Friday, November 25, 2005

Dutch Firm Wants to Rid Net of Suffixes

A Reuters newswire article ny Lucas van Grinsven, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

A Dutch technology company has breathed life into a project to rid the Internet of suffixes such as .com, and instead offer single names which can be countries, company names or fantasy words.

UnifiedRoot offers practically unlimited numbers of suffixes, unlike the short list of suffixes currently in use. Its offer is different from other "alternative root" providers such as which offers to register names in front of a small range of new suffixes, such as .club and .law.

"Those who claim to be able to add new 'suffixes' or 'TLDs' are generally pirates or con-men with something to sell," said Paul Vixie, who sits in several committees of the California-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) with day-to-day control of the Web, on his CircleID blog.

Man Accused in $200,000 Lego Internet Scam

An AP newswire article, via CNN, reports that:

Agents had to use a 20-foot truck to cart away the evidence from a suspect's house -- mountains of Lego bricks.

William Swanberg, 40, of Reno, Nevada, is accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of the colorful plastic building blocks.

Swanberg was indicted by a grand jury in Hillsboro, a Portland suburb, which charged him with stealing Lego sets from Target stores.

Cray Chief Scientist Resigns to Take Position at Microsoft

A Reuters newswire article, via C|Net News, reports that:

Supercomputer maker Cray on Friday said that cofounder and chief scientist Burton Smith will leave the company to take a job at software maker Microsoft.

Smith will leave the company on Dec. 7, Cray said. He also resigned from his post on Cray's board of directors.

The company did not say what Smith's position will be at Microsoft. Microsoft officials were not immediately available for comment.

Swisscom-Eircom Deal Falls Through

Tim Richardson writes in The Register:

Swisscom's plans to acquire Irish incumbent Eircom have been ripped to shreds after the Swiss government said it would not allow the telco to make overseas investments for at least the next 12 moths.

If the Government sticks by its decision it means that Swisscom's plans to acquire Irish incumbent Eircom now lie in tatters. And any ambitions Swisscom might have had to snap up Danish telco TDC are also heading for the shredder.

A spokesman for Swiss government told Reuters: "We have told Swisscom that the government does not want them to get involved there (with Eircom). The (government's) board representative has been instructed to vote against such an engagement."

Scientific-Atlanta Sued Over Cisco Deal

A Reuters newswire article, via CNN/Money, reports that:

Cable television set-top box maker Scientific-Atlanta Inc. on Wednesday said it and its directors have been named in two lawsuits related to its $6.9 billion agreement to be bought by Cisco Systems Inc.

The complaints, which accuse Scientific-Atlanta and its directors of breaching their duties to shareholders in agreeing to an "inadequate price" for the sale, are "without merit," the company said. The lawsuits were filed on Tuesday and Wednesday in the State Court of Fulton County, Georgia, Scientific-Atlanta spokesman Tom Robey said.

Hayabusa Probe Prepares for Second Touchdown Attempt

Via NewScientist.

Japan's Hayabusa spacecraft will make another attempt to touch down on asteroid Itokawa on Friday, in a bid to collect the first ever samples of such an object.

The Hayabusa probe, which successfully touched down on the asteroid last Sunday but failed to collect material as planned, is set to try again at 2200 GMT on Friday, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

Alltel May Sell Wireline Business

Via Red Herring.

Alltel is in negotiations with as many as three U.S. telecommunications carriers to sell its wireline business for about $10 billion, according to a report on Friday.

The Little Rock, Arkansas-based carrier is in late-stage negotiations with Citizens Communications of Stamford, Connecticut; CenturyTel of Monroe, Louisiana; and Valor Communications of Irving, Texas, according to the Financial Times.

Canada: Telus Merges Wireless Unit With Wireline

Catherine McLean writes in The Globe and Mail:

Telus Corp. chief executive officer Darren Entwistle is shaking up the company's operating structure by merging its wireline and wireless units.

The integration comes just a month after the departure of George Cope, the high-profile president of Telus's wireless business, to competitor Bell Canada. Mr. Cope won't be replaced now that Telus has decided to merge the businesses. Instead, other executives will share responsibility for the wireless operations, the company's fastest-growing business.

Xbox 360 Crash Fix Found?

Nick Farrell writes in The Inquirer:

A GAMER fed up with his new Xbox 360 crashing every 20 minutes has fixed the problem by raising the power supply off the ground with some string.

Dan, from Duluth, or 'goldeneyemaster' as he is known, told the game spot forum here that he thinks the main reason that the xBox 360 freezes is because the power supply overheats. The solution is to lift the power supply off the floor and allow the air to circulate better around it.

Another simple method involved getting a box with no cover and putting the power supply on the edges.

As a result, he was able to leave his machine on for a stonking seven hours without it freezing up.

Alabama Closes Internet Cafes to Stem Gaming

Nick Farrell writes in The Inquirer:

APPARENTLY not wishing to be outdone by China, coppers in Theodore (population 6,509), Alabama have shut down Internet cafes to stop online gaming.

The Mobile County Sheriff's Office and the Alabama Attorney general shut down two Cafes where punters were taking part in Internet gambling, authorities said.

No one was arrested, but instead the coppers seized 60 computers from Lisa's Internet Cafe Jackie's Internet Cafe.

Lycos Loses Dutch ID Disclosure Case

Jan Libbenga writes in The Register:

After almost three years of long-lasting legal procedures, the Dutch Supreme Court ruled today that Dutch ISP Lycos must reveal the name of an anonymous website owner who ridiculed a part-time stamp trader. However, there is little Lycos can disclose other than a fake address that the website owner once provided.

Dutch citizen Bernard Pessers traded postage stamps through eBay and was accused of fraud by an anonymous Lycos member on his home page. Pessers demanded the closure of the site and told Lycos that he also wanted to know the identity of its member. When Lycos refused, Pessers took the ISP to court.

After the initial verdict, Lycos handed over the data, but when the address turned out to be wrong, Pessers started another procedure to force Lycos to find the correct information. That demand was turned down in court, but this was in turn overruled by the Dutch Appeals Court. Lycos then took the case to the Dutch Supreme Court. The so-called Lycos-Pessers defence, which has dragged on for years, has attracted attention from legal experts worldwide.

Symantec Refuses to Sell Audit Tool Outside the U.S.

John Leyden writes in The Register:

Symantec has stopped selling a password auditing tool to customers outside the US and Canada, citing US Government export regulations.

A Reg reader who works for a large UK supermarket was this month unable to buy a copy of LC 5, a tool developed by @stake prior to its recent acquisition by Symantec. LC 5 is the commercial version of a password auditing / breaking tool better known as L0phtCrack.

User Friendly: 'Defective Xbox 360'


Click for larger image.

