Government goes electronic

The Government last week announced plans to install electronic kiosks in post offices, libraries and other public areas that will provide access to a wide range of information and allow users to apply for grants and benefits and submit tax returns. In announcing the Green Paper on electronic government, Roger Freeman, the Public Service Minister, said the pilot project's aim was to create "self-service government". Initially, eight multimedia kiosks will be installed in London, Manchester and Glasgow. Private-sector funding will be sought to extend the number of kiosks.

US election strains the Net

Last week's presidential election in the United States was a historic day for both Bill Clinton and the Internet. Americans logged on in their millions to get the latest results, straining the capacity of the Net as never before. AllPolitics, the site run by Time magazine and the Cable News Network, recorded some 50 million hits on election day, surpassing by far CNN's previous record of 18 million hits during the bombing of Iraq. The MSNBC site, run by Microsoft and the NBC television network, experienced a five-fold increase in use, with an estimated three million hits.

Software lawsuit targets ISPs

A group of US software publishers has filed a lawsuit against three Internet service providers and threatened legal action against many more ISPs, alleging copyright violations by online customers. The 1,200-member Software Publishing Association, based in Washington DC, wants providers to monitor Web sites created by their subscribers in order to prevent any

illegal exchange of copyrighted software programs, and to prohibit links to other sites that contain information about pirated programs or discussions about techniques for illegally copying software. The service providers

have vowed to fight the SPA's action, arguing that they cannot be held liable for policing the activities of their subscribers