NetAction Notes

Published by NetAction Issue No. 45 November 30, 1998
Repost where appropriate. See copyright information at end of message.


New Tools for the Virtual Activist
"Shrinkwrap" License Update
Rural Technology Training
About NetAction Notes

New Tools for the Virtual Activist

NetAction's Virtual Activist Online Training Course was recently updated with new material to help activists make the most of technology for organizing, outreach, and advocacy.

In Part 2, we've added a brief section on Buddy Lists, a collaborative email tool which is growing in popularity. We've also provided links to web sites where readers can learn more about this software application, which lets an Internet user know which friends and associates are online at the same time.

In Part 3, we augmented the discussion on Electronic Petitions, identified the missing element we found in a majority of the online petitions we surveyed, and added information on how activists can wrap up an online petition drive once the deadline for signatures has passed.

In Part 5, we've updated our links to information on U.S. copyright and censorship laws, and added links to helpful information on the Year 2000 issue.

Readers will find these changes, as well as updated links from our Virtual Activist Reader, at:

NetAction is grateful to Webmaster Judi Clark for implementing the changes, and to the Morino Institute and Pacific Telesis for their support for this project.

Other New Tools

In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Free Speech TV and several partner organizations have created a Human Rights Advocacy Kit, which is available both online and in print. Theonline version is at: The Advocacy Kit supplements Just Solutions, a human rights TV series which is being broadcast on public and local cable stations.

The ITrain Collective, a multi-cultural, global group of Internet trainers, have created a set of Internet training materials, available on the Web and via email. Although the materials were prepared for use in developing countries, they may be useful for instructors and students anywhere who are either new to the Internet or have intermediate-level skills. The training makes use of interactive learning, allows for flexible course planning, and can be customized on the basis of gender, culture, individual needs, or interests. The materials can be used by instructors, or by students learning on their own. Information is available on the web at:, or by email at: .

"Shrinkwrap" License Update

In earlier issues of NetAction Notes, we alerted readers to the need for consumer action to prevent the adoption of changes in the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) that will exempt software purchases from traditional consumer protection laws, enable the software industry to dictate the terms of software purchases by validating "shrinkwrap" licenses, and threaten the rights of software developers to make competing programs.

The committee responsible for drafting the software licensing code changes met on the West Coast recently to consider additional revisions before the proposed Article 2B is introduced in state legislatures in the fall of 1999. Cem Kaner, who has been representing consumer and software developer interests in the process for several years, believes the meeting took place primarily for public relations purposes.

"A few provisions were adopted that will give the appearance of consumer protection but that will actually provide minimal (if any) additional protection," he said in a detailed report on the meeting. "A wide range of motions were made, and dozens of written requests were made, to adopt some genuine customer protections. They were rejected."

Kaner describes the process as polarized and unproductive. He thinks opposition will continue to grow and expects the bill will be actively and vigorously opposed in every state. Consumers and software developers are encouraged to continue opposing the proposed code changes. Individuals who want to help organize opposition to state legislative approval of the licensing provisions can contact Kaner at .

Kaner's detailed report on the recent meeting is at: The report discusses the impact the proposed software licensing law will have on consumers and small business customers, software developers, and writers.

See NetAction Notes No. 37 and NetAction Notes No. 38 for more information on opposing the UCC 2B proposal.

Rural Technology Training

The Community Technology Centers' Network (CTCNet) and the Civil Rights Forum are overseeing the distribution of grants ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 to enable residents of rural communities to participate in the development of telecommunications and information management policy. Support is available for community center-based technology projects involving students and participants in rural job training or literacy programs, 4-H or Boys and Girls Clubs, libraries, Indian councils, multi-service agencies, community cable access centers, health centers, community networks, or other similar efforts.

Current CTCNet rural affiliates are eligible to apply for grants, as are non-affiliated project having a clear rural impact.

To be considered in the first grant cycle, applications should be submitted electronically to by December 15, 1998. Deadlines for future grant cycles will be announced later. More information is available on the web at: or by contacting Peter Miller at .

About NetAction Notes

NetAction Notes is a free electronic newsletter, published by NetAction. NetAction is a California-based non-profit organization dedicated to promoting use of the Internet for grassroots citizen action, and to educating the public, policy makers, and the media about technology policy issues.

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