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Welcome to Net Neutrality – the new reality.

They did it. Despite congressional action that forbade it, a federal appeals court that said they couldn’t and public opinion that detests it, the Federal Communications Commission by a 3-2 vote ignored the will of the people and passed the controversial, 194-page Net Neutrality measure.

Why? Is there a problem with the Internet? Not yet. But using the “justification” that there might be, President Obama and three FCC regulators – all Democrats – want to nip it in the bud.

So if there’s no problem with the Internet, what could be the underlying motivation to harness it?

Information control? Money?

Consider this: ComScore just reported that the 2010 Christmas shopping season’s “Free shipping day” broke online spending records.

Holiday season retail online e-commerce spending for the first 47 days of the November-December 2010 holiday season was $27.46 billion, marking a whopping 12-percent increase compared with last year’s figures.

“The most recent week (ending Dec. 17) reached $5.5 billion in spending, an increase of 14 percent versus the corresponding week last year, with four individual days surpassing $900 million, led by Green Monday (Monday, Dec. 13) with $954 million and Free Shipping Day (Friday, Dec. 17) with $942 million,” ComScore reports. “Free Shipping Day achieved a 61-percent increase versus the corresponding shopping day last year, highlighting the appeal and success of the promotion in which more than 1,500 merchants offered free shipping.”

The New York Times Business section reports: “Online sales increased more than 15 percent this holiday season, according to data released Thursday, the latest confirmation of the growing importance of Internet commerce during retail’s most lucrative time of the year.”

The Los Angeles Times reports: “During each week of the holiday season, more than half of transactions came with a free shipping offer.”

USA Today concurs: “IBM Coremetrics, which tracks consumer buying patterns on more than 500 retail websites, says sales were up 23 percent Tuesday compared to the Tuesday before Christmas last year. The number of transactions processed Tuesday was up 50 percent over Dec. 21 of last year, according to ChasePaymentech, which handles payments for 50 of the largest retail websites.”

If the FCC’s Net Neutrality rule goes unchallenged, care to guess how long it will be before subsequent rules will impose a federal tax on all those online purchases? Think the Obama administration and its regulators might be drooling over that revenue stream for federal coffers? Taxation, baby. It’s the name of the game in Washington.

The FCC’s two Republicans, Robert M. McDowell and Meredith Attwell Baker, voted against Net Neutrality. Most Congressional Republicans staunchly oppose any government regulation of Internet access.

The FCC’s enforcement of the new Internet ruling is set to go into effect in early 2011, but incoming House Speaker John Boehner says the FCC’s action is an illegal attempt to regulate the Internet and in the 2011 funding cycle, could take up a vote to defund it.

“The Internet has flourished without needless government intervention. We should step aside and allow the staggering innovations of tomorrow to proceed,” said Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich.

Upton, the incoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees the FCC, is promising tough oversight and hearings on the matter early next year. The rules also are expected to be tested in the courts in the months ahead.

Google and Verizon involved in writing the Net Neutrality rule?

Is there a link between the FCC’s Android mention and the combined furious lobbying of Google and Verizon? The Agency’s news release includes language that looks suspiciously like Google or Verizon’s joint proposal.

MG Siegler at Tech Crunch asks the question, “Was It Google And Verizon Or The FCC That Just Screwed Us On Mobile Net Neutrality?

Who is helped, hurt by Net Neutrality?

Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School and author of “The Master Switch: The Rise And Fall Of Information Empires” is credited with coining the term “network neutrality.”

In a Tech Crunch article, he notes that the new Net Neutrality rules put off most of the hard questions – and then sets out to answer his own question: Who does it help and who does it hurt?

A visual guide to Net Neutrality

What is Net Neutrality? And why should you care?

Smart devices coming to House floor

At long last, something smart on the House floor.

Nancy Scola of Tech President reports the incoming House Republican leadership has proposed rules to allow smart phones and iPads on the floor.

The outgoing 111th Congress operated under the rule that no one could “smoke or use a wireless telephone or personal computer on the floor of the House.”

But the proposed new rule for the 112th Congress reads: “A person on the floor of the House may not smoke or use a mobile or electronic device that impairs decorum.”

Mobile phones, tablet computers and the whole universe of applications that run on them will be officially available to House members as they conduct business.

Wide cell phone use for 2010 midterm news

More than a quarter of us used our cell phones in connection with the 2010 midterm elections, according to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. We used our phones to encourage our friends and family to vote, warn others about long lines at the polls, shoot video or still photos and donated to candidates. We mobile phone users split our votes evenly between Democratic and Republican candidates.

Nearly 70% oppose targeted online ads

Online advertising is getting more aggressive. Just run your cursor across a page and ads pop up, bounce out, and sometimes swallow the page you’re accessing with an annoying overlay. Others play unexpected video ads, often startling the user.

