26th > February > 2003 Archive

SCO offers Linux and UNIX courseware for sale to all

SCO announced that anyone can now purchase the company's Linux and UNIX courseware for the purpose of conducting training and certification, but only "authorized partners" will get the best deals. The Authorized Education Partner program, or AEP, gives IT testing and training centers the opportunity to offer SCO's courseware, including the new UnitedLinux Certified Expert designation. Partners are eligible for discounts and other benefits that are not available to the general public, but they must meet certain requirements, such as minimum revenue of $10,000 per year, and must agree to submit monthly revenue reports and allow random annual training activity audits. In return, partners get to use SCO logos and receive some of the benefits of SCO's marketing activities. The move integrates SCO's education partners with its TeamSCO, a "solutions partner" program that was carried over from the Caldera days. TeamSCO now includes the developer network and the "extreme rewards" program, which SCO says provides "high-margin, high-demand products and services." The UnitedLinux Certified Expert program, slated to be included with courseware materials provided to AEPs, was developed in conjunction with the Linux Professional Institute (LPI). © Newsforge.com
Tina Gasperson, 26 Feb 2003

M-Commerce for All

Four big European mobile network operators are clubbing together to form the Mobile Payments Services Association. Step forward Orange, Telefonica, T-Mobile, and Vodafone, founder members of an organisation to drive m-commerce and more to the point, interoperable m-payments across countries under a single brand. 02, KPN Mobile Group and TMN have also expressed interest in joining the MPSA, the association says. Here's the gig: A new mobile payment scheme that allows customers to make low priced purchases through mobile operator-managed accounts An easier, more secure and more convenient mobile-enabled way to use existing credit and debit cards A single m-payment scheme with common APIs carries enormous benefits for merchants and software developers. To date mcommerce take-up in Europe has been impeded by fragmented, localised systems - meaning that merchants would have to develop several payment methods. And greedy mpayment operators means that there is very little reward. Low take-up means that there is little point in developing even one system, as early adopters have often found to their cost. Vodafone has an active mpayment business across Europe, but it is difficult to say that it is thriving. Vodafone may be huge but its market share is much too small to carry enough weight with retailers. Last month, Paybox, the German-owned pioneer, scrapped its consumer m-payment business with immediate effect. In a statement, Paybox said it could see "no possibility for a single mPayment provider to develop the industry alone in the current industry conditions, especially amidst the discord between the other important market players (banks and telecommunications companies). The necessary growth and profitability can only be reached with many active market players, which have so far failed to appear." Well now there's accord - on the part of the telecom firms. What will the banks, and the credit card companies do? They risk being locked out of much of this business, especially if people are paying by phone bill. Certainly, the banks will not carry the whip hand in negotiations with the telecoms firms over commission splits. With the carriers adopting a common brand - yet to be decided - their customers (the founders claim 270m worldwide) will get a helluva lot more encouragement to pay by phone. Now the operators have to learn to be more generous in their negotiations with the merchants. Heading up the MPSA, which is based in London, is CEO Tim Jones. He is a former big cheese at NatWest, where he ran the UK retail division and, once upon a time, looked after Mondex, the ecash service which was supposed to change the world. The four founder members will take equal shares in the MPSA. We guess that new operators will add some equity in to the pot -Symbian-style - as the price of joining. ® Related stories Paybox scraps mPayment service Vodafone enters m-payment arena
Drew Cullen, 26 Feb 2003