Manufacturer Pre-loads Trojans onto Hard Disks

John Leyden writes in The Channel Register:

Japanese peripherals manufacturer I-O Data Device has offered product exchanges after it discovered it had shipped out a batch of hard discs contaminated with viral code. Portable hard disk drives in I-O Data's HDP-U series might be infected with the Tompai-A, a worm that gives hackers backdoor access to compromised machines.

Affected products are in the following range of serial numbers: 4957180059693 HDP-U40 YBS0000001xx - YBS0005520xx; 4957180059709 HDP-U60 YBT0000001xx - YBT0001000xx; and 4957180059716 HDP-U80 YBV0000001xx - YBV0002480xx. I-O Data offers its sincere apologies for distributing HDDs contaminated with "Troy wooden horse type" viral code in a notice here (in Japanese via Babelfish). The firm has promised to tighten up its procedures to prevent a repeat of the problem.

Child Pornography Problem Growing in Sweden

An AFP newswire article, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

The number of Swedes seeking out sexual images involving children on the Internet is on the rise, the Swedish chapter of the anti-child pornography group Ecpat warned.

"Tens of thousands of people try every day to get at material that documents aggravated abuse of children, which in itself is a catastrophe," head of Swedish Ecpat Helena Karlen told public radio.

Ecpat, which stands for End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes, has joined forces with Swedish police and 12 Internet operators to block access across Sweden to sites containing child pornography.

Kazaa Injunction Stayed Until Late February

Via Reuters.

Sharman Networks, the operator of file-sharing network Kazaa, on Friday said an Austrailian court has extended until late February a stay of an injunction barring it from distributing copyrighted recordings.

Sharman said the extended stay is conditional on the company's modifying its software to filter out copyrighted music from the peer-to-peer file-sharing network.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Europe: Entertainment Industry 'Trying to Hijack Data Retention Directive'

Graeme Wearden and Karen Gomm write in

In a move a digital rights group is calling 'a gross affront to civil liberties and human rights', media firms want to amend the proposed data retention directive so they can bring criminal prosecutions for copyright violation.

Cyber-rights groups have accused the entertainment industry of attempting to hijack the European Union's data retention legislation.

The European Union is considering whether to force telecoms operators and Internet service providers to retain customer data for up to a year. On Wednesday afternoon, a parliamentary committee approved these plans, which will now be voted on by the EU Council.

Several governments, including the UK, want these powers brought in ostensibly to aid investigations into terrorism.

Euro Deputies Push Through Anti-Terror Telecom Measures

An AFP newswire article, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

EU lawmakers voted to allow police greater access to telephone and Internet data, but the proposed measures fall far short of a tough European anti-terror package Britain is seeking.

The vote, by the European Parliament's justice and home affairs committee, would see telecommunications data held for six to 12 months and force EU member states to pay the costs they might impose on companies.

The measures have to be adopted by the full EU assembly in mid-December.

They would oblige businesses to keep details about callers, such as who they spoke to, where and when, and would apply to land telephone lines and mobile phones, text messages, and Internet protocols.

Dilbert: Take the Fifth

Click for larger image.

Stunning Photo Previews the Death of Our Sun

A beautiful image has been released today by the Gemini Telescope
showing the death of a star (planetary nebula M2-9) as it
transforms from a regular star to a white dwarf.

Image source: / Gemini Observatory / Travis Rector,
University of Alaska Anchorage


In the process the star casts off an ethereal envelope of gas in concentric shells - the formation of these shells are still a mystery to astronomers and this image is part of new data that will help them to advance our understanding of the phenomenon.

It is thought that when our Sun has used up all its hydrogen fuel in 4-5 billion years it will meet a similar fate.

The image was taken at the Gemini North Telescope in Hawaii. Gemini operates twin telescopes that are two of the largest in the world. For this image, astronomers used the newly upgraded ALTAIR adaptive optics system which helps them correct any distortion of light due to the atmosphere (the effect that makes stars appear to twinkle).

H5N1 News: Bird Flu Spreads to Far Western China

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

China on Thursday announced the spread of bird flu to a far western region, while Indonesia reported its first outbreak of the virus in the tsunami-ravaged Aceh province where hundreds of chickens have died from the disease.

The Nov. 17 outbreak in Turpan, a city in China’s Xinjiang region, killed 11 birds and prompted the destruction of 5,180 more, the official Xinhua News Agency reported, citing the Agriculture Ministry.

News of the outbreak — China’s 21st in recent weeks — came a day after the country confirmed its second human death from bird flu.

H5N1 News: Expert Says Bird Flu Has Killed 300 People in China

Debora MacKenzie writes in NewScientist:

A respected Japanese scientist, who works with the World Health Organization, says 300 people have died of H5N1 bird flu in China, including seven cases caused by human-to-human transmission.

He says he was given the information in confidence by Chinese colleagues who have been threatened with arrest if they disclosed the extent of the problem.

The allegations, which he revealed at a meeting in Germany, contrast sharply with China’s official position. It reports three confirmed cases of H5N1 in people: a boy in Hunan province who recovered, and two women who died in Anhui province, the latest of which was announced on Thursday. There may be another probable case in Hunan.

'Mafiaboy' Now a Columinist for Montreal Newspaper

Image source: F-Secure

Mikko writes in the F-Secure "News from the Lab" Blog:

Remember Mafiaboy? The Canadian teenager hacker who launched the first mainstream DDoS attacks in 1999, against targets like Yahoo and eBay? The guy who - after CNN run a story on the attacks - took down CNN.COM? Who had his attacks categorized in the "top 10 hacks of all time" (!)?

Well, turns out he's nowadays a columnist for a newspaper in Montreal. In fact, he's covering some of his old attacks in his articles.

Europe: Vivendi Urges Clarification on TV on Mobile Rules

A Reuters newswire article by Astrid Wendlandt, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

Vivendi Universal stepped up pressure on regulators on Thursday, urging them to determine the rules that will govern the embryonic market of TV on mobile phones and the frequencies used for the new service.

Vivendi, which controls France's second largest mobile operator SFR, is running trials of mobile TV broadcasting in partnership with pay-TV unit Canal Plus and Finnish handset maker Nokia until June.

In Iraq, Thanksgiving Just Another Day on Patrol

Being a vet myself, I know how hard it is to be away from family and friends during the holidays.

This Thanksgiving, please do not forget our servicemen and women away from their homes who arre doing their collective duties for a grateful nation.

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

Huddling together in the cold, U.S. Marines of the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion spoke Thursday about missing family and friends back home for Thanksgiving while on patrol near the Syrian border.

The Marines are scouting the remote, desert area along the border looking for smugglers and foreign fighters trying to slip into the country from Syria.

