Sept 29 – Oct 5

Download the mp3 version of this post, or subscribe through the iTunes Store.

This week’s headline story: Business Supported MOOCs

empty_classroomMassively Open Online Courses or MOOCs have received a lot of attention, but questions remain as to the value that businesses place on students who receive education through MOOCs rather than through traditional colleges. That question is beginning to be resolved. Major corporations are beginning to invest in building MOOCs that meet their specific needs. Last week, MOOC provider Udacity announced the Open Education Alliance, which allows students to earn a free certificate based on a series of online courses developed with input from Google, AT&T and several other companies. Similarly, MIT and its MOOC partner edX are offering the XSeries – a series of courses based on input from a consortium of about 50 companies, including UPS, Procter & Gamble Co. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. The XSeries will prepare students to take a test and earn a “verified certificate” in subjects like computer science and supply-chain management. Meanwhile, companies such as Yahoo Inc. have begun reimbursing employees who take certified courses from Coursera, another MOOC provider.

and elsewhere in Tech News.

  • Okay, you’re familiar with MOOCs, how about MOORs? The first Massively Open Online Research or MOOR course is being offered by a team from UC San Diego. In “Bioinformatics Algorithms – Part 1,” students will work in teams on specific research projects under the direction of prominent bioinformatics scientists from around the world.
    Is Massive Open Online Research the Next Frontier for Education? [UCSD News]
  • Scientists at Stanford University have built the first functioning computer based on carbon nanotube transistors. “This could be a revolutionary technological leap,” says Dan Olds, an analyst at The Gabriel Consulting Group. “It takes much less power to change the state of a carbon nanotube versus today’s transistors,” Olds said. “Nanotubes are much better at dissipating heat. You can pack more nanotube transistors onto a chip. We would see devices that can do a whole lot more useful work while using a whole lot less juice — and that’s a great combination.”
    Replacing silicon with nanotubes could revolutionize tech [Computerworld]
  • The creator of the world wide web and director of the web standards body W3C, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, is backing measures to embed support for Digital Rights Managament in HTML5. The measures Berbers-Lee backs would add support for Encrypted Media Extensions to HTML 5 allowing media companies to publish DRM-protected music, movies, and other media to the web reducing worries that users will download and distribute the media illegally. Berners-Lee believes that supporting DRM on the Web is necessary in order to get media companies to utilize the Web for media distribution. Free software advocates such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Free Software Foundation, have called the proposals “disastrous”. They argue it is an attempt to elevate the business interests of media companies over the greater good of an open web where information can be shared freely, and would place unacceptable restrictions on how individuals use computers.
    World wide web creator rules DRM support should be baked into web tech [ZDNet]
  • NASA is planning to send a 3d printer into space next year allowing astronauts to print tools and parts as needed.
    NASA To Launch 3-D Printer into Space [NewsFactor]

and in Tech Industry news…

  • Microblogging service Twitter has filed for an initial public offering and should debut on the stock exchange in November. The firm aims to raise as much as $1 billion under the TWRT ticker symbol.
    Post-IPO, Twitter Co-Founder Moving to Billionaire Status [NewsFactor]
  • Apple has displaced Coca-Cola as the leading global brand in Interbrand’s 14th annual Best Global Brands report, ending the soda maker’s 13-year rule. Google took 2nd place pushing Coke down to 3rd.
    Apple, Google Stomp Coke in Global Brand Ratings [Ecommerce Times]
  • There is unrest amidst Microsoft’s Board of Directors. Several of the board members are pressuring Bill Gates to step down as chairman. They are looking to reboot the company with fresh ides from a new CEO and new Chairman of the Board.
    Mutiny at Microsoft Over Gates’ Future Role [Ecommerce Times]
  • Amazon is about to join Apple, Roku and others in the set-top box business. Amazon’s box will provide instant access to Amazon Videos, as well as Netflix and Hulu Plus.
    Amazon To Debut Set-Top Box For Holidays [NewsFactor]

and finally…

  • The new iOS7 recently released by Apple for iPhones and iPads has a new user interface where icons seem to float above the background, and apps zoom in an out as the user interacts with them. While most users think the new user interface is cool, a minority are complaining that the zoom animations are making them nauseous and giving them headaches.
    Does iOS 7 Make You Feel Sick? [NewsFactor]
    Twitter IPO Filing Shows It Ain’t No Facebook [Technology Review]