US drags down HP sales

HP produced sales of $17.9bn for Q1, ended January 31, down slightly on the previous quarter. But cost-cutting fed through to a 49 per cent increase in earnings to $721m. But revenues were less than consensus analyst forecasts of $18.5bn and the reason for this, HP says, is weaker commercial IT spending in the US and Japan. Particularly hard hit is the company's enterprise division. Europe and Asia-Pac, however, are picking up nicely. The company is still sticking to its revenue forecast of 2-4 per cent growth for the year, but "on the other hand, it's very difficult, CEO Carly Fiorina said in a conference call. Personal Systems On the upside, HP is now making a operating profit from selling PCs, which is nice. Admittedly it's a small profit - $33m on Q1 sales up 2 per cent to $5.1bn. And much of those sales will come from the seasonal pre-Christmas uptick for consumer desktops and handhelds. And the profit turnaround is attributed by HP to cost-cutting and channel improvemens - and how much more cost-cutting is there to go? But considering the division made an operating loss of $68 million the previous quarter, this could represent a nice story for the future. Enterprise Systems It's a different tale at the Enterprise division which saw revenue fall sequentially 6 per cent to $3.7bn, reflecting "continued soft demand in the United States and Latin America". And it continues to lose lots of money, although less than before - the Q1 operating loss was $83m, against $129m in the previous quarter. The hardware guys are having a torrid time, with business-critical server revenue down 12 per cent sequentially. This reflects a "weak UNIX market and a tough quarter for NonStop servers in the telecommunications and finance industries". Industry-standard server (i.e Intel) revenue was down 5 per cent sequentially, reflecting soft market demand. Storage revenue was down 5 per cent sequentially. Software revenue was flat sequentially. Imaging And so to HP's cash cow, printers and imaging. This brought in revenues of $5.6bn for the quarter, producing an operating profit of $907m, down 4 per cent sequentially. Strong consumer demand offset weak enterprise IT spending. Services and Finance Here revenue was $3 billion, down 3 per cent sequentially and operating profit was $341m, down 6 per cent sequentially. HP Services operates at, shall we say, the less strategic end of the services business, majoring on helpdesk and contract support. And let's not forget HP Financial Service, the credit arm, which made an operating profit of $14m on revenues of $517m. The previous quarter, HP made a $101m operating loss from this division, on the back of "bad debt expense ... primarily in Latin America and EMEA". ®
Drew Cullen, 26 Feb 2003

Easynet is UK LLU leader

Pan-European broadband business Easynet has more than 90 per cent of all unbundled lines in the UK, making it the country's leading local loop unbundling (LLU) outfit. Easynet is targeting business users with its LLU products and has so far unbundled 81 exchanges in the UK. In 2003 it's looking to unbundle at least a further 70. This, the company claims, will bring it close to covering three quarters of its target business market. As well as attracting more customers, it is also generating more cash per punter. In total, Easynet has more than 8,500 broadband punters with average revenue per customer (ARPU) now more than £1,500 a year - up from £1,380 in 2001. Today's update comes as the company published it preliminary results for the 12 months ended 31 December 2002. Turnover was up 17 per cent to £91.5m compared with £78.3m in 2001 bolstered by a 134 per cent growth (£15m) in DSL revenue. Earnings before interest (EBITDA) improved 23 per cent but the company still racked up a loss of £22.6m, compared to a £29.3m deficit the year before. Looking ahead, Easynet expects the business to "continue to grow strongly in 2003" despite echoing other telcoms outfits in that 2003 is set to be "another difficult year" for the industry. However, the company remains ever hopeful that broadband will be a key driver for 2003. Shares in Easynet jumped 9p (12 per cent) to 82p in early trading. ®
Tim Richardson, 26 Feb 2003

California High Court refuses to interject in Sex.com case

ExclusiveExclusive The High Court of California yesterday refused to be dragged into the ongoing legal battle between the owner of Sex.com, Gary Kremen, and domain registration giant Verisign. It had been asked by the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to consider the legal issue of whether a domain can legally be deemed as property. It refused to do so and so the issue will now be considered by the appeal court. The High Court decision - made surprisingly quickly considering it was asked just a month ago - is a huge boost for Mr Kremen, who had argued against the High Court taking on the decision. Mr Kremen is suing Verisign for giving away his lucrative Sex.com domain nearly eight years ago to con-man Stephen Michael Cohen without checking or making any attempt to contact him. Mr Kremen spent five years chasing Mr Cohen through the courts until finally being awarded the domain back in April 2001 with $65 million in compensation. Mr Cohen promptly moved his assets offshore, left the country and remains at large. The case against VeriSign has already stretched on five years and if the High Court had accepted the issue, it would have been extended by another four years, putting Mr Kremen into yet further financial trouble. Kremen's attorney, Jim Wagstaffe of San Francisco, said in a statement that his client was relieved by the decision, adding: "Now the Ninth Circuit can make the law consistent with the reasonable expectations of millions of domain name owners throughout the world, and clarify that domain names are indeed property." The speed with which the High Court made its decision will almost certainly be viewed as a rebuff to VeriSign, which in its court filing not only argued that the Ninth Court had misunderstood the legal issues but also extravagantly claimed that deciding against it "would cripple the Internet and jeopardize the national economic benefit for e-commerce". VeriSign stands to lose $100 million if the appeal court decides in favour of Kremen. It is doubly concerned however that the case will be used as a foundation for thousands of similar cases in which the registrar and owner of the .com top-level domain has acted negligently. ® Related Stories Sex.com case heralds end of Internet - NSI Sex.com could cost VeriSign $100m, says suit Manhunt starts for Sex.com snatcher Sex.com owner wins $65m damages Where the hell is my website?
Kieren McCarthy, 26 Feb 2003

