Whether the U.S. Senate will go along with House Joint Resolution 37 approved last week by the House of Representatives which would prevent the Federal Communications Commission from implementing that agency’s order titled “Preserving the Open Internet, remains to be seen.

The FCC’s net neutrality rules approved last December would give the feds the power to regulate how Internet service providers manage their broadband networks. The House measure would bring the FCC’s rule to a screeching halt. However, the measure still has a couple of major hurdles. Even if it passes the Senate – and that’s a long shot –President Obama says he’ll veto it.

House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, who supports the FCC’s action, said, “No one should be guarding the gate on the Internet.”

She predicted, “I don’t think this bill is going anyplace.”

Regardless, published reports say the House action “is significant because it puts half of the legislative branch on the same side of the debate as the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in restricting the FCC’s authority over Internet service.”

Meanwhile, ABC News reported that “more than 40 governments are blocking their citizens’ access to the Internet, and the firewalls, regulatory restrictions and technologies are all ‘designed to repress speech and infringe on the personal privacy of those who use these rapidly evolving technologies.'”

A recent report revealed the Russians fear Skype, Hotmail and Gmail, saying their “uncontrolled use” pose a potential national security threat.

In a 7,000-page report, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “Curtailing Internet freedom meant violating the fundamental rights of expression, assembly and association.”

The Feds aren’t just reaching for Internet control, however. Writing at Big Government, Seton Motley alerts us to the FCC’s next power grab: cell phone price controls.

AP requests Twitter, Facebook embargo

Reporters have increasingly turned to Twitter to promote their stories, inducing other tweeters to read their pieces. Evidently the News Media Guild union has decided to use the practice as a bargaining chip.

CNN reports: “Representatives for the News Media Guild are urging union employees of the Associated Press not to promote their stories on Facebook or Twitter early next week.”

The reason? “Promoting stories online, while valuable, is generally not a formally outlined obligation for most reporters. So the union is using it as a bargaining token.”

Losing control of your personal data through photos

We’ve mentioned it in this column before but it bears repeating. Everything you upload onto the Internet is potentially radioactive forever, with a half-life at least as long. Especially photos.

According to a recent CNN report, “A digital photograph is like an onion, and advancements in machine reading and software scanning can help peel back layers to extract information from images.

“Each layer of a digital picture often contains data about where and when a shot was taken,” the report continues. “Rapidly maturing computer algorithms can interpret what or who is in the frame.”

With technology improving on a daily basis, the fun of sharing with your friends and family on the Internet could have unintended consequences. Think twice before sharing your personal memories, which could easily become your “digital fingerprint.”

Online free Internet radio service Pandora’s Android app is snatching your personal data too, including your gender, birthday, zip code, your phone’s unique device ID and even your GPS coordinates. Spooky, eh?

You can run but you can’t hide from this technology: targeting you through your computer.

Help Wanted: Twitter Czar in U.K. – $232,000 to start

If you’re willing to relocate to England, you could be up for the new governmental post of “Executive Director of Digital”, or “Twitter czar”. The pay? $232,000 annual salary, which nearly matches the annual salary earned by Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron. Just one stipulation: Applicants must apply for the position in less than 140 characters (just kidding!).

YouTube offers up live event streaming

YouTube, which registers two billion views a day, has announced it will begin live-streaming. That means YouTube.com/live will provide videos live-streamed from all kinds of events, including sports, concerts and unfolding news.

From its blog: “The roll out of YouTube Live … will integrate live streaming capabilities and discovery tools directly into the YouTube platform for the first time. This begins with a new YouTube Live browse page, where you can always find the most compelling live events happening on YouTube and add events to your calendar. Subscribe to your favorite YouTube live-streaming partners to be notified of upcoming live-streams on your customized homepage.”

Youtube says it intends “to provide thousands of partners with the capability to live stream from their channels in the months ahead.”

As Business Insider notes: “It has the potential to be as disruptive to TV as blogging has been to newspapers.”

The Google expansion continues – now it’s the travel industry

ITA, a travel-software company with a management system for airfare pricing and shopping services could soon be acquired by Google. The move would significantly expand Google’s reach, and signal a major shift in strategy for Google, with an additional and lucrative revenue stream.

According to a published report, Google is closer to winning approval from the Department of Justice for its $700 million-acquisition of ITA.

According to Techcrunch.com: “Google has been embroiled in an investigation by the Justice Department over the search giant’s acquisition of the travel software company, which provides a management system for airfare pricing and shopping services. Despite intense scrutiny and opposition from competitors, the deal appears to be on its way to being approved.”

It looks like Google will comply with the strings attached to DOJ’s proposed settlement.

Besides getting into the structure of the travel industry, Google is expanding its reach exponentially with plans to open an “entertainment division” office in Beverly Hills. The office will be home to employees from YouTube and Google.

US color-coded terror threats out, Twitter, Facebook warnings in

The Department of Homeland Security joins other governmental counterparts in using the cyberworld to implement its objectives, specifically, its National Terrorism Advisory System. DHS will use Twitter and Facebook to warn us about threats, replacing the color-coded system implemented after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The new system is set to launch April 27, and will post warnings similar to those used on TV and radio through the emergency broadcast system warnings and tests.

