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BOLIVAR, Mo.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Duck Creek Technologies, Inc., a provider of product configuration, sales automation, rating and policy administration solutions for the insurance industry, today announced that Everest National Insurance Company has selected Duck Creeks Commercial Policy Administration Solution, a web enabled platform designed to manage the complete commercial lines policy life cycle. The implementation will initially focus on Everests General Liability and Excess & Surplus lines with plans to support other commercial lines in the future.

One of the key factors contributing to Everests selection of Duck Creek was the systems flexibility and tool-based approach that will enable quick development and deployment of new insurance products. Being able to respond quickly to market opportunities in todays competitive marketplace was one of the insurers main objectives.

As a web enabled solution built on service oriented architecture (SOA), the Duck Creek policy administration solution proved a good fit for Everests technology strategy. In addition to the need for a flexible and configurable system, Everest also had a desire to be self-sufficient in order to quickly make product modifications and build new products with minimal ongoing dependence on Duck Creek resources.

We wanted a solution that was tool-based and was consistent with our SOA technology strategy, but we also wanted a system that would enable us to control our own destiny without having to rely on the vendor for every modification, enhancement, and new product. Duck Creek proved to be a good fit on all counts, Sandeep Bajaj, CIO with Everest National Insurance Company.

Everests Executive Vice President and CAO Barry Smith commented, Our selection of Duck Creek was a combination of the strength of their policy administration solution, coupled with the Duck Creek teams depth of insurance industry business knowledge and technical expertise.

Smith continued, With the Duck Creek system, the tools-based technology platform enables our business users for the first time to have easy access to and control of data—so they can more quickly make informed underwriting decisions; allowing us to take advantage of market opportunities with the proper infrastructure.

Duck Creeks Doug Roller, CEO, noted, We are pleased to welcome Everest National Insurance Company to our growing family of clients and thank them for selecting Duck Creek. Our success is the reflection of the ongoing support and vision of our clients combined with the dedication of the Duck Creek team. We look forward to continuing our work with the Everest implementation team to support their companys growth strategy.

About Everest

Everest Re Group, Ltd. is a Bermuda Holding company that operates through the following subsidiaries: Everest Reinsurance Company provides reinsurance to property and casualty insurers in both the U.S. and international markets. Everest Reinsurance (Bermuda), Ltd., including through its branch in the United Kingdom, provides reinsurance and insurance to worldwide property and casualty markets and reinsurance to life insurers. Everest National Insurance Company and Everest Security Insurance Company provide property and casualty insurance to policyholders in the U. S. Everest Indemnity Insurance Company offers excess and surplus lines insurance in the U. S.

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A new book details the extent to which countries across the globe are increasingly censoring online information they find strategically, politically or culturally threatening.Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering challenges the long-standing assumption that the internet is an unfettered space where citizens from around the world can freely communicate and mobilise. In fact, the book makes it clear that the scope, scale and sophistication of net censorship are growing.

“There’s been a conventional wisdom or myth that the internet was immune from state regulation,” says Ronald Deibert, one of the book’s editors.

“What we’re finding is that states that were taking a hands-off approach to the internet for many years are now finding ways to intervene at key internet choke points, and block access to information.”

Mr. Deibert heads The Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto. The Lab, along with Harvard Law School, the University of Cambridge, and Oxford University, has spent the last five years testing internet access in some 40 countries.

We are starting to see something more like the China Wide Web, the Pakistan Wide Web, and the Iran Wide Web
John Palfrey, director of Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society

The book highlights Saudi Arabia, Iran and China as some of the most aggressive nations when it comes to net filtering. They use a variety of technical techniques to limit what their citizens can see online. But they reinforce that filtering with other methods, such as net surveillance.

“Surveillance is a huge deterrent,” says The Citizen Lab’s Nart Villeneuve. “If you talk to dissident groups in these countries, they’ll tell you that they’re under surveillance, that they’re concerned for their safety, and that it definitely influences their online behavior.”

And even as human rights and internet rights groups fight to raise awareness about internet censorship, countries such as China have responded by getting smarter in what they block, and when they block it.

