RealTime IT News

International Briefs

Online Banking In Europe: Web Offers a "Ferment Of Experimentation"
All over Europe, banks are in a veritable ferment of experimentation with their Web and PC-based offerings. A useful barometer of change is provided by Unisys on the Internet Banking Web site.

It lists 30 European institutions that fall into the full category of Internet banks. Of those, 17 are German, nine French, and four British. Austria's Bawag Bank was the first in Europe to offer a Web shopping mall payment service that does not require a credit card, but links transactions straight to the user's bank account.

Business-To-Business Internet Commerce Makes Strides In Japan
On the suppliers' side, business in maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) has been gaining momentum in Japan. In the stationery industry, Ginza Bungu plans to create an exclusive home page for Japan Airlines (JAL) to sell stationery and other items via bulk orders.

Nissan Motor established a "Group Intranet" operation to connect more than 250 affiliates and partner companies. Aisin Seiki and Denso, leading parts makers in Toyota Motor's group, have also joined Nissan's network. U.S.-headquartered Dell Computers has a Japanese unit which sells to Japanese companies over its "Premier Page."

(Nikkei Weekly, Japan; June 29, 1998)

Amazon.com To Launch British Version Of Site This Autumn
Amazon.com, which recently bought Bookpages in Britain, will launch a British version of its service this autumn. The domain amazon.co.uk is active but visitors are being redirected to the U.S. site.

Amazon is in discussions with the Publishers Association in order to find out whether it can sell U.S. titles from the British site as has been tentatively planned. All Britain-based booksellers are upgrading their activities as the battle for online book market share begins to hot up.

(Internet magazine, Britain; July 2, 1998)

Internet Project To Link Indian Agricultural Colleges
The Deputy Director-General (Education) of the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), Dr. S.L. Mehta, has said the 200-odd agricultural colleges, 28 State Agriculture Universities and four ICAR research stations will soon be linked by computers through a network.

The networking. Internet and E-mail facilities would be provided by August 14.

In a bid to match the food requirements of the next millennium and double the food production from the present 198 million tonnes, all aspects of agriculture studies are undergoing a thorough change, starting from the syllabus to the infrastructure.

(Business Line, India; July 2, 1998)

China Has Mixed Feelings Towards Internet Commerce, Content
China is a country with complicated and mixed feelings toward emerging Internet technology. It is desperate to participate in the high-tech revolution and is eager to put the engine of the new economy into citizens' hands--but it has also made it a criminal offense to use the Internet to access or spread anti-government information.

The Chinese government began blocking the China News Digest International, a Colorado-based site devoted to news about China, within days after the site posted pictures and commentary commemorating the June 4 anniversary of the Tiananmen Square unrest. There are between 200,000 and 1 million Internet accounts in China.

(New York Times; July 1, 1998)

U.S., European Differences Over Online Privacy May Affect E-Commerce
European governments favour enacting laws to protect consumer privacy online; the Clinton administration prefers to let electronic commerce industries regulate themselves.

This difference could delay the much-anticipated evolution of the Internet into a huge international marketsapce. At issue are the Privacy Preferences Project, or P3P, and the Open Profiling Standard, or OPS, both intended to make it possible for individual computer users to determine how much personal information they are willing to make available to various Web sites.

An EU committee report warns that the current P3P does not require, or even allow for, the providing of information about sanctions or remedies to users, a violation of European laws.

(New York Times; July 1, 1998)

Key E-Commerce Bills Passed In Singapore Parliament
The Singapore parliament has passed two of three bills that, when enacted, will provide the legal clout essential to a trusted e-commerce environment.

The bill spells out the requirements for an electronic contract and the conditions for electronic signatures and records to have the same legal effect as their physical counterparts. It also sets up a so-called "public key infrastructure" where specially appointed Certification Authorities act as trusted third parties in electronic transactions.

Another section provides for the acceptance of electronic documents by the public sector while a fourth and final section relates to network service providers (NSPs).

(Singapore Business Times; June 30, 1998)

America Online Contemplates New Service For New Zealand
The world's largest online service, America Online, is eyeing the New Zealand market. David Berelsman, company spokesman for AOL Australia, says there have been discussions about starting a New Zealand service.

AOL Australia--a 50/50 joint venture between America Online and German media company Bertelsmann AG--is testing local content for the Australian market, and expects to go live before the end of the year. America Online offers services in Germany, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, Britain, Canada and Japan.

(InfoTech Weekly, New Zealand; June 29, 1998)

Australian Government Dedicates November 27 As "Online Australia" Day
In an attempt to raise the awareness of Internet industries, Australia's Federal Government announced that November 27 will now be known as Online Australia Day.

The National Office for the Information Economy (NOIE) will have responsibility for coordinating the day, arranging events with business and educational institutions to raise the profile of online culture and business.

(INet.com magazine, Australia; June 24, 1998)