Sat, Dec 25, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Group fights for consumer rights on the Internet

NET CRIMEThe Net Consumers' Association Taiwan compiled a list of the year's top 10 Web-related stories to point out ways of protecting Internet surfers' rights

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

In view of continuous integration of applications between the telecommunications industry and the Internet, a non-profit organization yesterday released a list of the year's top 10 Internet-related consumer news reports in a bid to encourage the authorities to speed up their efforts to better protect consumers' rights and interests.

"This year, we've seen an increasing number of people falling victim to Internet crimes, including being bombarded by spam e-mails and online phishing, which tricks users to reveal confidential personal data," Joseph Lin (林世華), chairman of the Net Consumers' Association Taiwan (網路消費協會), told reporters yesterday.

"By releasing the top 10 news reports in cooperation with the Taipei City Government's Law and Regulations Commission, we hope the relevant authorities can hammer out effective remedies to restore consumer confidence in information technology," he said.

Topping their list is the news about software giant Microsoft's legal defeat in Europe. Earlier this week, a EU court issued a verdict in support of the European Commission's (EC) anti-trust sanctions against Microsoft, as well as the imposition of a record US$665 million fine.

The EC required that Microsoft bring out a European version of its Windows operating system without its Media Player software and provide competitors with the information they need to enable their products to communicate with Windows.

"Based on this case, we will unite with the Consumers' Foundation (消基會) to report to the Cabinet-level Fair Trade Commission next month, demanding that Microsoft Taiwan follow suit to remove Media Player from Windows and lower its selling prices," Lin said.

The story in second place deals with a handful of Taiwanese officials and telecom employees who were found to have sold over 15 million people's personal information to organized crime syndicates.

The emergence of cheap and even free Internet telephony service was chosen as the No.3 news event of the year. Fixed-line service providers are expected to face immense challenges from Internet telephony.

In the fourth spot on the chart was the case of telecoms operators who were accused of collecting fees for pornographic Web sites. The Directorate General of Telecommunications under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications required that operators examine their contracted users' Web site contents.

The fifth position went to a phishing activity, in which a university hacker stole Internet users' personal information by luring them to provide confidential data on disguised Web sites.

Criticism on the Fair Trade Commission for its flawed approach to dealing with Microsoft's monopoly ranked sixth. The Net Consumers' Association and the Consumers' Foundation both reported these flaws to the Control Yuan.

Hackers from Taiwan and China colluding to invade the nation's Internet banking services took the seventh position.

The police immediately suggested that bank customers change their PIN numbers to protect their accounts.

In the eighth place was an announcement of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications in May that it would help the telecoms sector to create over NT$1 trillion in output value by 2008.

State-run Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信) reporting earnings per share of NT$5.02 for last year took the ninth spot. Commenting on its amazing profits, Lin said Chunghwa Telecom should lower rates for broadband Internet services to make them comparable to those in South Korea and Japan.

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