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Jeff Schult 6/9/98

Bob Hope is still Alive

In an apparent worst nightmare for any news organization, the AP on Friday posted on its Web site, The Wire, a pre-written obituary on entertainer Bob Hope. Hope, 95, was alive and well and eating breakfast in California at the time.

The obituary, however, traveled around the world and into the Congressional Record before the truth caught up with the story, and the goof was duly and sympathetically reported practically everywhere Saturday. My question is: Can you imagine the scorn that would have been heaped on the news organization if it was, say, CNet or some ‘Net-only venue that had made the mistake? We would have heard howls of derision from the mainstream press. The fact is, whatever the medium, news and pages are now moving through less people faster, there are going to be more mistakes, and they’re going to be seen by more people than ever before.


FTC Hits Web on Privacy

he Federal Trade Commission issued a report Thursday, declaring what many Web users long ago concluded for themselves: "Consumers have little privacy protection on the Internet."

Specifically, the FTC report (you can find it at www.ftc.gov) said, "The Commission's survey of over 1,400 Web sites reveals that industry's efforts to encourage voluntary adoption of the most basic fair information practice principle -- notice -- have fallen far short of what is needed to protect consumers." In other words, when Web sites start asking you detailed questions about where you live, what you do, what you make and how you spend your money, they rarely tell you in advance how they intend to use or distribute that info -- or give you any choice to "opt out."

The report outlines four principles for online privacy: notice, choice, access and security. Its harshest language criticizes sites that collect information from children without ensuring that they have their parents' permission. The commission urged Congress to pass a law aimed specifically at protecting children from such practices.

People who have been online awhile learn to routinely lie to protect their privacy. Whether that’s a good thing to pass down to your kids, I don’t know …


Turk Guilty

In Turkey's first cyberspace conviction, an 18-year-old was given a 10-month suspended sentence for insulting the
police on the Internet, according to the Associated Press.

The court ruled that Emre Ersoz had falsely accused police of beating blind people during a demonstration. Ersoz' accusation was made in a message posted on an Internet website, a current affairs forum run by a major Turkish Internet server, Turknet.

The sentence was suspended on the condition he is not convicted of the same charges in the next five years.

Turkey is frequently criticized by human rights groups for abuses such as excessive force by police. Freedom of speech and expression are severely restricted by provisions in Turkey's criminal code and anti-terrorism law


GLAAD Invites AFA to the Party

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has extended an olive branch to the American Family Association, which has had its web site blocked by Cyber Patrol filtering software for intolerance of what they call the "homosexual agenda."

The AFA has been a supporter of filtering products. GLAAD has opposed them.

GLAAD Interactive Media Director, Loren Javier said, "Perhaps now the AFA understands the value of free speech for all on the Internet. GLAAD hopes the AFA will combat Internet censorship and oppose all policies requiring Internet filtering software use by schools and libraries."


America Online Deal Smells Expensive

America Online is apparently bumping FragranceNet from the AOL Marketplace for a higher-priced competitor and a spokesman for the discount perfume purveyor thinks the deal stinks.

As reported in AOL's press release June 3, 1998, Fragrance Counter "will be the exclusive boutique retailer of fragrance…products in AOL's…shopping channel", where FragranceNet has
been a competitor under it's 1-800-98-PERFUME brand since June 1997.

Jason Apfel, Vice President of FragranceNet, which discounts all of its products some as high as 70% off retail, said, "It is a sad day for the AOL member if they now will have to pay full retail prices to the Fragrance Counter without competition. We at FragranceNet have provided deep discounts on all our brand name fragrances and a superior shopping experience. AOL shoppers should have the right to choose between companies that supply the best possible prices and products with the highest customer service. Exclusive deals prevent this from happening."

E-Rate doomed?

Key members of Congress turned against the Federal Communications Commission’s program to finance the wiring of the nantion’s schools and libraries through the so-called "e-rate discount, and the program is in jeopardy despite the continuing support of the White House.

The agency "should immediately suspend further collection of funding for its schools and libraries
program," said a letter signed by some of the leading lawmakers on telecommunications policy -- Rep. John D. Dingell (D-MI), Rep. Thomas J. Bliley Jr. (R-VA), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Ernest F. Hollings
(D-SC). "We believe it is too late for the commission to rescue itself merely by tinkering with a fundamentally flawed and legally suspect program."

IRS better than the F.C.C.?


Librarians have been passing around the "Top 6 Reasons Why the IRS is Better Than E-Rate" by Paul Onufrak ...

Reason 6: The IRS is more responsive to citizen complaints.

Reason 5: The IRS does not change the tax laws or filing requirements during tax

Reason 4: You have more time (and extensions) to file your taxes.

Reason 3: The IRS does not reject 80% of 1040's for being wrong (or even correct).

Reason 2: Form 1040, and its Schedules A through F, are easier and faster to fill
out than FCC Form 471.

And the Number 1 Reason the IRS is Better Than E-Rate: People are actually known to get money back from the IRS.


Jeff Schult and Nicole Chardenet can be reached at jeffbot at this domain.