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Paul Merrell

Google Chrome Listening In To Your Room Shows The Importance Of Privacy Defense In Depth - 0 views

  • Yesterday, news broke that Google has been stealth downloading audio listeners onto every computer that runs Chrome, and transmits audio data back to Google. Effectively, this means that Google had taken itself the right to listen to every conversation in every room that runs Chrome somewhere, without any kind of consent from the people eavesdropped on. In official statements, Google shrugged off the practice with what amounts to “we can do that”.It looked like just another bug report. "When I start Chromium, it downloads something." Followed by strange status information that notably included the lines "Microphone: Yes" and "Audio Capture Allowed: Yes".
  • Without consent, Google’s code had downloaded a black box of code that – according to itself – had turned on the microphone and was actively listening to your room.A brief explanation of the Open-source / Free-software philosophy is needed here. When you’re installing a version of GNU/Linux like Debian or Ubuntu onto a fresh computer, thousands of really smart people have analyzed every line of human-readable source code before that operating system was built into computer-executable binary code, to make it common and open knowledge what the machine actually does instead of trusting corporate statements on what it’s supposed to be doing. Therefore, you don’t install black boxes onto a Debian or Ubuntu system; you use software repositories that have gone through this source-code audit-then-build process. Maintainers of operating systems like Debian and Ubuntu use many so-called “upstreams” of source code to build the final product.Chromium, the open-source version of Google Chrome, had abused its position as trusted upstream to insert lines of source code that bypassed this audit-then-build process, and which downloaded and installed a black box of unverifiable executable code directly onto computers, essentially rendering them compromised. We don’t know and can’t know what this black box does. But we see reports that the microphone has been activated, and that Chromium considers audio capture permitted.
  • This was supposedly to enable the “Ok, Google” behavior – that when you say certain words, a search function is activated. Certainly a useful feature. Certainly something that enables eavesdropping of every conversation in the entire room, too.Obviously, your own computer isn’t the one to analyze the actual search command. Google’s servers do. Which means that your computer had been stealth configured to send what was being said in your room to somebody else, to a private company in another country, without your consent or knowledge, an audio transmission triggered by… an unknown and unverifiable set of conditions.Google had two responses to this. The first was to introduce a practically-undocumented switch to opt out of this behavior, which is not a fix: the default install will still wiretap your room without your consent, unless you opt out, and more importantly, know that you need to opt out, which is nowhere a reasonable requirement. But the second was more of an official statement following technical discussions on Hacker News and other places. That official statement amounted to three parts (paraphrased, of course):
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  • 1) Yes, we’re downloading and installing a wiretapping black-box to your computer. But we’re not actually activating it. We did take advantage of our position as trusted upstream to stealth-insert code into open-source software that installed this black box onto millions of computers, but we would never abuse the same trust in the same way to insert code that activates the eavesdropping-blackbox we already downloaded and installed onto your computer without your consent or knowledge. You can look at the code as it looks right now to see that the code doesn’t do this right now.2) Yes, Chromium is bypassing the entire source code auditing process by downloading a pre-built black box onto people’s computers. But that’s not something we care about, really. We’re concerned with building Google Chrome, the product from Google. As part of that, we provide the source code for others to package if they like. Anybody who uses our code for their own purpose takes responsibility for it. When this happens in a Debian installation, it is not Google Chrome’s behavior, this is Debian Chromium’s behavior. It’s Debian’s responsibility entirely.3) Yes, we deliberately hid this listening module from the users, but that’s because we consider this behavior to be part of the basic Google Chrome experience. We don’t want to show all modules that we install ourselves.
  • If you think this is an excusable and responsible statement, raise your hand now.Now, it should be noted that this was Chromium, the open-source version of Chrome. If somebody downloads the Google product Google Chrome, as in the prepackaged binary, you don’t even get a theoretical choice. You’re already downloading a black box from a vendor. In Google Chrome, this is all included from the start.This episode highlights the need for hard, not soft, switches to all devices – webcams, microphones – that can be used for surveillance. A software on/off switch for a webcam is no longer enough, a hard shield in front of the lens is required. A software on/off switch for a microphone is no longer enough, a physical switch that breaks its electrical connection is required. That’s how you defend against this in depth.
  • Of course, people were quick to downplay the alarm. “It only listens when you say ‘Ok, Google’.” (Ok, so how does it know to start listening just before I’m about to say ‘Ok, Google?’) “It’s no big deal.” (A company stealth installs an audio listener that listens to every room in the world it can, and transmits audio data to the mothership when it encounters an unknown, possibly individually tailored, list of keywords – and it’s no big deal!?) “You can opt out. It’s in the Terms of Service.” (No. Just no. This is not something that is the slightest amount of permissible just because it’s hidden in legalese.) “It’s opt-in. It won’t really listen unless you check that box.” (Perhaps. We don’t know, Google just downloaded a black box onto my computer. And it may not be the same black box as was downloaded onto yours. )Early last decade, privacy activists practically yelled and screamed that the NSA’s taps of various points of the Internet and telecom networks had the technical potential for enormous abuse against privacy. Everybody else dismissed those points as basically tinfoilhattery – until the Snowden files came out, and it was revealed that precisely everybody involved had abused their technical capability for invasion of privacy as far as was possible.Perhaps it would be wise to not repeat that exact mistake. Nobody, and I really mean nobody, is to be trusted with a technical capability to listen to every room in the world, with listening profiles customizable at the identified-individual level, on the mere basis of “trust us”.
  • Privacy remains your own responsibility.
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    And of course, Google would never succumb to a subpoena requiring it to turn over the audio stream to the NSA. The Tor Browser just keeps looking better and better. https://www.torproject.org/projects/torbrowser.html.en
Paul Merrell