‘Selectively blocking’

“We call it ‘just-in-time’ filtering,” Mr. Deibert says. “Countries are selectively blocking access to information around key events, such as demonstrations or elections. They are clamping down on the internet during times that it suits their strategic interests to do so.”

As an example of this kind of filtering, he points to China’s recent blocking of YouTube after videos of Tibetan protestors appeared on the video-sharing site.

Google protestor

Google has been criticised for working with Chinese authorities

Belarus, Cambodia and Burma have all engaged in this kind of selective censorship as well.

And then there is the case of Pakistan, which recently caused the entire YouTube service to go down worldwide for a couple of hours because of a government order to block material.

According to John Palfrey, director of Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, the Pakistan case points to certain weaknesses inherent in the very architecture of the internet.

“It was designed by a bunch of friends in essence – academics and military people – who were just creating a local network. Now, it has scaled globally.

‘Informal protocols’

“But it’s still based on some fairly informal protocols. It turns out that when one censor in one country messes around with something, he can bring down access to entire parts of the internet.”

Mr Palfrey points out that some countries are considering whether or not to bypass the World Wide Web all together by creating what amounts to their own local area networks. “We are starting to see something more like the China Wide Web, the Pakistan Wide Web, and the Iran Wide Web.”

But The Citzen Lab’s Ronald Deibert does not think the evidence points to a complete “balkanization” of the net by sovereign states.

“I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that a person in Iran experiences a much different Internet than a citizen in a country like Canada,” he says.

“But it’s not a simple equation with territorial boundaries. Maybe the best analogy is with the old Middle Ages, where you had multiple and overlapping layers of authority. I think that’s the future of the net.”

That future is being complicated by the increased use of mobile phones, PDAs and other devices to access information online. For citizens, these devices mean more ways to access the internet, and therefore more potential ways around government blocking.

But Jonathan Zittrain, chair in Internet Governance and Regulation at Oxford University, says that governments are already starting to realize the potential threats from mobile devices as tools to access and spread information.

“In fact, when it comes to mobile devices,” Zittrain says, “you may see common cause among China, the United States and Europe, all of whom would like another lever they can pull that will enhance their control over the net, whether they’re looking for terrorists, subversives or political dissidents.”

“I’d hate to think that the technological advances, say, in America, turn out to be exactly the advances, wrapped in a bow, the technologies China might use to squash dissidents.”

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By Jim Finkle

BOSTON (Reuters) – A new version of Mozilla’s popular Firefox Web browser is ready for download with improved security and memory use as the tiny company takes a stab at Microsoft Corp’s dominant Internet Explorer.

The program’s creators told Reuters on Thursday that the privately-held company’s trial version of Firefox 3 browser is ready for the masses to use after months of development.

Until now, the company has discouraged average Internet users from moving on from Firefox 2, which was launched in October 2006.

“In many ways it (Firefox 3) is much more stable than anything else out there,” Mozilla Corp Vice President of Engineering Mike Schroepfer said in an interview.

Key rivals to Firefox are market leader Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Apple Inc’s Safari browser.

Engineers at Mozilla are still putting the finishing touches on the software and hope to release the final version of Firefox 3 by the end of June, Schroepfer said.

Mozilla is in a battle with Microsoft, which unveiled an experimental version of its Internet Explorer 8 in Las Vegas earlier this month and is looking to expand its presence on the Web through its bid to acquire Yahoo Inc.

Additions boost security and allow users to run Web sites when they are not connected to the Internet. Mozilla also says Firefox 3 uses less computer memory than Firefox 2.

Until now Mozilla has discouraged the typical computer user from exploring these new features. But its developers said on Thursday that the situation has changed and that they will be revising their Web site.

As of Thursday afternoon, the Web site still stated: “We do not recommend that anyone other than developers and testers download the Firefox 3 beta 4 milestone release. It is intended for testing purposes only.”

But they said that as they concluded their fourth round of tweaking their software, they determined it was ready for prime time.

A fifth round of changes, due to begin within the next few weeks, will involve “tuning the visual look and feel of the program” and further improving its stability,” Schroepfer said.

