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9/19/96 At the Telecommunications Industry Association annual meeting in Los Angeles, representatives of the wireless communications industry voted to condemn a new government surveillance plan. It would enable law enforcement officials to track the location of a cellular phone caller within a half-second, monitor wireless conference calls, and the like. The Justice Department contends that such surveillance initiatives are merely an extension of a 1994 telecommunications law intended to modernize law enforcement techniques; a view with which most industry executives and privacy advocates disagree.

9/19/96 The trend to regulate cybermoney in response to mounting anxiety about electronic counterfeiting and money laundering was evident in two announcements today: U.S. regulators will examine so-called smart cards, while international regulators from the Group of Seven will consider international initiatives for controlling money moving across the Internet.

9/29/96 The Chinese government ordered Microsoft to halt sales of its Chinese language version of Windows 95 because it contained phrases offensive to Beijing and a map of China without Taiwan. Free updated software will be posted online and sent to all registered users.

9/30/96 The omnibus U.S. federal-budget bill amplifies child pornography statutes by banning computer-generated depictions of childrens sexual conduct. Proponents of the legislation maintain that it simply updates the law. First amendment advocates and other opponents note that the historical purpose of such laws is to punish those who abuse children by luring them into sexual activity, not to keep adults from viewing such material.


10/1/96 The Clinton Administration offered a compromise in the long-running battle re. the export of data scrambling technology. In return for removing all export restrictions, law enforcement officials would be able to unscramble coded messages with the help of manufacturers, as long as they have a warrant to do so. The C.I.A. and a consortium of manufacturers led by I.B.M. favor the two-step process, while some computer-industry execs and privacy-rights activists maintain that citizens rights to privacy will be compromised.

10/1/96 Japan saw its first digital satellite broadcast today; a venture of PerfecTV.

10/2/96 Thirty four US universities announced a consortium to create a new national network for education--dubbed Internet II--and intended to be faster and more reliable than the Internet.

10/3/96 Olivetti SpA announced that it plans to sell its personal computer business to raise money.

10/96 Sun Microsystems introduction of its Javastation model links it with I.B.M. and Oracle in pursuit of an as-yet untested market for so-called network computers or NC, which typically sell for less than $1000. They might consist of only a screen, keyboard, processor, memory and network connection, with data and program storage downloadable from large central servers. Sun, I.B.M. and Oracle endorsed one set of technical standards; on 10/28 Microsoft and Intel endorsed another.


11/1/96 Word leaked today--and was confirmed on 11/3--that British Telecommunications and MCI Communications will merge to create Concert, the first trans-Atlantic telephone carrier.

11/4/96 Oracle Coporation announced that RCA and Funai Electric Company will use its technology to produce television-top devices that link televisions to the Internet. 11/7 The U.S. Government ruled that Sony and Phillips Electronics new television-top device for browsing the WWW uses computer-security technology so powerful that it cannot be exported. So the $300 device, available at Sears, Roebuck and other chain stores, has been classified as a weapon.

11/5/96 Online reporting of the U.S. Presidential election bombed: News websites including CNNs and MSNBCs were overwhelmed by heavy traffic; ABC/Washington Post's site went off line due to a failure of an Internet artery; and New York Times site was the victim of a hacker attack.

11/8/96 A U.S. Federal judge in Washington froze the assets of Systems of Excellence, a small company, at the urging of the Securities and Exchange Commission. This appears to be the first lawsuit intended to stop alleged securities manipulation online.

11/26/96 US broadcast and computer industries representatives announce agreement on technical standard for digital television. Subject to Federal Communications Commission approval, the standard allows for both interlaced (TV) and progressive (computer) scanning of images. In other words, the agreement--widely seen as a victory for computer makers--ensures a future battle over scanning standards.

December 1996

12/6/96 A recently arrived at compromise between the Clinton administration and US computer manufacturers that would relax export controls for data encryption technology is apparently unravelling. Computer makers--who had grudgingly supported the two-month old plan to allow exports with key codes available to law enforcement authorities--assert that the government is reneging on the plans major provisions. Software publishers never supported the so-called compromise.

9/95 - 12/95 1/96 - 4/96 5/96 - 8/96

Online Timeline
Issue 3