Quick bits
3Com sues Microsoft
Wal-Mart to sell Internet access
Resilient quantum computation
Body language

..Draft Netscape Public License released

Gives the company extra rights as the original developer

Since Netscape announced its plans to release the source code for
Communicator 5 [1], open source developers have been awaiting the
license terms for the release. Last week Netscape published ver-
sion 0.9 of the "NPL" [2]. For the license itself in legalese see
[3] (HTML) or [4] (text). Netscape has kindly provided both an an-
notated version [5] for non-native speakers of legalese and a FAQ
[6]. The license is similar to to the LGPL [7] but goes further to
provide special privileges to Netscape as the initial developer of
the NPL'd code; in particular Netscape uniquely has the right to
license NPL'd code, including code written by outside developers,
to its partners on terms different than the NPL.

Netscape is soliciting comments on the preliminary NPL on this
newsgroup [8] until 3/11.

[1] http://www.tbtf.com/archive/01-26-98.html#s03
[2] http://www.mozilla.org/NPL/
[3] http://www.mozilla.org/NPL/LICENSE-0.90.html
[4] http://www.mozilla.org/NPL/LICENSE-0.90.txt
[5] http://www.mozilla.org/NPL/annotated.html
[6] http://www.mozilla.org/NPL/FAQ.html
[7] http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/lgpl.html
[8] news://secnews.netscape.com/netscape.public.mozilla.license

..Brits fighting to stave off crypto ban

Mr. Louis Freeh, meet Mr. Jack Straw

In March of 1997 the then-Tory British government's Department of
Trade & Industry proposed licensing "trusted third parties" to
offer encryption services and requiring them to escrow users'
private keys. The Labor party, then in opposition, decried this
proposal, and their election manifesto [9] codified their oppo-
sition. But rumors have been circulating for a month now that the
current Labor government is about to propose a scheme very like
the year-old proposal [10].

On 2/10 Sean Gabb published this leak [11] of government plans to
announce mandatory domestic key escrow. On 2/19 an official of the
DTI did give a presentation [12] on policy suggestions for digital
signatures -- and said that the domestic encryption part of the
policy had been delayed by the "completely wrong announcements on
the Internet," by which he apparently meant [11]. Now more than two
weeks have gone by and no policy paper has been published; rumors
continue to swirl that the policy, when it is released, will some-
how link encryption with digital signatures. Microsoft Europe has
issued a response [13] to this possibility that sets out the is-
sues very nicely. Meanshile, the proprietors of NTKnow have set
up a mailing list for fast-breaking British crypto news. To sub-
scribe, mail majordomo@lists.unfortu.net with message: subscribe
crypto-announce .

[9] http://www.labour.org.uk/views/info%2Dhighway/content.html
[10] http://www.tbtf.com/archive/02-02-98.html#s07
[11] http://freespace.virgin.net/old.whig/flc010.htm
[12] http://www.liberty.org.uk/cacib/legal/crypto/icx2.html
[13] http://www.liberty.org.uk/cacib/legal/crypto/microsoft.html

..Strict EU privacy rules coming

Will it become illegal to push a cookie on a European?

Next October, EU rules go into effect governing the flow of personal
data across national borders. If EU countries strictly implement
these rules, they would have to cut off large amounts of corporate
and personal commerce with countries that don't implement similarly
strict privacy protections. Outside the EU, only Norway, Iceland,
Slovenia, New Zealand, and Switzerland have laws governing the use
of private data by commercial firms. Here is a summary of the dir-
ective on "Transborder Flows of Personal Data," taken from an art-
icle [14] covering possible impacts on the US, Canada, Australia,
and Japan:

> Among the Directive's requirements are that the member country
> statutes provide individuals with the right to advance notice
> of a data collector's intent to collect and use their personal
> data, the right to access and correct data collected about
> them, and the right to object to certain data transfers. The
> Directive further requires that... data collectors process
> personal data only for specified, explicit, and legitimate
> purposes; that data collectors maintain the security and con-
> fidentiality of personal data; and that statutes provide ju-
> dicial remedies for violations.