January 14 – 20, 2013

Download the mp3 version of this post, or subscribe through the iTunes Store.
This week’s headline story: Facebook Graph Search

facebook-graph-searchFacebook’s Mark Zuckerberg announced a new feature coming to Facebook. It’s called Graph Search, and Zuckerberg described it as an integral part of the product, a third pillar, along with the newsfeed and timeline. Using Graph Search, Facebook users will be able to search all of their connections – what Facebook calls their graph, in order to find people, places, photos, and items of interests. So for example, a Facebook user could search for Mexican restaurants in Tucson recommended by friends, places in Ireland that their friends visited, or bands that are most popular with friends. Graph search will also provide search results outside your graph courtesy of Microsoft Bing. While some are proclaiming this the future of search, others are predicting major issues around privacy, and ugly unintended consequences. The nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation recommends that concerned Facebook users utilize the “Who can see my stuff?” feature and click “View as” to see how their Facebook profile and timeline appears to the public and to the various people in their groups of friends.

and elsewhere in Tech News.

  • You may recall a couple years ago when Kansas City MO won the privileged of serving as host to a new super-fast Internet service courtesy of Google. With that network now in place, Internet startups are flocking to Kansas City is take advantage of gigabit Internet speeds, giving the city the nickname “Silicon Prairie.”Google’s Ultrafast Internet Creates ‘Silicon Prairie’ [NewsFactor]
  • San Jose State University is signing a deal with the Massively Open Online Course company Udacity, to deliver a series of remedial and introductory courses to its students. San Jose State and other California State colleges are looking to MOOCs as a solution to the issue of an increasing number of incoming students who are unable to meet basic college entrance requirements.California to Give Web Courses a Big Trial [NYTimes]

and in Information Security news this week…

  • One year to the minute after the FBI shut down file sharing service Megaupload, the Internet tycoon that owned the service, Kim Dotcom, held a huge party at his mansion in New Zealand to celebrate the opening of his new service, simply named Mega. Mega is a cloud storage service that encrypts the data users upload giving the user the encryption key. So only the user, and those the user selects to share files with, can access files. Not even Mega knows or can find out what users are storing on its servers. Mega will force governments to seriously consider the level of responsibility Internet companies maintain for users activities on the Internet. It is likely that the movie industry and the FBI will be examining Mega closely to determine if the service is encouraging the illegal sharing of copyright protected property.A Year After the Closing of Megaupload, a File-Sharing Tycoon Opens a New Site [NYTimes]
  • Google researchers think that two-step identity verification isn’t secure enough. They are investigating the use of physical passwords, which might come in the form of a piece of jewelry such as a ring. Imagine being logged onto your computer and all of your web services automatically by the ring on your finger.Google sees one password ring to rule them all [Computerworld]

and in Tech Industry news…

  • AI expert and singularity evangelist Ray Kurzweil has taken the job of Director of Engineering at Google. Kurzweil has revealed details around an upcoming AI project at Google, focused on helping computers to better understand human language.Ray Kurzweil lifts lid on Google AI project [ZDNet]
  • Google is planning to bring it’s voice-recognition feature to Chrome browser. Soon users of Chrome on all platforms will be able to dictate to their Chrome browser and Web apps.Google Bringing Voice Recognition to Chrome Web Browser [NewsFactor]
  • Google has filed for a patent for a laser-projected keyboard on its Google Glasses which would project a keyboard on a surface allowing users to enter data by pressing virtual keys.Patent Filed for Laser-Projected Keypad with Google Glasses [NewsFactor]
  • Google is hosting two hackathons – one in San Francisco and the other in New York, where hackers will get a crack at creating apps for Google glasses.Google Glass Hackathons Unveiled to Further Develop the Technology [eWeek]
  • eBay received a much needed breath of life with its recently released mobile app. The app supports the popular activity of “showrooming” where shoppers in retail stores can check prices of items on eBay and make online purchases through eBay’s paypal service in under 30 seconds. eBay’s revenue jumped 18 percent to US$3.99 billion for the quarter after the release of the app.Showrooming Shoppers Send eBay Soaring [Ecommerce Times]

and finally….

