News briefs

The US Court of Appeals has taken it upon itself to dedicate a part of the time set aside for oral arguments in the Microsoft antitrust case to reviewing the conduct of Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, whose ruling - that Microsoft be split in two - is being appealed. Neither the US Department of Justice nor Microsoft requested the discussion, even though Microsoft claims that Jackson had shown "animus" towards the company. On February 26 and 27 the court will reserve a total of seven hours for the full oral arguments.

SITA has won a contract to maintain British Airways' desktop systems worldwide. The three-year contract involves the world's largest single voice and data network, which spans 127 countries and will initially involve more than 8000 users and 14,000 items of equipment - including PCs and printers - in addition to LAN inventory. Help desk services will be provided from a dedicated facility in Amsterdam. In January 2000 British Airways selected SITA to design and implement a global managed IP network.

European pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has contracted IBM Global Services to provide IT outsourcing services valued at about £1 billion over seven years. The deal spans 45 countries and will involve the transfer of some 1200 employees, primarily in the US, UK and Sweden.

The US Senate is considering an export control bill that will introduce national security controls giving the US President, the secretary of commerce and the secretary of defence the power to determine whether the export of items - including IT and telecommunications equipment - could or should be controlled. The bill has been supported by the Computer Coalition for Responsible Exports (CARE), which is even calling for more stringent controls.