Electronic Commerce Current Page
The final exam.
Enormicom: Following up on the NT firms piece from a few days ago, I happily point you to Enormicom, perhaps the best Web-industry spoof site ever created. Be sure to read all the way through; there are good resources at the end. Expertly created by the folks at 37signals.com. http://www.enormicom.com/
NT firms: http://www.goodexperience.com/images/ntfirms041300.gif
In Search of E-Commerce: The first e-commerce report Creative Good ever published is now online, for free. It's a bit dated -- the second edition was published in February 1999 -- but it shows some interesting before-and-after shots on sites like Amazon and Expedia, from redesigns between the first and second editions of the report. http://www.goodexperience.com/reports/isoe/index.html
NEW CHILDREN'S PRIVACY RULES POSE OBSTACLES FOR SOME SITES: Some Web sites are finding that the costs of complying with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) are so high that they can no longer afford to welcome children under the age of 13 as guests to their sites. Other Web sites are turning to Attorney Perry Aftab of Aftab & Savitt to help them comply with the law's terms, which state that sites must get parental consent before collecting personal data from children aged 12 and under. Aftab charges $10,000 to audit a site's child-privacy practices. Complying with COPPA will cost sites anywhere from $60,000 to $100,000 a year, according to Aftab's estimates, a price most Web sites seem willing to pay, she adds. Children's site SurfMonkey.com has spent $50,000 to $100,000 thus far to comply with COPPA's terms. Another children's site, eCrush.com, could not afford those kind of expenses and decided to liquidate the accounts of all its preteen members and bar others of the same age from registering with the site. Hundreds of other sites have been forced to make changes as well. Alfy.com no longer offers free e-mail; likewise, Snowball.com did away with free e-mail, voice mail, personal home pages, and free hard-drive space for children. (Wall Street Journal, 24 April 2000)
"Study Reveals U.S. 'Internet Hotbeds'" E-Commerce Times (04/12/00); (Hillebrand, Mary): A new Nielsen//NetRatings geographic Internet usage report shows that the pattern of Internet usage in the top 20 U.S. markets does not coincide with population size--for instance, San Francisco is only the third biggest city in terms of numbers of Internet users, with 2.2 million, but it has the highest penetration rate with 61 percent of the population online. The report looks at the total size of a given market, the percentage of its residents using the Internet, how long they stay online, and how their Web use affects their TV viewing time and other data. San Francisco, Denver, and San Diego spend more time online than much larger markets; the average San Diego user spent 11 hours and 16 minutes online during February. Nielsen//NetRatings says the data indicates a close connection between time online and Internet penetration, and suggests that the cities with heavier usage are Internet hotbeds--the leading edge of new media. San Francisco, San Diego, Washington D.C., Seattle, Portland, and Boston are the six cities with over 50 percent penetration, and Nielsen//NetRatings attributes the penetration rates to the markets' focus on technology. NetRatings vice president of analytical services Allan Weiner says the areas with high penetration indicate the areas that are likely to move first to TV-Internet convergence. This information could help technology and media companies determine which regions present the largest opportunities for new multimedia content services, Weiner says. http://www.ecommercetimes.com/news/articles2000/000412-8.shtml
"Home Is Where the Hack Is" Interactive Week (04/10/00) Vol. 7, No. 14, P. 28; Spangler, Todd Nathan Hoffman, a lawyer in private practice, says the threat of DoubleClick collecting personal information is negligible compared with the risks of home computers with broadband Internet connections. Hoffman has filed a class-action lawsuit against Pacific Bell that alleges the company has participated in false advertising, negligence, and breach of warranty. He is holding Pacific Bell responsible for the vulnerability of his computer because the company claims it will deliver a secure connection to the Internet. Hoffman, who accesses the Internet using PacBell's DSL connection, is among a growing number of broadband subscribers who are now demanding that broadband providers address the security issues of always-on Internet connections. Although the threat of stolen cookies, rifled hard drives, and commandeered operations has always existed with dial-up connections, always-on connections has made it easier for hackers to get into computers. Greg Gilliom, president and CEO of intrusion-detection software company Network Ice, says hackers use home systems as a shield for breaking into other systems. About 28 percent of home computers with broadband connections allow any Internet user to access their files, according to security site Sheilds Up!. As broadband access grows, the number of vulnerable systems will also rise. ISPs have remained silent on connection security, for the most part. The vast majority of Web surfers will not be exposed, so ISPs do not want to alarm the people just "hooking up a Windows 95 computer," suggests Rex Cardinale, chief technology officer at DSL wholesaler Covad Communications. Industry experts say consumers can secure their computers by disabling their file-sharing function. Analysts expect ISPs may be willing to have firewall software embedded in their equipment. EarthLink is being proactive by offering a firewall with its DSL service later in the year. http://www.zdnet.com/intweek/stories/news/0,4164,2541289,00.html
"Now, Brits Can Surf To Their Hearts' Content" Business Week (04/17/00) P. 186; (Capell, Kerry; Echikson, William; Matlack, Carol): Fixed-rate pricing for Internet service is now available in the United Kingdom and will soon spread to the rest of Europe. Until recently, Web surfers in Europe were charged high telephone rates for every minute they spent online, hindering the growth of Europe's Internet and limiting the creation of a U.S.-style New Economy. However, now two American companies, AltaVista and cable and communications group NTL, have introduced flat-rate, unlimited Internet access in Britain. This bold move has led a number of other companies, including British Telecom, to follow their example. The changeover to fixed-rate pricing is expected to cut the cost of Web surfing and to lead to a dramatic rise in usage. Andy Mitchell, managing director of AltaVista in Britain and Ireland, says one in two Britons will be using the Internet within 18 months, compared with only one in five now. Britain's price war has also spread to the Continent, with Deutsche Telekom, owner of Europe's largest ISP, T-Online, stating that it will introduce unlimited Internet access to T-Online customers for a flat fee of approximately $50 beginning May 1. Nevertheless, a question mark hangs over the future of a number of ISPs in Europe, including France's LibertySurf and Netherland's World Online, which make their money by dividing with the phone company the revenues derived from Internet calls. The move to cheap, unlimited access makes their business models appear outdated, and as phone charges fall they will be forced to discover new sources of revenue.
