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SURFIN' SAFARI

Congress' irresistible lust for power

Exclusive: Andrea Shea King likens temptation of 'cyber security' to the 'one ring'

They just can’t help themselves. Congress’ lust to control the Internet is like the evil wizard Saruman’s coveted Ring of Power: irresistible and destructive.

It’s coming down to the wire this week in the U.S. Senate, when that “august” body will consider a bill to address “cyber security.” Taking it down to the bare wood for you, here’s the deal: Some senators want to impose measures that would burden Internet businesses and hamstring Internet users. Other senators? Not so much, offering their own alternative version that’s less onerous, but only by degrees.

Do either of the versions have a chance of passing? Some bet they don’t. Regardless how this three-act play ends, the likelihood of a Senate “cyber security” measure getting an encore in the GOP-led House during this congressional session is writ large on the screen: “The End.”

But don’t let that fool you. In smaller type just below the rolling credits, reads, “To be Continued.”

Here are the details and the cast of characters. Keep a close eye on this. The curtain opens on Senate theatrics as early as this Wednesday.

Google and the drug cartels

Google says its digital technology can take down drug cartels.

On its blogsite earlier this month, Google wrote: “We believe that technology has the power to expose and dismantle global criminal networks, which depend on secrecy and discretion in order to function. And for the past few months, we’ve been working with people fighting on the front line to gain a better understanding of what drives these networks and how they function.”

Last week, Google partnered with the Council on Foreign Relations and the Tribeca Film Festival to convene at Illicit Networks: Forces in Opposition, or the INFO summit, in Los Angeles. The summit was intended to bring together “a full-range of stakeholders, from survivors of organ trafficking, sex trafficking and forced labor to government officials, dozens of engineers, tech leaders and product managers from Google and beyond.”

The summit wrapped up last Wednesday. View Google uploaded videos from the event on its YouTube channel.

Canadians fight for free speech on Internet

WND has reported that participants in Free Dominion, a Canadian website similar to Free Republic here in the U.S. are working to raise an estimated $14,000 needed to pursue arguments in a court case that would solidify the foundation for Internet free speech in Canada, a case they won at the trial court level but saw reversed on appeal because the judges wanted to address “a number of public interest and legal issues.”

Details of the effort are outlined in this report by WND’s Bob Unruh.

Life after the personal computer

This tech writer predicts the PC is doomed and its end will come quicker than you think, forcing Microsoft to make some major adjustments to its business model.

“I, Cringely” writes: “What’s rapidly replacing the PC in our culture is the smart phone. Today the PC industry and the smart phone industry are neck-and-neck in terms of size at around $250 billion each. But which one is growing faster? For that matter, which one is growing at all?

Cringely gives it five years before your desktop PC eventually goes the way of the dinosaur.

Nearly all of us are on our next-to-last PC. Microsoft knows this on some level. Their reptilian corporate brain is beginning to comprehend what could be the end. That’s why the company is becoming increasingly desperate for ways to maintain its central role in our digital lives. We see the first bet-the-company aspects of that in Redmond’s recent decision to run the Windows 8 kernel all the way down to ARM-powered phones and tablets, even though it requires shedding features to do so.

In our June 25th Surfin’ Safari column, we featured a California software developer’s exclusive insider’s look at Microsoft’s foray into the tablet business.

Related: Microsoft reports first quarterly loss in its 26 years as a public company. Online woes reflect slump in value of online operations.

Meet Yahoo’s ‘million dollar baby’

Liberal Democrat Marissa Mayer, bundler and fundraiser for Obama and first prominent female computer engineer in Silicon Valley, has been hired to helm Yahoo through its recovery.

The 37-year old former Google executive Mayer was hired even though she is into her sixth month of pregnancy and no doubt will be taking maternity leave, making hers a million dollar baby?

Meanwhile, tech watchers are asking …

Where is Google CEO Larry Page?

Page has lost his voice. Speculation is running rampant as to why. Google’s chief executive was a no-show at Google’s quarterly earnings conference call last week, following a month of absences from other Google public events.

Some speculate vocal cord polyps, vocal cord paralysis, throat surgery or even radiation therapy. Time will tell. Stay tuned.

Social networking in the upcoming election

TV political pundit and comedian Stephen Kruiser is a Twitter expert, social network and new media guru who advises corporate and political clients and speaks regularly about new media to numerous organizations across the country, writes blogger Ann-Marie Murrell at Patriot Update.

Combine Kruiser with Ari David, an entertainment industry professional and former political candidate who utilizes new media platforms Facebook to promote events. What you get is Victory New Media Solutions, a company the pair have created to get everyone – especially conservative candidates – into the political game.

In an interview, David explained, “No blogger, business or political candidate should be without a strong and professional social media presence. It used to be that when promoting or getting people to think about something, we could rely on binary promotion or public relations, but now that we live in an online world of true information democratization and have to accept that our customer bases are much more informed, we now have to use social media tools to build trust and start conversations.”

Timing – it’s everything

CNN reported that while Americans processed the aftermath of a shooting in Colorado that left 12 people dead, a Twitter account for the National Rifle Association had this to say: “Good morning, shooters. Happy Friday! Weekend plans?”

Did you hear the one about the man who cried wolf and was charged with a felony for texting a false SOS? He meant it as a joke. The cops didn’t get the humor.

And a 17-year old teen who was sexually assaulted faces jail time for tweeting the names of her attackers.

More next week as we surf the ‘Net to bring it to you.

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