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Tools for tyrants: Obama wants some, too!

Posted By Andrea Shea King On 02/07/2011 @ 7:24 pm In Diversions | Comments Disabled

It was a tough call this week to determine which story would be the lead in this week’s Surfin’ Safari column. Both stories are significant.

On one hand there’s the volatile uprising in Egypt and the role the Internet is playing in that struggle. Example: During the most dangerous week ever, trolls used Facebook for disinformation in Tahrir Square.

On the other hand, there’s an uprising taking place in our country too. Both societies are fighting for basic freedoms. Like Egypt, our Internet access and freedom of speech are threatened.

While Egyptians demonstrated in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, here in the United States the federal government continued its campaign for Internet control.

President Obama and some members of Congress want to take the authority – as did Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak – to shut down the Internet in times of “crisis.” In last week’s column (“The Day the Internet Went Dark”), I listed the Senators who are at the forefront of this takeover push. They are: Sen. Jeff Bingaman, N.M.; Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Calif.; Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, N.Y.; Sen. John F. Kerry, Mass.; Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vt.; Sen. Carl Levin, Mich.; Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, Conn.; Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, Md.; Sen. John D. Rockefeller, IV, W.V.; and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, R.I.

The latest federal grab came days before the Super Bowl, when government authorities in New York seized several streaming websites that they accused of illegally showing live and pay-per-view sports events. Ten sites were seized last Monday – including HQ-Streams.com, HQ-Streams.net, Firstrow.net, Ilemi.com, Iilemi.com, Iilemii.com and Rojadirecta.com – on charges that illegal online distribution of copyrighted events causes sports leagues and broadcasters to lose millions of dollars a year. The seized sites streamed material from the NFL, NBA, NHL, World Wrestling Entertainment and Ultimate Fighting Championship, authorities said.

“This swift action by our Homeland Security Investigations New York special agents and analysts sends a clear message to website operators who mistakenly believe it’s worth the risk to take copyrighted programming and portray it as their own,” said ICE director John Morton. “We will continue to aggressively investigate this type of crime with our law enforcement partners.”

Was this a matter for Homeland Security? Was it a matter for federal intervention? Should the issue have been best handled in civil court by the aggrieved parties?

Additionally, the feds have seized domain names under the legally questionable theory that linking to infringing material is, by itself, criminal copyright infringement.

Civil rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote on its blog Thursday that the FCC’s net neutrality decision last December opens the agency to “boundless authority to regulate the Internet for whatever it sees fit.”

EFF favors net neutrality but is concerned that the means might not justify the ends.

“We’re wholly in favor of net neutrality in practice, but a finding of ancillary jurisdiction here would give the FCC pretty much boundless authority to regulate the Internet for whatever it sees fit. And that kind of unrestrained authority makes us nervous about follow-on initiatives like broadcast flags and indecency campaigns,” wrote Abigail Phillips, an EFF staff attorney.

The FCC is already facing lawsuits, brought by Verizon and MetroPCS, challenging the net neutrality ruling.

Thankfully there is at least one member of Congress who is saying “not on my watch.”

Controversy in Cairo

Back to Egypt, Internet service was restored last Thursday after the government cut access to the web and cell phone networks for a week.

“Good news: Internet access being restored in Egypt,” Google wrote on its official Twitter profile. Web-traffic tracker RIPE NCC recorded a spike in Egyptian Internet use just after 11 a.m. local Cairo time. The Renesys Group wrote in an official blog post that access was restored to websites such as the Egyptian Stock Exchange, Commercial International Bank of Egypt and the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.

In an effort to help Egyptians work around the Internet and cell phone blackout, Speak2Tweet was born. Instead of using the Internet, Speak2Tweet let users call a phone number and leave a voice message, which was then posted to Twitter with a link to that message. Remarkably, the program was developed over a weekend.

Latest fashion statement from Kenneth Cole: “I’m sorry.”

Ouch! Fashion designer Kenneth Cole opened mouth and inserted foot – only in this case, he opened mouth, inserted Tweet and ended up eating crow.

It all started when Cole Twittered about his spring fashion line using the unrest in Egypt to promote it:

Millions are in an uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at http://bit.ly/KCairo – KC

The message by Cole, who is also the fashion house’s chairman and creative Officer, resulted in a wave of criticism, controversy and at least one spoof parody. But this isn’t the first time Cole has, ummm, stepped in it. In one ad, Kenneth Cole equated abortion to purses: “Dear pro-life advocates, Isn’t it a woman’s right to choose? After all, she’s the one carrying it.”