Google to encrypt Cloud Storage data by default | ITworld - 0 views

  • Google said Thursday it will by default encrypt data warehoused in its Cloud Storage service. The server-side encryption is now active for all new data written to Cloud Storage, and older data will be encrypted in the coming months, wrote Dave Barth, a Google product manager, in a blog post.
  • The data and metadata around an object stored in Cloud Storage is encrypted with a unique key using 128-bit Advanced Encryption Standard algorithm, and the "per-object key itself is encrypted with a unique key associated with the object owner," Barth wrote. "These keys are additionally encrypted by one of a regularly rotated set of master keys," he wrote. "Of course, if you prefer to manage your own keys then you can still encrypt data yourself prior to writing it to Cloud Storage."
  • A Google spokeswoman said via email the company does not provide encryption keys to any government and provides user data only in accordance with the law.
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    Google paints a deceptive picture of security in a new default encryption service for customer data stored on Google Cloud Storage. See Google blog article linked from the bookmarked page. ITWorld goes part way in unmasking the deception but could have been far more blunt. The claimed fact that Google does not turn encryption keys over to the NSA, et ilk, is irrelevant if Google still decrypts the customer data upon NSA/FBI demand, which it very apparently does. But the Google blog article doesn't mention that and paints a picture seemingly intended to deceive customers into not encrypting their own data before parking it on Google Cloud Storage, thus aiding the NSA/FBI, et cet., in their surveillance efforts.  Deceptive advertising is a serious legal no-no. Hopefully, Google Cloud Storage users will be perceptive enough not to be misled by Google's advertising. But it's a sign that Google managers may be getting worried about losing customers to companies operating in nations that have far stronger protection for digital privacy than the U.S.
Paul Merrell

