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September 18, 1990


By CBR Staff Writer

Deutsche Bundespost Telekom’s Bildschirmtext viewdata information service, the poor relation to France Telecom’s more successful Minitel, has been targeted by shady entrepreneurs as a perfect medium by which to offer a variety of kinky services and material to unsuspecting subscribers. According to Computerwoche, a legal loophole means that the names of respectable firms can be re-used by others touting more dubious services; for example, if you log in to the page reserved by the Quelle mail order catalogue and decide to order a breadbasket, you will in fact be offered a range of slightly more lurid articles. Meanwhile, another possibly more forward-looking organisation has latched on to the spririt of German unification by illicitly offering an East German Sex Contact page. Because the problem is essentially a legal one – company name copyrights are not protected by German law when transmitted over Bildschirmtext – the Bundespost can at the moment do nothing about it. A spokesman could only say that such a problem will not exist by 1992, when the Bundespost is set to adopt a page naming system similar to that used by Minitel. In the meantime, he did not venture to say what the new services had done for the popularity of Bildschirmtext, which at the last count had a measly 200,000 subscribers.

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