By CNN's Jack Cafferty:
The Petraeus sex scandal raises questions about privacy that could affect every American who goes online.
A lesson for all of us - what starts as a government search for crime on the web can turn into an invasion of the private lives of Americans. and don't think it couldn't happen to you.
In this case, what began as an investigation into alleged harassing e-mails from one woman to another wound up exposing an extramarital affair and bringing down the director of the CIA.
One electronic privacy expert tells The New York Times that cyber-investigations can rapidly become open-ended since there's such a huge amount of information available and it's so easy to search:
"If the CIA Director can get caught, it's pretty much open season on everyone else."
The ACLU questions what surveillance powers the FBI used to look into the private lives of Generals Petraeus and Allen. We still don't know, but it could include methods like subpoenas and search warrants.
And then there's this : Google acknowledges it passed information to authorities in response to 93 percent of government requests in the second half of 2011.
It's a tricky balance: National Security experts warn of a major cyber attack that could bring the country to its knees. But does that mean Americans must give up all rights to their privacy?
Some are especially concerned about the National Security Agency. Those would be the same folks who conducted warrantless wiretapping of Americans after the 9/11 attacks. Remember the Patriot Act?
Here’s my question to you: In light of the Petraeus scandal, is anything we do online really private?
Tune in to the Situation Room at 4pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.
And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.
Put down that iPhone or BlackBerry. Look up from your computer screen or video game and stop texting, e-mailing and chatting online. It turns out the Internet could be driving us crazy.
Newsweek magazine has a fascinating report on a growing body of worldwide research that shows just how much this technology might be damaging us.
Researchers find that the Internet might be making us more depressed, anxious, stressed, suicidal and prone to obsessive-compulsive and attention-deficit disorders. The brains of Internet addicts even look like those of drug and alcohol addicts.
The statistics are staggering: Americans spend at least eight hours a day staring at a screen. That's more time than we spend doing anything else, including sleeping.
Teens fit seven hours of screen time into the average school day. It goes to 11 hours if you include the time they're multitasking on several devices. And more than one-third of smartphone users get online before they get out of bed.
Meanwhile, the average person sends or receives about 400 text messages a month. For teens, that number jumps to 3,700.
Time online often replaces sleep, exercise and face-to-face contact with real, live people.
These are just some of the reasons why China, Taiwan and South Korea have started treating problematic Internet use like a national health crisis.
It's no wonder experts are alarmed as they describe the computer as "electronic cocaine" that fuels cycles of mania followed by depression, and they say the Internet "encourages – and even promotes - insanity."
Here’s my question to you: Is the Internet making us crazy?
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
It’s been a Wednesday without Wikipedia and other major websites. As they go dark to protest two anti-piracy bills in Congress, critics say these bills amount to censorship of the Internet.
While Google hasn't shut down, a black rectangle covers its famous logo urging people to "Tell Congress: Please don't censor the web!"
The web-wide protest is in response to the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, in the U.S. House and the Protect IP Act, or PIPA, now pending before the full Senate.
The battle lines are drawn with Hollywood and major media companies, including CNN's parent company, Time Warner, on one side and Silicon Valley on the other.
If the bill passes, copyright holders could seek a court order to force search engines such as Google to remove links to sites that are offering illegal movies, TV shows, songs, etc. The main targets are foreign websites.
But Internet companies worry they could be punished for users' actions. Google says YouTube would have to go dark immediately if the bill passes, saying "it couldn't function."
On the other side, supporters say that online piracy leads to job losses in the U.S. since content creators lose income. They dismiss accusations of censorship, saying that the bills are meant to fix a broken system that doesn't prevent piracy.
Supporters say this bill won't hurt the average Internet user.
Many in the tech world agree that piracy is a real problem, but they worry about the implications of this legislation, fearing that it's a foot in the door that could lead to further government controls.
Meanwhile the bills that were once expected to sail through Congress have hit rough waters. One Senate aide tells CNN that because of the growing protests, the bill might not even make it to a vote.
Here’s my question to you: Should the U.S. government censor the internet?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
A rapidly unfolding story like the earthquake in Japan and the devastating tsunami and nuclear concerns that followed shows the strengths of the news media but at the same time exposes its limits.
