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Briefing: The Netherlands raising Internet surveillance

Bloomberg News, Reuters, The Associated Press | October 19 2006

The Netherlands raising Internet surveillance

AMSTERDAM: Dutch law enforcement and intelligence agencies have been steadily increasing surveillance of Internet users, Internet service providers said Wednesday.

Since 2002, Dutch ISPs have been obliged to provide the authorities with tapping services on request. The Organization of Internet Providers said that six surveillance requests were ordered in 2003, increasing to 10 in 2004, 15 in 2005 and an estimate of 31 in 2006. The organization's 44 members serve about 1.5 million Dutch consumers - less than 20 percent of the total number of Internet users in the Netherlands.

The ISP organization said its task has been more difficult each year, as new kinds of traffic pop up and require new software and equipment for monitoring. It pointed to Internet telephony as an example. (AP)

Iran slows Web speed

TEHRAN: Internet service providers in Iran have started reducing the speed of Internet access to homes and cafés based on new government- imposed limits, a move that critics said appeared to be part of a clampdown on the media.

Without giving a reason, an official said last week that ISPs were now "forbidden" by the Telecommunications Ministry from providing Internet connections faster than 128 kilobytes per second, the official IRNA news agency reported. Speeds of 512 KBps or higher are increasingly common internationally. Web surfers in Iran will now find it much slower to download music or anything else. Businesses have not been affected by the move. (Reuters)

Bet on Taiwan cable

TAIPEI: MBK Partners, a private equity fund formed by former Carlyle Group executives, is to buy 60 percent of China Network Systems, a Taiwan cable television provider, for 30.9 billion Taiwan dollars, or $932 million.

China Network is owned by News Corp.'s Star Group, which holds a 20 percent stake, and the Koo family of Taiwan, which has 80 percent. MBK's purchase comes amid speculation that Taiwan's government will allow the four cable TV networks to deliver services like digital television and high-speed Internet. (Bloomberg)

UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP filed lawsuits against the online video sharing sites Grouper and Bolt.com for allowing users to swap pirated versions of its musicians' videos. It is seeking damages of as much as $150,000 for each incident of copyright infringement, plus costs. Bolt said that it has removed copyrighted material as soon as it is notified, and hoped to reach a licensing agreement with Universal Music. Grouper officials were not available for comment. (Reuters)

VERIZON COMMUNICATIONS decided to spin off its U.S. yellow pages business, opting against a sale that would have resulted in higher taxes. Investors will receive a dividend of one share of the new company for every 20 Verizon shares they hold. The business will be called Idearc. (Bloomberg)

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