"Tech Investors Get Northern Exposure" Tornado-Insider.com (04/07/00); (Middleton, Guy): Iceland is one of the world's top technology countries, and it's geographical disconnection from the rest of the world makes it well suited as an adopter of high technology, said Finance Minister Geir Haarde, speaking at a recent venture conference in Reykjavik. Indeed, Haarde's words ring true, as it has been estimated that anywhere from 74 percent to 83 percent of households in Iceland have Internet access, which would easily make Iceland the top country in the world in terms of Internet penetration. The venture conference attracted Iceland's software companies, and many seemed smitten by the idea of going global. Netwerk CEO Holberg Masson says Iceland's startups often must look to foreign soils for strategic funding when they seek to go public. "It's a handicap coming to the market, we don't have the experience here," he says. The technology sector is just starting to come into its own on Iceland's 15-year-old stock exchange, which is heavy on large banking and fishing companies. The Icelandic Software Fund began listing on the exchange in 1997 and has since posted an 800 percent growth rate. Meanwhile, Iceland's Form.is is looking to secure 20 million euros in funding for a pan-European launch of systems that will enable EU governments to place government forms on the Internet. Form.is will trial the systems in Iceland and Denmark. http://tornado-insider.com/programs/publish/fv.asp?article_id=198
"Web Firms May Vastly Inflate Claims of 'Hits'" Los Angeles Times (04/17/00) P. A1; (Menn, Joseph): With no guidelines in place to govern the measurement of Internet traffic, many Web sites are significantly exaggerating the number of hits they receive in order to maximize ad revenue. In fact, site operators often boost the traffic figures they give to advertisers, investors, and the public by 50 percent to 100 percent, experts say. Content sites are particularly prone to exaggerating traffic numbers, since success for many depends on Forrester Research's projected rise in online ads from $2.8 billion last year to $22 billion by 2004. While Web traffic survey firms Nielsen NetRatings and Media Metrix publish traffic data for the 50 most popular sites, less visited sites simply report figures recorded by their own in-house systems. Traffic figures are rather subjective since some numbers include traffic generated in-house or by search engine robots, while other figures do not. Auditors counting hits frequently argue with site operators over whether search engine hits should be included in statistics, as well as whether one user accessing a page with 10 graphical elements should count as 10 hits or only one. In addition to the problems involved in counting hits, determining ad viewership and click-through rates is also difficult. Web market research firms usually do not measure how many surfers actually click on a banner ad, and site operators often inflate ad figures. Complicating the matter, hackers can set up their own sites with ads, and then send false clicks through the ads repeatedly. Advertisers are beginning to demand more accountability for online advertising, and some are switching to a pay-per-lead model or even a pay-per-sale model.
"Microsoft Declares Security Flaw Isn't as Bad as Believed" Wall Street Journal (04/17/00) P. B8; (Bridis, Ted): Microsoft says the security flaw found last week in its FrontPage 98 software poses less of a threat than originally thought. Following reports of the glitch, the software giant on Thursday acknowledged that illicit code in FrontPage 98 could allow hackers to gain access to hundreds of thousands of Web sites, possibly exposing sensitive data. Initial reports said the code included a secret password, "Netscape engineers are weenies," which allowed outsiders to access multiple Web sites on a single server. However, Microsoft now says the flaw requires that a user have the system administrator's permission to view files. While investigating the password flaw, security experts found a second flaw in FrontPage 98 that could enable hackers to run unauthorized programs on a server or to make the server crash. Microsoft admits that this second flaw "significantly increases the threat to users of these products." Both the "weenies" flaw and the server vulnerability reside in the "dvwssr.dll" file, which Microsoft recommends that users delete immediately.
"Anti-Spam Group Pushing Hard for Legislation" Newsbytes (04/14/00); (McGuire, David): ChooseYourMail.com gave Congress a tape containing 2.76 million spam messages last week as part of an effort to help grease the wheels of anti-spam legislation sponsored by Rep. Gary Miller (R-Calif.). Miller's bill, which has been approved by the Committee on Telecommunications, Trade and Consumer Protection, gives ISPs the right to ban spam from their services and sue violators. ChooseYourMail.com President Ian Oxman warns that spam is a threat to e-commerce. The company recently released a new survey finding that most Internet users believe that the e-commerce sites they visit are responsible for producing spam. More than seven of 10 consumers say it is "somewhat likely" that e-commerce sites are giving their email addresses to spammers, the poll finds.
SURVEY SHOWS FEW TRUST PROMISES ON ONLINE PRIVACY: Eighty-two percent of households with Internet access believe--somewhat or strongly--that the government needs to regulate online companies' use of consumers' personal data, according to a new poll from market researcher Odyssey. Further, 92 percent of Internet-connected households say they do not trust Web sites to safeguard the confidentiality of their personal data, even if the sites promise to do so. Odyssey President Nicholas Donatiello warns that online companies must act quickly to stave off the possibility of federal privacy regulation. "What's striking is how many people already want the government to intervene," he says of the poll's results. The Odyssey survey also finds that online shopping has shot up from 17 million purchases during the last six months of 1997 to 191 million purchases during the latter half of 1999. Many consumers are willing to set aside their privacy fears in order to shop online, Donatiello says, adding that privacy concerns can still hamper the growth of e-commerce. (New York Times, 17 April 2000)
Dear Internet Shopping 24/7 Project reader,
FORD, TEXAS BATTLE OVER WEB SITE Ford Motor is engaging the state of Texas in a legal battle to determine the definition of an online sale. Texas argued during a court hearing Wednesday that its laws are quite clear that automobiles may not be directly sold in the state without a state franchise license, prompting Ford to argue that its cars are not truly being sold on the Internet. The matter stems from actions by state motor vehicle officials to stop Ford from advertising the sale of used cars on a Web site. Ford officials contend that Texas is hampering the growth of e-commerce. (Associated Press, 13 April 2000)
"E-Benchmarking: The Latest E-Trend" CFO (03/00) Vol. 16, No. 3, P. 27; (Frieswick, Kris): Consulting firms are beginning to offer Internet startups e-benchmarking services that evaluate the effectiveness of a Web site and e-business strategy. PricewaterhouseCoopers offers the E-Business Maturity Model, which assesses an e-business model using over 700 practice statements in nine areas, such as security and strategy. Clients can also pay an extra fee for help in meeting their e-business objectives. Meanwhile, Forrester Research will soon offer an online tracking tool called E-Business Voyage that compares a client's e-business maturity to that of the industry overall. The tool bases its assessment on 20 questions that users answer in four operational areas. Gartner Group's GartnerServices, the consulting and management division of the company, offers an e-channel effectiveness overview assessment. The six-week program evaluates business-to-consumer e-businesses, and GartnerServices helps clients carry out e-business strategies for an extra fee.
"E-Strategies Need Expansion" Frontline Solutions (03/00) Vol. 1, No. 3, P. 10: The majority of e-commerce strategies lack sufficient planning and leadership, according to a new KPMG-sponsored survey of 48 firms working in nine industries, including automotive, aerospace, consumer packaged goods, and chemicals. Only 26 percent of respondents could identify one designated e-commerce decision-maker in their organization, despite 65 percent listing e-commerce to be one their most important initiatives. The survey found that consumer packaged goods and chemicals industries are the most active in e-commerce, while e-procurement systems are the leading cost-reduction e-business initiative. "What we found is that most e-business activities are very customer- and revenue-driven, which is a fundamental change from past technology-enabled projects focusing on internal operations and cost reduction," says Debra Hofman, managing director of Benchmarking Partners, which conducted the survey. "This brings a new set of decision-makers to the table such as sales and marketing executives." Overall, the survey identified many well-funded e-business technology initiatives but saw few strategic enterprisewide initiatives benefiting from real leadership.