WikiLeaks' Julian Assange warns: Google is not what it seems - 0 views

  • Back in 2011, Julian Assange met up with Eric Schmidt for an interview that he considers the best he’s ever given. That doesn’t change, however, the opinion he now has about Schmidt and the company he represents, Google.In fact, the WikiLeaks leader doesn’t believe in the famous “Don’t Be Evil” mantra that Google has been preaching for years.Assange thinks both Schmidt and Google are at the exact opposite spectrum.“Nobody wants to acknowledge that Google has grown big and bad. But it has. Schmidt’s tenure as CEO saw Google integrate with the shadiest of US power structures as it expanded into a geographically invasive megacorporation. But Google has always been comfortable with this proximity,” Assange writes in an opinion piece for Newsweek.
  • “Long before company founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin hired Schmidt in 2001, their initial research upon which Google was based had been partly funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). And even as Schmidt’s Google developed an image as the overly friendly giant of global tech, it was building a close relationship with the intelligence community,” Assange continues.Throughout the lengthy article, Assange goes on to explain how the 2011 meeting came to be and talks about the people the Google executive chairman brought along - Lisa Shields, then vice president of the Council on Foreign Relationship, Jared Cohen, who would later become the director of Google Ideas, and Scott Malcomson, the book’s editor, who would later become the speechwriter and principal advisor to Susan Rice.“At this point, the delegation was one part Google, three parts US foreign-policy establishment, but I was still none the wiser.” Assange goes on to explain the work Cohen was doing for the government prior to his appointment at Google and just how Schmidt himself plays a bigger role than previously thought.In fact, he says that his original image of Schmidt, as a politically unambitious Silicon Valley engineer, “a relic of the good old days of computer science graduate culture on the West Coast,” was wrong.
  • However, Assange concedes that that is not the sort of person who attends Bilderberg conferences, who regularly visits the White House, and who delivers speeches at the Davos Economic Forum.He claims that Schmidt’s emergence as Google’s “foreign minister” did not come out of nowhere, but it was “presaged by years of assimilation within US establishment networks of reputation and influence.” Assange makes further accusations that, well before Prism had even been dreamed of, the NSA was already systematically violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act under its director at the time, Michael Hayden. He states, however, that during the same period, namely around 2003, Google was accepting NSA money to provide the agency with search tools for its rapidly-growing database of information.Assange continues by saying that in 2008, Google helped launch the NGA spy satellite, the GeoEye-1, into space and that the search giant shares the photographs from the satellite with the US military and intelligence communities. Later on, 2010, after the Chinese government was accused of hacking Google, the company entered into a “formal information-sharing” relationship with the NSA, which would allow the NSA’s experts to evaluate the vulnerabilities in Google’s hardware and software.
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  • “Around the same time, Google was becoming involved in a program known as the “Enduring Security Framework” (ESF), which entailed the sharing of information between Silicon Valley tech companies and Pentagon-affiliated agencies at network speed.’’Emails obtained in 2014 under Freedom of Information requests show Schmidt and his fellow Googler Sergey Brin corresponding on first-name terms with NSA chief General Keith Alexander about ESF,” Assange writes.Assange seems to have a lot of backing to his statements, providing links left and right, which people can go check on their own.
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    The "opinion piece for Newsweek" is an excerpt from Assange's new book, When Google met Wikileaks.  The chapter is well worth the read. http://www.newsweek.com/assange-Google-not-what-it-seems-279447
Gary Edwards

Google Gets Oracle's Help In War Against Microsoft (GOOG, MSFT) - 0 views

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    Interesting discussion at Business Insider. I disagree with the Eric Krangel somewhat in that Oracle does benefit from working with Google Apps. Check the comments section for my response.

    "If Google (GOOG) is going to get big companies to pay for its Google Apps service, plugging into other enterprise software is going to be helpful. So it's good news for Google that Oracle (ORCL) is willing to play along."

    "This morning the two companies announced a new collaboration between Google Apps and Oracle's Siebel customer care/CRM software. With the new "Oracle Gadget Wizard for Google Apps," it's now easier to port data between Oracle and Google Apps spreadsheets..........." That gives Google a new selling point as it deploys salespeople to the enterprise in its bid to convert Microsoft Office users into paying Google Apps customers.
Gary Edwards

Microsoft Office whips Google Docs: It's finally game over | Computerworld Blogs - 0 views

