Morning tech tipsheet: News & events for Thursday, April 15

What we're following on Thursday, April 15:

Marketers watch as friends interact online (WSJ)-- Big companies are watching how friends interact online to try to find new clients among the connections of existing customers, ruffling the feathers of privacy advocates. New start-ups are tracking how consumers interact with each other on social networks and third-party applications, giving marketers "impressive results." But the FTC and some lawmakers are scrutinizing such ad-targeting approaches as privacy violations.

Cyberwar nominee sees gaps in the law (NYT) -- Ahead of his confirmation hearing today, the country's first Cyber Command officer warned Congress that "policy directives and legal controls over digital combat are outdated and have failed to keep pace with the military's technical capabilities." Lt. Gen. Keith B. Alexander said the White House and Pentagon are working to resolve the disconnect between technical capabilities and national policies.

Blind refs & baby kissers: Senators brawl over net neutrality (Ars Technica) -- A debate over net neutrality overshadowed yesterday's Senate Commerce Committee hearing to examine the National Broadband Plan, with Republicans warning FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski not to reclassify broadband into a more net-neutrality-friendly category of the law. Democrats, meanwhile, all but ordered Genachowski to assert the FCC's authority over broadband and to act aggressively to respond to last week's federal court ruling that favored Comcast and other big network operators.

Obama: America's still got adventures in space (AP) -- President Barack Obama will try to reassure space industry workers today that the U.S. space program will continue despite the impending end of space shuttle missions. Obama plans to outline a strategy that will lead to new innovation and greater investment in space exploration, turning to private companies to build their own rockets and ships. Critics say the plan will give up the United State's lead in space.

Tech events around the Beltway:

McAfee Public Sector Summit is going on this morning at the Ronald Reagan Building and ITC. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), co-founder of the Congressional Cyber Security Caucus, cancelled his appearance at the last minute, so McAfee CEO Dave DeWalt will carry the program. 8-10 a.m.

Senate Confirmation Hearing for a few Defense Department appointees. The Senate Armed Services Committee will examine the nomination of Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander to be first chief of the U.S. Cyber Command in the Department of Defense. Alexander this week warned Congress that there is a "mismatch" between U.S. technical capabilities to fend of attacks and the law. 9:30 a.m., Dirksen G50.