"E-Tail Gets Derailed: How Web Upstarts Misjudged the Game" Wall Street Journal (04/05/00) P. A1; (Bulkeley, William M.; Carlton, Jim): A shakeout among dot-coms seems imminent as startups continue to lose money and investors become disillusioned with Internet stocks. CDNow, which at one time seemed poised to lead online music sales, recently announced it might not have enough money to stay in business. Online retailer Value America has reduced its workforce by half and cut the number of products it carries, while BeautyScene.com yesterday sold its name and assets to new investors. The Internet's efficiency has turned out to be one of the largest problems for online retailers, since the Web allows consumers to comparison-shop so easily. Beyond advertising expenses, online retailers are forced to offer extremely low prices, free shipping, and special promotions to keep customers from clicking to a rival site. On average, Web companies spend $45 "to acquire a customer who generally spends $35 and never comes back," says Maurizio Zecchione of clothing retail site StyleClick.com. Meanwhile, some experts estimate the average amount spent to gain a single customer is closer to $200. Furthermore, some online retailers now find it necessary to build warehouses and hire service representatives, eating into the anticipated cost savings of online business. Although dot-coms predicted unprofitable beginnings, most expected to finance their losses through sales of equity, based on the success of Internet IPOs six months ago. However, investors have now lost their enthusiasm for dot-coms, and venture capitalists are not likely to rush to finance such unprofitable companies. Still, well-funded online companies like Amazon.com and online grocer Webvan Group are likely to succeed in Internet retail, and offline stores that already have a reputable brand are likely to survive online as well. In addition, online sales are expected to rise 53 percent to $23 billion this year, says Jupiter Communications.
U.S.-EU PRIVACY PACT A HURDLE TO GLOBAL E-COMMERCE EFFORTS, SAYS BUSINESS COALITION: The privacy pact negotiated between the U.S. and the European Union is meeting opposition from a new organization, the National Business Coalition on E-Commerce and Privacy. The coalition questions the limitations required by the pact, which basically demands that U.S. companies operate under EU standards of consumer data disclosure when they work with European consumers. Specifically, companies are subject to such provisions as the EU Data Directive, which requires them to obtain permission to share information concerning customers. Members of the coalition--General Electric, Home Depot, Fidelity Investments, Aflac, and others--disagree with the principle of following laws that do not exist in the U.S. In a letter, the group points to the fact that the regulation hurts affected U.S. companies that compete with unaffected ones. It also emphasizes the EU's lack of support for privacy regulations outlined in the Financial Services Modernization Act. In effect, the EU is forcing U.S. businesses to follow its rules or be denied access to information. The government relations manager of the European American Business Council, Chris Mustaine, says the companies are dissatisfied with the scope of protection for financial services. (Wall Street Journal, 6 April 2000)
"Consumer Groups Warn Over US/EU Data Privacy Act" Newsbytes (03/31/00); (Dennis, Sylvia): The Transatlantic Consumer Dialog (TACD) group, representing the interests of both European and U.S. consumers, is unhappy with the Safe Harbor data privacy accord agreed to by U.S. and European Union negotiators. Consumer privacy protections provided by the safe harbor agreement compare unfavorably with those guaranteed by the EU data protection law, according to the TACD. Under the EU directive, privacy is a legal right, whereas under the safe harbor proposal, enforcement of privacy is mostly left up to industry self regulation, the group contends. U.S. consumer groups are skeptical that self-regulation will sufficiently protect Europeans' personal data, says the TACD. The TACD is lobbying for the agreement to be restricted to a time period of finite duration, during which a full independent audit of the agreement can be undertaken.
PRIVACY ACTIVISTS LOBBY CONGRESS FOR GREATER NET PROTECTIONS: The House Judiciary Committee heard testimony yesterday calling for an extension of the Fourth Amendment to cyberspace to provide Internet users with greater privacy protections. Laws governing surveillance are out of synch with the fluid nature of the Internet and do not provide enough privacy protection said James Dempsey of the Center for Democracy and Technology. "Everywhere we go on the Internet we leave digital fingerprints that can be tracked by marketers and government agencies alike," he said. Lawyers, law professors, and policy analysts also called on Congress to strengthen online privacy with the search-and-seizure rights guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment. Privacy advocates are upset by the FBI's willingness to collect data from digital information, both private and public, in order to fight crime on the Internet. (Cnet, 6 April 2000)
"E-Commerce and the Law" Maclean's Online (04/10/00); (Wood, Chris): The Mattel legal dispute with hackers involving the popular software filter Cyber Patrol underscores how difficult it will be for governments to resolve conflicts involving the Internet. In this case, Mattel filed one suit against a hacker in British Columbia, another suit against a hacker in Sweden, and then sued them both in Massachusetts. The company sued Matthew Skala of Canada and Eddy Jansson of Sweden because they posted a program on the Internet that showed the list of Web sites protected by Cyber Patrol and the registered secret passwords of adult users. In this incident, as in several others, the Internet has shown that lawmakers have some new legal issues to address. The Canadian government has tried to do just that with its new federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, which is likely to go into effect in January. Essentially a privacy law, the legislation would bring Canada up to par with the European Union on issues related to personal information of customers and employees. The legislation seeks to treat digital documents and electronic signatures like paper documents and signatures in ink. Companies doing business on the Internet would be required to have a formal policy for handling personal information and to name an official who would be held accountable. In addition, companies would have to disclose what they collect and why, and give Web surfers the choice not to provide personal information without having to lose the opportunity to buy goods and services. Fines would be as costly as $100,000 for failing to cooperate with investigations. Opposed by e-commerce and privacy advocates, the bill is even more controversial because it would set a precedent by allowing provinces to enact laws that mirror the federal requirement. Some provinces are working on matching legislation but none have been presented as of yet. Nevertheless, the issues addressed in the Canadian legislation may not fully apply to a case like Mattel's. http://www.macleans.ca/pub-doc/2000/04/10/Technology/32979.shtml
"Valley Cool to Cybercrime Plan" Associated Press (04/06/00); (Mendoza, Martha): Attorney General Janet Reno did not make much of an impression on Silicon Valley CEOs at the recent cybercrime conference at Stanford University Law School. Although Reno asked executives for increased information sharing between private and public entities, high-tech companies realize that the federal government does not have the resources to prosecute most cybercrimes. Therefore, because the Justice Department admits that only one cybercrime gets prosecuted for every 50 complaints (1998 Justice Department statistics), it is not worth reporting such crimes and facing the resulting governmental scrutiny of their operations. Most companies have a lot of proprietary information that they do not want the government or their competitors to see. That is why most companies report only the most serious cyber-intrusions to the FBI. Instead, many companies such as eBay and Oracle use private consultants to help fight their cyberwars, in an effort to avoid negative publicity and to keep company secrets out of the hands of government and competitors. http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20000406/tc/cybercrime_4.html
Mr. Schaffer's presentation on e-commerce security.
