Briefs: WorldCom Shareholders Approve Merger

SAN MATEO (04/28/2000) - Shareholders of MCI WorldCom Inc. last week "overwhelmingly approved" the pending merger with Sprint, with more than 98 percent of WorldCom shares voting in favor of the deal. Despite reports that the Federal Communications Commission has put a hold on the merger's progress to await more information about long-distance and Internet market share, WorldCom continues to anticipate a "second quarter of 2000" merger approval date from the U.S. government.

Intel to phase out processor serial numbersIntel Corp. plans to stop stamping serial numbers in its processors, starting with its Willamette chip that is due out later this year, company officials said last week. Privacy groups last year protested after Intel announced that it was planning to release Pentium III chips with the so-called processor serial number. The privacy groups said the number could be used to track people's habits as they surfed the Internet. Intel first said the number would be used to help IT managers keep track of their computers, but eventually agreed to work with OEMs to turn the feature off at the manufacturing level.

Cisco fires two over kickbacks

Cisco Systems Inc. said last week that it fired two employees, suspended one, and reassigned three others after uncovering a kickback deal involving Cisco salespeople. According to a Cisco representative, two Cisco salesmen sold $50 million in equipment and services to American MetroComm, a telecommunications company in Louisiana. As part of the arrangement, Cisco reseller Worldwide Web Systems, in Miami, was to provide software and services to American MetroComm.

Cisco representatives said in December that it became aware of an alleged kickback scheme where Worldwide Web Systems sent part of the sales money to companies owned by the wives of the two Cisco salesmen. A Cisco representative said the company launched an internal investigation and has filed lawsuits against American MetroComm and Worldwide Web Systems.

Airline exchange is unveiled

Six major airlines -- Air France, American Airlines, British Airways, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines -- will create a joint venture to operate an online marketplace for buying goods and services.

The new company will be launched by June and will begin with a limited procurement site by the end of the year, according to a United Airlines representative. The Internet exchange will buy everything on which the airlines spend money other than the planes itself, said Kurt Ebenhoch, a spokesman for United. Online procurement will include fuel, ground handling, catering, and maintenance. The goal is to reduce and lower costs related to the procurement process and to increase the efficiency of the supply chain.

Script-Hotmail conflict emerges

A JavaScript-related privacy problem popped up for Hotmail last week, as it was found that JavaScript commands in unforeseen HTML labels could compromise user password security when messages were viewed with Internet Explorer. Microsoft corrected the problem, but the issue can also be avoided by disabling JavaScripting/Active Scripting in Hotmail and similar Web servers before viewing messages. Hotmail already screens for JavaScript sentences in messages that would create false password re-entry request boxes and reveal passwords to attackers.

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