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    "If there was ever any doubt about whether Microsoft or Google would win the war of office suites, there should be no longer. Within the last several weeks, Microsoft has pulled so far ahead that it's game over. Here's why. When it comes to which suite is more fully featured, there's never been any real debate: Microsoft Office wins hands down. Whether you're creating entire presentations, creating complicated word-processing documents, or even doing something as simple as handling text attributes, Office is a far better tool. Until the last few weeks, Google Docs had one significant advantage over Microsoft Office: It's available for Android and the iPad as well as PCs because it's Web-based. The same wasn't the case for Office. So if you wanted to use an office suite on all your mobile devices, Google Docs was the way to go. Google Docs lost that advantage when Microsoft released Office for the iPad. There's not yet a native version for Android tablets, but Microsoft is working on that, telling GeekWire, "Let me tell you conclusively: Yes, we are also building Android native applications for tablets for Word, Excel and PowerPoint." Google Docs is still superior to Office's Web-based version, but that's far less important than it used to be. There's no need to go with a Web-based office suite if a superior suite is available as a native apps on all platforms, mobile or otherwise. And Office's collaboration capabilities are quite considerable now. Of course, there's always the question of price. Google Docs is free. Microsoft Office isn't. But at $100 a year for up to five devices, or $70 a year for two, no one will be going broke paying for Microsoft Office. It's worth paying that relatively small price for a much better office suite. Google Docs won't die. It'll be around as second fiddle for a long time. But that's what it will always remain: a second fiddle to the better Microsoft Office."
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    Google acquired "Writely", a small company in Portola Valley that pioneered document editing in a browser. Writely was perhaps the first cloud computing editor to go beyond simple HTML; eventually crafting some really cool CSS-JavaScript-JSON document layout and editing methods. But it can't edit native MSOffice documents. It converts them. There are more than a few problems with the Google Docs approach to editing advanced "compound" documents, but two stick out and are certain to give pause to anyone making the great transition from local workgroup computing, to the highly mobile, always connected, cloud computing. The first problem certain to become a show stopper is that Google converts documents to their native on-line format for editing and collaboration. And then they convert back. To many this isn't a problem. But if the document is part of a workflow or business process, conversion is a killer. There is an old saw affectionately known as "Reuters Law", dating back to the ODF-OXML document wars, that emphatically states; "Conversion breaks documents." The breakage includes both the visual layout of the document, and, the "compound" aspects and data connections that are internal to the document. Think of this way. A business document that is part of a legacy Windows Workgroup workflow is opened up in gDocs. Google converts the document for editing purposes. The data and the workflow internals that bind the document to the local business system are broken on conversion. The look of the document is also visually shredded as the gDocs layout engine is applied. For all practical purposes, no matter what magic editing and collaboration value is added, a broken document means a broken business process. Let me say that again, with the emphasis of having witnessed this first hand during the year long ODF transition trials the Commonwealth of Massachusetts conducted in 2005 and 2006. The business process broke every time a conversion was conducted "on a busines
Matteo Spreafico

Google Redefines Disruption: The "Less Than Free" Business Model - 0 views

  • In the summer of 2007, excitement regarding the criticality of map data (specifically turn-by-turn navigation data) reached a fever pitch.  On July 23, 2007, TomTom, the leading portable GPS device maker, agreed to buy Tele Atlas for US$2.7 billion. Shortly thereafter, on October 1, Nokia agreed to buy NavTeq for a cool US$8.1 billion. Meanwhile Google was still evolving its strategy and no longer wanted to be limited by the terms of its two contracts. As such, they informed Tele Atlas and NavTeq that they wanted to modify their license terms to allow more liberty with respect to syndication and proliferation. NavTeq balked, and in September of 2008 Google quietly dropped NavTeq, moving to just one partner for its core mapping data. Tele Atlas eventually agreed to the term modifications, but perhaps they should have sensed something bigger at play.
  • Rumors abound about just how many cars Google has on the roads building it own turn-by-turn mapping data as well as its unique “Google Streetview” database. Whatever it is, it must be huge. This October 13th, just over one year after dropping NavTeq, the other shoe dropped as well. Google disconnected from Tele Atlas and began to offer maps that were free and clear of either license. These maps are based on a combination of their own data as well as freely available data. Two weeks after this, Google announces free turn-by-turn directions for all Android phones. This couldn’t have been a great day for the deal teams that worked on the respective Tele Atlas and NavTeq acquisitions.
  • Google’s free navigation feature announcement dealt a crushing blow to the GPS stocks. Garmin fell 16%. TomTom fell 21%. Imagine trying to maintain high royalty rates against this strategic move by Google. Android is not only a phone OS, it’s a CE OS. If Ford or BMW want to build an in-dash Android GPS, guess what? Google will give it to them for free.
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  • I then asked my friend, “so why would they ever use the Google (non open source) license version.”  (EDIT: One of the commenters below pointed out that all Android is open source, and the Google apps pack, including the GPS, is licensed on top.  Doesn’t change the argument, but wanted the correct data included here.)  Here was the big punch line – because Google will give you ad splits on search if you use that version!  That’s right; Google will pay you to use their mobile OS. I like to call this the “less than free” business model.
  • “Less than free” may not stop with the mobile phone. Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt has been quite outspoken about his support for the Google Chrome OS. And there is no reason to believe that the “less than free” business model will not be used here as well. If Sony or HP or Dell builds a netbook based on Chrome OS, they will make money on every search each user initiates. Google, eager to protect its search share and market volume, will gladly pay the ad splits. Microsoft, who was already forced to lower Windows netbook pricing to fend off Linux, will be dancing with a business model inversion of epic proportion – from “you pay me” to “I pay you.”  It’s really hard to build a compensation package for your sales team on those economics.
Paul Merrell

