Connectivity Briefs

Austrian spam ban likely to pass

A proposed amendment to Austria’s telecommunications law that would essentially outlaw spam could be signed into law within the next couple of weeks.

Austria’s Justice Committee recommended that the country’s Parliament amend the law with a provision that would make it illegal to send unsolicited electronic mail, without the specific consent of the recipient. If passed, the law would be one of Europe’s strictest against spam. Both Internet user groups and service providers heavily lobbied the Committee to support the ban.

One such group, VIBE, which represents Austrian Internet users, was told by the Austrian Chamber of Labour that there are excellent chances that the amendment will pass, according to Ingo Liessegang, head of the user group..

Intel to buy networking chip maker

Intel Corp. is to buy California-based networking processor maker Softcom Microsystems Inc. as part of the chip giant’s increased push into the Internet market.

Based in Fremont, Calif., Softcom develops processors for networking equipment such as routers, switches and access devices that are used to direct voice and data across the Internet and traditional networks.

Intel did not disclose the price of the purchase, but did add that the deal will be an all cash transaction.

Softcom is a startup with 32 employees. Despite its small size, “they have technology that we don’t have,” said Intel spokesman Tom Beermann.

Drug industry takes patient trials on-line

Visitors to, former American surgeon-general C. Everett Koop’s health-care Web site, can apply to participate in drug trials managed by Quintiles Transnational, a Durham, N. C. , company that runs clinical trials for the pharmaceutical industry.

That announcement late was quickly followed by a similar deal between Americas and CenterWatch, a clinical-trials information clearinghouse.

The industry’s foray into on-line recruitment follows recent news reports about drug companies’ payment of large finders’ fees to doctors to recruit volunteers for drug trials. An investigation by the New York Times found that some doctors abused the trust of their patients by encouraging them to participate in clinical trials for which they were not suited.