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Monday, March 19, 2001
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Canada to take on paedophiles

THE Canadian government, apparently breaking new ground internationally, introduced a Bill to make it a crime to surf for child pornography on the Internet. Canadian officials said they were unaware of any other country with similar legislation to crack down on the mushrooming child porn trade in an age when it is just a mouse-click away. "Combating crimes committed using the Internet is crucial, particularly when it come to the most vulnerable members of our society — our children," Justice Minister Anne McLellan said. "It’s very important that our criminal code responds to a variety of changes, in this case technological...we wanted no doubt left for those who investigate these horrible crimes and those who prosecute them," she told reporters. In Canada, as in the USA and many other jurisdictions, possession of child pornography downloaded from a computer is a crime. The Bill is not meant to catch persons who inadvertently open e-mail attachments or Web pages that have child pornography, but those who "knowingly cause child pornography to be viewed," said federal Justice official Yvan Roy. Accessing child pornography would carry a penalty of up to five years in prison.


Bill Gates eyes new gift to UN AIDS programs

Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates called on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to explore the new ways his foundation could help the United Nations to battle AIDS. Gates, the world’s richest person, and his wife Melinda met Annan for about 50 minutes for initial talks on how the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation could do more against AIDS, foundation spokesman Trevor Neilson."The foundation will now look at specific ways it could help," he added. Foundation president Patty Stonefifer accompanied the Gates during their UN visit. Gates’ foundation, which has $21 billion in assets, has placed special emphasis on research into an AIDS vaccine and awarded more than $1.2 billion last year to health causes, Neilson said.

FBI warns of organised computer hacker groups

The FBI warned last week that organised hacker groups, especially from Russia and Ukraine, have targeted vulnerable US computer systems, stealing credit card information and then attempting to extort money by offering security services to the victim company. More than 40 victim companies in 20 states have been identified and notified in an ongoing investigation, the FBI-based National Infrastructure Protection Centre said. More than 1 million credit card numbers have been stolen so far. The hackers specifically targeted computer systems associated with e-commerce or e banking, the FBI said. "The investigations have disclosed several organised hacker groups from Eastern Europe, specifically Russia and the Ukraine, that have penetrated US e-commerce computer systems" by exploiting vulnerabilities, the FBI said. Once the hackers gain access, they download proprietary information, customer databases and credit card information. The hackers then contact the company through facsimile, e-mail or telephone. After telling the company about the theft of the information, the hackers make a veiled extortion threat by offering Internet security services to protect against other intrusions, they said. If the company fails to get the services, the company is warned that hackers may post the credit card information and details about the compromise on the Internet, they said. The hackers will increase the threats if the company does not cooperate in making payments or hiring the group for their security services, the officials said.

— Reuters

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