If the directive were applied liberally it could mean that Website
operators would have to get permission from European users before
setting a cookie, and would have to disclose the intended uses of
cookie data and of personal data captured in site registration.
The more suspect uses of cookies -- by ad sites for example --
would seem to be banished entirely, as their only intent is col-
lecting and correlating personal data for purposes of unsolicited

Articles 25 and 26 [15] are at the center of the problems the dir-
ective poses for non-EU countries. Article 25 lays out the stric-
tures and Article 26 gives some conditions under which they might
be relaxed. No one seems to know [16] how the EU countries will
implement the privacy directive.

[14] http://www.info-law.com/eupriv.html
[15] http://www2.echo.lu/legal/en/dataprot/directiv/chap4.html
[16] http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe/globehtml/064/Lines_drawn_over_privacy.htm

..Open Market awarded three basic patents

Online commerce developers and vendors may need to obtain

On 3/4 Open Market announced that it has been awarded three pat-
ents covering significant aspects of online commerce [17]: visitor
traffic analysis, electronic shopping carts, and secure, real-time
payment using credit cards. The company intends to collect royal-
ties from others in the Internet commerce space. These patents will
be more difficult to contest than EData's [18]. The proprietor of
the Internet Patent News Service says:

> A commendable amount of non-patent prior art cited -- no easy
> 102 knockout here to allow you to ignore letters from Open
> Market.

Open Market's capsule descriptions of the patents:

> Internet Server Access Control and Monitoring Systems (No.
> 5,708,780), covers... the ability to analyze how users browse
> through content on a Web site. Session Identifiers allow
> businesses to market more effectively to buyers based upon
> viewing patterns... can also be used to limit access to
> specific content.

> Network Sales System (No. 5,715,314), covers the use of
> "electronic shopping carts" which merchants provide to their
> customers as a way to accumulate items to purchase before
> checking out. This patent also describes the passing of
> payment and purchase information through a URL.

> Digital Active Advertising (No. 5,724,424), covers secure,
> real-time payment using credit and debit cards over the
> Internet. It is one of the earliest and broadest Internet
> payment patents yet granted, with a filing date of December
> 16, 1993.

[17] http://www.openmarket.com/releases/3patents.htm
[18] http://www.tbtf.com/archive/04-07-96.html

..Yep, they're listening

The Echelon system links five nations' spy agencies in filtering
all voice and data traffic worldwide

Have you ever gotten a laugh from this venerable Net .sig?

> The NSA is now funding research not only in cryptography, but
> in all areas of advanced mathematics. If you'd like a circular
> describing these new research opportunities, just pick up your
> phone, call your mother, and ask for one.

A draft European Parliament report [19] on the role and function of
political control technologies was circulated last month. The Sci-
entific and Technological Options Assessment recounts characteris-
tics of a worldwide intelligence-gathering and distribution system
named Echelon. Much of the current knowledge of Echelon came out of
New Zealand, where in 1996 Nicky Hagar published the book "Secret
Power." (It is not, alas, listed at Amazon, Waterstones, or Barnes
& Noble.) See this summary [20] published in CovertAction Quarterly.
Echelon coordinates the signals intelligence of the US, UK, Canada,
Australia, and New Zealand. It listens in real-time, from earth and
space, to the vast majority of all email, fax, telex, and voice
traffic worldwide and filters it for words or phrases of interest
to one of the five countries' intelligence services. Just like the
paranoids always said. This has been going on since 1981. In a note
to the Cryptography mailing list, Vin McClellan <vin@shore.net>
picks out STOA's hot point:

> The implications of the proposed controls over free access to
> strong cryptography -- declares STOA -- "encompass the civil
> and human rights of European citizens and the commercial rights
> of companies to operate within the law, without unwarranted
> surveillance by intelligence agencies operating in conjunction
> with multinational competitors." That last phrase -- with its
> explicit reference to the commercial or economic intelligence
> which can be gleaned from universal surveillance (and the value
> of such intelligence to multinational corporations aligned
> with each of the inteligence agencies cooperating in Echelon) --
> lies in the dense gray text of the report like an unlit fuse.

And in conclusion, courtesy of meta-X spook (see TBTF for 4/13/95)
[21], let me CIA plutonium Peking DES kibo Panama NSA PLO domestic
radar disruption Khaddafi supercomputer BATF North Korea Serbian
just state that our great country will never be truly free until
Nazi genetic Ft. Meade South Africa nuclear plutonium Ft. Bragg
colonel cryptographic Kennedy FBI Delta Force radar Uzi Mossad
bomb Marxist strategic AK-47 terrorist.

