Global Dispatches

An International IT News Digest

Blair Urges Jail Time For ID Card Abuses

LONDON -- U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair last week tried to quell growing concern over the security of the country's forthcoming national identity card program by threatening jail time for anyone caught tampering with the project's massive database.

The penalty for database tampering would be up to 10 years in prison, and unauthorized disclosures would carry a penalty of two years in prison, Blair said at a news conference here.

The Identity Cards Bill seeks to create by 2010 a system that supports the use of ID cards with embedded chips for storing biometric identifiers as well as personal information about U.K. residents. The data on the chips will include residents' names, addresses, fingerprints, facial scans and iris scans, all of which will also be stored in the government's central database.

Blair said the ID cards would be a powerful weapon in the U.K. government's fight against terrorism, identity fraud, illegal workers, illegal immigration and illegal use of government entitlement programs such as the National Health Service.

--Laura Rohde, IDG News Service

Aussie 'Green Machine' Recycles Printer Waste

SYDNEY -- Australians use 18 million printer consumables per year, and most of the ink-jet and toner cartridges end up as hazardous landfill. But an Australian company has developed a recycling plant that transforms the waste into commercial products.

Close the Loop Ltd.'s (CTL) program, started as an environmental initiative in 1998, is becoming a serious, global business. Its Green Machine facility turns the plastic printer cartridges into "e-wood," a timber replacement product that can be used for fencing, garden materials, playground equipment and office furniture.

Melbourne-based CTL works with more than 3,000 end users, suppliers, government agencies and businesses, and it has set up more than 2,000 collection points for printer cartridges. Even with 38 full-time staffers, the company is working overtime, collecting 300 bags of waste per day, said Melinda Lizza, CTL's business development manager.

--Sandra Rossi, Computerworld Today (Australia)

Philippine Group Seeks U.S. Outsourcing Deals

MANILA -- A group of businessmen in the Philippines is creating a holding company that will give financial incentives to U.S.-based Filipinos who market the country as a destination for outsourced business and IT services. The group would pay a fee -- for example, 2% of the resulting contract -- to Filipino-Americans who successfully refer U.S. companies to service providers in the Philippines.

The marketing and referral initiative is supported by the nonprofit Philippine Small and Medium Enterprises Development Foundation Inc. in Pasay City. Initially, the group will hire a marketing company in the U.S. and hold business networking sessions in at least eight states.

--Lawrence Casiraya, Computerworld Philippines

Briefly Noted

  • Microsoft Corp. in January will open a research laboratory in Bangalore, India, that will focus on computing technologies for emerging markets, as well as sensors, multilingual systems and geographic information systems. Microsoft's other research labs are in Redmond, Wash., Mountain View, Calif., Cambridge, England, and Beijing.

    --John Ribeiro, IDG News Service
  • Australia's Department of Veterans' Affairs in Canberra is considering dumping Microsoft's Office suite in favor of open-source desktop software for about 3,000 end users, according to a government document requesting bids.

    --Rodney Gedda, Computerworld Today (Australia)
  • London-based BT Group PLC last week said it had won a contract to supply secure IP network services to 15 European Union institutions. The deal could be worth up to $215 million over eight years, BT said.

    --Laura Rohde, IDG News Service

Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.

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