Spam Defined

One of the challenges in legislating against Spam is to define what it is. We all recognize the typical spam from unknown sources trying to sell us drugs or other products. It is not easy though to define where the dividing line is between those and legitimate email.

The US FTC has just released its rules under the CAN-SPAM Act that determines when email has a commercial primary purpose and is subject to the act.

As evidence of the difficulty in defining it – the document is 81 pages long!

Read the rule

Read the FTC press release

Guide to Common Cyberscams

CNet has an article that contains “a list of common Internet fraud schemes drawn from the 100-plus investigations launched under Operation Cyber Sweep, a government initiative to combat online crime. The investigations were prompted by referrals from the Internet Fraud Complaint Center, which posted the list.”

It lists 12 schemes, many of which were around in different forms before the Internet.

Also see the Phonebusters (a joint effort of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Ontario Provincial Police) website for more information on how to recognize scams and tips on avoiding them.

Read the CNet article

Read the Phonebusters list

Geico lawsuit could affect Google business model

The Geico lawsuit against Google for trade-mark infringement has commenced. Google sells ads to businesses that appear when people search on competitors trade-marks. For example – someone searching on “Geico” could see an ad for a competing insurance company.

Is this an improper “use” of a trade-mark?

Or is it similar to placing an ad in a magazine near a competitors?

Regardless of the answer to that, Google was right when it said: “For some reason, rules and propositions that are easily understood in more traditional contexts get hopelessly muddled when applied to the Internet”

Read the New York Times article

Data-sharing choices need work

DAVID CANTON – For the London Free Press – December 11, 2004

Read this on Canoe

How easily do we give up our personal information when asked? How easy do we make it for others to take advantage of us for things like identity theft and fraud?

Have we safeguarded our information so it is only made available to those who really need it?

A September 2004 Privacy and Identity Management Survey addressed this issue in the United States.

Continue reading “<strong>Data-sharing choices need work</strong>” »

Criminals responsible for 90% of malware

CNet published an article yesterday claiming that 90% of malicious code is written not by script kiddies or teenagers, but for criminal needs such as stealing money, distributing spam and Internet rackets .

The article says that “bot nets” – or lists of compromised computers owned by unsuspecting individuals that can be used to send malicous code (also called “zombie networks”) – are actually available for sale on the Internet.

Read the article

Spam privacy decision

In a controversial decision, the Federal Privacy Commissioner decided that the “business card exemption” in PIPEDA does not include a business email address. Thus a business email address is personal information and subject to the legislation. The “business card exemption” says personal information does not include name, title or business address or telephone number of an employee of an organization.

While the exemption does not specifically mention “email address”, many felt that email would be considered part of the “business address”.

This decision is also noteworthy as it is the first one to deal with spam.

Futher details, and a link to a Toronto Star article can be found on David Fraser’s Pipeda and Canadian Privacy law blog.

Read the Privacy blog

Read the decision

Patent sale worth watching

An article on CNET News says that: A mysterious bidder paid $15.5 million Monday in a bankruptcy court auction of dozens of Internet-related patents–and then rushed out of the courtroom.

On the United States Bankruptcy Court auction block were 39 patents owned by Commerce One, a bankrupt software company in Santa Clara, Calif., that’s in the process of shutting down and liquidating its assets.

The patents cover a set of key technical protocols known as Web services, a popular method for exchanging business documents over the Internet. The protocols are in wide use today; Microsoft, IBM and other software companies both large and small have incorporated them into their programs.

Some had anticipated that a major company or companies would purchase the patents and shelve them so they could not be used to extract license fees.

This is worth watching to find out who the mysterious buyer is, and what they will do with the patents.

Read the article

Marvel comics sues game maker

Fred von Lohmann of The Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote an article appearing in entitled Et tu, Marvel?. Seems Marvel comics has sued a company that created an online game called City of Heroes for copyright and trade-mark infringement. The game allows users to create their own superheroes then join other players in a virtual on-line world. Marvel is concerned that the users might create heroes similar to their own.

The article points out that if this was successful, it would not be a leap to require kids to get permission to pretend to be superheroes in their own back yards!

Read the article

Reproduction rights essential for photo printing

DAVID CANTON – For the London Free Press – December 4 2004

Read this on Canoe

Imagine being refused service for being too professional. Some photographers are being questioned by photo labs as to the ownership of digital images they have brought in to be printed.

The pictures apparently look too professional to be done by the person bringing them in. In some cases, retail photo labs have refused to print the pictures for fear of copyright infringement liability.

Continue reading “<strong>Reproduction rights essential for photo printing</strong>” »