The area, one of the most dangerous in Iraq, was the scene of brisk fighting this month as Marines drove insurgents out of three towns near Qaim, 200 miles northwest of Baghdad.

“Serving my country is important but losing friends makes me more thankful for what I have and for what I used to take for granted,” said Cpl. Brian Zwart, 20, of Fruitport, Mich., who mans a 25mm canon atop an armored personnel carrier.

You are not forgotton.

UK Government Sees Silver Lining in Botnet Cloud

Graeme Weardon writes on

Let's celebrate, says the DTI, as the UK holds on to the top spot for botnet infections.

The epidemic of hijacked PCs sweeping the UK underlines the sign of the success achieved in creating Broadband Britain, according to a senior official at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Nigel Hickson, head of European e-commerce and telecoms regulation at the DTI, told a London conference on Monday "we should celebrate that we are number one for [botnet] infections. It says something about our importance and the value within UK Plc."

Hickson, who was taking part in a panel at Broadband Britain Summit 2005, was responding to a question from Jeremy Ward, Symantec's director of service development. Ward asked what government and industry are doing to fight online threats, and build online trust.

Swiss Government Looks to Sell Swisscom Stake

A Bloomberg News article, via The International Herald Tribune, reports that:

The Swiss government said Thursday that it planned to amend existing telecommunications rules to be able to sell its entire Swisscom stake and improve the telephone company's chances of entering alliances.

It would take two to three years to put a legal framework in place for the state's exit from the largest Swiss phone company, the finance and communications ministries said. A decision on a sale of the state's current 66 percent stake in Swisscom would be made at a later date, they said.

Europe: Why You Should Register a .eu Domain Name


You probably know that .eu domain names will be available soon. If you have a collection of domain names already but use only one or two of them, it may seem pointless to register another one. But there are good reasons why you should.

Mu Mu: A Party Girl Leads China's Online Revolution

Howard W. French writes in The New York Times:

On her fourtrh day of keeping a Web log, she introduced herself to the world with these striking words: "I am a dance girl, and I am a party member."

"I don't know if I can be counted as a successful Web cam dance girl," that early post continued. "But I'm sure that looking around the world, if I am not the one with the highest diploma, I am definitely the dance babe who reads the most and thinks the deepest, and I'm most likely the only party member among them."

Thus was born, early in July, what many regard as China's most popular blog.

Google Fixes Glitch That Unleashed Flood of pr0n

Alorie Gilbert writes in C|Net News:

A technology glitch temporarily turned Google's new personal listings service, Google Base, into a vast, virtual red-light district earlier this week.

Launched last week, Google Base is the search company's foray into free classified listings and other user-generated content. Anyone can use the service to classify and post all kinds of information, from business services and used cars for sale to recipes and photos.

Google Base allows adult content but should filter most of it if visitors use the company's SafeSearch feature, which blocks pornographic material from appearing in search results. That wasn't the case earlier this week, however, due to a technical glitch that allowed porn to leak into Google Base search results.

Myth: Eating Turkey Makes You Sleepy

A UPI newswire article, via, reports that:

There's reportedly good Thanksgiving news for turkey lovers: Contrary to popular belief, tryptophan in turkey doesn't cause drowsiness.

In fact, scientists told National Geographic News the substance could possibly aid in the treatment of depression and multiple sclerosis.

Purified tryptophan is a mild sleep-inducing agent and that probably led to the idea that foods containing heavy doses of the chemical cause drowsiness.

Craigslist Founder Planning Net-Based News Venture

Dan Fost writes on

Craig Newmark, the San Francisco engineer who created the popular Craigslist Internet site, is getting involved in the news game.

Newmark, whose free Web site listings have wreaked havoc with the newspaper business model over the past few years, acknowledged Wednesday that he is working with other people on a new media venture involving "technologies that promise to help people find the most trusted versions of the more important stories."

Quebec ISPs File Complaint Citing Bell Rates as Unfair

Catherine McLean writes in The Globe and Mail:

A coalition of 15 independent Internet service providers in Quebec revealed yesterday they have filed a complaint with the federal telecommunications regulator, accusing Bell Canada of unfair conduct.

In a release, the Coalition of Quebec Internet Service Providers said the division of BCE Inc. hurts competition by offering certain Internet services to consumers at promotional rates "substantially" below the independent firms' costs.

"Smaller ISPs simply cannot compete with Bell's retail rates for its flagship Sympatico Basic ADSL service," the coalition said.

User Friendly: Xbox 360


Click for larger image.

New German Chancellor to Get Website

An AP newswire article, via The Globe and Mail, reports that:

The election of a woman as Germany's chancellor presented government techies with an immediate challenge.

With gender-based spellings in German, the chancellor's website could no longer be Angela Merkel's official title is "Bundeskanzlerin," with the feminine ending "-in" — but was already taken. Now it appears the owner of the feminine version is willing to cede it.

On the website was an announcement that its owner, Lars M. Heitmueller, had registered it in 1998 to "hold in trust" until a woman got the job and he could officially turn them over. Merkel took power Tuesday as Germany's first female chancellor.

Singapore Blogger Escapes Jail

Nick Farrell writes in The Inquirer:

A 17-year-old Singaporean student has been placed on probation for two years for posting anti-Muslim remarks on his weblog.

Gan Huai Shi, who had admitted posting inflammatory remarks about Malay Muslims was also ordered to do 180 hours of community service. Shi was one of three who were faced sedition charges over comments on their various blogs.

Benjamin Koh, 28, was given two concurrent one-month jail terms while Nicholas Lim, 25, was jailed for one day and fined 5000 Singapore dollars after they pleaded guilty to making strong anti-Muslim remarks.

NY Times Suspended Ethics for Web 2.0 Plug

Andrew Orlowski writes in The Register:

The New York Times appears to have breached two of its own ethics guidelines when it gave op-ed space to John Battelle last week to promote the Web 2.0 buzzword.

Battelle, who produced the Web 2.0 conference with MediaLive, used the space to assure us that Web 2.0 wasn't really a bubble, in a curiously nervous and defensive piece.

But the Times failed to disclose that it's an investor in Battelle's new Federated Media publishing company - a very Bubble 1.0 kind of oversight. And neither did Battelle, until the admission was dragged out of him by Jon Garfunkel of

DHL in Internet Packet Storm SNAFU

John Leyden writes in The Register:

People responding to a promo run by delivery firm DHL were bombarded with a deluge of hundreds of emails this week.

Firms responding to an offer of a free Blackberry in return for opening up an account with the packet delivery outfit were subjected to a packet storm because of flaws with some of the recipients' email systems, triggered by DHL's misguided decision to send out a message to 1,000 people directly instead of as blind carbon copies.

