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“The web is the most important platform of our generation. And it is the only one that belongs to all of us” – So said Google VP Vic Gundotra at last week’s I/O Conference in San Francisco.

There are some amazing things happening in computer and Internet technology – inventions, advancements and evolutions that will continue to change our lives in profound ways. As you read the following, keep in mind that depending on who is controlling these technological advancements, the capabilities they bring can be beneficial … or paint us into an Orwellian corner.

“He sees you when you’re sleeping; he knows when you’re awake …”

GPS, a constellation of 24 satellites with six backups, will be able to pinpoint your location within three feet, compared with a margin of error of 20 feet or more today. The U.S. Air Force is upgrading the global positioning system when it launches the first of the new generation of satellites. Launch was scheduled for Sunday night, May 23, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The replacements will take place over the next decade.

“He knows if you’ve been bad or good …”

In Louisiana, you could go to jail if you embarrass online anyone under the age of 17. That’s if Louisiana’s State legislature has its say.

Mike Masnick at TechDirt writes, “I don’t see how this survives a First Amendment challenge, but when you’re grandstanding around something that gets press coverage like ‘cyberbullying,’ it’s unlikely that the politicians supporting this even recognize or care about the unintended consequences.”

From Masnick’s “Let me introduce you to the Constitution department”: “What is it with various state attorney generals and their difficulty in understanding the law? And why is it that those same AGs always seem to be running for higher office when they do? We’ve already covered how Andrew Cuomo (who wants to be New York’s governor) appeared to ignore the law in bullying ISPs. And then there’s Richard Blumenthal (who wants to be one of the senators from Connecticut) who continues to ignore Section 230 safe harbors for Craigslist in grandstanding against the company. Then there was South Carolina’s Harry McMaster (who tried to run for governor), who also ignored Section 230 in threatening to put Craigslist execs in jail.

“Now we can add to the list Pennsylvania’s attorney general (and gubernatorial candidate), Tom Corbett, who apparently is so thin-skinned about people criticizing him, that he’s subpoenaed Twitter, demanding it reveal the ‘name, address, contact information, creation date, creation Internet Protocol address and any and all log in Internet Protocol address’ of two anonymous critics who are using both Twitter and Blogger to criticize him.”

“So be good for Google’s sake”

How about this? Someone tags your photo and then uses your image to search through other albums to find other photos in which you appear. Spooky?

Google executives are debating whether to launch its controversial facial recognition technology after receiving criticism over privacy issues. It was not included in the Google Goggles product launched last year because of concerns that adding facial recognition would allow users to track strangers through a photograph, making it into an ideal tool for stalkers and identity fraudsters. But other companies are developing face-recognition tools, and Google execs worry they could lose an important advantage by delaying the product launch.

Facebook and MySpace tell all when you click

Facebook gave its advertisers the names and ages of people who clicked on their ads. Yep. According to a report on Forbes.com, Facebook and MySpace sent advertisers code that identified which specific users were clicking on ads. In some cases, Facebook advertisers were able to view these users’ names, ages, hometowns and occupations.

Facebook says it has rewritten the code. But this isn’t the first time Facebook has been in hot water for privacy issues.

And despite concerns, Facebook users still number more than 400 million users, and growing.

Meanwhile, Twitter is flying high and clean. The micro-blogger’s iPhone app scores at Number One. Twitter has attracted millions of users, including the Dalai Lama, who tweets to the Chinese.

U.K. to Google: don’t erase data

Google is feeling growing pressure over its interception of 600 GB of private WiFi data, which it claims was accidentally collected from homes and businesses in 30 countries while taking pictures for its Street View service over the past three years.

National data protection authorities in Ireland, Denmark and Austria want the information destroyed. But Belgium reversed its position, asking that Google retain the data.

Germany has launched a criminal investigation into the data gathering, while authorities in France, Italy and Spain are examining whether Google broke their national data laws.

The U.K. says it will seek prosecution for unlawful interception if the company did not stop deleting the data. Google has already destroyed all WiFi data relating to collection in Ireland, on the orders of that country’s authorities. But that action removes any chance of further legal action of investigation and could be seen as collusion to destroy evidence.

Censorship around the world

First China, now Pakistan’s government has ordered Internet service providers to block Facebook because of “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!”, a page that encouraged Facebook users to post images of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. Islam prohibits any images of the prophet.

Facebook users were to post the prophet’s images on May 20 to protest threats made by a radical Muslim group against the creators of “South Park” for depicting Muhammad in a bear suit during one of its episodes.