The new business model of Amazon and Virtual Vineyards
THE ABCs OF E-BUSINESS: The growth of e-business is forcing many IT and business managers to work together and learn about each other's side of the business. IT managers are studying finance, marketing, and sales, while business managers are learning about technology. Companies say business and IT managers need to share information in order to satisfy customers, operate efficiently, and obtain a competitive edge. Today's economy requires a collaborative, horizontal business model rather than a hierarchical model. Collaboration often begins with greater communication between CEOs and CIOs. At First International Bank, CEO Brett Silvers meets daily with IT vice president John Garner to coordinate the company's move to e-business, whereas the two executives might have spoken once a month in the past. Colleges and universities are now responding to the need for cross-training. Stanford University's graduate school of business will start offering a three-day e-commerce program in September, while Bentley College plans to open an e-commerce education facility in July. (InformationWeek, 20 March 2000)
"Stamp of Approval Needed for E-Business" Globetechnology.com (03/23/00); (Geist, Michael): E-commerce growth can be hindered by excessive regulation, but some laws are needed both online and off to ensure regulatory fairness. The best strategy for regulators is consumer education and fraud prevention, allowing people to make informed choices. Michael Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa School of Law, recently completed a study for the Ontario Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations. The study investigates the impact of e-commerce on a number of provincially regulated sectors, identifying current e-commerce business models and looking at the rules governing them before making recommendations. Different sectors use a number of different models; for instance, the motor vehicle sector has at least five models--online referral sites, direct online sales through manufacturer referrals, private car sales, reverse-auction referral sites, and direct online sales through third-party sites. One single legal solution is unrealistic; online referral sites are unregulated, though in the U.S. some states have rules to protect consumers. Existing legislation handles private motor vehicle sales, but direct online motor vehicle sales worry regulators the most. Any changes to the regulatory system must be balanced between facilitating e-commerce and maintaining consumer protection. The semi-private regulators could sponsor a seal-of-approval program, with an icon for sites to display--North America's first regulator-backed seal program. But regulatory cooperation across the continent would be necessary.
"Fraud on the Net" Business Week (04/03/00) No. 3675, P. EB58; (Carney, Dan): New scams have been popping up online with unprecedented ferocity due to the Internet's ability to reach millions of people simultaneously and provide anonymity for perpetrators. Credit-card fraud, auction scams, and get-rich-quick schemes have now become common on the Internet. The National Consumers League says people and businesses lost $3.2 billion in 1999 due to Internet fraud, and the FTC says one-fourth of its consumer complaints deal with the Internet, as compared to only 3 percent in 1997. One of the newest scams is hijacking Web pages and trafficking visitors to other sites, such as porn pages, in order to inflate that site's number of "hits" and boost advertising rates. Another new scheme is the planting of a bogus press release on a company's Web site that says the particular company is going to be bought at a huge increase over its current share price, causing the stock to surge. However, there are various new software products that can be used to combat some of these scams. For example, Expedia.com has profiling software that can alert system operators to suspicious activity by analyzing whether a credit-card number is coming from the same Internet address it always comes from, and whether it is routed through a computer with a history of fraud. After all this data is analyzed, the computer places a risk rating on the transaction, and the merchant can then decide whether to pursue further investigation. Federal help is also on the way. In May, the FBI will team with the National White Collar Crime Center to create an Internet fraud center with 161 full-time employees.
"Companies Aren't Rushing to Conduct Business Online" Computerworld (03/27/00) Vol. 34, No. 13, P. 20; (King, Julia): Industrial corporations are not moving quickly into e-business despite media hype that suggests otherwise, according to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers survey. Only 40 percent of large firms take orders online, and just 28 percent accept electronic payments, the survey shows. Although respondents believe that e-business is important, only a fourth of those surveyed have made a significant move into e-business. "These are big companies that have a lot at stake with their brands, relationships with supply chain partners, and customer reactions," says Ed Berryman, the study's author. Large companies are taking a cautious approach to e-business and are watching for examples of other major firms migrating online, Berryman says. These companies are readying themselves internally to move into e-business, and plan to bring in 20 percent of revenue from e-commerce by 2003. Currently, 79 percent of respondents say 5 percent of revenue comes from e-commerce. http://www.computerworld.com/home/print.nsf/all/000327CE22
KEEP AWAY FROM MY COOKIES, MORE MARKETERS SAY: Prompted primarily by a desire to retain online consumer information for their own corporate use, several large companies are prohibiting Internet ad networks from using data gathered about the personal interests and Web surfing habits of visitors to the corporate Web sites and the various Web sites containing corporate advertisements. Procter & Gamble, General Motors, and Ford Motor Co. are leading the initiative to safeguard their consumer data from Internet ad networks such as DoubleClick, Real Media, and MatchLogic, which place advertisements on Web pages and then gather information by using cookies to track how individual visitors navigate sites containing those ads. Such information is used by both the advertiser and the ad network to tailor Web sites and advertisements to the preferences of individual visitors. P&G and Ford have restricted how MatchLogic uses data gathered from their Web sites. Other companies, including IBM and WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, have joined the protective initiative and made arrangements with Web sites and ad networks to ensure data collected via online ad campaigns is used solely by the corporations and not the Web sites or online advertising firms. (Wall Street Journal, 20 March 2000)
"Government E-Commerce Data to Come Out at a Crawl" Interactive Week (03/13/00) Vol. 7, No. 10, P. 22; (Trager, Louis): The Department of Commerce (DOC) is planning to release its figures for the 1998/1999 e-commerce market in Spring 2001, claiming such a lengthy time frame is needed to gather and analyze the massive amount of data involved. Many retailers and consumers are frustrated at such a long delay and believe the fast pace of technology will mean numbers for 1998/1999 will be virtually obsolete by their scheduled release date. Also, some private researchers claim the DOC analysis is based on a narrow definition of retailing that excludes many online transactions from the study. Prior government surveys included data for manufacturing, wholesaling, food services, and business and professional services but neglected consumer sales by manufacturers and distributors, consumer-to-consumer auctions, online brokerages, and online ticket sales. The government has promised to revise its definitions for online retailing. Analysts say that once the operational differences are accounted for, government e-commerce figures are increasingly comparable to those released by private research firms. http://www.zdnet.com/intweek/stories/news/0,4164,2468734,00.html
"Firestorm in Cyberspace" Washington Post (03/19/00) P. B7; (Ignatius, David): Software developers last month launched a large-scale protest against a patent law that developers say could stifle innovation and harm the entire Internet community. The law in question resulted from a federal appeals court ruling two years ago that allows companies to obtain broad patents for business methods. Amazon holds two controversial patents, including a patent for one-click ordering, which allows consumers to buy an item just by clicking on it, and another patent for its "Associates" program, which lets other sites direct business to Amazon in exchange for part for of the revenue. The rebellion against such patents gained speed on Feb. 28, when software expert Tim O'Reilly posted an open letter on his Web site asking Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to stop enforcing the one-click patent. Thousands of Internet activists supported O'Reilly's letter, while another group began pushing for a boycott on Amazon. After speaking with O'Reilly on March 1, Bezos joined the protestors, saying current patent laws could damage everyone, including Amazon. Bezos suggested that patents for software and business methods should have a shorter duration than other patents, and that a public comment period should be held before a patent is granted to determine whether the potential patent is a true innovation. The protesters, supported by Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig, are now arguing for the creation of a "prior art" database that would make it difficult to patent general ideas. In addition, the protestors favor a "public Internet patent pool," which would provide companies that promised not to aggressively enforce their patents with free access to a pool of patents. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPlate/2000-03/19/172l-031900-idx.html
Business 2.0 has a cover story on Smart Way to Start an Internet Company. This includes some hints for a business plan (aka the plan for your final project). Other information about business plans can be found at Bplans.com, Business Resource Software, and BizPlanIt.com.