Sponsored by:

US Gov Responsible for Stuxnet

The New York Times believes it has the full story on Stuxnet – the malware that targeted Iranian nuclear reactors last year. In a recent series of articles based on 18 months of investigative journalism, the Times reports that as suspected, Stuxnet is the product of U.S. and Israeli security agencies who developed it as a cyberweapon to sabotage Iran’s uranium-enrichment facilities. The Times reported that Stuxnet was part of a larger effort code-named Olympic Games that began under the Bush administration and was sustained and accelerated under President Obama. Anonymous sources who participated in Olympic Games say that they developed several sophisticated cyberweapons intended to gather intelligence and infiltrate Iranian nuclear facilities. One of these malware weapons accidentally leaked out of an Iranian nuclear facility network and was discovered by the public, and dubbed Stuxnet by computer security experts.

It is believed that at least three extremely sophisticated cyberweapon worms have been developed as part of Olympic Games. They include Stuxnet, Duqu, and perhaps a newly discovered worm dubbed Flame, which has been described as super-cyber spying malware recently found infecting PCs in Iran and other Middle Eastern countries. The US government has so far not responded to the New York Times story. Analysts predict an escalation in cyber attacks against U.S. firms in retaliation for the actions reported by the New York Times. Read the articles yourself using the links in the show notes.

Cybersecurity researchers have found common code between the Stuxnet Virus and the new Flame Virus indicating that the two probably share a common author. According to a recent NYTimes article that author or development team is on the payroll of the US government.
Cybersleuths Find Link Between Flame, Stuxnet Virus [NewsFactor]

Is the U.S. losing its edge?

In a recent report, the U.S. Commerce Department stated that the U.S. is losing its competitive edge in the global economy. In the report, Commerce Secretary John Bryson, stated that “Our ability to innovate as a nation will determine what kind of economy – what kind of country – our children and grandchildren will inherit.” The report points out a relative lack of innovation in many industries but especially in the tech industry. Historically, the U.S. has run a trade surplus in advanced technology products. However in 2010, we ran an $81 billion trade deficit. The report blames the deficit on the poor economy, and the relatively small number of students graduating with degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

U.S. report sees perils to America’s tech future [Computerworld]

2011 in Retrospect

Goodbye Steve

Perhaps the story that garnered the most attention this year was the death of Apple founder and visionary Steve Jobs who succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the age of 56. Jobs transformed industries and lives be developing products like iTunes, iPods, iPhones, and iPads. For the past decade, the public has grown to expect yearly life-changing product announcements from Apple. This year, Jobs and Apple unveiled the iPhone 4S with Siri – digital assistant technology that promises to transform the way people interact with computers. This year Apple also launched iCloud, a system for storing music and data in the cloud for easy access from any Internet-connected computer.

2011 in the Cloud

History may look back on 2011 as “the year of cloud computing.” Apple wasn’t alone in developing cloud services. Just about every major tech company rolled out new cloud services this year. Amazon and Google, which have both been active in cloud computing for years, rolled out public cloud services for music to compete with Apple. Microsoft launched Office 365, a cloud-based version of Microsoft Office to compete with Google Docs. Businesses of all types and sizes are adopting both public and private cloud services for all types of business applications and services. This year has seen the start of a massive migration of data from private computers and servers to cloud servers to be accessed via the Internet.

Hackers

2011 also goes down in history for its huge amount of hacker activity. Daily targeted attacks increased four hundred percent over 2011. Nearly every form of networked device is at risk: computers, cars, smart phones, and even printers. Several major network and database breaches made the news this year. Perhaps the largest was Sony’s PlayStation network which was out of commission for over a month. More serious was the attack on security firm RSA, where security tokens for hundreds of companies were stolen leaving those companies vulnerable to attack. Many other companies and organizations were hacked in 2011. The Privacy Clearinghouse has tracked a total of 535 breaches in the U.S. involving 30.4 million sensitive records over the course of the year. In 2011 we also learned that some news organizations, such as one belonging to Richard Murdock, have a habit of hacking cell phones to gain juicy tidbits of news. News companies have also been the target of hackers as both Fox News and NPR were hacked and had bogus news stories posted on their Twitter feeds and Web sites. The past year saw the birth of a dangerous virus named stuxnet, that attacks industrial systems. We have also witnessed the rise of hactivist groups such as Anonymous, LulzSec, and AntiSec. These groups claimed responsibility for breaking into the networks belonging to hundreds of businesses, law enforcement agencies, and government agencies, including the FBI and U.S. defense contractors, and releasing confidential data for what they consider to be a righteous cause. Dozens of young hackers have been jailed for their participation in these hacker collectives.

