Bits & Megabytes


Issue: "Terror on trial," Oct. 18, 2003

Seattle, San Francisco, and other city library systems plan to track their books with microchips instead of the familiar barcodes. The system helps librarians track books, reduce theft, and speed up checkouts. The chips are supposed to be deactivated when books leave the library, but privacy advocates are concerned that they could be used to snoop on patrons.

Louis Philippe is so fed up with spam that he sued AOL. The Portland man says the Internet service hasn't done enough to keep junk mail out of his inbox. While he seeks a measly $1,600 in damages, his suit revisits the issue of a provider's responsibility to prevent Net nuisances.

The FCC is considering putting new high-tech cameras on planes so people on the ground can monitor onboard activities and spot dangers. Another technology lets air marshals transmit sound, video, and data. Many pilots oppose such monitoring, saying it weakens their authority.

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Verizon Wireless unveiled a new Internet service that provides data at speeds five and 10 times quicker than dial-up service. This is still slower than the much-hyped Wi-Fi technology, but with a much greater range. Washington and San Diego are the first cities to get the new wireless service, which is expected to expand nationwide.

A small Japanese town plans to use satellite tracking to help parents find their kids. Following the kidnapping of a 15-year-old girl, the city of Murakami intends to have 2,700 youngsters carry portable devices that let Mom and Dad find their location on a website. The gizmos also come with a panic button in case of emergency.


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