An email sent out to the list generated a message storm. Glitches in email systems of three of the recipients generated a blitz of replicated emails.

ICANN Creates IDN Advisory Committee

Kieren McCarthy writes in The Register:

Internet overseeing organisation ICANN has created a new advisory group to cover the complex and controversial of internationalised domain names (IDNs) - domain names in foreign languages.

The new committee comprises three chairs - all ICANN Board members - and 18 experts from the around the world. Its brief will be to "promote co-ordination of IDN-related work that takes place within and outside ICANN’s supporting organisations, committees, and stakeholders".

Microsoft Blasts Security Firm for Early Disclosure

Tom Sanders writes on

Microsoft has lashed out at UK security firm Computer Terrorism for publishing details about a software vulnerability in Internet Explorer before the vendor had a chance to issue a patch.

Computer Terrorism issued a security advisory on Monday and published proof-of-concept code demonstrating how a known flaw in Internet Explorer could be used to execute code. The method could be used by an attacker to take control over a system.

WSIS: Switzerland Sends Formal Complaint to Tunisia

Via NZZ Online.

The Swiss foreign ministry has summoned the Tunisian ambassador in Bern to complain about the treatment of the Swiss delegation in Tunis last week.

Swiss President Samuel Schmid was censored by Tunisian television at the opening of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).

The head of the Africa/Middle East division of the Swiss foreign ministry, Paul Fivat, communicated the Swiss protest orally, foreign ministry spokesman Jean-Philippe Jeannerat told swissinfo.

Jeannerat added that the government had asked Marc Furrer, head of the Swiss delegation to the WSIS in Tunis, to write to the International Telecommunication Union to protest against the various obstructions to the work of journalists at the summit.

Japanese Hayabusa Probe to Try Landing on Asteroid Twice

An AP newswire article by Chisaki Watanabe, via ABC News, reports that:

A Japanese space probe will make another attempt at landing on an asteroid on Saturday after it successfully landed and then departed from its surface over the weekend, officials said Thursday.

The Hayabusa probe was heading back toward the asteroid Itokawa and expected to land on the asteroid around 7 a.m. Saturday. Wakabayashi, a JAXA official.

Tech Stuffing: Woman Gobbles Up Turkey in 12 Minutes

Okay, so there's no tech angle to this story, but I figured since it was a weird holiday-related story, what the heck. :-)

A Reuters newswire article, via CNN, reports that:

A day before millions of Americans sit down to eat traditional Thanksgiving dinners, a Virginia woman grabbed the world turkey-eating title on Wednesday by gobbling down a whole roast bird in 12 minutes.

Sonya Thomas, 37, who weighs just 105 pounds (47.5 kg), beat seven men in the annual Thanksgiving Invitational: a race to eat a 10-pound (4.5-kg) turkey.

The smallest in the field, Thomas put her victory down to "swallowing fast."

Happy Thanksgiving

Click for larger image.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Security Experts Reveal Details on 'Titan Rain'

Tom Espiner writes in C|Net News:

Security experts have revealed details about a group of Chinese hackers who are suspected of launching intelligence gathering attacks against the U.S. government.

The hackers, believed to be based in the Chinese province of Guangdong, are thought to have stolen US military secrets, including aviation specifications and flight-planning software.

The U.S. government has coined the term "Titan Rain" to describe the hackers.

"From the Redstone Arsenal, home to the Army Aviation and Missile Command, the attackers grabbed specs for the aviation mission-planning system for Army helicopters, as well as Falconview 3.2, the flight-planning software used by the Army and Air Force," said Alan Paller, director of the SANS Institute, on Tuesday.

H5N1 News: China Confirms Second Bird Flu Death

Now I understand why the CDC is wanting to track passengers on international flights. Hmm.

A Reuters newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

China said on Wednesday that a 35-year-old woman farmer had died of bird flu, its second confirmed fatality from the virus.

The Xinhua news agency, quoting the Health Ministry, said the woman had developed fever and pneumonia-like symptoms on Nov. 11 after contact with sick and dead poultry in the eastern Anhui province. She died on Nov. 22.

Xinhua said tests by China’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention had proved positive for the deadly H5N1 strain of avian influenza.

Entertainment Industry: Treat our customers like terrorists!

Via Boing Boing.

The EU is rushing to enact a "data retention" directive that will make ISPs and phone carriers wiretap every bit and call, storing it all practically forever. Supposedly this is only to be used by coppers who are chasing the mafia and/or terrorists, but a newly formed entertainment industry group wants it applied to file-sharers as well.

The newly-formed Creative and Media Business Alliance (CMBA), made up of companies such as Sony BMG, Disney, EMI, IFPI, MPA and Universal Music International, this week expressed an interest in communications traffic data so that they can more easily prosecute "intellectual property infringements".

Thanks to a combination of two fast-tracked EU directives, they may just get their wish: and allow a UK plan to limit civil liberties to turn into a privacy-invading free-for-all by the entertainment lobby.

The Open Rights Group site has instructions for emailing your MP and your MEP -- the majority of Internet users in the world are file-sharers. Under this proposal, their privacy would be stripped away under the same rubric used to hunt terrorists.

New Scientist: Why We Cannot Rely on Firearm Forensics

Robin Mejia writes in NewScientist:

TYRONE JONES is serving a life sentence, in part because of a microscopic particle that Baltimore police found on his left hand. At his trial for murder in 1998 the crime-lab examiner gave evidence that the particle was residue from a gunshot. He claimed Jones must have held or fired a gun shortly before his arrest.

Jones denies this and still protests his innocence. His defence team is appealing the conviction, claiming that the science of gunshot residue (GSR) analysis is not as robust as the prosecution claims.

Now, a New Scientist investigation has found that someone who has never fired a gun could be contaminated by someone who has, and that different criminal investigators use contradictory standards. What's more, particles that are supposedly unique to GSR can be produced in other ways.

Read the remainder of Robin's article here.

CDC Plans Flight 'e-Tracking'

Bob Brewin writes in Government Health IT:

Battling a pandemic disease such as avian flu requires the ability to quickly track sick people and anyone they have contacted.

In response, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials have proposed new federal regulations to electronically track more than 600 million U.S. airline passengers a year traveling on more than 7 million flights through 67 hub airports.

The new regulations, which are available on the CDC's Web site and will be posted for a 60-day comment period in the Federal Register starting Nov. 30, would require airlines, travel agents and global reservations systems to collect personal information that exceeds the quantity of information currently collected by the Transportation Security Administration or the Homeland Security Department.

I poked around on the CDC and the Federal Register websites but could not find the document. If someone out there who reads this has a link, feel free to drop me an e-mail (or leave a comment).

