Fast Facts Matrix: January 8, 2001

A new Canadian law that limits the use of personal information by businesses went into effect Jan. 1.

Canadian Privacy

A new Canadian law that limits the use of personal information by businesses went into effect Jan. 1. Canadas Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act makes it illegal to use personal data without a consumers consent. Initially, the law affects only federally regulated businesses such as telecommunications providers and banks, but it will be extended in 2004 to cover all commercial activities in Canada. Privacy advocates are lobbying for similar legislation in the U.S.

BMG Exec Dies

Record industry executive Rudi Gassner died at his vacation home in Germany on Dec. 23, 2000, just a few days before he was to become chief executive of Bertelsmanns BMG Entertainment music division. Gassner, who was 58, would have overseen the companys partnership with Napster to develop a copyright-friendly subscription music service. Bertelsmann said it would announce a new leadership structure for BMG at the beginning of the new year.

WebMD Redeals

Health site WebMD last week revised the terms of its complicated partnership with News Corp. Under the new terms, News Corp. will provide WebMD with $205 million in media services over 10 years, and WebMD will provide content to News Corp.s media properties for $48 million over four years. In addition, WebMD will obtain control of the companies international joint venture, and WebMD will transfer its 50 percent stake in cable channel The Health Network to News Corp.

Handspring Springs For Web Browser

Handheld computer maker Handspring, in its first acquisition, bought software developer Bluelark Systems last month for about $16.1 million in stock. Bluelark makes a Palm-based Web browser and proxy server software designed for wireless Internet access from handheld computers. Handspring — the start-up founded in 1998 by Palms inventors — first plans to bundle Bluelarks browser with its VisorPhone module.