Internet: 06Mar1999

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Internet Story: 06 Mar 1999

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In this issue:

New E-commerce predictions

10,900 New UK Users per Day!

UK Government and Encryption

Cool Site of the day


After a long delay, due to pressures of paid work, we now return...


E-commerce set to explode   Latest figures for e-commerce look even more bullish than those before Xmas!   An International Data Corporation report said the value of goods and services sold online could soar to $900 billion in 2003 from $40 billion in 1998 as the number of Internet users rises to 500 million from 150 million.  "We're about to enter a period of growth where just the scale of Internet commerce and Internet usage is going to dwarf what happened in the last four years," Frank Gens of IDC told the Bloomberg Forum.   "The leaders of today are at some risk.  Today's number-1 guy could end up being number 10 or number 20."  However, even as the US numbers increase, a more rapid increase is expected in the rest of the world, especially in Europe.   While half of the world's Internet activity in 1998 was in the United States, that ratio will slip to a third in 2003, Gens said.  One predicted result of all this explosive growth is that governments will finally start putting taxes onto as much as they can.


10,900 New UK Users a day  That's the latest figures from the National Opinion Polls!  Its research showed some 10.6 million adults used the Web, email, or other Internet services at least once in 1998.   Britain's total population is 59 million.  This can be compared with 9,900 in Germany, and 2,700 in France.  "These findings suggest that Internet usage in Britain has undergone spectacular growth in recent months," read a statement from Rob Lawson of NOP Research Group.  The biggest factor in this growth can be put down to the free ISPs, led by Freeserve.  See the BBC article.


UK Government Ignorance   Yet again the UK government and police forces show their complete ignorance of the way encryption technologies work.  Unless the computer industry comes up with a "solution" to the problem of crooks using encryption technology to hide their activities by the end of this month then the UK government is likely to pass laws requiring users of such technology to hand over the keys to their codes at the request of the police (and other authorities).  Why is this a bad move you ask, surely we want to catch crooks?  Of course we want to catch the crooks... BUT... which crook is going to hand over their keys (they will have "lost them")?  Which crook is going to register that they are using encryption technologies?  The only thing that this type of law ("key escrow" and/or restricting keylength) will achieve is to put the UK further behind the world in implementing trusted e-commerce solutions.  If the police can get the keys then the crooks can.  There are all sorts of other problems with this approach - see for further details.  See the BBC article also.  An good piece by Ken Young at ZDNetUK.
Interesting collolorary for the skeptics amongst us: how much is the above paranoia being generated by the spooks and their associates in order to secure more money from the govenment for their activities.  "It is standard practice for an intelligence, security or military bureaucracy, before making a pitch for more money, to present a threat which has to be met -- followed, eventually, by some successful operation against the threat when the money has been forthcoming." - Robin Ramsay, editor of Lobster, a magazine about the security services.  See also Rupert Goodwins' article at ZDNetUK.


Cool Site - BA World Cargo   No I didn't put the picture of the Concorde there because it just had its 30th birthday this week but because I found a site that is really quite cool.  I'm talking about the British Airways World Cargo site.  It's a well designed, information packed site that uses some neat technology without going overboard on flashy, useless gimmicks.   Apart from the usual company blurb about what the World Cargo division does, there's a mine of information about planes, the containers used to store cargo, what types of cargo are and are not carried with loads of info on the IATA Dangerous Goods regulations.  But one of the neatest things is the JavaScript application that allows you to print out the barcode labels for consignments on a normal printer.  Check out the Barcode Label Generator and type in the following data:

AWB Prefix: 125
AWB Number: 13242563
Origin: LHR
Destination: LAX
Piece Count: 3
Weight: 23

You can then printout the labels.

Want to track where you consignment is?  You can do that from the Track & Trace page - though the data you typed in above won't reveal anything too interesting!   Now if you want some really hair-raising JavaScript (click "view (page) source" to see it), take a look at their Air Waybill Input Form.

One good thing about the site is that it's usable.  Navigation is relatively straight forward and it works on most browsers.  There is a Java app on the front page but you loose nothing if you have a non-Java browser.  My only criticism of the site is that some of the lengthy text articles were written for print and not for the online audience!



Andrew Stringer, Pendle.Net Ltd, 1999

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