"Patently Absurd" New York Times Magazine (03/12/00) P. 44; (Gleick, James): The patent system was originally designed to protect inventors and thereby encourage innovation, but in today's e-commerce economy the system has mutated into a form that more than anything else threatens the very entrepreneurial spirit it was meant to safeguard. To qualify for a patent, an item no longer needs to be a tangible product with form and substance--thoughts and abstractions are now equally eligible. Because of this, large firms have begun taking fundamental practices and business methods that have been in existence for years and incorporating them into technology-based applications, while claiming the repackaged products are innovative items worthy of patents. The U.S. Patent Office issues 10,000 patents every three weeks, and its examiners appear to be operating under the misleading impression that more is better. In fact, software patents have become the most frequently issued patents, and many corporations are wielding such patents as weapons against competitors, hoping to stifle development of rival technologies. As the blanket of patents grows denser, consumers must pay higher prices and individuals genuinely interested in creating something new and unique must surmount more regulatory hurdles. Patent Office officials argue every patent represents a good idea that merits reward, but corporations managed to survive just fine without them during the previous two decades when PCs, the Internet, and related software and hardware were in their infancy. The corporate legal skirmish over patents only truly began in earnest in 1998. That year, a ruling by a Massachusetts federal court that stripped a company of its patent for a data processing method was overturned by the Court of Appeals and the patent reinstated. http://www.nytimes.com/library/magazine/home/20000312mag-patents.html
"Real Challenge for E-Commerce Is People's Fears" Federal Times (03/20/00) Vol. 36, No. 7, P. 9; (McElveen, Renee): Federal managers should help allay the fears of employees about e-commerce by encouraging senior employees with institutional knowledge to work more closely with young employees with strong tech skills and by redesigning the way their new duties are to be performed using e-commerce. Rep. Thomas Davis (R-Va.) is supporting H.R. 3582, a bill that would encourage government agencies to drop requirements that IT contractors have college degrees, a regulation Davis believes has little bearing on whether an individual is capable of the job. "You need to reinvent government in a significant fashion in the information age," he said. Deidre Lee of the Office of Management and Budget is concerned that Davis' legislation will lower standards and ultimately harm the federal contractor work force. "We need to have qualified and skilled people spending your tax dollars," she said. No matter how that debate ends the federal workforce will be transformed by e-commerce, most notably in that jobs will be lost in an effort to retain those employees most well-adapted to the new technology. Other key issues facing the government concerning the rise of e-commerce include the Sept. 30, 2001, expiration of the three-year e-commerce tax moratorium and the level of protection that consumers of e-commerce should be granted.
"Online Europe No Longer Chasing the United States" InfoWorld.com (03/14/00); (Gray, Douglas F.): The European Internet industry has finally come into its own as a rival of the U.S. Internet industry, and stands to grow stronger still if flat-rate Internet access is implemented in Europe, says AOL Europe COO Konrad Hilbers, speaking at the ISP2000 conference. "Telcos and regulators hold the future of European economies in their hands," Hilbers says. Europe's single currency and growing sense of entrepreneurship is boosting the new economy in Europe. "People are leaving school to work for Internet startups now," Hilbers says. Americans spend more than twice as much time online as Europeans, but the global system for mobile (GSM) communications wireless standard will give Europe an advantage in this area because of the bright future predicted for the wireless application protocol (WAP), Hilbers says. http://www.infoworld.com/articles/en/xml/00/03/14/000314enchasing.xml
"Crafting the Next PC Interface" PC World Online (03/16/00); (Mainelli, Tom): As part of Thursday's Intel-sponsored Computing Continuum, a panel of experts chaired by Massachusetts Institute of Technology senior research scientist Dr. Victor Zue discussed their ideas for improving the human-PC interface. Stanford University computer science and electrical engineering professor Patrick Hanrahan envisions what he terms the "overface," a system in which a person simultaneously communicates with multiple instead of single devices, possibly through wall-size touch-sensitive displays, in a fully interactive workspace. Director Ron Cole of the University of Colorado's Center for Spoken Language Understanding believes individuals should communicate with PCs as they would with people, interacting with an animated conversational computer agent that incorporates both visual and auditory elements. University of Maryland computer science professor Ben Shneiderman says the visual component is most crucial to human-PC interaction and claims the key is to improve visual displays by making them more consistent, controllable, and informative. Carnegie Mellon University computer science and robotics professor Raj Reddy put forth a similar idea when he said interfaces need to cater to human strengths. "Future systems have to be taught the needs of human beings," he declared. http://www.pcworld.com/pcwtoday/article/0,1510,15774,00.html
"Lawmakers Discuss Their Role in Internet Growth" Computer Reseller News Online (03/14/00); (Rogers, Amy): FTC Commissioner Orson Swindle, speaking Tuesday as a panelist at the Global Internet Summit 2000, cautioned against federal regulation of the Internet industry's privacy efforts, calling instead for "a model that allows for maturation of technology tools" that give consumers control over their personal data. Privacy concerns must be incorporated into the corporate mindset, Swindle said, adding that failure to do so will give the government the green light to impose industry regulations. Still, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) urged the introduction of an "appropriate" federal framework to guide the expansion of the Internet. The government has a role to play in protecting its citizens from online terrorists, the sale of personal data, child pornography, and other threats, Goodlatte said. Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) said lawmakers should give ISPs "full legal voice" to crack down on spammers. Boucher also called for lawmakers to give digital signatures equal legal status with ink on paper. http://www.crn.com/search/display.asp?ArticleID=14797
LONG LINE ONLINE FOR STEPHEN KING E-NOVELLA: The online-only release of author Stephen King's latest novella, "Riding the Bullet," has sparked both exceptional demand for the story and considerable debate about the electronic publishing industry as a whole. King himself has sought to lessen the controversy surrounding his online book. King's publisher, Simon & Schuster, has said that the popularity of the novella draws attention to the issue of when an online book distribution firm becomes a publisher, and thus a competitor of Simon & Schuster. Simon & Schuster barred Fatbrain.com, a company that pays authors for their stories and sells them online, from selling King's book. Whether the demand for "Riding the Bullet" indicates strong demand for all online books remains to be seen. Some say the book's popularity is due only to its author and the fact that it is free on many sites, such as Amazon.com. Yet others believe that the demand indicates an emerging trend in the publishing industry. Jack Romanos, COO of Simon & Schuster, compares the early demand to that of the unanticipated demand for the first paperback books. (New York Times, 16 March 2000)
INTERNET VOTING CLICKS IN ARIZONA: Online voting in Arizona's Democratic primary apparently more than quintupled the number of people voting, party officials say, and accounted for more than 40 percent of all votes cast. The primary marked the first use of Internet voting in a public election. The turnout was projected to be 80,000 voters, or 10 percent of Arizona's registered Democrats, compared with 12,000 voters in 1996. Vice President Al Gore won 55,500 votes, while Bill Bradley claimed 14,000 votes. Election.com, which ran the online voting systems, says more elections will take place on the Internet before the general election in November. (Financial Times, 13 March 2000)
INTERNET BOARD REVERSES, WILL HOLD ELECTIONS: Responding to public criticism, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has decided to dispense with its plan to elect a special council charged with selecting nine of the group's board members, and instead allow Internet users to directly elect five members of the board. ICANN will examine how well the direct election works before determining how the remaining four board members are selected. ICANN's about-face was well received by the Internet community. "This is a defining moment for the Internet," said Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) Executive Director Jerry Berman. CDT and advocacy group Common Cause recently released a report criticizing ICANN's original plan. After the report's release, ICANN officials said that time constraints effectively prohibited the organization from changing its plan. (Washington Post, 11 March 2000)
"Enabling a Successful e-Business Strategy Requires a Detailed Business Process Map" InfoWorld (03/06/00) Vol. 22, No. 10, P. 64; (Biggs, Maggie): A detailed business roadmap is key to a successful e-business implementation, writes InfoWorld's Maggie Biggs. Biggs predicts greater development in the business-to-business e-commerce space this year, which she says will create the need for businesses to examine their core processes to determine which are most compatible with the Internet. As companies assess their core processes, a logical business roadmap will emerge, enabling the company to determine the risks of e-business while designing a plan to manage those risks, says Biggs. In creating an e-business roadmap, Biggs suggests that companies start by mapping existing business processes using graphical tools or process modeling tools. Companies should examine how existing Web-enabled business processes are affecting the bottom line, and identify the actions rivals have taken to automate their processes, keeping an eye on how those actions have affected the market. Biggs says that next, companies should assess the long-term value of Web-enabled business processes, examining factors such as profitability, growth, time to market, and customer service. Companies should then consider their existing staff, identifying which, if any, additional skills would be necessary to run an e-business. Biggs says that after completing these analyses, a company should be able to identify which business processes are best suited for the Web. In implementing the e-business strategy, Biggs says that companies should identify any weaknesses in existing systems and processes that might complicate the end result.
