Belarus clamps down on Net use
Belarus’ authoritarian leader is promising to toughen regulation of the Internet and its users in an apparent effort to exert control over the last fully free medium in the former Soviet state.
“We will identify any person who disseminates lies and dirt, and will make them answer strictly to the law,” President Alexander Lukashenko said Wednesday.
He told journalists that a new Internet bill, proposed Tuesday, would require the registration and identification of all online publications and of each Web user, including visitors to Internet cafes. Web service providers would have to report this information to police, courts and special services.
Lukashenko has ruled Belarus with an iron fist since 1994, weeding out opposition and dissidents. All television channels and most print media have become state-controlled, and many of the independent newspapers ordered closed have taken refuge in cyberspace.
Last June, Belarus adopted a media bill that allowed the government to close Web sites without warning and imprison journalists for reproducing foreign media reports.
Lukashenko won a third term in 2006 in an election that Western governments deemed fraudulent.
Ebay users dailed in when shopping
EBay shoppers used cell phones to make more purchases this holiday season than in past years. And it was not just to buy the hot toy du jour, Zhu Zhu Pets.
The online marketplace operator said Monday that people used cell phones to buy 1.5 million products in the past several weeks — three times the number for the same period last year, which ran from the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve.
EBay said holiday mobile purchases include a 1966 Chevrolet Corvette that sold for $75,000 and a 23-foot boat that sold for $19,108. Other items bought through mobile applications included watches, cell phones and video games.
Counting both mobile and traditional online purchases, eBay users bought more than 500,000 Zhu Zhu Pets robotic hamsters.
EBay, which is based in San Jose, Calif., said nearly 6 million people have eBay’s applications on iPhones and people use mobile apps to visit its site more than 2 million times each day. EBay released its mobile Web site in 2007 and its iPhone application in 2008.
For the full year, eBay users completed more than $500 million worth of transactions on cell phones.