Internet News - In Brief

Internet

- In a press release issued this week, Funke Opeke, Chief Executive Officer of Main One Cable Company said that “with the Main One project having secured commitments for the entire funding of its first phase, “practically everything is in place to ensure that Main One cable is ready for Service in June 2010. When that happens,” she added, “we will usher a new lease of life to broadband penetration in the West Africa sub region and a strong growth imperative to the economies of the sub region”.

- Mobile operator Zain Kenya has linked with under sea fibre optic cable on the Seacom platform. Zain Kenya managing director Rene Meza said the connection to Seacom will enhance availability of bandwidth on Zain’s upgraded network that is estimated to reach 90 per cent of the population. Zain Kenya has unveiled two flat rate access packages in a bid to increase uptake of data services for the prepaid customer. The unlimited bundle and pre-paid bundle packages will see customers make up to 90 per cent savings when accessing the Internet.

- Vodafone Ghana has announced a reduction in the installation charge of its fixed broadband service from GH¢90 to GH¢55. The reduction, which started from September 11, 2009, would last for a period of three months. This reduction meant that, the initial upfront cost for new broadband customers has reduced significantly.

- South Africans could soon choose to register their internet sites by using city specific domains, or speciality fields like sport instead of the .co.za domain, the .za Domain Name Authority said this week. Apart from considering domains like sport, food and local city-specific ones, the authority was also considering re-opening domains like web.za and net.za.

- Kenyan Internet Service Provider, UUNET, has entered into a partnership with electronics manufacturer Sony to provide video conferencing facilities in Kenya.

In the agreement, UUNET will provide bandwidth capacity required while also reselling Sony's video conferencing equipment.

- The battle to be top website in South Africa heats up. Times Live has set its sight on overtaking News24 and IOL as SA’s top news website.

- O3b Networks Limited (O3b) the developer of a new fiber quality, satellite-based, global Internet backbone announced that Vizada Networks, the leading system integrator and satellite service provider will resell O3b capacity to the entire African market.

- The BBC is currently running interviews and articles on how Africa is getting connected. They have put together a nice interactive map of broadband users and submarine fibre rollout around the world over the last ten years. To see the map click on the following link

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8255695.stm

Namibia’s 'Spy Bill' Set to Outlaw Encryption

The Communications Bill in its current form could make it a criminal offence to do Internet banking and get onto social networking sites such as Facebook, Youtube and Twitter. This is how Peter Gallert, Polytechnic IT lecturer, interprets Section 76 (2) b of the Communications Bill, which makes provision for outlawing encryption. Internet services such as Hotmail, Gmail, Skype, Ebay, Amazon, MSN messenger and anti-virus software also will not work without encryption.

If you see the "lock" icon at the bottom or top of a Web page, it will not be usable without encryption. Section 76 of the Communications Bill makes it illegal for people to sell or own equipment that may be used to prevent interception of data by the national intelligence service.

Encryption is a method of using mathematical techniques to hide data while it is sent between parties. Like a box with a lock, it prevents the contents of the box from being seen by anyone except the key holders.

Gallert last week submitted the Polytechnic of Namibia's School of IT's comments to public hearings on the Communication Bill being held by a Parliamentary Standing Committee of the National Council.

He said by criminalising encryption, large portions of the Internet and private computer networks would not operate in Namibia anymore. Virtual Private Networking offered by service providers to large companies relies heavily on encryption, as their traffic is routed over public network channels, he said.

This could mean all secure sites or networks, such as Internet banking sites, would be rendered illegal because they cannot be intercepted.

He said Section 76 (2) (b) includes all data encryption, including those necessary for legitimate transactions such as online banking, online shopping and general Internet business applications. Gallert said in terms of Section 76 (2) (a), the Minister of Information on recommendation by the Intelligence Director General may regulate equipment seen as being able to perform interceptions.

This is not practical, he said, as all computers, cellphones and every programming language could be used for that purpose. "The fact that a knife can be used to stab a person cannot be sufficient reason to outlaw knives," he told the committee.

He added that the bill is not clear on actions that are executed for educational purposes in private networks, stating that the Polytechnic's degrees in computer networking must cover encryption techniques to be effective.

The Namibian