Global Dispatches

An International IT News Digest

Aussie State to Ban E-mail Surveillance

SYDNEY, Australia -- The parliament of New South Wales, Australia's most populous state, is expected to pass legislation this week that bans employers from secretly monitoring the e-mail of workers unless there is a court order or suspicion of wrongdoing.

Violations of the Workplace Surveillance Bill, which also covers the use of video cameras and tracking devices, would be a criminal offense punishable by a fine of up to 5,500 Australian dollars ($4,278 U.S.) for each person involved in covert surveillance.

The bill was introduced last week by the state government's executive branch. "We don't tolerate employers unlawfully placing cameras in change rooms and toilets," said New South Wales Attorney General Bob Debus. "Likewise, we should not tolerate unscrupulous employers snooping into the private e-mails of workers."

He said the bill strikes a balance between an employee's right to privacy and the legitimate needs of employers to protect their intellectual and commercial property.

"Unless employers have a court order, they would need to give employees notice that surveillance will be conducted," Debus said.

-- Sandra Rossi, Computerworld Today (Australia)

UBS Completes Big Mainframe Migration

Zurich-based financial services firm UBS AG announced late last month that it has completed the migration of its integrated banking applications from Unisys Corp.'s OS 2200 mainframe technology to IBM's z/OS-based hardware in just 12 months.

The applications, which touch every function critical to the bank's daily operations, had to be moved without causing a hiccup in customer service, UBS said in a statement.

The ambitious undertaking -- so important that it was supervised by UBS Managing Director Hansbeat Loacker -- involved migrating about 2,000 online programs, 5,000 batch programs, 3,000 database objects, 10,000 data records and over 300,000 program tasks.

Technical assistance was provided by HAL Knowledge Solutions SpA, a developer of application portfolio management tools in Milan, Italy. The vendor's technology made it possible for 98% of the program migration to be done via automated tools, UBS said.

Public Alert System About to Go Global

Equant NV, an international network services provider based in Amsterdam, last week said it was selected by Unified Messaging Systems AS (UMS) in Oslo to host and manage a global alert system that lets governments and businesses send a single emergency message to a mass audience.

For example, in a public emergency requiring evacuations, customers such as the Red Cross, utilities, and fire and police departments could send a voice message or short text message to thousands of people in a selected geographic area. Message recipients could then call Equant's international contact center to get more information.

The Equant deal will allow UMS to offer its alert service outside of Scandinavia.

Briefly Noted

  • Metro AG, a Dusseldorf, Germany-based retailer, and Intermec Technologies Corp. last week announced the first public demonstration of Generation 2 radio frequency identification tags and readers at an RFID conference in Paris. Metro expects more than 100 of its suppliers to migrate to the new, standardized Gen 2 RFID technology for asset tracking and inventory control by the end of this year.
  • BT Group PLC in London last week announced a multiyear contract to provide global communications services to Jacobs Engineering Group Inc., a $4.6 billion company in Pasadena, Calif. The deal covers LANs, WANs and remote access at Jacobs operations in 30 countries. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
  • Thrifty Car Rental, a unit of Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group Inc. in Tulsa, Okla., last week said it has finished translating its Web site into French, German and Spanish using the translation services and global content management system of New York-based Inc.

Global Fact

1%: Predicted growth rate for IT spending in Japan this year.

Source: IDC, Framingham, Mass.

Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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