Shopping 'Hell' Breaks Loose, Linked to Xbox 360

I think I'd be pissed off, though, if I had went to all that trouble :-) and found out that when I got it home, there were some "problems"....

An AP newswire article, via USA Today, reports that:

Shoppers waiting in line for the new Xbox 360 video game player scuffled outside a Wal-Mart Supercenter when a manager improvised rules for who would get the game first. It took more than 10 police officers to restore order, though no one was arrested.

A crowd of about 300 people were waiting late Monday for the game to go on sale at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. Some of them had waited 12 hours when a night manager said the Xboxes would be sold on a first-come, first-served basis, instead of using a number system devised by customers.

Ericsson lands deal with Digicel

A UPI newsbrief, via, reports that:

Ericsson said Wednesday it won two contracts from Digicel Group to provide communication networks.

Digicel is one of the fastest-growing mobile telecommunications companies in the Caribbean. Ericsson will be installing global system for mobile communications networks for Digicel in Trinidad and Tobago as well as Haiti.

LG Launches Microsoft-Powered DVR

Ed Oswald writes in BetaNews:

Aiming to take on the popular TiVo DVR, LG on Wednesday introduced its combination digital video recorder and DVD recorder based on Microsoft technology. The LRM-519 would be the first set-top device to use the Microsoft Program Guide, a TiVo-like service being offered by the Redmond company.

The device includes a 160GB hard drive and will run on Windows Media Center Technologies. The DVD recorder will support a range of recording formats, including DVD+R, DVD-R and DVD+R Dual Layer discs. Users will also be able to expand the storage space of the unit by connecting external hard drives to the DVR's 2 USB ports.

Users Report Xbox 360 'Crashing Like Mad'

Image source: Engadget

Marc Perton writes over on Engadget:

So, the Xbox 360’s been available for, what, 15 minutes, and already the crash reports are streaming in. According to postings on Xbox-Scene and other fan sites, some early adopters are discovering that waiting on line in the cold for two years to snag a box was the least of their problems: the game consoles are allegedly crashing during a variety of games and reporting a range of error messages. There’s even a pic up on flickr that purports to show the 360 crashing as the Microsoft logo loads. Sure, it’s too early to declare this a pandemic and start hurling Xboxes out of windows, but it still has us wondering: How’s your 360 holding up?

P.S. And yes, our Xbox has crashed a bit too — though nothing too terrible.

P.P.S. -- There's also a post over on Slashdot which says that the Xbox 360 is '"very unstable".

UK: PayPal Urged to Cut Off BNP

Tim Richardson writes in The Register:

Tory MP Ben Wallace has written to the boss of PayPal Europe over concerns that the online payment service is being used to raise funds for the British National Party (BNP).

The MP for Lancaster & Wyre was reacting to a campaign set in motion by his local branch of Unite Against Fascism (UAF) which claims that the BNP's extremist views breach Paypal's Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) which states that "You many not use PayPal in the purchase or sale of items or support of organizations that promote hate, violence, or racial intolerance."

Activists want e-Bay-owned PayPal to pull the plug on the BNP's account in a bid to dry up funding for the political party.

Battle for is Over

Matt Loney writes in C|Net News:

Ben Cohen, former teenage dot-com millionaire, has given up his fight to regain the domain, according to .uk registry Nominet.

Nominet company solicitor Edward Phillips said on Monday that Cohen's company, CyberBritain Group, has formally abandoned all further attempts to get the domain it once owned back from Apple.

Ukrainian Government Proposes Sale of Ukrtelecom

Via RIA Novosti.

The Ukrainian government has proposed selling the country's largest fixed-line telecommunications operator, Ukrtelecom, through auction.

A draft bill has been submitted to the Ukrainian parliament on un-blocking the company's privatization, the Ukrainian Cabinet's press service said Wednesday.

Verizon Sues Alleged Cell Phone Spammer

Bob Sullivan writes in MSNBC News:

"U just Won", the cell phone text message reads, according to Verizon Wireless. "You just won a cruise to the Bahamas." It then tells the recipient to call a toll-free number, apparently to claim the prize.

But the messages are spam, Verizon says, and it is suing to stop them.

In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in New Jersey, Verizon alleges that nearly 100,000 copies of the spam messages have been sent by Florida-based Passport Holidays. Verizon is asking the court for an injunction to stop the firm from sending the messages, and is seeking financial compensation for damages.

EU Lawyer: Passenger Data Transfer to U.S. is Illegal

Simon Taylor writes in InfoWorld:

Members of the European Parliament have welcomed the opinion by a top legal advisor to the European Union's highest court that the transfer of airline passenger data to U.S. authorities is illegal and should be stopped.

The leader of the Parliament's Liberal group said that the decision by the advocate-general of the European Court of Justice confirmed the Parliament's criticism of the measure that it "did not contain sufficient safeguards for data protection of E.U. citizens."

TiVo Handheld Device Software Draws Ire of TV Network

Chris Preimesberger writes in eWeek:

TiVo Inc. announced this week that new software it plans to make available next year will allow users to download TV shows and films to Apple's iPod and Sony's PlayStation Portable (PSP) handheld devices.

The new enhancement to TiVo's TivoToGo feature will include capabilities such as TiVo auto-sync, which will allow subscribers to choose if they want new recordings of their favorite programs easily transferred to their portable devices via their PC. Every morning the devices can be loaded with new programs recorded the night before, the company said.

However, at least one content provider, NBC Universal, is making waves about whether the Alviso, Calif.-based digital video recording company is going too far in distributing television content.

Al Jazeera Plans to Go International in 2006

Michael Kanellos writes in C|Net News:

Can Al Jazeera find a home on U.S. cable networks? It's going to try next spring.

The media company, which operates an Arabic-language news TV channel and Web sites, will open a 24-hour English-language news channel starting in spring 2006 with broadcasting centers in Kuala Lumpur, London and Washington, D.C.

It will also relaunch its English-language Web site, complete with features like Short Message Service (SMS) publishing. The new station and the revamped Web site will be branded Al Jazeera International.

WSIS: ITU Refuses to Accept Net Governance Agreement

Kieren McCarthy writes in The Register:

The ITU has refused to accept the internet governance consensus reached after torrid negotiations during its own summit process, further damaging its credibility in eyes of the net community.

Speaking at the closing press conference for the World Summit in Tunis, ITU secretary-general Yoshio Utsumi said that while it would continue to discuss issues in the newly created Internet Governance Forum (IGF), an increased "regionalisation" of the internet would mean the ITU will be called upon to take over in five years' time.

"The internet need not be one Net controlled by one centre," he said. "Regionalisation has already started and I suspect in a few years, the simile of the internet will be a quite different one."