[19] http://www.jya.com/atpc.htm
[20] http://jya.com/echelon.htm
[21] http://www.tbtf.com/archive/04-13-95.html

..Centerfold attacks Web site

This champion of free speech likes it less when the speech is
directed their way

David Barberi's <info@2meta.com> humor site [22] collects his favor-
ites among the numerous April Fools pranks that have circulated on
the Net since at least 1978. He archived [23] a Usenet posting from
last April, author unknown, which purports to be from one Hugh F.
Hefner and falsely claims that Playboy Magazine has decided to shut
down. It's pretty funny. (The same posting is available from Deja
News, but not from Alta Vista's Usenet database.) Last month Barberi
received a demand [24] from the Playboy legal department that he
remove the piece. He has consulted with a lawyer and so far has not
taken it down, though he has placed an "obnoxious warning" on each
page of the site. US case law strongly supports parody as protected
speech. Barberi suggests he may contact the Playboy Foundation for
help with the legal expenses. His is exactly the kind of David-vs.-
Goliath, first-amendment case that in the past Playboy has aided

[22] http://www.2meta.com/april-fools/
[23] http://www.2meta.com/april-fools/1997/playboy-shutdown.html
[24] http://www.2meta.com/april-fools/playboy/

..Lower-cost PowerBooks on the way from Apple

Cheaper and faster than comparably equipped Wintels

In May Apple will begin shipping low-cost laptops that are more
than comparable in price and performance with their Wintel compet-
itors [25]. The new models, which have been rumored under the code
names Main Street and Wall Street, will start at $1999 for a 233-
MHz G3 processor with a 12.1-inch dual-scan display. 233-MHz Pen-
tium MMX notebooks today cost anywhere from $2,900 to $5,000 and
underperform a similarly clocked G3. Apple's new pricing will un-
dercut even the bargain-basement system you can buy today [26] by
combining a low-end PowerBook 1400 ($1800) with a 250-MHz G3 add-
in from Newer Technologies ($1000).

A survey: please send me a note (dawson@world.std.com) if you pres-
ently use a Macintosh regularly. What is the probability that you
will buy another MacOS system?

[25] http://www.news.com/News/Item/Textonly/0,25,19780,00.html?pfv
[26] http://www.news.com/News/Item/Textonly/0,25,19673,00.html?pfv

..Short domain names are almost gone

Apply quick for cry.net, bum.net, or uzi.net

Darn those guys at Need To Know [27]. Their useful and interesting
e-rag comes out on Friday and often as not scoops TBTF on two or
three items I had planned to run the following Monday. Here is one:
Roger Gonzalez <argh@datapult.com>, with way too much time on his
hands, did a brute-force search for all 2- and 3-character names
still available in the .com and .net domains. The result [28]:

- All 2-letter domains are taken

- All 2-alphanumeric domains in .com are taken; 104 are
left in .net

- Of the remaining 3-character domains, only 55 are words

You can download Gonzalez's entire report [29] (349K).

NTKnow doesn't (they would say "don't") credit the source of this
item, but they probably picked it up the same place I did, from
Glen Mccready's 0xdeadbeef mailing list.

[27] http://www.ntk.net/
[28] http://datapult.com/domains.html
[29] http://datapult.com/domains3.txt

..Cosmic push

Faster and faster apart

Push may be moribund as a topic on the Web (for example, Microsoft
will ship IE5 without its Active Channel bar [30]), but it is very
much alive in the corridors of cosmology. TBTF for 1/19/98 [31] re-
ported that the universe looks to expand forever, slowing all the
time but never reversing its expansion. This concensus only came
clear in January, and already it is being supplanted with talk of a
universal repulsive force [32] -- perhaps the "cosmological constant"
that Einstein invented and rued all the rest of his days -- that is
causing the universal expansion to accelerate over time. One can-
didate for the instigator of this repulsive force is the zero-point
energy of the vacuum (see TBTF for 11/24/97 [33] and [34]). Evidence
for the acceleration comes from observations of distant supernovas.
Fans of the inflationary Big Bang theory welcome the news, because
the cosmic push may be just enough to balance the books on a topo-
logically flat universe, after visible matter, dark matter, and
exotic matter (WIMPs and MACHOs) have fallen short. An accelera-
ting expansion would also mean the universe is older than it ap-
appears, helping to close an embarassing gap with the estimated age
of its oldest stars.