"A Glimpse of Cyberwarfare" U.S. News & World Report (03/13/00) Vol. 128, No. 10, P. 32; (Strobel, Warren P.): Various governments around the world are using the Internet to suppress dissent, harass their enemies, obtain trade secrets, and even prepare for war. Although computer security experts admit that some of the worst-case scenarios have yet to happen, such as rogue governments using computers to wreak havoc on financial systems, they warn that more than 12 countries, including China, Iraq, Iran, and Russia already possess fairly sophisticated information-warfare know-how. For example, China is currently debating whether to devote a fourth branch of its military solely to information warfare, and the Pentagon will consolidate its offensive cyberwarfare programs at the U.S. Space Command in Colorado later this year. Experts say cyberwars pose great ethical and legal dilemmas, as there is no clear separation point between military sites and those devoted to civilian infrastructure, as in physical wars. Military analysts admit that the U.S. may be the biggest loser if cyberwarfare becomes an accepted form of battle, as it is the country most tightly strung together by computer networks. Because of the widespread damage that cyberwarfare could lead to, some countries such as Russia have proposed treaties on the matter, similar to arms control agreements. However, experts say verifying such an agreement would be nearly impossible given the nature of computer networks. Electronic spying could also become as problematic as cyberwarfare, as many government agencies are rich with detailed, classified information that is extremely valuable to an enemy. Security professionals say not only can information be taken from a computer, but an unfriendly entity could also place bogus information into a computer, causing military leaders to make decisions about troop locations or battlefield conditions based on fictional data. Most military analysts contend that the computer has made the world an even more dangerous place.
"Seeking the Deeper Path to E-Success" InformationWeek (03/06/00) No. 776, P. 48; (Chabrow, Eric): Companies that have the most success with e-business are those that not only invest heavily in IT, but also show a strong commitment to e-business best practices, according to a recently released InformationWeek Research study. Significant business improvements have been made by companies that have implemented at least three of the following e-business practices: implementing customer-facing information systems, moving legacy electronic processes to e-business, streamlining value or supply chains, and redefining corporate culture around e-business, the study shows. Of the companies that have adopted at least three of those four practices, 75 percent say the online efforts offer a competitive edge, boost customer satisfaction, lower operating costs, create new revenue sources, and raise profits. The survey shows no large differences between IT managers and business managers in their outlook on e-business. IT managers and business managers alike say IT managers are spearheading e-business technology decisions. In addition, 91 percent of respondents say IT's increased role in overall business is the most important aspect in changing corporate strategy. The second most important factor is using IT to increase customer value, listed by 84 percent. Other changes respondents felt were important include partnering with Internet startups, acquiring e-businesses to broaden offerings, mergers and acquisitions, spinning off e-businesses, and holding IPOs. Although companies transitioning to the Internet face many business challenges, business issues are overshadowed by the difficulties of keeping up with the pace of change in technology, respondents say. http://www.informationweek.com/776/transform.htm
"E-Business Analysis Tools Are Key for Dot-Coms" PC Week Online (03/12/00); (Hammond, Mark): Analytic intelligence, which provides precise and profitable information about customers, is becoming a mission-critical element of e-commerce, because it produces personalized content that can be used to attract business. Dot-coms are employing new tools enabling them to access, analyze, and share e-commerce data to build loyalty among customers and suppliers and build profit. "The focus has been on getting the operational systems up," said Douglas Hackney, analyst and president of the Enterprise Group. "What they haven't had is the why." Among the challenges of analytic intelligence is parsing the large amounts of data into a manageable volume, maintaining customer privacy, and, for traditional companies moving online, blending analyzed Web data with back- and front-office data to create a comprehensive view. "There are difficulties in doing this and no magic bullet to solve it," said Joe Whitehurst, analyst and president of Whitehurst Associates. "It takes a lot of hard work and a lot of attention to detail. Demand for it is large, especially for Internet-based e-commerce companies--startups in particular." Well-implemented solutions can be very valuable, as Outpost.com realized after 25 percent of customers identified as inactive through analysis responded to a direct marketing effort by returning to the Web site and making purchases. "I'm very pleased with the ROI," said Brett Lauter, Outpost's director of CRM. "It's ultraimportant to do this, to build a trusted and valued relationship with your customer." Many companies are making a name for themselves in the growing business intelligence and data warehousing industry through offerings and partnerships, including Oracle, SAS, IBM, Microsoft, Hyperion Solutions, and such startups as Accrue Software and WebTrends. http://www.zdnet.com/pcweek/stories/news/0,4153,2459218,00.html
"CEOs Care, But Don't Act, About Their Firms' Net Reputation" E-Commerce Times (03/06/00); (Fridman, Sherman): Sixty-four percent of CEOs and senior managers report that their company's Web site could be doing a better job of improving the corporate reputation, according to a survey conducted by Yankelovich Partners. Only 9 percent of those surveyed feel that their company is maximizing the potential offered by the Web site. Yankelovich surveyed 600 CEOs and senior managers on behalf of Chief Executive magazine and public relations firm Hill and Knowlton. "These numbers reflect the growing interest in assessing corporate image and establishing a reputation benchmark," said Harlan Teller, executive managing director of Hill and Knowlton's U.S. Corporate Practice. Yet while many managers appear to be concerned about reputation, few are working to enhance their firm's image; less than half of the respondents said their firm has an Internet strategy related to corporate image. The survey reported that 40 percent of CEOs are worried about what unhappy customers might be saying about their company online and about 25 percent expressed concern for what ex-employees might be saying online. "We expect at some point this level of concern will translate into a higher percentage of companies developing programs to more effectively manage Internet communications," says Tom Hoog, CEO of Hill and Knowlton. http://www.ecommercetimes.com/news/articles2000/000306-nb1.shtml
The Rx.com presentation by Chris Keefe and Ken Oberholz of BKD.