The Pakistani government ordered the block after a group of Islamic lawyers won a court order requiring officials to block the social network until May 31. Within days, access to the site was sporadic, apparently because Internet providers were implementing the order. And while they were at it, offended Muslim Pakistanis banned YouTube too.

White House nixes bluebird of happiness

The White House clipped the wings on four-and-twenty bluebirds baked in this chef’s pie. When Chicago chef Rick Bayless was tapped to whip up last week’s State Dinner honoring Mexican President Felipe Calderon, the top chef was so excited about it he started tweeting about it.

The powers that be were not amused and quickly put an end to any more chirps for chef. Chimichangas, anyone?

And speaking of politicians and the bluebird, Dr. Melissa Clouthier has some tips on how they can maximize Twitter’s effectiveness. Good advice for anyone wanting to extend their reach.

Google TV

We’ve been telling you of the inevitability of convergence of television with Internet. It is now poised to become reality. Google currently is testing a television search service with Dish Network Corp. which will let you search for programs on the Internet, simultaneously watch multiple programs while twittering about them, and scour the ‘Net for any program in existence.

Google says this capability will change the future of television. The first devices will be available in the fall, just in time for the holiday shopping season.

Internet impacts our lives

Internet usage is changing our living habits. Stats show that from 2004 to 2009, use of the web increased 117 percent in terms of how people spend their time in a day.

Concurrently, the traditional methods of media consumption are down or flat during the same period. Listening to the radio is down 18 percent, reading newspapers is down 17 percent, reading magazines is down 6 percent, and watching TV has seen 0 percent growth.

Social networks impact our businesses

Facebook, Twitter and blogs are changing the way companies do business, many of them increasing the number of employees dedicated to social media.

From how it communicates internally as well as to the world, businesses are tacking toward social networks to reach their markets. Businesses are having to relearn how they communicate, realizing that it’s no longer a polished marketing brochure or a polished website.

How does a company control its message? Some businesses minimize the risk by educating and offering a “social media certification program” to all their employees.

In-flight TEXT ready for takeoff

“Please turn off all electronic devices until the captain has indicated it is safe to …”

Most air travelers familiar with that announcement think the reason cell phone calls are not allowed during flight has to do with “cockpit instrument interference”.

If so, why would U.S.-based airlines be equipping planes with wireless broadband? The real reason domestic carriers forbid passengers from making cell phone calls inside the cabin is etiquette concerns. Imagine how unpleasant it would be if you were confined to a cabin filled with a cacophony of chatters. Arrrrgh!

So at least one carrier might allow pasengers to text message instead. The increasingly popular communication mode is being developed to work in flight.

A Forbes tech writer reports, “Michael Small, the chief executive of Aircell, which provides Wi-Fi to 10 large North American airlines, says his company is considering developing a simulated text messaging application that would work in-flight. For technical reasons, real text messages won’t operate thousands of feet in the air, but Small says Aircell could create similar software that would let people send and receive short messages via cell phone. Such a service would appeal to the many phone users who prefer to text rather than exchange emails as well as people with less sophisticated cell phones.”

Ante up, deal the cards, and move on

Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., says millions of Americans gamble on the Internet each day, despite laws to prevent it, wagering nearly $100 billion a year and generating an estimated $5 billion for offshore operators.

So he’s pushing Congress to approve legislation that would legalize and tax online gambling. It’s not such a long shot when there’s money on the table. How much will you bet Congress will eventually approve the idea?

Meanwhile, some entrepreneurs aren’t waiting for the government to modernize its cumbersome computer systems. Here’s how they’re zooming past the entrenched crunchers.

From the rear view mirror

1844 – Samuel Morse taps first message. What was it?

1941 – Bismarck sinks HMS Hood; Brits sink Bismarck

1959 – Monkeys survive first space flight from Cape Canaveral

1961 – JFK speech: Man on moon before end of decade

1964 – India’s Nehru dies

1975 – Journalists depart fallen Saigon

Now playing at the Princess Theater, Urbana, Ill.

Congratulations to WorldNetDaily readers Julie Thomas of Elgin, S.C.; Rod Peters of Pensacola, Fla.; and Tom Wilcox of Silver Spring, Md.; who were among the first to correctly guess actor Susan Sarandon as Louise in the 1991 Oscar-winning film “Thelma and Louise,” the story of an Arkansas waitress and a housewife who shoot a rapist and take off in a ’66 Thunderbird.

The movie quote was, “Well, we’re not in the middle of nowhere, but we can see it from here.”

This week’s movie quote: “You got yourself into the league. I just got you on the train.”

Name the movie, the actor and the character. Send your answer to me at the email address below. Good luck!

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