Terra Lycos in €2bn loss

Terra Lycos lost a whopping €2bn last year as the global Internet group wiped off €1.4bn in the value of the company's assets. Terra Lycos - which operates in 42 countries including the US, Europe, Asia and Latin America and includes operations such as the Lycos portal, RagingBull.com, Tripod.com and Wired.com - said it "used transparency and prudent conservative accounting criteria to bring the book value of past investments in line with the current market situation". Part of this relates to the write-down of €857m linked to Terra's $12.5 billion acquisition of the Lycos portal operation in 2000. Publishing its results for the year, the Barcelona-based Net access and portal operation generated €622m in revenues in 2002 against an EBITDA (earnings before interest etc) loss for the year of €120m. At the end of December 2002, Terra Lycos had a total of 3.1 million paying punters including 378,000 ADSL customers. In a statement Terra Lycos executive chairman, Joaquim Agut, said: "2002 presented a major challenge for Terra Lycos, with an adverse macroeconomic backdrop and a crisis in the advertising industry in general and in the online advertising market in particular. "We were still able to continue growing and focusing on services for which our clients are willing to pay. At the same time, we have maintained a constant path towards profitability through efficient management and a commitment to innovation that allows us to obtain new sources of recurring revenue," he said. ®
Tim Richardson, 26 Feb 2003

Three-wheeler in drive for ADSL

Teenagers Alan and Marko Fleming have jumped on the broadband (band)wagon - literally - in a bid to bring ADSL to their hometown of Cupar in Fife. They've decorated their three-wheeled 50cc Piaggio Ape (pronounced "apee") with details of how people can register their interest in ADSL and are driving the vehicle round the town to drum up support for broadband. So far, Cupar has notched up more than 250 pre-registrations - and is within sight of the magic 300 that will trigger BT to invest in converting their local exchange to broadband. Cupar's campaign site can be found here. ®
Tim Richardson, 26 Feb 2003

Linux, DB2, and HP-UX treats at 30 per cent off

This week's top treat from the Reg associate IT-minds.com literary cookie jar is DB2 Universal Database V8 for Linux, Unix, and Windows Database Administration Certification Guide. Straight from IBM, this is the only book to offer complete, start-to-finish coverage of DB2 Universal Database V8 administration and development for UNIX, Linux, Windows, and OS/2 exam, and is available to Register visitors at £33.59 - a saving of 30 per cent. Also up for grabs at 30 per cent off is HP-UX 11i Systems Administration Handbook and Toolkit - the most detailed and practical guide to HP-UX system administration. The book has recently been updated to reflect all the latest enhancements included in HP-UX 11i. It's now the definitive single source for everything from basic UNIX commands through enterprise-class techniques for maximising scalability, robustness, and security. Register readers can get it for £30.79. And there's more: Interprocess Communications in Linux: The Nooks and Crannies is the essential guide to interprocess communication for Linux - a must-have for serious software developers and system administrators! Order it now for £27.99. The best of the rest at 30 per cent off this week are: Essential ASP.NET with Examples in Visual Basic.NET Essential ASP.NET with Examples in C# .NET Web Services: Architecture and Implementation Database Access with Visual Basic.NET CCNP BSCI Exam Certification Guide (CCNP Self Study) Beyond Software Architecture The .NET and COM Interoperability Handbook As ever, Reg readers get all IT-mindstitles at a permanent 20 per cent discount. Lovely. ®
Lester Haines, 26 Feb 2003

