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PRIVACY INVADED. And how!

Doesn?t it seem strange to call a posting on a Web-based message board, open to the entire Internet and Google, ?private?, asks Deepak Mankar.

india Updated: Oct 02, 2005 14:33 IST

In late August, I got a set of eight Marx Brothers DVDs, a birthday gift from Ashu. Watching them made me look for my copy of a book by Joe Adamson (‘Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Sometimes Zeppo’). I had bought it years back in Delhi and absent-mindedly tucked it in one of my cabinets. Written with great wit and charm, it’s a wonderful narrative woven around the Brothers’ career on stage, screen, radio and television. Sample extracts: http://users.pandora.be and http://www.geocities.com/spazprez. Read them and decide for yourself.

PRIVACY INVADED. And how!

In a recent bizarre incidence, ‘chatroom’ postings were considered ‘private’ and their publication in the print edition of the newspaper was termed an invasion of privacy. Yes, it actually happened to no less august a publication than The Guardian, despite the inclusion of an ‘unlimited republication’ clause in their user agreement. "The result, in talk-room parlance, was that we were badly flamed. Some users said it was a blatant breach of trust. Users were concerned that what they thought was a discussion between a few of them might, exposed to a bigger audience, leave them vulnerable to identification," wrote Neil McIntosh. Doesn’t it seem strange to call a posting on a Web-based message board, open to the entire Internet and Google, ‘private’ but regard its printing in a newspaper – basically limited by the realities of physical distribution – as ‘public’? http://www.guardian.co.uk.

MS VERSUS EU. Round two.

Looks like the Microsoft-European Commission battle is starting all over again. "Microsoft has filed an application for annulment with the Court of First Instance specifically concerning the issue of broad licenses for the source code of communications protocols," is how a company representative put it. The Commission had imposed sanctions against the software giant, including a record fine of about $621 million (497 million euro) in March 2004, you’ll recall. It was in a case that also covered the bundling of Microsoft's Media Player with Windows. It seems the company has not entirely carried them out. Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes had sternly warned Microsoft to comply by 1 June 2005 or face new enforcement action. Microsoft filed a compliance agreement by the deadline. But it somehow managed to dilute a remedy that required it to share communications protocols – software rules of the road – with other makers of server software for small offices. However, Microsoft managed to persuade the Commission to agree to the proviso that those who received the protocols could not make them public. When the makers of open-source server software, who publish the source codes for all their products, rightly cried foul at this loophole, Microsoft and the Commission agreed to leave the issue to the Court of First Instance. "This filing is the result of the agreement reached with the Commission in June to put this particular issue to the court for guidance and to avoid any further delay in the process," explained to a Microsoft representative. "We are taking this step so the court can begin its review of this issue now, given its far-reaching implications for the protection of our intellectual-property rights around the world." As for the appointment of an independent trustee to ensure the compliance by Microsoft with the antitrust agreements, there’s as yet no agreement. http://techrepublic.com.com.

CLOSE OUT TIME. For ‘bootleg TimeSelect’ loophole.

When The New York Times decided to charge for access to many of its best-known Op Ed columnists like David Brooks, Maureen Dowd and others (TimeSelect), John Tabin, a Baltimore writer and a contributor to the American Spectator online, created Web links to other newspapers running the Times' columnists, e.g., the Albany Times-Union, Houston Chronicle and Taiwan News. http://johntabin.com/neverpayretail. This may not last long, though. The New York Times "is changing its policies" according to trade sources cited by Tabin. "All English-language clients of the news service – whether domestic or foreign – have agreed to either not post the columns they publish or put the columns behind a paid wall," claims NYTNS Executive Editor Laurence M Paul. It looks like the syndication loophole is about to close. http://johntabin.com/.

PIX SITES GET A VISIBLE PUSH. Bless you, blogs.

Believe it or not. The blog boom has brought great cheer to Web sites hosting users' photos. They have registered over 400% growth since January, according to a NetRatings report. They now have 14.7 million users. (The most popular image-hosting Web site, PhotoBucket.com, had 12.2 million visitors in August. The next popular one, ImageShack, had 3.4 million.) "The large rise in blogging activity has lifted other sites," Jon Gibs, Senior Research Manager, said. "The primary beneficiary has been image-hosting sites." He also pointed out that one out of five Web users (29.3 million people) accessed blogs or blog-related sites, up 31% since the beginning of the year. Do read the press release at: http://www.nielsen-netratings.com/pr/pr_050913.pdf.

IE VERSUS FIREFOX. Case reopened.

A recent Symantec report about a greater number of reported ‘severe’ vulnerabilities in Firefox, which incidentally enjoys a nearly 10 percent slice of the browser pie, as compared to Internet Explorer 6.x prompts Robert Vamosi, Senior Editor, CNET Reviews, to offer a spirited defence of the new browser in ‘In defense of Mozilla Firefox’. The core of his argument is as follows. As Firefox 1.x arrived in August 2004, in a cumulative comparison till date with IE, it comes out with shining colours. Firefox 1.x has shown 22 security vulnerabilities (three still unpatched) as against its older and more experienced rival’s 54 (18 still to be patched). The patch rate count is 86 percent for Firefox and 66 percent for IE. He feels he would still use Firefox for his banking and other business although many US government sites have gone IE-only. The other choices are Netscape 8.x and the now free Opera 8.x.

http://reviews.cnet.com.

LATEST BLOG NEWS. Here it comes.

Ninety eight percent of surfers shun RSS, says a fresh report from Forrester Research> Just two per cent of US internet users are making use of them. “Young people are among the most vociferous users, the report found, but even in the 12 to 21 age group, only five per cent of surfers were making use of the technology,” writes Jo Best. http://networks.silicon.com. There’s a Directory of Blogs classified by categories at http://dir.blogflux.com/. It has been recently mentioned by ResearchBuzz http://www.researchbuzz.com/.

ONE MORE UPDATE. India coverage by McKinsey.

Two other articles (‘Making India a global hub’ and ‘Reforming India’s financial system’ are at http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com & http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com.

The first one in essence says that being “a multicultural, multiethnic society with a vibrant democracy and a free press”, India is well on its way to global hubhood. But there are problems, particularly the problem of not being adequately “open to foreign goods and services, labor, or knowledge”. The second article deals with modernizing the country’s antiquated financial system by measures such as “reducing its fiscal deficit, encouraging consumers to use banks, cutting the cost of bank intermediation, and developing the capital markets”. Previous coverage: http://www.hindustantimes.com (‘INDIA UPBEAT. View from the Exec cabin … and more.’).

That's all for now though there's plenty more out there. Join me again next week, same place.

Copyright (c) 2001- 2005 by Deepak Mankar. All rights reserved. Deepak Mankar, an advertising practitioner on the creative side since 1965, is also intensely passionate about the web and web content creation. Read his online articles athttp://www.asiaondemand.com/.

Website:http://www.addgandhi.com/original/. You may e-mail him atdmankar@bom8.vsnl.net.in.

First Published: Oct 01, 2005 13:30 IST