Lookin’ for prison time? Just try this on YouTube

Two years in prison for threatening an elected official? Yep. A Philadelphia man pleaded guilty in connection with a YouTube video he posted last year in which he threatened to shoot a Republican congressman.

Youth suffering from “gadget withdrawal” say scientists

Researchers say it’s like going cold turkey. Deprived of their smart phones and computers, young people had reactions that ranged from distress to overwhelming cravings, even itching like a crack cocaine addict. You’ve got to read this report!

iPad shortages at Best Buy

Japan’s earthquake and tsunami have impacted that country’s ability to meet production demands for the iPad, so employees at Best Buy stores are being told to limit the number of units they can sell. The iPad 2 has been a hot seller in U.S. stores since its debut last month, with many retail outlets running out of the popular item.

Speaking of Best Buy, the retail outlet giant was in hot water with Apple, but it’s been determined that it was probably just a misunderstanding. Here’s more on that story.

Murdoch’s The Daily – how’s it doin’ so far?

Not so good. Why? Readers just aren’t interested in limited availability.

New hires are leaving, and readership is falling. A survey of the number of tweets generated by readers showed a steady decline:

Twitter wins tax battle with SF Superintendents

San Francisco’s city policies are less than friendly to business. It is the only city in California that imposes a payroll tax on employee stock options once they’re exercised. That, along with other hurdles, was causing several high-tech companies, like Twitter, to have second thoughts about purchasing or leasing commercial property.

But recently, by a very slim margin, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to grant an exception, and now Twitter, with 350 employees and plans to create a couple of thousand more jobs, will get the payroll tax break. As a result, the company will lease office space in the vacant San Francisco Mart building, located in a blighted area badly in need of redevelopment, a plus for San Francisco.

View a cartoon video of the Twitter-tax controversy.

Cutting cable connection continues – 1 million last year

Interesting factoids: An estimated 1 million households stopped their cable TV service and now depend solely on Netflix subscription and the Web for entertainment. Some are using the old standby – an antenna. Add to that the 550,000 homes that stopped cable TV subscriptions in 2009, and another 520,000 more homes predicted to cut their cable TV this year.

Obama to host “town hall” on Facebook April 20

The 2008 Obama presidential campaign made extensive use of the Internet to garner votes, volunteers and contributions. As Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign gets underway, he’s continuing to exploit the Internet, kicking it off with a town hall meeting on Facebook from its headquarters on April 20. You may recall that Obama courted the tech giants, including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, at a dinner in California last month.

The White House website issues the notice and invitation, careful to give no hint that it is a campaign event: “On April 20th, President Obama heads to California to hold a very special Facebook town hall about the economy. The president will connect with Americans across the country to discuss the tough choices we must all make to put our economy on a more responsible fiscal path, while still investing in the innovation economy that makes America more competitive.”

And in a flashback to last week’s Surfin’ Safari column (“Will Obama machine take over Facebook?“), still no word yet on whether former White House spokesman Robert Gibbs has made a decision on a senior executive position with Facebook. Bets are he’ll take it, thus being in place to assist – if needed, of course – with 2012 campaign strategizing and communication via the very popular social network.

Cop’s Facebook entry uncovered, haunts him after fatal shooting

A police officer who described his occupation as Human Waste Disposal on his Facebook page has lived to regret it.

Getting from point A to point B – driving, train and airfare options combined

It’s Google maps plus. Rome2rio is a search engine that finds the best way to connect you from Point A to Point B, searching through flights, ferries, trains and driving routes that indicate transportation options throughout your trip.

“Like an international Zoombu.co.uk or FromAtoB.com, the search is basically Google Maps with an added layer of multi-modal travel options,” reports Tech Crunch.

Uber car service operational in NYC

In the March 7 edition of Surfin’ Safari’s Bits and Bytes section, we mentioned the latest in city ground transportation: The Uber car, a private black car with driver. At that time, service was available only in San Francisco. Now the Uber team has begun servicing The Big Apple, providing black car chauffeur service to Manhattanites from their mobile phone, and it is getting rave reviews. It’s a cross between a cab and a limousine service. No cash is necessary. When the ride is over, Uber automatically charges your credit card on file. Tip is already included.

Bits and bytes

The time capsule

1865 – President Lincoln assassinated

1951 – General MacArthur relieved of command

1961 – Eichmann war crimes trial begins in Israel

1961 – Bay of Pigs invasion

1970 – “Houston, we have a problem.”

Now playing at the Princess Theater, Urbana, Ill.

Congratulations to WND readers Nancy Stapleton of Anacortes, Wash., and Catherine Martin of Leawood, Kan., who were among the first to correctly guess actor Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes in “The Aviator,” the 2004 biopic about the early years of legendary director and aviator Howard Hughes’ career from the late 1920s to the mid-1940s. Besides Leonardo DiCaprio, the film also starred Cate Blanchette and was directed by Martin Scorsese. “The Aviator” won five Oscars and earned 64 nominations.

The quote: “I don’t want them bribed, Jack. I want it done legally. I want them bought.”

This week’s quote: “About as subtle as a cockroach crawlin’ across a white rug!”

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

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