Existentialist errors, Lent, and other gripes

LettersLetters Bill Longman, who describes himself as "Just Another MIS Manager", knows how to get into The Register's postbag:- Andrew [*], The Register is so FANTASTIC I am going to call my next child Reginald. She'll just have to deal with it. Thanks, Bill. Mr JW William has a reminder for us:- Subject: All humanity in the West I love The Reg. I have for quite some time. But, do me a favour? I can't stand being called a "consumer". Last time I checked, I have a brain, and frequently I use it for decisions. I purchase as a customer, which to me is far more than a vapid, blind, caged creature being stuffed with whatever is next on the menu. There is a big difference being an educated customer, and a consumer that doesn't think. We can all feel the tight squeeze of communism gathering around, but let's not help them out with the plan. Thanks! Absolutely, Mr William. The best way to combat over consumption is to avoid referring to consumption. I'll start by giving it up for Lent. Randy Fischer writes:- Sir, RE: Motorola gambles big on Linux, Sinocapitalism Regarding your statement: Sweatshops for the likes of Dell, who employ Asian contract manufacturers simply because there aren't enough prisoners in the USA to provide cheap labor. Are you nuts? We have plenty (546 per 100,000) and the current administration is looking for ways to imprison more. Please don't provide additional reasons. Thank you for your time. The weird knowledge base entry described here prompted memories of other existentialist error messages. I must respectfully disagree with your claim that a "Nothing beyond" message from Windows CE is the most memorable/best/funnies/loneliest error message. Check out this anecdote from a WebTV developer about an error message that greeted anyone who tried to sign up for WebTV immediately after they launched (you have to view the screenshot to see the message): http://www.fadden.com/techmisc/webtv-anecdotes.htm Sam "The Mad Hatter" Clippinger Henry Juengst adds:- Indeed, it doesn't. Connect. It Does. Not. I think you think Microsoft does not think. Matthew Ayres has a typical example:- I don't want to get into a "when I worked at MIT in the early '70s" type bragging session but..... I once worked for a small mathematical modelling consultancy and was (only once) asked to write a new module for one of their spreadsheet-based tools. For reasons that at the time seemed perfectly obvious I ended up implementing an error message that read: "An Error has occurred but its associated message has not been implemented in this version of the software" As these things tend to go we spent hours arguing over the exact grammar of this message without ever discussing its usefulness. Actually, that's polite. The friendliest computer UI of all time - MacOS - was still generating negative numbers, with no associated message, right up until it final release. Martin writes:- You may be entertained to know that early Psions - Series 3 - featured among their error messages such immortals as "user abandoned" and even "media corrupt"! Think of the possibilities. It's a good job we're incorruptible, Martin. [dot com upgrade - disappointed reader]. Dan Halford remembers a real belter from a version of the Lotus Notes client:- The message title was "Critical Error" and it was accompanied by the all-to-familiar white X in a red circle. The text of the message read: "The expected error did not occur". But Phil Driscoll's example is the most existentialist:- On Acorn's Risc OS machines, if you missed the 'then' out of an 'if' statement on the command line you were greeted with the scary: 'There is no then' Very Beckett. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 26 Feb 2003

"OK – I smell a bit" – but leave us BoFHs alone!

LettersLetters Our story SME's sniff at smelly techies brought this impassioned letter to our Tim, which we reproduce in full. I just read your piece and as one of the "smelly techies" I just had to write a you a foaming rant, if just to set the record straight. So these people don't like the fact I like to wear loose fitting, comfortable clothing when I go about my job. Clearly, a three piece suit is what I should be wearing when I'm on my hands and knees, grubbing about in the dirt trying to repair machines your staff have mercilessly abused and beaten, or when I'm hanging from the rafters, trying to trace a piece of cat 5 back to it's source. After all, constrictive formal wear is really appropriate in such situations. I really love being distracted by persistent itching when I'm writing code and slipping and sliding about in formal footwear when I have to transport machines back and forth. Yes, I do smell a bit and have bad breath. It's a little difficult to find time to maintain a regular hygiene routine when you have to work 8-12 hours a day, nursemaiding idiots who couldn't find their own buttocks and running around like a headless chicken, then having to read and study most of the night, merely to keep the demeaning, degrading and abusive job you spend your day performing. As another side effect of this is that you have to live on caffeine and cigarettes merely to stop yourself falling asleep at your post [Ah, press conference - I know what you mean. Letters Ed.], I think a bit of an odour is to be expected. Face it, the people making these complaints are middle to upper level management. Now let me see, their working day consists of sitting on their lazy, pampered backsides while talking twaddle to their associates. Maybe, if they get a bit bored, they'll type up a little report or some such, just to make themselves feel good, as though they've actually done something of value. When five o'clock comes, they wander home in their overpriced company motor to sit on their fat, overfed backsides some more and crack one off over the men and motors channel. Face it, these people wouldn't moan about electricians, mechanics or other suitably skilled trades showing up in such apparel, so why do they moan about this? It's because they're the kind of idiot who judges people by appearances, with no actual awareness of what my job involves. "It's unprofessional" I hear them cry. Rubbish, professionalism is about what you do, not the way you look and perhaps if the populace at large was encouraged to realize this, we wouldn't have such a problem with con artists fleecing people in this industry. To hear companies moaning about such small details really worries me, as I have to wonder what such people would have done in 1930's Germany. I suspect they'd all be adopting a business model popularized by Siemens... Mr Angry. Bravo.®
Andrew Orlowski, 26 Feb 2003

