On the Net

By CHRIS H. SIEROTY, UPI Technology Correspondent


European police have conducted several raids on a suspected Internet child pornography ring with raids in seven countries, the European Union's police agency Europol said. Police seized suspects, computers, CDs and videos in raids in Belgium, Britain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden. Based in The Hague, Gilles Leclair, Europol's deputy director, said the code-named "Operation Twins" took 12 months to complete and focused on a criminal organization whose activities included the production and distribution of child pornography. He added the group used complex technology to try to avoid detection. "Europol will continue to consider child pornography, along with trafficking in human beings, within its immediate priorities," said Leclair.



EarthLink has launched e-mail by phone service. Erika Jolly, Earthlink's vice president, said the new service provides customers with convenient, on-the-go access to their e-mail. "Earthlink is committed to offering subscribers services that enhance their online experience ... in this case the flexibility to connect with their e-mail anywhere, anytime," Jolly said. The new service, which began Tuesday, allows subscribers access to their e-mail for only $4.95 per month, simply dialing a toll-free number and following the voice prompts. When subscribers call the service, a computer-generated voice automatically begins reading unread messages from their Inbox over the phone. A company called AudioPoint provided the speech applications.



Proposed U.S. government rules could harm competition in the broadband Internet market, reducing service and driving up monthly fees for users who want high-speed access, according to a survey released by a consumer group. The Consumer Federation of America said by easing regulations on incumbent cable television and local phone companies, the Federal Communications Commission will hasten the demise of independent Internet providers who reach users over existing phone and cable lines. "Independent ISPs brought the Internet to the public and played a key role in the successful commercialization of the Internet," said David Robertson, vice president of Texas ISP Association. "It can be argued that ISPs were the killer application for the PC." Mark Cooper, CFA's research director said the report demonstrates independent ISPs and their customers are being driven from the marketplace by a deliberate denial of competition. The FCC did not return a call seeking comment.


Virginia is the only state in the nation to move up in a national ranking of high-tech job markets, Gov. Mark Warner, a Democrat, said. The Commonwealth's high-tech industry added 4,300 jobs last year, for a total of 228,900 in 2001. This growth in tech employment moved Virginia up to sixth place nationwide by technology employment, according to a new survey by the American Electronics Association. The state replaced Illinois this year in sixth place. "It is encouraging that the Commonwealth continues to lead the nation in many technology fields," said Warner. "This report confirms that technology continues to provide strong fuel for our economy, creating high wage jobs and using our highly skilled work force." Virginia's increase in technology jobs represented a 1.9 percent increase between 2000 and 2001.



Expedia Inc., an online travel company, said its board of directors has named Ernst & Young LLP as its new independent auditor, replacing Deloitte & Touche LLP, effective July 1. The company, located in Bellevue, Wash., said the change was made at the request of USA Interactive, which owns about 63 percent of Expedia's common shares. Ernst & Young is the independent auditor for USA and its other majority-held companies, the company said.


Active duty military personnel, veterans, reservists, National Guard members, and their families are now just one click away from hundreds of Web sites containing information about programs and services available to them, thanks to a new Internet portal developed by the U.S. Department of Labor. At, users can choose from categories such as job search skills and tools, employment listings, career assessment tools, housing and financial assistance. Frederico Juarbe, Jr., assistant labor secretary for veterans employment and training said "anyone with access to the Internet can easily locate programs and services to help them become successful in the civilian economy."

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