According to a USA Today/Gallup poll, nearly seven out of ten Internet users don’t think advertisers should be allowed to target them based on their web-surfing habits. Just 30 percent said they favored allowing companies to send them targeted ads, with 67 percent opposing the practice, yet 90 percent say they pay no attention to the ads. What about you?

Hedge fund will use Twitter to predict market moves

Yet another use for the 175 million Twitter users and their 95 million posts a day – gauging the mood of the stock market by noting the type of emotional words on Twitter.

Not kidding! Derwent Capital Markets, a family-owned hedge fund, says it will offer its investors the chance to use Twitter Inc. posts to gauge the mood of the stock market by following real-time posts on the micro-blogger. Many things drive the stock market including confidence and mob mentality.

Lest you think this is someone’s pipe dream, there is data to support it. According to an article in BusinessWeek, a paper recently published by the University of Manchester and Indiana University reported that “the number of emotional words on Twitter could be used to predict daily moves in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. A change in emotions expressed online would be followed between two and six days later by a move in the index, the researchers said, and this information let them predict its movements with 87.6 percent accuracy.”

Be at Times Square midnight ball drop via iPhone app

Get the official free Times Square Ball app just in time to ring in the New Year. Featuring events, maps, check-in info and live streaming of the ball drop in Times Square.

If you can’t be there in person, this smart-phone app is the next best thing. More than six hours of the festivities will be livestreamed. And a New Years Noise Maker app will turn your iPhones into cowbells, party horns, whistles and more when shaken. Happy New Year!!!

APPly it wisely

All this talk about apps have you puzzled? Wondering what the heck those “apps” are that you hear everyone talking about? Ponder no more. Just read this and get up to speed.

Making memories

Fun stuff! Recreate pictures of yourself as a kid.

Not-so-fun stuff! Linking is publishing.

Facebook now second largest website, passes Yahoo

Google’s YouTube is still the giant, but Facebook is No. 2 for video downloads. Yahoo? Well, let’s just say Yahoo is a distant third. But, when it comes to websites, oh, oops … Never mind. Facebook has overtaken Yahoo in that category too.

Do you Yahoo? Some six hundred Yahoo employees won’t be anymore.

But if they’re willing to relocate, Google just posted on its own blog that it has sealed the reported $1.8-billion deal to purchase 111 Eighth Avenue in Chelsea, where it already occupies 50,000 square feet. As part of the deal, Google will be leasing out the building to continuing and new tenants. Google has lots of space and open positions in its $1.8 billion office building. That’s right. Google is hiring across the board.

Facebook a blessing to military families

Imagine this: Your spouse is deployed to Afghanistan. But you can check his unit’s Facebook page and read the updates.

This CNN report reminds us that when the war in Afghanistan began in 2001, Facebook didn’t exist. And today’s spouses with loved ones in battle say the social-networking site is essential.

“I check the computer every five minutes,” said Melanie McNicol, 27, whose husband, Jim, deployed to Afghanistan in November. He is with the Army’s 59th Mobility Augmentation Company, based in Fort Hood, Texas. His unit has a Facebook page that the captain routinely updates, providing reassurance for friends and family checking in on their deployed loved one’s status.

When Internet services fail – Panic!

When my gmail account tells me I’ve sent out too many emails and shuts me down for a few hours (yes, it happens), I simply shift over to my Yahoo mail account. Pretty savvy, eh? Not so much. It seems I’m behind the curve. Because so many Internet addicts are using instant messaging features like Twitter, Skype, Tumblr and Facebook, when those social networks go down, there’s panic in the ether and folks are scrambling for alternate comm sources. Quickly.

2010 – The year that was

The TechPresident editorial team has compiled their picks for the most engaging news developments, insights and trends for the year: “A Look Back at TechPresident’s Year that Was, 2010 Edition.

The time capsule

1951 – Churchill sets sail for U.S., renew “special relationship.”

1958 – Castro’s forces eye Havana capture

1959 – President Batista flees Cuba; Castro vows complete revolution

1972 – Life Magazine ceases weekly publication

1993 – Bush 41, Yeltsin reduce nukes with START II

2000 – World celebrates, survives new millennium

2006 – Mass murderer Saddam Hussein hanged

Now playing at the Princess Theater in Urbana, Ill.

Congratulations to WorldNetDaily readers Elizabeth Autry-Burney of McLoud, Okla.; Tom Cox of Charlotte, N.C.; and Greg Nichols of Fremont, Calif., who were among the first to correctly guess actor John Payne in his portrayal of the character Fred Gailey in the three-time Oscar winning 1947 Christmas classic “Miracle on 34th Street.” The film featured a young Natalie Wood as the skeptical little Susan, who begins to notice there is something special about the Macy’s store Santa. View clip.

The quote: “Look Doris, someday you’re going to find that your way of facing this realistic world just doesn’t work. And when you do, don’t overlook those lovely intangibles. You’ll discover those are the only things that are worthwhile.”

This week’s quote: “The key to a woman’s heart is an unexpected gift at an unexpected time.”

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

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