(Reporting by Jim Finkle; Editing by Brian Moss)

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By Rory Cellan-Jones
Technology correspondent, BBC News
The creator of the web has said consumers need to be protected against systems which can track their activity on the internet.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee told BBC News he would change his internet provider if it introduced such a system.

Plans by leading internet providers to use Phorm, a company which tracks web activity to create personalised adverts, have sparked controversy.

Sir Tim said he did not want his ISP to track which websites he visited.

“I want to know if I look up a whole lot of books about some form of cancer that that’s not going to get to my insurance company and I’m going to find my insurance premium is going to go up by 5% because they’ve figured I’m looking at those books,” he said.

Sir Tim said his data and web history belonged to him.

I think consumers rights in this are very important – we haven’t seen the results of these systems being used
Sir Tim Berners-Lee

He said: “It’s mine – you can’t have it. If you want to use it for something, then you have to negotiate with me. I have to agree, I have to understand what I’m getting in return.”

Phorm has said its system offers security benefits which will warn users about potential phishing sites – websites which attempt to con users into handing over personal data.

The advertising system created by Phorm highlights a growing trend for online advertising tools – using personal data and web habits to target advertising.

Social network Facebook was widely criticised when it attempted to introduce an ad system, called Beacon, which leveraged people’s habits on and off the site in order to provide personal ads.

‘No strings’

The company was forced to give customers a universal opt out after negative coverage in the media.

Sir Tim added: “I myself feel that it is very important that my ISP supplies internet to my house like the water company supplies water to my house. It supplies connectivity with no strings attached. My ISP doesn’t control which websites I go to, it doesn’t monitor which websites I go to.”

Talk Talk has said its customers would have to opt in to use Phorm, while the two other companies which have signed up – BT and Virgin – are still considering both opt in or opt out options.

Sir Tim said he supported an opt-in system.

“I think consumers rights in this are very important. We haven’t seen the results of these systems being used.”

We should look out for snags in the future – things can change so fast on the internet
Sir Tim Berners-Lee

Privacy campaigners have questioned the legality of ISPs intercepting their customers’ web-surfing habits.

But the Home Office in the UK has drawn up guidance which suggests the ISPs will conform with the law if customers have given consent.

Sir Tim also said the spread of social networks like Facebook and MySpace was a good example of increasing involvement in the web. But he had a warning for young people about putting personal data on these sites.

“Imagine that everything you are typing is being read by the person you are applying to for your first job. Imagine that it’s all going to be seen by your parents and your grandparents and your grandchildren as well.”

But he said he had tried out several of the sites, and thought they might in the end be even more popular with the elderly than with young people.

Sir Tim was on a short visit to Britain from his base at MIT in Boston, during which he met government ministers, academics and major corporations, to promote a new subject, Web Science.

This is a multi-disciplinary effort to study the web and try to guide its future. Sir Tim explained that there were now more web pages than there are neurons in the human brain, yet the shape and growth of the web were still not properly understood.

“We should look out for snags in the future,” he said, pointing to the way email had been swamped by spam as an example of how things could go wrong. “Things can change so fast on the internet.”

But he promised that what web scientists would produce over the coming years “will blow our minds”

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Rory Cellan-Jones

In the august surroundings of the Royal Society of Arts and Sciences, in a lecture theatre decorated with 18th Century paintings, a crowd gathered on Tuesday morning to celebrate the birth of a new science.

It’s called Web Science, and is an attempt to start understanding and exploring the ever growing phenomenon of the world wide web. Who better, then, to be the main speaker at today’s event than Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the web?

Sir Tim began with a vivid picture of the way his baby has grown: “There are more pages out there on the web than there are neurons in your brain.” He went on to explain that he hadn’t been sure about using the word “science” in this new discipline because web science needed to reach out and include sociologists, philosophers and artists as well as the technical community.

“When we build the web,” he explained, “we choose a lot of the answers to philosophical questions. We are constructing a whole new world and we are writing down the rules. And a huge amount of the design involves the psychology of the user.” As an example he described how e-mail had taken off because users trusted each other to send only valuable material – but was now under threat because of spam: “The social assumptions have changed – people no longer assume that messages they are getting are messages they need.”

