Internet: 28July1999

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Internet Story: 28 July 1999

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In this issue:

Government bozos

A sticky site

Robot to do the dishes!


Government rejects  e-commerce  On Friday the UK government released the long awaited "E-commerce bill" draft.  It's yet another glowing example to prove that politicians have no clue about the issues involved and how to tackle them.  Although gone is the requirement for key escrow, along comes the mechanism to re-introduce it at a later date without the need for further legislation!  One of the possible positive outcomes of this bill will be to make digital signatures as legally binding as written ones.  If implemented properly this will become a cornerstone for successful e-commerce.  (There was also an EU publication on the matter last week.)  Some other little gems to appear in the bill are:

"The bill will give police the power to demand decryption keys from anyone they suspect of possessing them, and failure to hand keys over can lead to a two-year jail sentence.

'Defendants will be presumed guilty of withholding a key unless they can prove otherwise (a likely contravention of the European Convention on Human Rights), and decryption notices will be secret, so it will be impossible to complain effectively if they are used in an oppressive way.'

A 'tipping-off' offence could prevent innocent associates from complaining publicly, with a penalty of five-years imprisonment." (see the Foundation for Information Research press release)

The bill will likely be introduced to parliament in November 1999.  See BBC article.


A real sticky site  Here's a really useful site I found the other day.  If you've ever been stuck wondering how to stick those felt tassels to your rubber underwear (:-)) then look no further than "thisTOthat".  It's a site that allows you to select two materials that you want to glue together and gives you details of how to do it, what to use and a whole heap of other info on the glues to use.  The only proviso is that it names US brand adhesives but they do usually have UK equivalents.  Maybe the site will eventually recognize the rest of the world.


Home Robot Does Dishes!  I just had to include this little device called "Cye" that sells for $800 in the US.  Advertised as, "a domestic robot, or "homebot," to deal with those tiresome tasks such as vacuuming and clearing dishes".  "Cye" is produced by Pittsburgh-based Probotics.  "Resembling a dustpan with two cogged wheels, Cye is controlled from a PC via a wireless link," the the New Scientist magazine article said.  Apparently this thing goes about its business with a series of whistles and chirps like the robot character R2-D2 from Star Wars.  Fascinating!  You should be able to connect to your "Cye" from the Net at work and have all the chores done and dinner made when you get home - wow, who needs a spouse ;-)


Andrew Stringer, Pendle.Net Ltd, 1999

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