Cyber Attacks

2011 has also seen a huge increase in state-sponsored cyber attacks including attacks on government agencies, U.S. defense contractors, and banks, not to mention one drone aircraft. U.S. intelligence agencies accuse China and Russia for many of the cyber attacks. The pentagon has designated cyberspace as an “operational domain” and threatens a military response to cyber attacks. The White house passed a new cyber security plan to help protect the nations critical infrastructure. But, it’s not just the U.S. that is concerned, every country on the Internet is dealing with cyber attacks and working to bolster their defenses. At the global Web Summit, nations deliberated over a cyber-nonproliferation pact to assist in curbing cyber-attacks between countries.

Social and Political Change

In 2011 the Internet and social media served as powerful tools for social and political change. Protest organizers in Egypt utilized Facebook, Twitter, and other online tools to gather public discontent into demonstrations that eventually ousted then-President Mubarik. The revolution fever spread through Internet channels to Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain, Syria, Yemen, Algeria, Iraq, Jordon, Kuwait, Moroco, and Oman where citizens took to the streets to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with their governments in what has become known as the Arab Spring. The Web is being used to coordinate protests across the U.S., and around the world. stemming from the Occupy Wall Street movement, to express discontent with economic management by banks and governments. In the UK, the Web was used to orchestrate violent demonstrations featuring beatings, arson and burglaries across many cities including Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol.

Censorship

As the Internet and Web empowers citizens to organize and express themselves, governments this year, are debating an Internet “kill switch” that would allow them to shut down the Internet in circumstances of public unrest. Egypt, and other Arab countries have implemented such actions during demonstrations, but still the demonstrators found ways around the Internet black-out to communicate their plight to the rest of the world. In other censorship news, U.S. lawmakers deliberate over the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) which would allow the U.S. Department of Justice to seek court orders requiring Internet Service Providers, search engines, and online financial services to block websites that are accused of infringing copyright. Some feel the bill represents the first significant step towards U.S. government censorship of Web content.

Privacy and Transparency

Privacy and transparency were huge issues in 2011. Wikileaks released hundreds of thousands of leaked confidential government documents to the public. In reaction to the move, several online banks and financial services have blocked Wikileaks transactions, leaving Wikileaks financially strapped and struggling. Google and Facebook have both been scrutinized and criticized by European and U.S. governments for collecting private data about users and using it for marketing and ads. Both companies are under mandatory privacy audits in the U.S. for the next 20 years. The U.S. is considering regulations to curb Internet companies from tracking users online, while the industry has come up with its own “Do Not Track” option which no company seems to be implementing with any seriousness. Cell phone companies have also been the focus of government attention as it was discovered that many handsets regularly send private usage data to the cellular providers. Net neutrality also remains a hotly debated issue, as the FCC put new policies in place that require telecom companies and ISP’s to be more transparent about their network management practices and to provide equal treatment to all Internet applications.

Mobile Tech Industry

It was an active year for the tech industry with many shifts in power and influence. 2011 was the year of the tablet. While Apple’s iPad remains the market leader, dozens of Android tablets are now also competing in the market. High-end eBook readers like Amazon’s Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet incorporate LCD displays and offer added functionality to compete with tablet PCs at a lower price. The success of the Kindle, has contributed to the success of eBooks. Amazon reports that it now sells more ebooks than paper books. The cellular industry has seen major shifts as well. At the beginning of 2011, AT&T held an exclusive contract with Apple for the iPhone. Now Verizon and Sprint share that privilege. The iPhone remains the most popular smart phone, however, Android has become the most popular smartphone platform due to the many inexpensive Android handsets available. AT&T’s bid to buy TMobile was shut down by government regulators. Verizon and AT&T are buying up spectrum in competition to provide the best service to the most customers.