As an example of this "regionalisation", Utsumi, a Japanese national, brought up the controversial topic of China's efforts to create a form of intranet within its country in order to more easily control access to information. "In China, they have already started on a Chinese address not provided by the so-called global ICANN system yet."

User Friendly: Criminal Xbox 360 Exploits


Click for larger image.

Hayabusa Spacecraft Lands Successfully on Asteroid

An AP newswire article by Chisaki Watanabe, via ABC News, reports that:

Japan's space agency said Wednesday its spacecraft had successfully touched down on an asteroid 180 million miles from Earth despite an earlier announcement that it had failed.

On Sunday, JAXA officials had said the Hayabusa probe, on a mission to land on the asteroid named Itokawa, collect material, then bring it back to Earth, failed to touch down after maneuvering within yards of the surface.

However, the agency said Wednesday that data confirmed that Hayabusa had landed on the surface Sunday for a half-hour, although it failed to collect material.

Cisco PIX Spoofed TCP SYN Packets Denial of Service Vulnerability


Advisory ID : FrSIRT/ADV-2005-2546
Rated as : Low Risk
Remotely Exploitable : Yes
Locally Exploitable : Yes
Release Date : 2005-11-23

Technical Description

A vulnerability has been identified in Cisco PIX, which may be exploited by remote attackers to cause a denial of service. This issue is due to an error where spoofed TCP SYN packets with incorrect checksums sent to the device are silently discarded without a RST reply from either the destination or the legitimate source, which will cause the firewall to hold a half-opened, embryonic connection open until the embryonic connection timeout

Because the firewall is holding a connection open, any additional packets with the same protocol, IP addresses, and ports will be treated as part of the existing half-open connection. In this case, a legitimate SYN packet following the malformed SYN will be discarded blocking legitimate TCP connections.


Affected Products

Cisco PIX version 6.3
Cisco PIX/ASA version 7.0


- Execute the commands "clear xlate" or "clear local-host " to allow the firewall to pass connections again.

- Modify the default TCP embryonic connection timeout.

- Configure TCP Intercept to allow the PIX to proxy all TCP connection attempts originated from behind any firewall interface after the first connection.

- Configure PIX/ASA 7.0 to verify TCP checksums.


New Horizons: Voyage To The Edge Of The Solar System

Artist's impression of the New Horizons spacecraft
encountering a Kuiper Belt object.

Image source: NASA

Leonard David writes on

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is nearing a liftoff into the unknown. This first mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt—a distant district of ancient, icy, rocky objects on the solar system’s outer banks—is assured to transmit back to Earth numbers of revelations.

Now being groomed for sendoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, New Horizons has a 35-day launch window that opens January 11, 2006. The probe would start a decade of cruising to reach the Pluto system, arriving on the scene as early as summer 2015.

Getting a spacecraft en route to Pluto has not been easy. The march to that remote world has been dogged by budget battles, funding slashes, start-and-stop mission planning and hardware building.

But now the Pluto-bound craft is assembled, tested, and primed for an extraordinary expedition to the edge of the solar system. fix

Via Enjoy!

Browser Developers Team Up to Thwart Hackers

John Leyden writes in The Register:

Security developers representing four of the major browser firms have met up to discuss how to combat security threats. Techies working on Internet Explorer, Mozilla/FireFox and Opera teamed up with the folks from Konqueror to discuss how to combat security risks posed by phishing, aging encryption ciphers and inconsistent SSL Certificate practices. A surprising amount of consensus emerged through the informal meeting, hosted by Konqueror's George Staikos in Toronto last week.

All agreed to push ahead with plans to introduce stronger encryption protocols. "With the availability of bot nets and massively distributed computing, current encryption standards are showing their age," Staikos writes. "Prompted by Opera, we are moving towards the removal of SSLv2 from our browsers. IE will disable SSLv2 in version 7 and it has been completely removed in the KDE 4 source tree already."

Dark Cloud Hovers Over Black Hat

Jennifer Granick writes in Wired News:

Last week Black Hat, the Vegas security conference that was at the center of the Ciscogate controversy last summer, was purchased by CMP Media. The sale has the internet hens clucking about whether ownership by a larger, wealthier corporation will protect Black Hat from future legal challenges, or make it more susceptible to pressure from companies wanting to control vulnerability disclosures.

The more worrisome question is why Black Hat and other purveyors of security information must worry so much about what they disclose. For better or worse, the settlement I negotiated with Cisco in its case against researcher Michael Lynn kept some important legal issues from reaching a courtroom, and these unsettled questions cast a long shadow over security research today.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Watchdog Probes Samsung's Apple deal

A Reuters newswire article, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

South Korea is investigating a flash memory supply deal between Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Apple Computer Inc. over pricing, officials at the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) said on Wednesday.

South Korean manufacturers of digital music players have complained Samsung is offering the chips used in Apple's iPod MP3 players at an unfairly low price, putting them at a disadvantage.

News of the probe came a day after Apple said it would prepay Samsung and Hynix Semiconductor Inc. $500 million and $200 million, respectively, to secure flash memory chips for its market-leading iPod music players.

AOL Journals: You've Got Ads

Yuki Noguchi writes in The Washington Post:

As America Online Inc. turns more toward advertising dollars to offset the shrinking number of subscribers who pay a monthly fee, the company may be upsetting the longtime customers who have remained faithful over the years.

Virginia Heatwole of Rockville, for example, has been a paying customer since 1993 and turned to AOL when she decided to start her own Web log. One of things she liked about AOL Journals was the absence of advertisements on her blog page.

Now, her personalized Web page that includes her thoughts about nature and spirituality has become a platform for Netflix DVD rental ads.

"They're flashing and screaming at the top of my blog," she said.

Lookheed -- CSC Deal Falls Apart

Jennifer Mears writes in NetworkWorld:

It's all over but the crying: Lockheed Martin has apparently lost interest in outsourced IT provider Computer Sciences Corp.

The IT services firm, which specializes in government contracts, had been eyed by defense giant Lockheed Martin, but The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday that talks had broken down. That news sent CSC's stock, which had jumped 20% during the last month as a result of the buyout talks, tumbling on Monday to $48 from about $54 on Friday.

CSC was asking $65 per share, or about $12 billion. According to some reports, the price tag proved to be too much for Lockheed and a group of private equity investors who were negotiating the CSC buy.

MPAA, Bram Cohen Announcement Today in Hollywood


Via Boing Boing.

[...] the short version is: BitTorrent has set up a process with the MPAA by which DMCA takedown procedures for infringing content will be "expedited."