Nevertheless, after apologizing via Facebook, Cole’s Egypt-related promotional tweet boosted the number of people following the @KennethCole account by about 3,000 within just a few hours. Evidently “faux pas” is the latest “fashion accessory.”

Global mobile traffic exploding

The world more than doubled its mobile traffic in 2010 over that of 2009 and nearly tripled it for the third year in a row! Cisco’s annual Global Mobile Traffic Forecast predicts that number will grow exponentially until we’ll be sending 26 times more mobile data by 2015.

That means 6.3 exabytes per month or the equivalent of every man, woman and child on Earth sending 1,000 text messages every second. Two-thirds of that data traffic will come from mobile video, resulting from more video calls, video clips and viewing longer-form TV and movies on our smart phones — which doubled in usage in 2010 — and tablets, of which three million were in use last year.

Forty-eight million people in the world have mobile phones, many of them without electricity at home, proving that the mobile network has extended beyond the boundaries of the power grid.

Here’s your crystal ball peek into the future of communication.

Internet running out of addresses!

Three hundred and forty undecillion. Say what? That’s a number that can be expressed as writing 3.4 followed by 38 zeroes. Almost as much as our national debt plus unfunded liabilities! In all seriousness, that’s the number of addresses that will be available for future Internet Protocol, or IP addresses, because the number we have now – 4.3 billion – is almost exhausted.

Google accusing Bing of cheating on search methods

Is Microsoft’s Bing search engine copying Google’s search results? According to the head of Google’s Web spam team, the answer is yes. Google says it can prove that Bing has watched what people search for on Google and tailored its results to mirror the leader in Web search, according to SearchEngineLand. As for Bing, they say it monitors all sorts of web user habits to improve Bing’s results.

Can you hear me now?

Verizon iPhone set a pre-orders sales record in two hours, with pre-orders sold out. It was such a problem, Verizon had to halt sales!

Verizon took this opportunity to slam AT&T in an ad campaign, using AT&T’s technician to answer the question. But it wasn’t long before AT&T fired back with its own ad. So who’s the winner?

Oh, and if you download a lot, Verizon will cut your speed at various peak times. They’re calling it VZOptimization.

iPad, iPhone enter medical diagnostics field – FDA approved.

Creating tomorrow today, in the medical field Apple is making medical diagnosis as common as online banking, e-mail, video games and thousands of other applications available on iPads, iPhones and iPod Touches. The Food and Drug Administration has begun the era of mobile diagnostic radiology, approving software for viewing images and making medical diagnoses from MRIs and CT, PET and SPECT scans on several of Apple’s popular hand-held devices.

And speaking of iPad, News Corp.’s “The Daily” online newspaper has launched exclusively on the Apple tablet, but is that new news?

iPad time shifts – when you bookmark for later, when is later?

How many times have you bookmarked something to read later? Now a company called – what else? – Read It Later has graphed out when most of us save items to read later and when we actually get to them. Surprisingly, the results depend on what device you’re using when you save and read.

Bits and Bytes

The time capsule

1945 – Dresden destroyed by U.S./U.K. bombers

1950 – McCarthy begins hunt for communists in State Departmet

1962 – U2 pilot Francis Gary Powers freed by Soviets

1989 – Iran’s Khomeini issues death threat against Salman Rushdie

1990 – CBS suspends Andy Rooney for racial, gay remarks

Now playing at the Princess Theater in Urbana, Ill.

Congratulations to WorldNetDaily readers Claire Porter of Madison, Wis., and John Stafford, Grafton, Mass., who were among the first to correctly guess actor Will Smith in his portrayal of Bagger Vance in the Robert Redford directed award-winning 2000 movie “The Legend of Bagger Vance.” The film tells the story of a down-and-out golfer who attempts to recover his game and his life with help from a mystical caddy. The film also starred Matt Damon and Charlize Theron.

The quote: “Oh no sir, this has been embarrassing for quite some time.”

This week’s quote: “I keep telling you not to think! You’re very, very good at a great many things, but thinking, hon’, just simply isn’t one of them.”

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


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