Internet Story: 13 Dec 1998
UK Crypto Nonsense In it's usual path of following good old Uncle Sam into the abyss, the UK government is trying to restrict the use of data encryption in electronic transactions. The the US government, in a Cnut like act, currently sits there classifying encryption technologies (including algorithms) as "munitions" and thus subject to export restrictions. The usual rational given by governments for restricting or controlling encryption technologies is that it will stop criminals and enemies of the government using it. As if either obey the law anyway! The only thing that these restrictions damage is legitimate use of the technology, mainly e-commerce and the finance industry (do you want your details flashing around the Net unencrypted or at best poorly encrypted?). The UK approach will probably entail what is called "key escrow" - a system that allows the government (and anyone else who can get the keys) access into any of your private emails/transactions. See www.stand.org.uk for more details. Also check out the BBC article by Chris Nuttall and article in Wired. We encourage all of you to subscribe - go to the Adopt and MP site.
Online is 10% Yet another study show about online sales this season shows that they account for 10% overall in the USA. "We continue to see virtually exponential growth in online purchasing penetration, from barely 1 percent a year ago, to 4 percent last spring, and now to 10 percent in the first week after Thanksgiving," said Craig Johnson, a partner in Marketing Corp. of America who supervised the study. According to the survey, 50% of U.S. adults, 18 years of age and over, have Internet access. Of that 50 percent, 13 percent have access only from their offices, 17 percent have it only from their homes and 20 percent have it from both.
E-Greetings Bottleneck Not only is the growth of e-commerce growing exponentially, but so is the sending of e-greeting cards. Several ISPs have reported major traffic slow downs caused by people sending e-greetings to one another. The problem lies in that most of these e-cards are sent as graphic attachments which are averaging about 200K are so much bigger than normal email messages (averaging around 2K). Not only does this promise to slow down major ISPs but it may also bring several company email systems to their knees as they are ill equipped to cope with such a surge in volume. But fear not, Scrooge is alive and well, if you want to kill these e-greetings you might want to check out a piece of software from Tally Systems - Veranda, a corporate email management tool.
Online Voting a Reality Looks like the long held dream (nightmare for some!) of being able to vote online may happen, in Florida. Florida's Division of Elections has announced that it will start an approval and certification process for hardware to be used in online state elections. This will eventually allow voters to vote electronically from voting stations (not from your home PC yet!) and the information will then be securely transmitted to a central collection location. So no paper, no expensive collection of ballot boxes and no expensive manual counting of votes. "We are not politically ready to do [remote] Net voting in this country, but we are getting there," said Paul Craft, computer audit analyst for the elections division. "We are moving quickly technologically." No doubt the world will be watching just how this process works in reality, maybe sometime next year.
Breaking into Cars with your Palm Pilot! With the right software (obtained from the Net) you can record the infra-red code sequences that many remote car locks use... and play them back from your Pilot! In a New Scientist article it is claimed that up to 3 million cars in the UK may be at risk.
Internet Access for All? We forget how privileged we are her in the UK, Europe and the USA. In a recent article in Salon magazine, Lisa Dreier documents a trip to India where she took her laptop and bag of tricks for connecting anything to anything. Instead of discovering India she seems to have spent most of her time trying to get connected! "Searching for ways to reach cyberspace had become a journey in itself.", is how she summarizes her trip. Click here for some general tips on connecting in India. Also see the following links:
Andrew Stringer, © Pendle.Net Ltd, 1998