[30] http://www.news.com/News/Item/Textonly/0,25,19656,00.html?pfv
[31] http://www.tbtf.com/archive/01-19-98.html#s11
[32] http://www.aip.org/enews/physnews/1998/split/pnu361-1.htm
[33] http://www.tbtf.com/archive/11-24-97.html#s10
[34] http://www.aip.org/enews/physnews/1997/split/pnu345-2.htm

..Quick bits

A twisty little maze of items, all different

..3Com sues Microsoft

The maker of the barn-burning Palm Pilot filed trademark lawsuits
against Microsoft in Germany and Italy [35] for naming its upcoming
competitor the "Palm PC." 3Com apparently choose to sue in Europe
because trademark law in the US would not be as favorable to their

[35] http://www.news.com/News/Item/Textonly/0,25,19745,00.html?pfv

..Wal-Mart to sell Internet access

If further evidence were needed that the Internet is going main-
stream, consider the announcement by Sam's Club, a division of
Wal-Mart Stores, that it will offer Internet access to its 21.4
million members through the ISP Earthlink. Sam's Club members
will get the same services available to all EarthLink members:
email, a personal start-up page, technical support, and 6 MB of
Web space.

..Resilient quantum computation

Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory say they have solved a
problem that will theoretically affect quantum computers more than
traditional ones -- error detection and correction. Earlier this
year Raymond Laflamme and colleagues published a paper outlining
how to use redundancy to compensate for the inherent fragility of
atomic states. This story in Nando Times Infotech [36] is a bit
lightweight; subscribers to the journal "Science" can view the
original article online [37].

[36] http://www.techserver.com/newsroom/ntn/info/011798/info6_20484_noframes.html
[37] http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/279/5349/342?terms=Laflamme+Knill&searchqstr=tyear:1998!fyear:1995!fmonth:Oct!tmonth:Feb!tdatedef:27+February+1998!fdatedef:6+October+1995!hits:10!sendit:Search!author1:Laflamme,+R.!author2:Knill,+E.

..Body language

The New York Post asked Hilka Klinkenberg to review Bill Gates's
communication style during his Capital Hill appearance [38]. Klink-
enberg is an image consultant who coaches Fortune 500 executives
on body language. She gave Gates good marks overall but pointed
out a few lapses.

> Whenever he talked about competition and innovation -- not
> his, other companies' -- he got this tight insincere smile, as
> if to say he was annoyed by competition and wants the whole
> ball of wax to himself. Bill was best with his hand gestures,
> which were non-threatening and sincere... But the more pow-
> erful the person, the fewer gestures he makes... I didn't see
> anything that was frightening or menacing about Bill. There's
> almost a Princess Diana quality about him... it's an endearing
> shyness that comes across.

[38] http://www.nypost.com/business/217.htm


John Walker, whom we last met in TBTF for 3/9/97 [39] -- the man
who assembled HotBits, the first known Internet randomness ser-
ver -- has performed another service to humanity. He has made
freely available the Demoronizer [40], which corrects all the non-
standard characters and broken HTML in documents generated from
Microsoft applications via "Save as HTML." The Demoronizer is
written in Perl, and yes, it does run in Windows environments
[41]. Thanks to Lloyd Wood <L.Wood@surrey.ac.uk> for the pointer.

[39] http://www.tbtf.com/archive/03-09-97.html#s05
[40] http://www.fourmilab.ch/webtools/demoroniser/
[41] http://www.perl.com/CPAN-local/ports/

N o t e s

> Physicists just want to have fun: WIMPs and MACHOs are weakly inter-
acting massive particles and massive cometary halo objects. WIMPs
were postulated first as a candidate for the "dark matter" in the
universe, and after they were named the comet boys just had to
trump them.

S o u r c e s

> For a complete list of TBTF's (mostly email) sources, see
http://www.tbtf.com/sources.html .

TBTF home and archive at http://www.tbtf.com/ . To subscribe send
the message "subscribe" to tbtf-request@world.std.com. TBTF is
Copyright 1994-1998 by Keith Dawson, <dawson@world.std.com>. Com-
mercial use prohibited. For non-commercial purposes please forward,
post, and link as you see fit.
Keith Dawson dawson@world.std.com
Layer of ash separates morning and evening milk.

Version: PGP for Personal Privacy 5.5