"Can You?" Economist (03/04/00) Vol. 354, No. 8160, P. 63: The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) meeting in Cairo will be an important gathering because it could determine how technology regulators will address the growing problems regarding domain names. The Internet has grown so much in recent years that some critics contend that there are no more recognizable domain names to claim. Furthermore, a company doing business on the Internet cannot share the same name with another e-commerce firm, as can be done in the brick-and-mortar world if companies are doing business in different markets. Ultimately, a lack of name space could hurt the growth of e-commerce. To address this concern a working group within ICANN has come up with a strategy to add new "top-level" domains to the domain name system, an idea not too far off from what Internet pioneer Jon Postel had in mind. However, creating new top-level domains is opposed by owners of trademarks, primarily because they have fought cybersquatters and have invested a lot of money in their domain names, and because new domain names might dilute their brands. Trademark owners insist that all names in current domains should be used before new top-level domains are created. For ICANN, the organization could become an important part of Internet governance if it is able to bring the two sides to an agreement. On the other hand, ICANN is likely to be seen as a tool of business if there is a fall out. At the same time, ICANN must not forget about the Internet user, as too many domains could make the Internet too confusing for users to navigate.
"Courts Set Cyberstandards for Two Key Areas" Washington Technology (03/06/00) Vol. 14, No. 23, P. 16; (Cain, Jonathan): Recent appeal rulings in two court cases demonstrate the importance of choosing a domain name carefully and how the use of trademarks on the Internet is different from using them in the brick-and-mortar world. One case involved a trademark infringement claim against Disney for using the mark that identifies its Go Network. Another company had been using a similar logo as its trademark for about a year before Go was launched, and the court of appeals agreed that the Disney logo was confusingly similar to the earlier mark. The appeals court affirmed the lower court's injunction against Disney's use of its mark, employing a trademark infringement analysis tailored to Internet commerce. In the context of the Internet, the three most important factors in deciding whether a trademark infringes on another are the apparent similarity of the marks; the relatedness of the goods or services; and the "simultaneous use of the Web as a marketing channel." The Disney decision recognizes the difficulty that consumers have in determining who is sponsoring an e-commerce Web site--on the Internet, marks are nearly the only way for a consumer to distinguish among sellers. The likelihood of consumer confusion among trademarks is judged from the viewpoint of the least sophisticated consumer. U.S. registration is essential when adopting a mark for use in e-commerce, and foreign registrations are important as well; a company must search thoroughly for potentially similar marks. The second case was the first time a federal appeals court has considered the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA). The act allows a federal court to award an injunction and damages if it finds that a cybersquatter has registered or used a domain name that is identical or confusingly similar to a distinctive or famous mark, with the intention of profiting from the mark. Prior to the ACPA, famous marks could be protected under anti-dilution sections of the federal trademark law, but other marks were not.
THE DOT-COM WORLD OPENS NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN TO LEAD: The Internet explosion has created a new business culture in which women can more easily climb the corporate ladder. Research firm VentureOne found that the number of women in senior management positions at venture-capital financed Internet startups rose from 21 percent in 1998 to 45 percent in 1999. The proportion of women CEOs at these Web companies also rose, from 4 percent in 1998 to 6 percent in 1999. In contrast, research conducted by Catalyst revealed that in 1998 fewer than 1 percent of women held the title of CEO at Fortune 500 companies. Factors contributing to this shift away from a male-dominated e-commerce world include the enormous demand by Internet companies for knowledgeable, talented employees and the less hierarchical structure of Internet businesses. Web companies, especially the smaller ones, are under great pressure to achieve quick success and face stiff competition in finding the people who will make that happen. As President Gayle Crowell of e.piphany.net phrases it, "The Internet is a new game, the old rules don't apply." (New York Times, 9 March 2000)
Internet growth and development statistics are available.
Taking Hold as E-Commerce Tool and Use E-Mail To Energize Your Customer Service. Examples of Amazon's push technology for books, CD's and an advertising example.
China Opens the Door to E-Commerce…Slowly
GartnerGroup's Dataquest Says Business-to-Consumer E-Commerce to Become a $380 Billion Industry by 2003
Estimated Growth Per Day
Devices accessing the Web
Worldwide Internet users
Unique Web sites
*Source: U.S Bureau of the Census, NEC Research, IDC, Internet Software Consortium, Network Solutions, Online Computer Library Center
E-retailers need to debug shopping Study: A quarter of online purchase attempts failed
Look at the website for Amazon.com for discussion.
What is a good e-commerce site?
E-Commerce: How it Works
Beaver College -- a school outside Philadelphia that originated in Beaver County, Pennsylvania -- is considering a name change. The word beaver, often used in vulgar reference to the female anatomy, is blocked by some Internet filters designed to prevent access to pornography. Research also shows that 30-percent of the school's prospective students decide against it because of the name. from NPR Online: http://search.npr.org/cf/cmn/cmnps05fm.cfm?SegID=71034
Recent articles about B2B plans.