Sir Tim Berners-LeeSir Tim is working with the Southampton University computing science department, which along with Boston’s MIT, is leading the Web Science Research Initiative.

Professor Wendy Hall from Southampton (you can see an interview with her above) explained. “The web is the elephant in the room – it has transformed our lives, but we never see it. We feel the time has come to study it – to see its benefits and understand its possible dis-benefits.”

Her colleague Professor Nigel Shadbolt sketched out some early projects to illustrate the areas the new science might investigate. He showed a map of the blogosphere – “it’s a butterfly shape” – which illustrated the way communities coalesce around certain blogs. He showed why research into Wikipedia needed a sociological angle – what drives the users to write entries? – As well as technical analysis of the patterns of its growth.

Professor Shadbolt also gave some insights into the semantic web – a project which Tim Berners-Lee and the Southampton University academics have been pursuing for some time, to a degree of scepticism from other parts of the web community. He described plans to give every fact on the internet its own web address, with the aim of building a “data web” where every connection was more clear and more searchable. “So you could ask questions like show me all the tennis players in Moscow,” he explained.

Of course, scientists have been examining the web for some time. Now, though, they are trying to work out how they can guide its future growth. Tim Berners-Lee puts it like this: “The web is basically a web of people. Because it’s something we created, we have a duty to make it better.”

But the web has grown and prospered without any real guiding hand, despite the attempts of governments and businesses to bend it to their will. So can the web scientists really do anything to shape its future?

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By JESSICA MINTZ, AP Technology Writer 

SEATTLE – Microsoft Corp. gave early testers their first glimpse of its next-generation Web browser Wednesday, and said Internet Explorer 8 will adhere to the same standards as competitors’ programs.

Microsoft‘s browsers, including the current Internet Explorer 7, gained notoriety among Web developers for handling Web page code differently than Mozilla Corp.’s Firefox, Apple Inc.‘s Safari, the now-defunct Netscape Navigator and others.

For the most part, major non-Microsoft browsers and outside developers who built Web pages worked with agreed-upon technical standards, while Microsoft was accused of adding proprietary code to those standards. The result: Web pages that looked good in Internet Explorer but broke on other browsers, or vice versa.

At a Web developer conference in Las Vegas Wednesday, Dean Hachamovitch, general manager for Microsoft’s Internet Explorer division, made light of Microsoft’s past spotty standards and pledged to do better.

Hachamovitch said that in early Internet Explorer 7 days, his kids would hear about broken Web sites and ask, “Daddy, did you guys break the Web?”

“And most of the time I could honestly say, ‘No.’ But, you know, Web developers might answer that question a little bit differently,” Hachamovitch said.

He elicited a laugh, but developers have sometimes had to build Web sites from scratch a second time to devise a version that worked with Microsoft’s browsers.

Microsoft said the new version of the browser, when complete, will support industry-standard versions of the code that tells browsers what Web pages should look like, including CSS 2.1, by default.

“That’s a big deal,” said Chris Swenson, a software industry analyst for the NPD Group.

While most Web surfers might not feel a huge impact, Swenson said it will bring “a sigh of relief” for developers, who will spend a lot less time tweaking Web pages to work with different browsers.

However, both Swenson and Microsoft note that Web standards continue to evolve, and that definitive tests to determine compliance don’t yet exist. Microsoft indicated Wednesday its intention to step up involvement with this process.

Microsoft’s decision might also help it fend off a new antitrust investigation in Europe.

Regulators there are looking into whether the software maker held other browsers back by not following open Internet standards. The probe was launched after Norwegian browser developer Opera Software ASA filed a complaint in late 2007.

Microsoft unveiled a few features in the new browser that may appeal more to average Web users. For example, right-clicking on a Web page will give people more “to-do” options than they’d see today. Users will be able to “Send to Facebook,” “Map with Live Search” or “Define with Dictionary.com” with a quick click.

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On the Net:

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 8 site:

http://tinyurl.com/2t3vsq

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