If an MPAA member sees their copyrighted content in the torrent search engine at, they will now be able to ask BitTorrent to contact the party responsible for the infringing content or tracker in "a more expedited manner" than previously in place. BitTorrent will also remove the offending item from search returns at

Torrent searches on sites other than (for instance, Google) aren't controlled by, so they're unaffected. The move can't stop all traffic of potentially infringing content. And since BitTorrent isn't hosting any content anyway, the announcement doesn't mean that infringing content will neccesarily be removed. Also, there may not be a way for Cohen and company to contact uploaders or tracker hosts with takedown notices if those parties don't disclose their contact information (and anyone who's providing pirated files would not likely provide their phone number or email address).

The announcement seems primarily aimed at expressing good faith and neutrality with Hollywood, to lay ground for future paid content distribution agreements with both the motion picture and recording industries. Neither Cohen nor Glickman would estimate how soon such a deal might be in place -- but when pressed, Cohen said "soon."


An AP newswire article by Ted Bridis, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

Hollywood negotiated an agreement Tuesday with the creator of BitTorrent software, popular for downloading pirated movies over the Internet, in a deal aimed at reducing illegal traffic in online films.

The agreement requires 30-year-old software designer Bram Cohen to prevent his Web site,, from locating pirated versions of popular movies, effectively frustrating people who search for illegal copies of films, according to executives familiar with the deal.

Earlier yet:

Via Boing Boing.

The Motion Picture Association of America released an advisory yesterday that MPAA head Dan Glickman and BitTorrent founder Bram Cohen will hold a joint press conference this afternoon at the AFI in Los Angeles.

While the MPAA provided no details in advance, Glickman and Cohen are expected to announce a deal between BitTorrent and the movie industry that transforms the filesharing service into a commercial distribution channel for movies and other forms of digital entertainment.

Senior Security Exec Quits Microsoft

Ryan Naraine writes in eWeek:

Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday confirmed the sudden departure of Gordon Mangione, a 14-year Redmond veteran who last served as corporate vice president in the Security Technology Unit.

Mangione, who was responsible for the development and support of Microsoft's aggressive push into the security space, is leaving to pursue other interests, a company spokeswoman told Ziff Davis Internet News.

His departure is a bit of a surprise, coming at a time when the company is on the verge of rolling out several new security products for the enterprise and consumer markets. Wins '1-Click' Patent Case

Declan McCullagh writes in C|Net News: has won what could have been an embarrassing and expensive dispute over whether its 1-Click checkout system was patented by another company. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which hears patent appeals, on Monday upheld (.pdf here) a lower court's grant of summary judgment to Amazon.

Amazon gained notoriety years ago for attempting to enforce its own 1-Click patent system against Barnes & Noble's Web operations. IPXL, which could try to seek Supreme Court review, claimed in the lawsuit that Amazon's 1-Click system was covered by a patent on electronic transactions.

NASA Finds Cracks in Shuttle Fuel Tank Foam

A total of nine cracks were detected along a protective
foam ramp on NASA's External Tank 120, seen here leaving
the Vehicle Assembly Building, right, at Kennedy Space
Center last month. The tank was sent to NASA's Michoud
Assembly Facility in Louisiana for analysis.

Image source: MSNBC / AP

Tariq Malik writes in

Engineers investigating a debris shedding problem with NASA’s shuttle fuel tanks have found a series of hairline cracks in the same area where foam popped free during the July launch of the Discovery orbiter, agency officials said Tuesday.

A total of nine cracks – only two of them visible on the surface – were detected along a protective foam ramp on NASA’s External Tank 120 (ET-120), one of several under scrutiny at the agency’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, tank officials said during a briefing at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Mt. St. Helens Rockfall Plumes Draw Notice

An AP newswire article, via ABC News, reports that:

Rockfall at Mount St. Helens kicked up a dust plume Tuesday that rose above the rim of the volcano's crater, drawing attention in the region.

"It's a nice sunny day and we're having the first couple of rockfalls that we've had in a while that are putting little dust plumes over the crater rim," said U.S. Geological Survey geologist Seth Moran at the agency's Cascade Volcano Observatory here, about 50 miles south of the mountain that erupted to deadly effect in May 1980.

Seismic activity has continued at low levels, Moran said.

The white plume floating above the peak was raising concerns locally.

F-Secure: Sober.Y (Fake FBI e-Mail) Becoming Huge

Click for larger image.

Mikko writes in the F-Secure "News from the Lab" Blog:

We just took Sober.Y to a Radar Level 1 alert. Level 1 is the highest alert we have. And this is the first Level 1 alert we've done in months.

Several millions of infected emails have been seen by internet operators over the last hours.

One of the reasons why this email worm seems to be so successful in spreading is that some of the messages it sends are fake warnings from FBI, CIA or from the German Bundeskriminalamt (BKA). FBI has even put out a a public warning on the case.

First Sober was found in October 2003, over two years ago. We believe all 25 variants of this virus have been written by the same individual, operating from somewhere in Germany. Unlike most of the other widespread viruses nowadays, Sober doesn't seem to have a clear financial motive behind it.

Some Sober variants have displayed neo-nazi messages, but the latest version of the virus does not do this. However, all Sober variants send German messages to German email addresses and English messages to other addresses.

The numbers we're now seeing with Sober.Y are just huge.

This is the largest email worm outbreak of the year - so far!

Oracle's Ellison Pays $122M to Settle Shareholder Suit

An AP newswire article by Michael Liedtke, via USA Today, reports that:

A California judge on Tuesday approved an unusual legal settlement that will require Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison to donate $100 million to charity and pay another $22 million to the attorneys who sued him for alleged stock trading abuses — forcing Ellison to dig deeper into his pockets than he originally wanted.

Barring an appeal, the $122 million settlement approved by San Mateo Superior Court Judge John Schwartz closes the books on a shareholder lawsuit filed nearly four years ago on behalf of Oracle (ORCL), one of the world's largest software makers.

The civil complaint revolves around a $900 million gain Ellison generated by selling some of his Oracle stock shortly before the company's shares plummeted in 2001.

Today's Political Toon: Holiday Blues

Click for larger image.

UK: Foreign Powers are Main Cyberthreat

Tom Espiner writes in C|Net News:

Foreign governments are the primary threat to the U.K.'s critical national infrastructure because of their hunger for information, a British government agency said.

The National Infrastructure Security Co-ordination Centre said on Tuesday that the most significant electronic threats are content-based, targeted, Trojan horse e-mail attacks from the Far East.

"Foreign states are probing the CNI for information," said Roger Cummings, the director of NISCC, speaking at SANS Institute's launch of its Top 20 Critical Internet Vulnerability Listing in London.

Russians (not Ralsky) Now Rule the Spam World

Brian McWilliams writes in the Spam Kings Blog:

Looks like the FBI's September raid on spam king Alan Ralsky may have knocked him off his throne.

