- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 23, 2003


More than a quarter of employees in England have installed home e-mail access to avoid their bosses' snooping eyes, a poll released Thursday by British electronics company Amstrad Plc reports. According to the poll, as many as 28 percent of British workers claim they know their bosses read their e-mail messages, and 39 percent said they would get a serious warning if caught surfing the Internet outside their lunch hour. Despite these concerns, people continue to spend 2.3 hours a day, on average, sending personal e-mail messages and surfing the Internet at work, Amstrad reports. The company said it conducted the survey to find out the reason behind a huge surge in subscribers to its emailerplus service — over 25,000 people in January alone.



Internet-related fraud took the No. 2 spot in the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's list of fraud complaints in 2002, the commission announced Wednesday. The FTC received almost 400,000 consumer fraud and identity theft complaints in 2002, with reported losses of more than $343 million. Forty-seven percent of the non-ID theft complaints were Internet-related, which the commission defines as a complaint involving an Internet product or service, if the company initially contacts the consumer via the Internet, or if the consumer responds via the Internet. Internet auctions topped the list of the 2002 Internet-related complaints, followed by shop-at-home or catalog sales; Internet access services; foreign money offers; Internet information and adult services; business opportunities; computers; Internet Web site design and other complaints. Consumer advisories are posted online at ftc.gov.



Tuesday's federal court decision forcing Verizon to disclose the identity of an Internet customer the Recording Industry Association of America charges used Verizon's service to download more than 600 copyrighted music files over the Internet marks a major major loss of privacy for consumers — Verizon said — or additional support for industry rights against illegal online music distribution — according to the RIAA. In either case, the ruling represents one of the first decisions of its type, and is likely to influence the battle over online music distribution for some time. Jessica Litman, author of "Digital Copyright" and a law professor at Wayne State University, said, "I'm concerned about the number of enforcement actions that don't every get to court." Litman told The New York Times: "It's one thing to say I want this person's identity so I can file suit. It's another thing to say I want this person's identity so I can interfere with their connectivity to the Internet."



Welsh virus author Simon Vallor, 22, whose Gokar, Admirer and Redisi viruses are said to have affected 27,000 computers in 42 countries, was sentenced Tuesday to two years in jail by a London court. Vallor's viruses were sent as e-mail messages that when opened would corrupt the data on computers' hard-drive, and subsequently would be sent to everyone on the computer's address book. "People who commit such offences are not just computer buffs or nerds sitting alone in their bedrooms obsessed with their computers," Judge Geoffrey Rivlin told the court. "They also happen to be criminals who are difficult to detect, as they well know." Vallor did not react to the sentence, the British Broadcast Corp. reported.



Legendary hacker Kevin Mitnick rejoined the online world Tuesday after more then eight years of exile with a visit to TechTV's show "The Screen Savers," which has published a list of Mitnick's first steps in cyberspace. The first stop: girlfriend Darci Wood's Web site, LabMistress.com, whose homepage features her "blog" — or Web log — from Jan. 20 in which she discusses taking Mitnick to the hospital for a recurrent ear infection, as well as her Jan. 17 blog on her trials and tribulations tracking down her gift to Mitnick for coming off probation — a Blackberry Handheld 6710. Among Mitnick's other stops, according to TechTV's Web page, were TriggerStreet.com, a Web-based filmmaker community started by Kevin Spacey; the search engine Google; the hacker journal 2600 magazine, at 2600.com; and the Web site of presidential candidate Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn. After a three-year manhunt, Mitnick, now 39, pleaded guilty in March 2000 to wire and computing fraud and to intercepting communications. He spent almost five years in jail, as well as a three-year probation, the terms of which forbade him from using the Internet.


(Got a tip for UPI's On the Net? Send an e-mail to [email protected])

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