The Japan earthquake hit about 12:45 a.m. ET last Friday morning. Internet news sites, blogs and cable television broke the story right away and stayed with it. Newspapers on the other hand scrambled to get such a late breaking story to print... and could only report so much before the presses got rolling. "Hot off the presses" wasn't so hot when it hit doorsteps across the country, so readers relied on other outlets to find out the latest.
A new report from the Pew Center's Project of Excellence in Journalism says 41 percent of Americans say they get most of their national and international news from the Internet. That's up 17 percent - more than double - from a year earlier. And that number's likely to grow. The internet not only provides up-to-the-minute news to anyone who's interested, but in the case of Japan, also puts them one-click away from humanitarian aid websites, groups that are helping loved ones find each other, and opinion blogs.
And laptops, smartphones and electronic tablets like the iPad are making the Internet easily accessible almost everywhere.
Here's my question to you: Will the internet eventually kill newspapers?
Tune in to the Situation Room at 6pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.
PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES(L), CNN (R)
We - meaning those of us in television news - may soon go the way of the dinosaurs.
A new report shows that the Internet is gaining on television as Americans' main source of national and international news.
The Pew survey shows overall 41% of those polled say they get their news from the Internet - that's up 17 percent from just three years ago.
Television still tops the list as the main news source at 66%, but that number is down significantly from 82% as recently as 2002.
Newspapers and radio are at the bottom of the heap in this survey.
Although the use of the Internet for news is growing among all age groups - it's especially pronounced among young people.
For the first time in 2010, the Internet was the main source of news for those under 30 years old.
There are also differences when it comes to education and income.
The survey found college graduates are just as likely to get their news from the Internet as television, while those who only have a high school diploma are much more likely to say TV is their top source of news.
When it comes to money, it's not a big surprise that wealthier people are more likely to get their news from the Internet than those with incomes under $30,000.
So - take a good look at Wolf and me while you still have the chance!
Here’s my question to you: Is the internet destined to replace television as the primary source of news?
There are growing signs that the government wants more control over the internet.
For starters - a bipartisan Senate bill would give the president a so-called internet "kill switch." The measure would allow the president to control or even shut down the internet in emergency situations.
Sen. Joe Lieberman - a co-sponsor of the bill - says that America's economic security, national security and public safety are all at risk from new kinds of enemies... like cyber-terrorists. He says that's why the government needs more control over the internet in "times of war."
Critics worry about the level of control the bill would give to the president... and they claim it could have "unintended consequences."
Speaking of terrorism - the Homeland Security department says the U.S. must do more to monitor terrorist groups that use the internet to recruit and train.
DHS secretary Janet Napolitano says the government needs to find the right balance between protecting individuals' right to privacy and keeping the country safe.
This comes on the heels of several domestic terror attacks in which the internet played a key role. it's believed that the alleged terrorists in both the Fort Hood shooting and attempted bombing of Times Square were inspired by online postings of Islamic extremists.
Finally, the Federal Communications Commission is getting in the game too - taking steps toward more internet regulation.
Just last week - the FCC voted to formally consider tighter control over high-speed internet companies. Until now - these companies have operated with virtually no government oversight.
Here’s my question to you: How much power should the government have when it comes to the internet?
(PHOTO CREDIT: LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)
Why no one cares about privacy anymore... That's the title of a piece on CNet.com. It describes how - as technology and especially social networking sites keep growing - people seem more and more willing to part with confidentiality. In many cases, they give up some level of privacy in order to access these services for free.
Think about it: Millions of people go online every day to sites like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google... they share pictures, videos, personal information about their family, their jobs, their education... or even trivial things like their favorite movie or what they ate for lunch.
Plus - it's more common for these services to be able to track you. Twitter now allows users to include so-called geolocation data in their messages; and they're encouraging people to do so. Other services let you select who can monitor your GPS-derived location every moment of the day through your cell phone. Google Maps can show pictures of your front door.
As for medical privacy... some seem to care less who knows intimate details about their health - they go online to share stories about cancer or other diseases or to give details of their pregnancies.
