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AOL instant message block is for ‘security reasons’

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AOL has told federal regulators investigating its virtual monopoly in instant messaging that the reason it won't let competing systems interact with it is because of security concerns.

AOL has told the FCC that it supports the idea of different systems working together but only when privacy and security issues have been sorted out. A complaint made by AOL's competitors said it was purposefully obstructing communication with other IM platforms.

AOL doesn't deny it and goes so far as to accuse those companies of hacking into its servers in a bid of getting the platforms working together. Earlier this month, the Internet behemoth stated the same beliefs to a standards body trying to standardise instant messaging.

The report made to the FCC also included information regarding AOL's impending merger with media giant Time Warner. The $124 billion deal was agreed by shareholders last week but the FCC and FTC are looking at what it could mean. The FCC wants to know about the combined company's plans for interactive TV (both had been working on such a system) as well as its satellite and wireless services.

Meanwhile, AOL has also said it will include a plug-in with the next version of MP3-player Winamp that will allow downloads from the Internet. Trying to get into the slot created by the music industry's hatred of Napster, the company has licensed InterTrust technology to offer music download from various music labels and retailers.

There will be a fee - although no one will say what it will be - and the downloaded music will be protected. Some big music industry names have already signed up with InterTrust, but Time Warner is not one of them. ®

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