AOL intros US-only music service

AOL's two million punters in the UK should ignore today's announcement from the US concerning the Internet giant's decision to offer a subscription music download service. That's because it's not available outside the US. A spokeswoman for AOL Inc told us that there was "no time line" for a similar service to be introduced into the UK - or anywhere else for that matter. While a spokeswoman for AOL UK told The Register: "We are seriously considering lots of options. We hope to introduce a music service of some type later this year. Nothing has been decided yet." So, there you have it. Oh, in case you're interested, AOL's US-only music subscription service is called MusicNet and it's being plugged as a safe and legit service. US punters coughing up for MusicNet will have access to 250,000 ditties along with info about the artists. The "basic" service (20 streams and 20 downloads) costs $3.95 a month while the "standard" service (unlimited streaming and downloading) costs $8.95 a month. The "premium" service (unlimited streaming and downloading plus the chance to burn ten songs to CD each month) works out at $17.95 a month. Whatever. ®
Tim Richardson, 26 Feb 2003

Low-tech solution beats London's hi-tech congestion charge

Unscrupulous motorists are thieving the identities of other cars to beat London's £200m hi-tech congestion charge scheme. Some 800 cameras patrolling at 400 points around the nation's capital snap the registration plates of vehicles entering central London. The numbers are crosschecked against a massive database to find out who has paid - and more importantly, who hasn't. But some motorists are simply dodging the fee by using false number plates, reports today's Independent. So, it seems even £200m worth of technology can't compete with that. Indeed, nor can it cope with the antics of other motorists who simply cover up their number plates as they move into the congestion charge zone. And there's more. Those clever-clogs at Xerox claim they're miles ahead of London's congestion charge. Twenty years ago the company ditched cars for its central London engineers and instead suggested they walk and use public transport to get to their appointments. Xerox has some 100 "walking engineers" in Central London based at three offices within the congestion charge zone. They simply carry a toolbox, laptop and a card that lets them travel on London's underground. A spokesman for the IT company said that its punters are "impressed by our quick response time". ® Related Stories The London charge zone, the DP Act, and MS .NET Does London mayor's 'ring of steel' breach UK Data Act? London charge zone is security cordon too, says mayor London road charging scheme goes live Central London webcams go dark for anti-war demo
Tim Richardson, 26 Feb 2003

Cryptome Hacked

Cryptome.org was hacked yesterday (February 25) and all files on the site deleted. A message on the site says the files will be restored later today. This replaces a brag posted by the very destructive hacker: hacked by bighawk of hackweiser (bighawk@kryptology.org) (the message is posted at this blog. It's got to be the US government, hasn't it? ®
Drew Cullen, 26 Feb 2003

You got Flowers! Email scam targets AOL users

Andrew Goodwill, who runs Early Warning, a scheme to warn UK retailers of credit card fraudsters, has uncovered a new email scam targeting AOL users. It's a weird one, which appears to be set up simply for harvesting AOL account details through false pretences. What for? Identity fraud maybe? The scam appears to have been in operation for no more than a couple of days, Early Warning says Here is its warning in full. Members of The Early Warning online fraud prevention scheme have just discovered a new email Scam that targets users of AOL (America On-Line). The user initially receives the email below; Dear AOL Member, There has been a purchase added to your AOL account billing method. This purchase took place at 1-800-Flowers.com. To view and/or cancel this order please click here. Below is listed information about your order. Product - 32 dozen long stem red roses Price - $79.99 Shipment Type - 3-5 Day Ground Shipping and Handling - $13.65 Total Price - $93.64 If the user clicks on the accompanying link they are taken to a page on a site called http://www.wegivefreequotes.org/ The user is then requested to enter their AOL account details. Early Warning has confirmed that this is a Scam and AOL users are warned not to access the site or give out their account details. Early Warning has contacted 1-800-Flowers.com and they have confirmed that this email message has not originated from their organisation. AOL has also been informed of the Scam. ®
Drew Cullen, 26 Feb 2003