Entertainment Tech Industry

3D TV’s still haven’t really taken off like expected, but Microsoft’s Kinect and XBox game system have been a huge success in living room entertainment. The Kinect’s motion-driven game controller has transformed gaming into a physical activity. Dance games have become all the rage displacing the previously popular guitar playing games. Speaking of living room entertainment, Netflix grew huge in 2011 with Netflix users eating up as much as one third of all Internet traffic. Netflix blew it though, when it nearly doubled its fees, and lost hundreds of thousands of customers. In the mean time, Google, Microsoft, and Apple all have plans to take over TV and living room entertainment.

Winners and Losers

2011 has seen renewed investment in the tech industry allowing young companies like Groupon and Spotify to rapidly grow into major players. Meanwhile established companies work hard to stay relevant by using their talent and market position to control the direction of the industry. Google launched its social network Google+, providing the first serious competitor to Facebook. Google+ is growing rapidly, with 62 million current users. Some believe it will grow to 400 million in 2012 – still significantly shy of Facebook’s current 800 million users. Companies like Google, Amazon and Apple have been successful at ininnovating and staying relevant against fresh young talent, while Microsoft, Yahoo, and Blackberry have been less successful. 2012 will be a telling year for many of these companies.

2012 and Beyond

2011 has been a remarkable year for those of us that enjoy observing technology’s impact on people, cultures, societies, and the world. So what can we expect in 2012? Well it’s all conjecture, but I think it’s safe to assume that information security, privacy, net neutrality and government censorship will grow to become more demanding issues. The rapid rise in serious cyber attacks from numerous sources makes it seem likely that 2012 will feature prominent and perhaps catastrophic attacks on major online resources, and national infrastructure. There is likely to be a call-to-cyberarms as governments and populations recognize the extent of their online vulnerabilities. With the stressed state of the global economy and the upcoming national elections in the U.S., our online lifestyles are sure to become the focus of political expression from politicians, their supporters, and disgruntled citizens and groups. While there are a lot of indicators to fuel pessimism for 2012, there are also many indicators that support optimism. Technologies continue to evolve to provide better communication, more rapid problem solving, and more engaging forms of expression and entertainment. Without a doubt, 2012 will bring many new technologies with which we can improve our lives and our world. Technology does more than merely amplify the human condition; it provides opportunity and freedom of expression for populations that have been downtrodden and oppressed. It is the great equalizer. It provides opportunities to advance civilization and culture. It is likely that we will continue to see radical global change brought about with the help of technologies in 2012 and beyond. Managing this change in a positive direction will require strong and wise global leadership from political leaders, as well as from teachers and students like you.

Digital Divas

Two Japanese pop stars stole the show at the recent Digital Concept Expo in Tokyo. The green-haired “Megpoid” and red-haired “Akikoloid” sang flawlessly as they performed amazing dance routines, working the audience into a frenzy. The truly unbelievable aspect of the performance is that both rising stars are completely computer generated. Through the use of voice-synthesizing software and sensors around the venue, on the cameras, and on two human dancers backstage, the two synthesized pop stars offered a realistic 3-D performance that rivaled the best human concerts. Music by the virtual pop stars has made it into Japan’s top 10 hits list. So, who gets the glory: the virtual performers, or the programmers?
Japan’s digital divas take to the stage, wow fans [Reuters]

Wikileaks Releases 251,000 Confidential Government Documents

Wikileaks is the target or widespread criticism for recently publishing its full collection of 251,000 uncensored classified U.S. government documents. The whistle-blowing website had previously released only a relatively small amount of the leaked documents with portions of the documents edited out in order to protect individuals. This week all of the documents were made public, with nothing edited out. The Fed strongly condemned Wikileaks for compromising national security, endangering sensitive global relations, and putting lives in danger. Several mainstream media corporations, including the New York Times, have broken ties with Wikileaks over what they call wikileaks’ unethical behavior. Wikileaks blames a German journalist for publishing the information needed to access the documents, while others suspect Wikileaks made the information easy to access in hopes of the documents being discovered and released.

The secrets that the documents contain, will no doubt make front page news over the next weeks, as pressure from governments to shut down Wikileaks and arrest Wikileaks founder Julian Assange intensifies.

Interestingly, the Wikileaks site was attacked and taken down for several hours shortly after the release of the documents.