Then there's the ability of companies like Amazon.com or Netflix to gather information on your shopping habits and suggest which movie or book you may want to buy next.
It should come as no surprise that young people - the so-called Generation X-hibitionist - are the most comfortable with all this. One 2008 survey shows only 41 percent of U.S. teens were concerned about privacy; 59 percent were happy to give personal information to marketers.
Here’s my question to you: Are we as concerned about our privacy as we used to be?
Before you go online to shop, pay your bills, check your bank statement, or even send an e-mail... stop and consider this:
More than 75,000 computer systems at 2,500 companies worldwide have been hacked. A Virginia security firm - Net Witness - says it could be one of the largest and most sophisticated cyber-attacks ever discovered.
It began late in 2008 and wasn't found out until last month.
The attack targeted everything from corporate information to e-mails, credit card and login information.
Hackers went after companies in the health and technology sectors... educational institutions, energy and financial firms, ten government agencies and Internet service providers.
It's very scary, when you consider some of these industries should know a thing or two about computer security.
It's believed the hackers got employees at these targeted companies to download infected software - or got them to open e-mails with infected attachments. From there, the attackers could commandeer the users' computers - stealing passwords to banking and social networking sites, which then helped them hack into other computer systems and on and on...
Experts say this attack points up that traditional security approaches just aren't working anymore.
Meanwhile news of this attack comes after it was revealed computer networks were compromised at Google and more than 30 other big companies.
Google says that attack originated in China.
I wonder how safe the computers that have to do with national security are?
Here’s my question to you: How confident are you that the Internet is a secure place to transact business?
(PHOTO CREDIT: Justin Sullivan/GETTY IMAGES)
Happy Birthday to the Internet.
The system that has revolutionized almost every part of our lives turned 40 years old this week. October 29, 1969 was the first time people sent a computer-to-computer message. It was in California that UCLA Professor Leonard Kleinrock successfully connected the school's host computer to one at Stanford University.
The project had started a few years earlier: After Russia successfully launched Sputnik in the late 1950s, U.S. leaders stepped up funding to enter a technology race with their Cold War rival.
Fast forward 40 years - and It's pretty hard to imagine society without everything we're used to about the Internet:
E-mail, online shopping, video games, Google, bloggers, YouTube, and more recently social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. The list goes on and on...
Of course there's also a dark side to the Internet - computer worms, viruses, the annoying e-mail spam, identity theft, online scams and fraud, child predators and pornography - not to mention the fact that the word privacy may never have the same meaning again.
At a 40th birthday party for the Internet, Kleinrock - who sent that first message - talked how it's a "democratizing element" and that everyone can have an equal voice. But he also says there's no way back at this point, and that "we can't turn it off."
Kleinrock says in the future, the Internet will be "present everywhere."
Kinda feels like it already is.
Here’s my question to you: How would your life be different without the Internet?
From CNN's Jack Cafferty:
Pulitzer Prize winning author Larry McMurtry says he doesn't see kids reading anymore and never sees them in his book store. He thinks we're witnessing the end of the culture of the book, and he may be right.
Kids in the U.K. spend an average of six hours a day looking at screens.
Kids in the U.K. spend an average of six hours a day looking at screens while watching TV, on the internet or playing video games, according to a new report by ChildWise.
The annual survey across the U.K. found that kids ages 5 to 19 spend only half an hour a day reading a book while they spend nearly 3 hours a day watching TV, an hour and a half on the internet and more than an hour playing games on consoles.
Many parents justify the time their kids spend online as necessary for school work. Wrong answer. Only 9-percent of kids said they looked up something for school the last time they logged on. Instead they are on social networking sites, chatting with friends, playing games and watching You Tube videos.
Some experts say the result could be a generation unable to compete in the adult world later in life because they lack essential reading and writing skills. Others warn this is a dangerous digital divide between parents and kids that is widening.
Here’s my question to you: What's the risk of allowing children to spend six hours a day in front of computer screens?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
Jack Cafferty sounds off hourly on the Situation Room on the stories crossing his radar. Now, you can check in with Jack online to see what he's thinking and weigh in with your own comments online and on TV.
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