Senate OKs child porn bill
By JIM BROOKS
U.S. Senate has approved a new child pornography bill designed to
overcome the Supreme Court's objections with previous attempts to
ban computer-generated child porn.
bill, sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Patrick Leahy,
D-Vermont, would make it illegal to create digital or computer-generated
images that are represented as child pornography.
April, the Supreme Court ruled that the part of the 1996 Communications
Decency Act that banned child pornography was a violation of free
speech. The Court didn't object to a ban on child porn, but said
the wording of the law was too broad. The new legislation seeks
to avoid these objections.
bill passed on an 84-0 vote. Leahy said the legislation wasn't perfect,
but it was "a good faith effort to provide powerful tools for
prosecutors to deal with the problem of child pornography within
U.S. House of Representatives has yet to consider similar legislation.
FLOP. Microsoft MSN service announced Friday that its e-mail
service mistakenly blocked incoming e-mail messages from rival Internet
services because they were identified as sources of junk e-mail.
said it had mistakenly blocked incoming e-mail from AOL Time Warner's
RoadRunner service and from Earthlink. According to a story posted
on the CNET.com Web site, Microsoft corrected the error as soon
as it was discovered.
officials said it began receiving complaints about the block e-mails
for a week before the mistake was corrected. Earthlink officials
said its 5 million subscribers had problems with MSN addresses beginning
about the same time.
has become such a huge problem that most ISPs have started offering
spam filtering for e-mail. Steve Linford, president of the e-mail
blocklist The Spamhaus Project, said the problem was probably due
to human error. ISPs can edit blocklists, which are lists of known
spam addresses, in the fight to reduce spam. It's likely that the
error banning Earthlink and RoadRummer occurred when a blocklist
was being edited, Linford said.
has 120 million e-mail users, counting those using the MSN Internet
and Hotmail e-mail services.
DAY SHOPPING. The snow and ice storms that swept through the
East Cost in mid-February created general havoc, closing airports
and keeping workers at home and forcing retailers to curtail store
hours or close entirely.
storms forced J.C. Penney to close most of its 270 East Coast stores,
though savvy shoppers still took advantage of the stores' President's
Day sale prices, which were available at the Penney Web site. The
company reported a significant increase in Web site traffic during
Roebuck & Co. also reported a jump in sales at the retailer's
Web site, though the company said the increase could have been due
to its aggressive holiday promotional campaign than just bad weather.
retail shopping is usually a hands-on activity, it shows you that
smart shoppers will find a way to take advantage of a bargain, regardless
of the weather.
RIDES AGAIN. The original bad boy of music swapping will be
returning to the Internet. Roxio Inc., the company that purchased
Napster's name and intellectual property for $5 million at a bankruptcy
sale last year, is now in negotiations to bring the service back
in a legitimate format.
are to bring Napster back as a subscription-based music service.
Roxio is currently negotiating with the major music labels in an
effort to secure top content.
old Napster had planned to make the transition to a legitimate subscription
service, but lawsuits from the entertainment industry forced it
offline in July 2001. Roxio has hired Napster founder Shawn Fanning
as a consultant.
known for its CD creation and digital media software, plans to integrate
the resurrected Napster into is recently released Audio Central
music jukebox program, which is part of its Easy CD & DVD Creator
NEWS. If you're thinking of making a purchase online to avoid
paying sales tax, you probably need to do it sooner rather than
move to collect state sales taxes from online retailers is picking
up steam, and some states are beginning to get aggressive about
number of large retailers, including Wal-Mart, Target, Toys R Us
and others, recently began voluntarily collecting taxes recently
on their online sales. The move comes on the heels of the Streamlined
Sales Tax Project, an effort spearheaded by the National Governor's
Association to unite sales tax collection efforts for more than
it turns out a deal was cut with the big retailers in order to get
them to start collecting the tax. As an incentive to collect the
sales tax, retailers were offered amnesty from paying sales tax
on all previous online sales.
deal hasn't been well received by a number of states that would
prefer to collect the back taxes as well. Illinois announced last
week it would join a lawsuit against the big retailers, seeking
to force them to pay back sales taxes. The issue of course, is money.
Illinois is facing a multi-million-dollar budget shortfall this
year. New York is one of the other states considering legal action
to collect the back sales taxes.
current law, retailers are only required to collect taxes on sales
to buyers who live in a state where the retailer has a physical
presence. Studies show that states stand to lose growing amounts
of revenue for each year they fail to collect sales tax on online
sales. With state legislatures facing tight budgets, you can expect
more retailers to start collecting sales taxes.
Q&A SECTION. Your questions about computers or the Internet
are needed for a new questions-and-answer section that is being
added to this column. While I can't guarantee I'll know the answers,
I can guarantee that I'll try to find someone who can address your
problem or query.
are if you have a question, you aren't the only person who seeks
the same answer. Send your questions and suggestions to the e-mail
address at the end of this column.