GT Spectrum

Reports from the IT horizon

by , / May 31, 2007

Protecting Free Speech
On March 22, a U.S. federal court ruled that the Child Online Protection Act, a 1998 law that made it a crime for any person to give minors access to "harmful" Internet material, violates the U.S. Constitution's freedom of speech protections.

The ruling sided with a challenge brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, which had argued that the act's provisions were unconstitutional. The judge's ruling validated the goal of restricting minors' access to pornography, but argued that other means less restricting to free speech, such as using commercial software filters, were available to block pornographic content. 

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a similar law in 1997. -- Reuters


In Flight
The second test launch of Space Exploration Technologies' (SpaceX) low-cost Falcon 1 was not perfect, but the Falcon flew far beyond the "edge" of space, typically thought of as 60 miles above the Earth's surface. The rocket reached an altitude of approximately 200 miles -- just 50 miles below the International Space Station. The rocket has boosted hopes of eventual cheap flights into space. -- SpaceX Technologies


Fighting Malaria
Mosquitoes genetically engineered to resist infection from a malaria parasite might be used to help control malaria. A study by U.S. researchers suggests that releasing these genetically altered insects could help battle malaria, which yearly kills up to 3 million people -- predominantly small children.

The genetically altered mosquitoes were more fertile and less likely to die than normal, wild mosquitoes, the researchers reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The altered mosquitoes also began to outbreed the normal mosquitoes, and the researchers' computer model estimates that the genetically engineered mosquitoes would have a 50 percent increased survival rate. --Reuters


Rise of the Bots
The number of compromised computers that are part of a centrally controlled botnet tripled in two weeks, according to data gathered in late March by the Shadowserver Foundation, a botnet takedown group.

The weekly tally of bot-infected PCs tracked by the group rose to nearly 1.2 million in the week ending March 23, up from less than 400,000 infected machines over the prior two weeks.

The surge reversed a sudden drop in infected systems -- from 500,000 to less than 400,000 -- last December. -- SecurityFocus


Online Video
Internet video streams increased nearly 39 percent from 2005 to 2006, to 24.92 billion streams across all entertainment and media sites, including free (ad-supported) and subscription services, according to AccuStream iMedia Research.


On average, 70 percent of Web sites are at serious and immediate risk of being hacked, according to Acunetix, a vendor of Web application security solutions. Approximately 66 vulnerabilities per Web site were found for a total of 210,000 vulnerabilities over the scanned population.


Techno Investment
CDW-G's third State and Local Government Technology Investment Curve, an assessment of state and local government purchasing behavior since 2003, indexed purchases of storage technologies, and found that of all 50 states, Virginia and New York are the leading investors.

 Virginia leads with a storage investment profile 625 percent higher than the average, and New York follows with an investment profile 621 percent higher than the average.

 Virginia and New York are followed in storage technology investment by Wisconsin, with a storage investment profile 126 percent higher than average.

Karen Stewartson

Karen Stewartson served as the managing editor of Government Technology for many years. She also contributed to Public CIO and Emergency Management magazines.

Jessica Jones Assistant Editor