The House to get wired

The Canadian government will be spending between $1 million and $2 million to create an electronic voting system for the House of Commons, according to reports. Within the timeframe of a year, the voting system will be created, enabling MPs to vote on legislation electronically instead of recording their votes through clerks. According to a government spokesperson, the new voting method would reduce voting time from 10 to 12 minutes down to somewhere between two and three minutes. The U.S. already uses a form of electronic voting in its senate. Once used in Canada, voting results could be released and broadcast almost instantly on television or the Internet.

If you charge them, will they come?

Napster Inc. has announced that it will start to charge subscription fees to people who use its service to download music from its site. The announcement came after Napster signed an agreement with Bertelsmann AG, the parent company of the BMG music unit, last October. Market specialists remain unsure how this will affect Napster’s business – there are still other on-line music companies which offer their services free-of-charge. The other issue involves all the other major record labels. Unless Napster can enlist them as well, odds will be against the company. Much of the music industry is still at war with Napster, citing copyright infringement and loss of royalties for artists as issues of concern. Napster intends to implement its subscription service by June or July of this year.

Network Associates attacked

Santa Clara, Calif.-based antivirus software vendor Network Associates Inc. (NAI) was hit with a denial-of-service (DoS) attack late last month. According to the company, although its site never went off-line, it was hampered for approximately 90 minutes. All of NAI’s sites were affected worldwide, making it impossible for some users to connect and creating slow response times for others. The attack was reportedly against the company’s domain name server (DNS) and not its Web servers, according to company officials. NAI’s IT department became aware of the attack almost immediately, and assembled a team to deal with the issue within 15 minutes, according to the company.

Travelocity deals with privacy error

Late last month, Inc. inadvertently released and exposed the names and addresses of contest entrants on its Web site. Approximately 44,000 names were exposed when a work file with the contestants’ information was mistakenly left on an old server that was converted to a production server, according to reports.

Internet Explorer 6 gets exposed

A future release of Microsoft Corp.’s Web browser was made available a little sooner than planned over the Web. A beta version of the software was distributed by Microsoft to a small group of testers. Generally speaking, testers are required to sign non-disclosure agreements to prevent them from sharing the software, but in this case a version ended up appearing on two Web sites, which offered the software for download. The-Ctrl-Alt-Del and File Clicks sites have now both seemed to pull the availability of the download. The-Ctrl-Alt-Del only had the beta available for about 18 hours when it pulled it, reportedly after it discovered that Microsoft was going to investigate the matter. The beta was apparently downloaded by thousands of people before it was removed form the site.

E-mail security hits a wall

An e-mail security loophole was discovered last month, which could potentially lead to widespread snooping of on-line messages, according to privacy specialists. The newly discovered loophole enables individuals to essentially “bug” an e-mail sent to any e-mail client which can accept HTML with JavaScript, such as Microsoft Outlook and Netscape Messenger. All that is required is a few lines of JavaScript inserted into the e-mail message. Should the message be received by a JavaScript-enabled client, any reply which contains the original message or reply would then be copied and sent back to the original sender. Even if JavaScript is turned off by the user, the code could still be activated by another user who did not turn it off.