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Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 18, 2000


New Jersey studies toysrus.com's privacy practice

FORT LEE, N.J. -- Records from Toys R Us Inc.'s Internet division have been subpoenaed in an investigation of its privacy practices, a spokeswoman for the toy retailer said last week. The inquiry by New Jersey's Division of Consumer Affairs partly stems from lawsuits that accuse toysrus.com of illegally sharing personal information about its Internet customers with market researchers, spokeswoman Jeanne Meyer said. The company has turned over "thousands of documents related to our privacy policies," Meyer said. Mark Herr, director of the Division of Consumer Affairs, refused to confirm or deny an investigation into Fort Lee, N.J., toysrus.com but said the division is examining how Internet retailers use "cookies," the small text files that record information about an Internet user's browsing habits when they visit a Web site.

Dependable software goal of high-tech consortium

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The agency that landed men on the moon, built a space station and sent robots to Mars is tackling another tricky high-tech challenge: Developing computer software that doesn't crash. Ever. NASA, Carnegie Mellon University and a dozen high-tech companies announced last week the formation of a consortium whose primary mission is to eliminate failure in software vital to the nation. Systems to be targeted by the High Dependability Computing Consortium include those that play a crucial role in air traffic control, the space program, banking and health care, "software that you depend your life on," said Henry McDonald, director of NASA's Ames Research Center.

Man arrested for 'spam' e-mail scheme

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- A man who took over an Internet service to send millions of anonymous e-mails about pornography and get-rich-quick schemes has pleaded guilty to second-degree forgery. Jason Garon, 46, sent millions of unsolicited e-mails, better known as "spam" messages, to America Online subscribers and disguised them to look as if they had been sent from ibm.net, IBM's Internet provider. He executed the scheme using the computer resources of the Market Vision graphics studio company, authorities said, and an overload of data crashed the company's internal network. Ed Greenberg, owner of Market Vision, said his losses amounted to about $18,000. Garon's e-mails were traced to his apartment, where Orange County, Calif., investigators arrested him and seized his computer. He faces up to seven years in prison.

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