"When the Internet Moves Faster Than the Courts" New York Times Online (02/25/00); (Kaplan, Carl S.): Internet-related law cases pose a problem to higher courts because the facts as determined by a trial court are often rendered obsolete by the time a case can be reviewed by higher judges, according to an article by Stuart M. Benjamin, associate professor at the University of San Diego Law School. In his article, "Stepping Into the Same River Twice; Rapidly Changing Facts and the Appellate Process," which appeared in the December issue of the Texas Law Review, Benjamin cites the Reno v. ACLU dispute as a case in point. In that case, which concerned the regulation of indecent content on the Internet, roughly a year passed between an initial ruling from a district court and the Supreme Court's decision on the matter. In challenging the law, the ACLU had argued that it was not economically viable for some Web sites to use age verification systems to keep children from viewing inappropriate content. By the time the case went to the Supreme Court, technological advances in age verification systems invalidated that argument. If appealed, the Microsoft antitrust case could also be affected by this lag time, Benjamin says. The Supreme Court would not be able to review the Microsoft case until 2002, during which time the level of integration between operating systems and browsers is likely to change enough that they are no longer separate products, as the presiding judge contends in his findings, Benjamin says. The speed of the Internet gives appellate courts little choice but to update their facts with additional briefs, exhibits, and hearings, according to Benjamin. http://www.nytimes.com/library/tech/00/02/cyber/cyberlaw/25law.html
"State Officials Look at New Rules for E-Commerce" CNet (02/24/00); (Wolverton, Troy): Several state governments have taken actions over the past few months to regulate the Internet. These states defend their efforts as a preemptive strike against federal regulations, but the federal government has largely been content to refrain from interfering with e-commerce. Michigan is attempting to get its residents to declare and pay taxes on e-commerce purchases, and Texas has imposed rules requiring auto dealers to have a state license in order to sell cars in the state, prompting some online auto dealers to stop selling to Texas residents. Online cigarette sales have recently been targeted by some states, including California, Alaska, Iowa, and Wisconsin. North Carolina is debating the issue of extending auctioning rules to eBay, Yahoo!, and other e-commerce sites. Meanwhile, some 30 states have seen fit to ban online companies from shipping alcohol across state lines; online alcohol distributors are suing five of those states, including New York. Some analysts say states are regulating the Internet not to protect consumers but to protect their own interests and produce more revenue. Retail sales on the Internet will reach nearly $185 billion by 2004, according to Forrester Research. http://news.cnet.com/category/0-1007-200-1557226.html
"Free Speech on the Net? Not Quite" Business Week (02/28/00) No. 3670, P. 93; (France, Mike; Carney, Dan): After some of Northwest Airline's employees staged an illegal sick-out last year to get the airline to offer a better bargaining agreement, Northwest sued the flight attendants' union and several others for staging an illegal strike, and got permission from a judge to investigate who was behind the sick-out. The airline's private investigators got a court order and forced flight attendant Kevin M. Griffin to turn over his computer so his hard drive could be copied, and they subpoenaed 9NetAvenue, which hosts Griffin's Web site. Griffin's personal site hosted the message board on which several anonymous employees posted messages urging co-workers to participate in the sick-outs. The investigators got the Internet addresses of the employees, which could allow Northwest to track them down. Griffin says this has scared law-abiding employees away from discussing the legitimate subjects on his message board. Northwest says it has investigated only relevant messages and that it has no desire to infringe on free speech--but only as long as the speakers stay on legal topics. Corporate America is trying to stop the lies, day-trading mischief, and other negative activities on Web message boards by suing over anonymous online statements--whether they are by employees or others. Generally, a company spots an anonymous posting that displeases it and files a lawsuit alleging defamation and other charges--naming "John Doe" because the author is unknown. Then the company's attorneys ask a judge for permission to subpoena the host of the message board--and the posters often are identified before they know they are being sued. In fact, the board hosts frequently do not fight the subpoenas much, and they sometimes turn over not only the posters' names but other data, like credit card numbers. Yahoo! assistant general counsel Jon Sobel says the company is legally bound to honor court subpoenas, and adds that the portal's terms of service section warns users about the possible loss of anonymity. The ACLU has filed amicus briefs and has represented defendants in three cases, and is urging message-board hosts to let anonymous speakers know when they are being sued.
"Governors Will Portal Their Wares at Winter Meeting" Washington Technology (02/21/00) Vol. 14, No. 22, P. 1; LeSueur, Steve Governors will confront the challenges of transforming the way that governments deliver services to citizens this week at the National Governors' Association winter meeting in Washington, DC. "We need to examine how we can reinvent government to take advantage of information technologies that give us a government that's open for business 24 hours, seven days a week," says John Thomasian, director of the NGA's Center for Best Practices. Among the largest challenges facing governments is integrating new e-government applications with their back office systems and often thousands of existing online services to present a single unified government portal to citizens. "Citizens don't need to know what department actually processes the transaction," says IBM's Todd Ramsey. As information technology becomes more widespread in government, it is important for officials to keep an open mind about its possibilities. "Don't get so caught up with citizen services that you miss the other pieces of these changes," says Janet Caldow of IBM's Institute for Electronic Government in Washington. http://www.wtonline.com/vol14_no22/cover/1080-1.html
InterNic who governs domain names and statement of the cooperative agreement.
An example of Cyber Squatting in St. Louis.
I have found a few examples of the Business Resource Pages on the web.
ONLINE GAMBLING PROVOKES INTERNET TEST CASE: The future of the online gambling industry could be at stake in a case pitting the U.S. against an Antigua-based online casino that has been charged with violating a U.S. law prohibiting telephone-placed bets across state or federal borders. Jury selection for the case begins today. Countries all over the world will be following the case because it holds ramifications on the issue of national jurisdiction, says Internet lawyer Jim Halpert of Piper Marbury Rudnick & Wolfe. Documents for the case state that the U.S. is legally within its rights to reach beyond its borders in criminal cases that harm U.S. citizens and involve an "interstate wire communication facility." "Where a bet is 'placed' physically, conceptually, or otherwise simply does not matter for purposes of prosecution," the documents state. However, Internet legal analysts contend that the matter of jurisdiction is not so cut-and-dried. (FT.com, 13 Feb 2000)
Software Agents and the Future of E-Commerce
Now It Is EBay's Turn to Face Government Scrutiny
Company Webpage Evaluation Sheets are now available for the February 23/28 assignment. They are not forms. Print them off and fill them out by hand.
e-commerce struggles to survive in St. Louis
AberdeenGroup Report: Analysis-Driven Action: The e-Business Success Factor
An interesting example of problems.
Web Building: Is Your Site Shoppable? The ultimate goal of your e-commerce site is to convert browsers to buyers. To encourage users to click that Buy button, you need to make your site as “shoppable” as possible. Put some of CNET Builder.com’s techniques to work, and you’ll have a site that provides a substantial lead and competitive advantage over your competitors: http://1.digital.cnet.com/cgi-bin1/flo?x=dBmAEgKYYwYuhouB
"Treading With E-caution" Austin American-Statesman (01/23/00) P. J1; (Pletz, John): All attention turned to the Internet at the National Retail Federation's annual convention last week in New York City. The three largest categories in the convention directory were e-commerce vendors, Internet services, and interactive shopping. Traditional retailers have begun to slowly position themselves on the Web as they realize the potential of sales online. But they are taking great caution. The consensus at this convention is that it is better to not be on the Internet at all than to be on and do it poorly. But everyone understands that, while it is a dangerous endeavor to undertake, the opportunity is too great to ignore. Many also believe that it is these traditional retail stores that have the potential for the best success on the Web, as their storefronts allow for convenient customer returns and exchanges, which is the major weakness in e-commerce. Technology companies are dominating the convention floor, demonstrating various products designed to help companies get on the Internet. http://www.austin360.com/statesman/editions/sunday/business_1.html
SURFER BEWARE: ADVERTISER'S ON YOUR TRAIL: Internet advertising server DoubleClick is tracking the online activity of users, recording their names, purchases, and addresses, reports USA Today. DoubleClick is combining the data it accumulates on Web user activity with a direct marketing database of 90 million households maintained by Abacus Direct, which DoubleClick acquired last year. Privacy International's David Banisar says the move threatens online anonymity, while consumer advocates say they will complain to the FCC. Junkbusters' Jason Catlett says, "For four years [DoubleClick] has said [the services] don't identify you personally, and now they're admitting they are going to identify you." DoubleClick says the practice allows ads to target users better, improving the online experience, and the company also points out that users can opt to not have their use tracked. Banisar claims that opt out language is usually buried in a site's privacy statement. (USA Today, 26 Jan 2000)
Group assignments are now available.
Look at Failed Blackmail Attempt Leads to Credit Card
The list of students in both sections is now available. The names are linked -- as best as I can -- to your current web pages. As your web pages for class are completed, I will change the link on this page to your assignment page.
Early Examples of "internets"
Netscape's Internet Tour
Internet Time Line
Hobbes' Internet Timeline v5.0
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