educational

XBiz News: 07-31-03

Stephen Yagielowicz

This week’s XBiz News looks at Bridging the Digital Divide, the latest processing changes, and the problems being faced by cyber-cheating spouses...

Bridging the Digital Divide
Being developed in order to help people in poor countries access the Internet, Aidworld (a team associated with Cambridge University) is developing a software application called Aidbase which speeds Internet access by up to 35 times.

Tom Corsellis, Aidworld's founder announced that "Aidworld is developing lightweight software to take the world wide web world wide," adding that "We wanted to bridge the digital divide instead of talking about it…" Currently a working prototype, Aidbase is targeted towards the over 90% of the world’s population which is not yet online, and especially to those who have access to a landline.

The free software works by removing the graphics while simplifying a Web page’s formatting, leaving only the basic (and lightweight) text, improving transmission performance on poor quality connections running over high cost satellite phones, or sub-standard landlines, where connections are often unreliable. Endorsed by Care, Save the Children, and the Red Cross, as well as the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the new Aidbase software will strip out the frills while compressing a Web site’s text, delivering simplified pages much faster than would be possible to receive the original Web site.

This technology will usher in an era of broader, but more limited, access to the Internet, and should serve as a reminder to Webmasters that browser and other presentation / deliver methods are continually evolving, presenting new challenges for information delivery professionals.

Latest Processing Changes
Following on the news of the demise of Glo-Bill came another shocking email from yet another "IPSP:" "Recent months have not been easy for any of us, as we have all had to make significant changes in the way we do business. A worldwide recession, governmental regulation, and increased pressure from card associations and banks have combined to make the adult industry a more challenging place to do business. In response to that environment, and after much consideration, we have decided that we can best serve our clients by focusing on our core competencies - Adult Check and affiliate programs such as AC Movie Pass (ACMP), AC Prime, and AC Sex Toys." And with those 3 sentences, AC Pay joined the fast growing ranks of ex-IPSPs, much to the dismay of many smaller Web site operators – exactly the type of folks who could least afford the changes being thrust upon them by the VISA / MC monopoly.

It isn’t just the little guys who are scrambling, however, as many ‘big name’ domestic sponsors are trying to come to terms with Epoch’s "Us or IBill" strategy. While I suspect that the folks at PSW Billing are rejoicing over this shift in policy, being the heir-apparent to the tertiary processor role (behind Epoch and CCBill) for those big-league sponsor programs who rely upon cascading billing systems to maximize conversions and allow for the (excessively) high payout rates demanded by Webmaster affiliates.

While the end of the ongoing saga of online credit card processing is nowhere in site, it is certain that the remaining IPSPs will be under assault by worried Webmasters at the upcoming Internext Expo, and further announcements of consolidation or demise may come within days of the show’s closing. The big player to watch right now is IBill; who after suffering the same restrictions as other IPSPs and an arguably declining reputation among Webmasters, now has to deal with Epoch’s hostility, er, ‘improved charge back reduction program,’ and it will be very interesting to see how well (if at all) they cope with this changing climate… According to many divorce lawyers and marriage counselors, illicit romances originating in online chat rooms and then continued by e-mail and other means, are one of the leading causes in marital breakdowns in our Internet-enabled society.

Spouses Turn Cyber-Snoops
According to many divorce lawyers and marriage counselors, illicit romances originating in online chat rooms and then continued by e-mail and other means, are one of the leading causes in marital breakdowns in our Internet-enabled society.

Today, a growing number of suspicious spouses who once might have used the experienced services of a private detective to discover if their spouses were cheating on them are now taking a hands-on approach, employing do-it-yourself technology to keep tabs on their wayward lovers. These would-be digital sleuths are using Web sites such as Chatcheaters.com and InfidelityCheck.org to learn about the wide array of surveillance products currently available to track a cheating spouse’s online chats and ‘private’ e-mails –some of which can monitor key strokes in real time.

Atlanta divorce lawyer John Mayoue said "The traditional detective hired to chase information is being replaced by software that’s not terribly expensive but can give you 100 times the information. It used to be that when you wanted to prove adultery, you would prove it circumstantially. In the computer era, I can have something that is so graphic, so clear, there's not a whole lot of room for argument."

American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers president Sandra Morris believes that the spread of Internet infidelity has complicated the issues surrounding computer privacy, saying that "A spouse may have a misplaced sense of entitlement to spy… There are prohibitions against electronic eavesdropping, though a lot of people feel that when someone’s cheating, all bets are off." Divorce attorney Mayoue acknowledged that even within the marriage, federal statutes might outlaw the interception of electronic communications: "A spouse does have a right to privacy even from his or her own spouse. I've been on both sides of this – it's the most compelling evidence you'll have in a divorce case, but also the most fraught with potential liability." This is due to the fact that a suspicious spouse might have no legal grounds for breaking into a password-protected area on their spouse’s personal computer, but might be able to legally justify having read an e-mail that was retrieved from a shared family computer.

When University of Florida researcher Beatriz Mileham interviewed 76 men and 10 women who frequented the "Married and Flirting" and "Married But Flirting" chat rooms, she discovered that while most of the participants claimed to love their spouse, they sought romantic encounters to ease their boredom or due to their partner’s disinterest in sex, and 24 of those interviewed brought their cyber-affairs into the real world, enjoying real-life affairs with at least one of the lovers they pursued online.

While the implications for spouses up to no good are obvious, adult Webmasters wishing to ensure their client’s anonymity can enjoy a new revenue stream by selling privacy protecting and encryption software, as well as any of the popular "Internet Eraser" products.

Things are changing very quickly now - Stay tuned for more news! ~ Stephen

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