DoJ seizes ISOnews site over Xbox mod chip sales

The US Department of Justice has seized the ISOnews web site, which was a kind of bible for the discerning software copier, and is turning it into a repository of anti-piracy propaganda. The site's remarkable switch of role stems from the sale of Xbox mod chips, in violation of the DMCA. David Rocci, 22, of Blacksburg, Va, handed over the domain, iSONews.com, in plea bargaining, after pleading guilty to "conspiring to import, market and sell circumvention devices known as modification (or "mod") chips in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act". Rocci imported 450 Enigmah chips illegally from the UK and sold them through the site for approx $28,000. For this crime, Rocci could face a fine of up to $500,000 and 5-years in prison, which seems somewhat harsh for a 22 year-old enthusiast trying to make a little money on the side. Maybe his big mistake was promote the device to the WareZ community. Says the DoJ: "David Rocci developed a public website that specifically catered to the underground piracy community. He attempted to profit by marketing circumvention devices to that community knowing they would be used to play pirated games." In some countries, mod-chips are legal, in many they are not. The Enigmah mod chip circumvents security controls and regional access controls. So that means you can play back-up games, probably pirated, and imported games - which publishers and hardware makers don't want you to do, because it buggers up their release schedules and their price differentials. Here is the DoJ press release. ® Related stories Lik-Sang changes hands, preps mod-chip court case Oz court backs Sony PS mod chips (kinda) Xbox mod-chips still on the menu Xbox hackers take legal advice followed by an early bath MIT grad student shows how to read Xbox security key Buy DVDs and games abroad - and break the law Sony turns courts on PS3 mod-chip makers
Drew Cullen, 26 Feb 2003

US given direct access to data on EU airlines' computers

The recent EU-US deal giving US Customs access to personal data on all European citizens flying to the US is far more drastic than originally seemed to be the case. Rather than 'merely' having airlines send the data within 15 minutes of the departure of all flights, the deal means that the US authorities will be accessing it on the airlines' own databases, held on computers that are within EU jurisdiction. A joint statement on the subject unearthed by Statewatch makes this clear, albeit not exactly in bold type. For example: "Compliance by airlines and reservation systems with US PNR requirements as from 5 March 2003 will not involve unlimited on-line access by US Customs to EU-based data bases, but rather the processing of PNR data for persons whose current travel itinerary includes flights into, out of, or through the US." So that's all right then - they'll only be looking at data on people going to the States, not data on everybody the airlines have records on. That's good to know. In addition to this remarkable burst of moderation, we have safeguards: (a) In accessing the PNR data in the territory of the Community, US Customs undertakes to respect the principles of the Data Protection Directive. (b) In so far as data of a sensitive nature, as defined in Article 8 of the Data Protection Directive, are processed by airlines in their PNR records, in accordance with the applicable EU law, measures to protect these data will need to be jointly developed, after consultation with the airline industry, preferably before 5 March 2003. (c) As concerns a first party request for disclosure of data by the data subject, US Customs will proceed with disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). (d) US Customs and the European Commission will consult with each other on a regular basis concerning implementation of this statement and possible enhancements which may be applied, consistent with US law and practice. Such discussions would include the results of any audits or other findings regarding in particular personnel access to information in US Customs databases. (e) US Customs may provide information to other US law enforcement authorities only for purposes of preventing and combating terrorism and other serious criminal offences, who specifically request PNR information from US Customs. The statement itself, available here, has an attached annex from the US giving a more detailed explanation of the 'safeguards' and the likely exemptions to them. But clause 8 of the main document is perhaps significant: "The US side took note of the Commission side's view that a multilateral agreement was necessary in the longer run, the Commission believing it to be entirely impractical for all airlines collecting and processing data in the EU to have to operate under multiple unilaterally imposed or bilaterally agreed requirements." It didn't agree, it took note, and we fear we must interpret this as effectively meaning the US reckons the EU can go whistle for its multilateral agreement. Says Statewatch editor Tony Bunyan: ""Anyone who believes that US Customs, which is now part of the Home Security Department, will limit itself solely to downloading information on passengers booked to fly to the USA is very naive... US Customs will have access to passenger details in advance and will be running the names through all the available intelligence databases, so there is every likelihood they will try to stop 'suspected' individuals from boarding the plane." It certainly seems difficult to conceive of the US not using, in the name of national security, all of the information it now has access to. In its own territory it is currently proposing the extensive use of data collection and profiling as one of IT's key contributions to the war on terror, and trying to do something similar in Europe must surely be tempting. Even more tempting, given that not that many of Europe's large supply of terrorists and subversives travel to the US, but lots of them travel in Europe, would be doing it with data on all air travel starting in Europe. But they're not going to do that, they said so. Honest. ® Related links: Statewatch story
John Lettice, 26 Feb 2003