Ralsky has lost his long-held #1 position atop the Spamhaus list of the world's top spammers. Although downgraded this week to #4, Ralsky probably could have reconstituted his spam operation despite having computers and other items confiscated by the feds. But according to Spamhaus records, the anti-spam group hasn't detected any major new spamming from Ralsky since September.

So far, the FBI raid hasn't resulted in legal charges against Ralsky. Ralsky's lawyer reportedly has said his client was complying with state and federal spam laws.

Meanwhile, Russian fugitive Leo Kuvayev is the new king of spam kings. In fact, four of the top seven spammers worldwide are in Russia, according to Spamhaus.

More here.

Disturbing Number of Legal Flaws in so-called 'DMCA Notices'

Via the USC Law School News.

Jennifer M. Urban of the USC Gould School of Law and Laura Quilter of the University of California-Berkeley (Boalt Hall) have found a disturbing number of legal flaws in so-called "DMCA notices"--which result in online materials being pulled from the Internet, generally without notice to the target.

Urban and Quilter studied a sample of nearly 900 notices collected by the Chilling Effects project, and discovered that a third of them demanded removal when the target had a clear legal defense. The researchers released a summary report [.pdf]; the full research paper will appear in the March, 2006 edition of the Santa Clara Computer and High Technology Law Journal.

Wireless Carriers Challenge Kentucky Tax Changes

A UPI newsbrief, via, reports that:

An overhaul of Kentucky's tax code has resulted in a legal challenge from major wireless phone companies.

Five nationwide companies have filed suit in federal court arguing that a new tax on gross revenues violates federal law because it prohibits them from passing the 1.3-percent levy on to their customers.

Warner Music to Pay $5M in New York "Payola" Probe

A Reuters newswire article, via C|Net News, reports that:

Warner Music Group, one of the largest U.S. record companies, will pay $5 million to settle a New York state probe into how it influenced which songs are played on the radio, New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said on Tuesday.

The probe involved "pay-for-play" practices, commonly known as "payola," in which companies are accused of paying radio stations or promoters to secure air time for songs.

In July, Sony BMG agreed to pay $10 million to settle a related pay-to-play probe.

Warner Music agreed to stop making payoffs in return for airplay, and fully disclose all "items of value" provided to radio stations, Spitzer said. It also issued a statement acknowledging its "improper conduct," the attorney general said.

Microsoft Proposes RSS Extension

Ed Oswald writes in BetaNews:

Microsoft Chief Technical Officer Ray Ozzie said this week that his company is working on a new extension to RSS that would help users with different contact and calendar software and services synchronize each other's information.

Called Simple Sharing Extensions (SSE), the specification is currently at version 0.9 because Microsoft believes that it has a high degree of usefulness in its current state. Howver, Ozzie cautioned anyone from building production applications on top of it just yet.

WSIS: The Foolish Dream of an Emperor

Via the ISOC@WSIS Blog.

Contrary to the official story found in many texts about WSIS, the drive behind WSIS was not the will to bridge the digital divide. WSIS was initiated through the influence of Yoshio Utsumi, the Secretary General of the ITU, in order to wrestle control of the Internet from the existing organizations that manage it. Mr. Utsumi wanted to leave behind him a legacy that would guarantee ITU’s continued role as the all-encompassing body controlling everything strategically related to telecommunications. To that aim, the ITU passed a resolution at its 1998 Plenipotentiary Conference calling for the United Nations’ endorsement in holding a summit to discuss issues and develop solutions related to the deployment of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). This resolution marked the birth of WSIS.

The ITU has prevailed in telecommunication since 1865 but now, thanks to the Internet, it is in dire straits. With technologies like VOIP (Voice over the Internet Protocol), the Internet is quickly overtaking the conventional telephony channels and making them rapidly irrelevant. As a desperate last attempt to prevent the ITU from falling into oblivion, Mr. Utsumi imagined in 1998 that taking over the Internet would inject his organization with newfound pertinence.

Read more here.

Juniper Networks Appoints New CIO and VP Operations

Via Juniper Networks.

Juniper Networks, Inc. today announced the appointments of Alan Boehme to the position of Chief Information Officer (CIO), and Kevin Q. Smith to the position of vice president (VP), Operations. As CIO Boehme is responsible for delivering a global Information Technology (IT) infrastructure capable of supporting a high growth, globally distributed organization.

Boehme succeeds Kim Perdikou, who assumed the position of vice president and associate general manager, Infrastructure Business Team. In his role as VP Operations, Smith is responsible for all aspects of Juniper's manufacturing strategy and fulfillment operations with a focus on making manufacturing excellence a competitive advantage for Juniper. Boehme and Smith report to Bob Dykes, chief financial officer and executive vice president, Business Operations.

Australia: Anger over Telstra ADSL upgrade

Andrew Colley writes in Australian IT:

If the aim of Telstra's five-year strategic review was to spread anger and uncertainty among Australia's internet service providers, its new managers should congratulate themselves.

Service providers have lined up to shake their fists at Telstra after the carrier revealed its competitors would be left to fend for themselves after upgrades that would improve the data speed of its ADSL broadband infrastructure.

TV Execs Threatening To Sue TiVo

Over on, Mike Masnick writes:

Yesterday we pointed to the news about TiVo's latest "ToGo" offering, and pointed out that the announcement seemed to focus a bit too much on the added copy protection to make all this work. Of course, now it's becoming clear why they did so. They didn't clear this with the TV execs first.

Greg Andrew writes in to point out that the TV execs don't seem to think the new TiVo offering is "crippled enough." If you remember a year ago when TiVo first wanted to introduce the ToGo feature, they actually had to go to the FCC and plead their case against the TV execs and ask for "permission" to innovate and add this feature that customers were clamoring for.

Think about what that means for innovation -- if every new innovation meant you had to go to the government and ask for permission from all industries impacted. The automakers would have had to go before the government and ask them for permission to make cars, as it could impact the buggy makers. Television would have needed to be approved by movie execs because it might impact the movie business. The list could go on and on. However, it looks like TiVo didn't ask for "permission" first in this case -- and now they might get sued. It's worth noting that some TV execs don't seem quite that upset by this, which is a good sign. At least a few are seeing the light.

To see the embedded links in this article, read it at here.

Cisco Buys VoIP Management Firm Digital Fairway

Phil Hochmuth writes in NetworkWorld:

Cisco this week followed up its mega-acquisition of cable box maker Scientific-Atlanta with a quieter acquisition of Digital Fairway, a maker of carrier and enterprise voice/video management software.

While nowhere near last week’s $6.9 billion buyout, the Digital Fairway acquisition gives Cisco management technology that could help it make the rollout of IPTV services simpler for carriers, as well as products it plans to release to simplify enterprise telecom and VoIP management.