The Internet has been free for far too long, and British Telecom (BT) is not going to stand for it anymore. The self-proclaimed father of the Internet has decided it deserves payment for the hyperlink technology it patented in the early 1970s. On Friday, BT began its pursuit of legal redress by suing United States ISP Prodigy. The creaking old former monopoly believes it should be paid a licence fee by anyone who wants to write, for example: ?a href=' http://technology.scmp.com/backspace '?Backspace?/a?. With some 378 million people estimated to be online today, all of them happily creating hyperlinks in Web pages, e-mails and Office documents, BT could tie-up all the world's lawyers for eternity. San Francisco may be right on the cusp of Silicon Valley, but that does not mean everyone is happy with the situation. A rising wave of technophobia has gripped the city over the past year, and graffiti on every lamp-post seems to proclaim the disdain citizens feel towards their nerdy, nouveau-riche neighbours. Spotted on scores of downtown lamp-posts recently, this leaflet seems to neatly encapsulate local feelings: 'Beautify your city in three easy steps: 1. Grasp your cellphone in your hand; 2. Insert cellphone in your rectum; 3. Go back to where you came from and stay there. Thank you for your co-operation.' About a hundred Asian journalists were mystified last week to receive an e-mail from Pacific Century Cyberworks (PCCW) with a subject line which said 'Intentionally NO message.' As promised, there was indeed no message. And, as happens every time a marketing junior on her first day playing with Microsoft's Outlook Express sends us e-mail, every recipient was included in the cc: line. One recipient contacted PCCW's marketing department to ask why the journos' e-mail addresses were being so pointlessly spammed around the region. The answer: 'We wanted to copy the address book from my PC to the PC at [a marketing executive's] home and we think this is the easiest and fastest way.' What, even faster than selecting File . . . Export . . .? One message that spread following the recent ITU Telecoms Asia 2000 conference is that potential WAP (wireless application protocol) users are getting fed up with restrictions that keep them from enjoying full mobile Internet access. As anybody who has tried it knows, the technology provides only limited material from the Web. It delivers it exceedingly slowly and offers just a few lines of text on a small screen. Now there is a newly coined word to describe WAP users' frustrations: wapathy. Backspace cannot wait for the new lie-detecting telephone, on sale in Turkey, to become available in Hong Kong. According to a Reuters report, the phone lets you know if someone on the other end of the line is telling the truth or not. The US$159 gizmo has an electronic device that notes changes in frequency that the ear cannot discern. If the person is lying, a red light flashes. A yellow light indicates they may only be telling half the truth. A green light indicates they are being honest. One of the phone's most practical uses is to tip spouses off to their partner's cheating ways. If the phone greets 'Sorry, I'm working late tonight, Honey', with a red blinking light, 'Honey' can start planning to hire a private eye. But Backspace can think of a more practical use, to help monitor PR company pitches. ''Our client has the FIRST portal in Asia that . . .' or 'Our client has the FASTEST ...' Red, red, red . . .