Plus: W3C moves ahead with Web standard; NYU apologizes for stolen social security numbers; Ellison hands over Oracle's chairman seat; VeriSign awarded contract; HP revenues increase; EDS acquires Feld Group; and, ISS acquired Cobion.MCI\u00a0confirmed last week that it will reduce its workforce by about 3%, eliminating 1,700 jobs throughout 2004. The carrier says it has 55,000 employees today. MCI would not say which divisions would shoulder the majority of the cuts. The carrier would only say that the planned workforce reduction is part of a cost-cutting effort. It has been in bankruptcy proceedings since July 2002 and has cut more than 22,000 jobs since filing for Chapter 11 protection. MCI is expected to emerge from bankruptcy sometime next month.Efforts to improve the Web-surfing capabilities of handheld devices last week took a leap forward with the recommendation of a new standard by the\u00a0World Wide Web Consortium. The W3C technical specification - Composite Capability\/Preference Profiles (CC\/PP): Structures and Vocabularies 1.0 - lets handheld devices, such as mobile phones and PDAs, communicate with Web servers and exchange content delivery information, according to the consortium. The system, for instance, will let a mobile phone tell a server its display size so that content is delivered in a format that fits the screen. A W3C recommendation is the equivalent of a Web standard, indicating that a W3C-developed specification is stable, contributes to Web interoperability and has been reviewed by the W3C members who favor its adoption by industry.Much to its chagrin, New York University had to apologize to about 1,800 of its students when their Social Security numbers - used for ID purposes for an academic sports program and stored in an unsecure university Web server - were posted on a public Internet page. The individual who posted the students' Social Security numbers said he took the action after he had tried to notify NYU of the Web server vulnerability last December but failed to get a satisfactory response. NYU said it has fixed the vulnerability, and the individual who posted the information might face legal action from NYU.Larry Ellison is handing over his position as chairman of\u00a0Oracle\u00a0to the company's CFO, Jeff Henley. Ellison will retain his position as CEO. In addition, two executives, Safra Catz and Charles Phillips, were appointed as company co-presidents reporting to Ellison, Oracle says. The database giant has been without a president since Ray Lane left in June 2000 to work at a venture capital firm. Catz will retain her role as Oracle's head of global operations, and Phillips will be in charge of the company's sales, marketing and consulting operations, Oracle says.VeriSign\u00a0has been awarded a contract to manage a key component of a coming global distribution network that uses electronic product code technology, according to a joint announcement by VeriSign and EPCglobal, a nonprofit organization. The contract, for an undisclosed amount, assigns VeriSign the job of designing and operating the Object Naming Service root directory, which will link radio frequency identification tags attached to shipping pallets or individual products to stored data about the tagged items. EPCs are unique numbers that identify items in shipping cases and pallets. Using RFID technology, the EPC information can be broadcast to handheld and mounted RFID readers, which track the items as they move through an organization's supply chain.HP\u00a0reported last week a 40% increase in revenue from the sale of servers equipped with the open source Linux operating system and services to support them. Linux-based revenue at HP increased to more than $2.5 billion in 2003 from $2 billion the previous year, the company said. The company reported total revenue of $73.1 billion in the fiscal year ending Oct. 31, 2003.Electronic Data Systems\u00a0last week acquired IT management consultancy Feld Group, a purchase intended to strengthen EDS' executive ranks and IT-transformation and business-process outsourcing services. EDS bought the privately held Feld Group for about $41 million and another $48 million in restricted stock, warrants and options. With the Feld Group, EDS gains skills, staff and software for reorganizing companies' IT departments. Feld Group, founded in 1992, has among its success stories the transformation of the IT departments at Burlington Northern Santa Fe and PricewaterhouseCoopers.Internet Security Systems\u00a0last week acquired privately held German firm Cobion for $33.4 million, in order to gain its Web content-filtering and anti-spam technology. ISS will integrate the Cobion OrangeBox content-filtering features into the Proventia line of intrusion-prevention appliances (for more on ISS,\u00a0click here).