Pentagon’s Cyber Security Strategy

Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn unveiled a new U.S. defense strategy that designates cyberspace as an “operational domain.” Like sea, air and land, U.S. forces will now practice, train and prepare to defend the country against attacks that take place online. To emphasize the necessity of the new strategy, Lynn revealed information about a recent cyber attack in which 24,000 files were stolen from a U.S. defense contractor. Lynn indicated that the US is under constant cyber attack. The Defense Department operates more than 15,000 computer networks and 7 million computers at hundreds of installations around the world. The department’s networks are probed millions of times a day and penetrations have compromised huge amounts of data, Lynn said. Economic losses from theft of intellectual property and information from government and commercial computers are estimated at over $1 trillion. Lynn outlined a plan that cordons off government networks and requires more robust security and authentication. The Defense Department also plans to go on the offensive retaliating against those that attack U.S. networks and computers.

Cyber Attacks on the Rise

So far 2011 has been a record-breaking year for cyber attacks. Recently I’ve reported on data breaches at Sony, a company that seems to get hacked once or twice a week lately. Also I’ve reported on attacks against Lockheed Martin, a major U.S. defense contractor, and PBS. The group that claimed responsibility for hacking PBS says they attacked the broadcaster in retaliation for what they considered to be negative coverage of Wikileaks. The Lockheed attack has been traced back to a data breach at the RSA Security Division of the EMC Corporation which provides Lockheed with security tokens.

This week attacks originating in China targeted specific Google users including high-ranking US government officials, and Chinese dissidents. Many of the recent attacks utilize a technique called spear phishing that uses very convincing email messages to trick individuals into going to Web sites and entering passwords or other private data. Another popular attack is called “code injection” which utilizes a company’s Web form to “submit” computer code to the server to access the database. The hacker group that stole customer data from Sony claims that it was able to access data stored in the company’s database, including unencrypted user passwords, with a single command submitted through a Web form.

With each successful attack, increasing amounts of hackers are emboldened to launch more attacks. Criminal hackers either want to make a social statement, ruin a company’s reputation in vengeance, make off with private data to sell on the black market, or some combination of all three. Lately the Internet resembles the Wild, Wild West, with businesses and governments scrambling to find a brave and talented Sheriff. Last week at a global Internet security conference, participants proposed a global nonproliferation treaty to control the creation and use of cyber attacks between countries. A senior official in the White House recently stated that Cyber security is now a diplomatic priority for the United States. Washington is building relationships to “tackle information theft and reduce the risk of conflict.”

Will global cooperation really help protect our data and national infrastructure? How does one “police” the global Internet when attacks are easily camouflaged through a chain of remote computers located in multiple countries? And how can you tell the difference between a government-sponsored attack and one launched by private parties with national interests?

With all the hacking stories making headline news, and with our increasing dependence on the Internet and cloud computing, there is a sense that hackers of all kinds are beginning to go too far. Governments, businesses, and the public are beginning to understand exactly what is at stake when networks and databases are compromised. I predict that payback in terms of tough laws and law enforcement crackdowns are soon to follow, and many of the boasting hacking groups will soon feel the sting. If you are looking for a career with maximum job security, information and computer security is the way to go.

Egypt Cuts Off Internet Access

Last week, demonstrations erupted across Egypt calling for the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. Many of the demonstrations were organized through the use of Facebook and Twitter.. “This revolution will be called the revolution of the internet youth,” one member of a Facebook group calling for protests wrote. “We will take it all the way to the end.” Unrest in the country built over the period of days with Egyptian police using tear gas and water cannons in attempts to disperse the crowds. President Obama cautioned the Egyptian government to refrain from using violence against its citizens. Friday, the Egyptian government shut down most Internet and cell phone service in the country in hopes of inhibiting communication between organizers and between Egypt and the rest of the world. It is unprecedented for a modern country like Egypt, with 80 million citizens, to shut down the Internet. Doing so only enraged protestors further fueling the unrest. Meanwhile other countries have become concerned that the unrest in Egypt might spread to within their own borders. China is filtering out all news about Egypt from its Internet services. Opposition groups in Iran have begun using the Internet to plan their own demonstrations against President Mubarak. The situation illustrates the power of the Internet to aid democracies and empower oppressed groups. It also opens our eyes to the possibility of government control of communications networks in times of crisis.