Google co-founder Sergey Brin is warning that there are “very powerful forces that have lined up against the open Internet on all sides and around the world. I am more worried than I have been in the past. It’s scary.”

According to an interview Brin gave to The Guardian, he said openness and universal access that was the foundation of the Internet 30 years ago are under greater threat than ever.

Brin claims the threat to the freedom of the Internet comes from “a combination of governments increasingly trying to control access and communication by their citizens, the entertainment industry’s attempts to crack down on piracy, and the rise of ‘restrictive’ walled gardens such as Facebook and Apple, which tightly control what software can be released on their platforms.”

The Guardian report continued, “The 38-year-old billionaire, whose family fled anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union, was widely regarded as having been the driving force behind Google’s partial pullout from China in 2010 over concerns about censorship and cyber-attacks. He said five years ago he did not believe China or any country could effectively restrict the Internet for long, but now says he has been proven wrong.”

“I thought there was no way to put the genie back in the bottle, but now it seems in certain areas the genie has been put back in the bottle,” he said.

Mysterious Chinese Internet outage

Was it an earthquake, or did the Chinese government flip the Internet kill switch?

Internet users around China reported temporary Internet blackouts leaving them unable to access many Chinese websites and other unblocked foreign sites.

Chinese telecoms deny any network issues.

Internet users in Hong Kong and Japan were also reported to have difficulty accessing Chinese sites. Could the cause have been an 8.7 magnitude earthquake in Indonesia last Wednesday that could have damaged undersea cables?

China’s major telecommunication companies – China Telecom and Unicom – reported that wasn’t the case, with China Telecom saying the earthquake did not interfere with the submerged cables.

Facebook was against SOPA, but supports CISPA – read why

Facebook is supporting the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA, currently being considered by our representatives in Congress. Facebook is one of several tech companies that are supporting CISPA, including Microsoft, Oracle, Intel, IBM and Symantec. The bill is set for a vote in two weeks.

In this column last January we told you that Congress had backed off the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, but they’re coming back at it again from a different angle. Big Brother never gives up.

Facebook’s official blog issued from its Washington D.C. office’s U.S. public policy VP Joel Kaplan stated there are several bills under consideration in Congress that would notify Internet companies of any “critical threats” of a cyber attack.

Kaplan said Facebook is supporting CISPA, partly because it would not make Facebook share any more of its own data than is currently required: “The concern is that companies will share sensitive personal information with the government in the name of protecting cybersecurity. Facebook has no intention of doing this, and it is unrelated to the things we liked about HR 3523 in the first place – the additional information it would provide us about specific cyber threats to our systems and users.”

The House Intelligence Committee’s draft version, however, does not come without raised hackles. Some say it reminds them of SOPA, the detested attempt to assert government control over information flow and users on the Internet.

I urge you to click on the embedded links I’ve provided for you and familiarize yourself with CISPA. Protect your Internet. Let your congressional representative know what you think of this bill and Congress’ never-ending attempts to regulate the only open method of free speech we have while we still have it! Head to Grade, where founder Elizabeth Letchworth has the legislators’ live, inner-office email addresses – as opposed to the standard computerized system members of Congress use that spit out the auto reply letters we all just love to get. And while you’re there, grade the legislators too.

Driving Miss Dizzy?

Whether you think you’ve had one too many cocktails when you’re out or you’re three sheets in the wind, you take a taxi or have a friend drive you home. Now the problem is, how do you get your car home? Would you believe there’s an app for that?

And no longer do you have to rely on Google map to get you there. Now there’s OpenStreetMap, and Wikipedia mobile apps likes it. You might too!

I’ll take “Popular Corporations” for a thousand, Alex

Guess who’s going to be providing livestream coverage and a social platform for the Republican National Convention later this summer? If you guessed Google, you move on to final Jeopardy.

In its press release, Google announced: “The 2012 Republican presidential nominating convention in Tampa will be a convention without walls. Google and YouTube viewers will get an exclusive backstage pass to connect with Republican leaders off the podium via Google+ Hangouts, bringing convention conversations directly to voters. We will also be livestreaming key events right into their living rooms. We are excited to partner with the 2012 Republican National Convention and serve as the official social platform and livestream provider.”

Facebook viewed as too establishment, even Orwellian – “Big Friend”?

“Something strange happened Monday on the Internet.”

Got your attention? Evidently it got a lot of folks’ attention and stirred up a lot of ill will toward what many say is no longer a “cool” operation.

The story, according to CNN, is that Facebook is “no longer a feisty start-up but a 3,000-person, soon-to-be-public corporation with $3.9 billion in cash and an $85-billion to $100-billion valuation.”

The social network just spent a billion bucks to buy competitor Instagram, a smallish photo-sharing app. And when it did, “it stirred up a cauldron of ill will that the ‘People of the Internet’ have been harboring toward Mark Zuckerberg’s once-hip company.” To find out why they’re saying that, click here.

Twitter also tried to buy Instagram, but failed. What’s so phenomenal about Instagram that makes it so desirable? How about 40 million users, growing by ten million in ten days.

Getting back to Facebook, is the social networking giant trying to be the center of your web life? For that matter, does Facebook need its own browser? Some say it’s a must. What say you?

Quiz: Who is the most popular on the Internet block? Facebook? Google? Apple? Twitter? Other? This poll reveals the answer.

Holder’s DOJ filed suit against Apple – E-book price fixing alleged

The Department of Justice (a.k.a. AG Eric Holder) has filed an anti-trust lawsuit against Apple for alleged price fixing on its digital E-book business.

Experts are saying that the DOJ is likely to lose this round as it did when it went after IBM some years ago. Stay tuned for this developing story.

Hey, hey! Microsoft will give you free stuff to evaluate Windows 8!

Microsoft wants you to help them build better software. Microsoft invites you to join its invite-only feedback program for active Windows 7 and Windows 8 users in the U.S. All you have to do is send feedback data or surveys for more than four months. Doing so makes you eligible for “free software and Xbox games such as Microsoft Office 2012, Kinect Disneyland and Forza Motorsport 4.”

These breasts gave up more than a bra size. Busted!

Embedded photo data put this suspected “anonymous” hacker in FBI cuffs.

It kind of reminds me of the guy whose cell phone made “butt calls” to the police while he was stealing cars. Ah yes, the wonders of modern technology. Look out it doesn’t bite you in the behind!

Bits & Bytes

20 percent of U.S. adults don’t use Internet – PEW study tells why

As one who lives on the Internet, I can’t imagine what my days would be without it. But for some, life “sans cyberworld” goes on. In fact, one in five U.S. adults do not use the Internet. Here’s a hint: they’re older, according to a study by Pew Internet Research. The report reveals some interesting details.

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