News - Antitrust - Competition - European Commission - 0 views

  • Google inquiries Commission accuses Google of systematically favouring own shopping comparison service Infographic: Google might be favouring 'Google Shopping' when displaying general search results
  • Antitrust: Commission sends Statement of Objections to Google on comparison shopping service; opens separate formal investigation on AndroidWed, 15 Apr 2015 10:00:00 GMTAntitrust: Commission opens formal investigation against Google in relation to Android mobile operating systemWed, 15 Apr 2015 10:00:00 GMTAntitrust: Commission sends Statement of Objections to Google on comparison shopping serviceWed, 15 Apr 2015 10:00:00 GMTStatement by Commissioner Vestager on antitrust decisions concerning GoogleWed, 15 Apr 2015 11:39:00 GMT
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    The more interesting issue to me is the accusation that Google violates antitrust law by boosting its comparison shopping search results in its search results, unfairly disadvantaging competing shopping services and not delivering best results to users. What's interesting to me is that the Commission is attempting to portray general search as a separate market from comparison shopping search, accusing Google of attempting to leverage its general search monopoly into the separate comoparison shopping search market. At first blush, Iim not convinced that these are or should be regarded as separable markets. But the ramifications are enormous. If that is a separate market, then arguably so is Google's book search, its Google Scholar search, its definition search, its site search, etc. It isn't clear to me how one might draw a defensible line taht does not also sweep in every new search feature  as a separate market.   
Gary Edwards

Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Introducing Rich Snippets - 0 views

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    Google "Rich Snippets" is a new presentation of HTML snippets that applies Google's algorithms to highlight structured data embedded in web pages. Rich Snippets give end-users convenient summary information about their search results at a glance. Google is currently supporting a very limited subset of data about reviews and people. When searching for a product or service, users can easily see reviews and ratings, and when searching for a person, they'll get help distinguishing between people with the same name. It's a simple change to the display of search results, yet our experiments have shown that users find the new data valuable. For this to work though, both Web-masters and Web-workers have to annotate thier pages with structured data in a standard format. Google snippets supports microformats and RDFa. Existing Web data can be wrapped with some additional tags to accomplish this. Notice that Google avoids mention of RDF and the W3C's vision of a "Semantic Web" where Web objects are fully described in machine readable semantics. Over at the WHATWG group, where work on HTML5 continues, Google's Ian Hickson has been fighting RDFa and the Semantic Web in what looks to be an effort to protect the infamous Google algorithms. RDFa provides a means for Web-workers, knowledge-workers, line-of-business managers and document generating end-users to enrich their HTML+ with machine semantics. The idea being that the document experts creating Web content can best describe to search engine and content management machines the objects-of-information used. The Google algorithms provide a proprietary semantics of this same content. The best solution to the tsunami of conten the Web has wrought would be to combine end-user semantic expertise with Google algorithms. Let's hope Google stays the RDFa course and comes around to recognize the full potential of organizing the world's information with the input of content providers. One thing the world desperatel
Gary Edwards

Skynet rising: Google acquires 512-qubit quantum computer; NSA surveillance to be turned over to AI machines Alex Jones' Infowars: There's a war on for your mind! - 0 views

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    "The ultimate code breakers" If you know anything about encryption, you probably also realize that quantum computers are the secret KEY to unlocking all encrypted files. As I wrote about last year here on Natural News, once quantum computers go into widespread use by the NSA, the CIA, Google, etc., there will be no more secrets kept from the government. All your files - even encrypted files - will be easily opened and read. Until now, most people believed this day was far away. Quantum computing is an "impractical pipe dream," we've been told by scowling scientists and "flat Earth" computer engineers. "It's not possible to build a 512-qubit quantum computer that actually works," they insisted. Don't tell that to Eric Ladizinsky, co-founder and chief scientist of a company called D-Wave. Because Ladizinsky's team has already built a 512-qubit quantum computer. And they're already selling them to wealthy corporations, too. DARPA, Northrup Grumman and Goldman Sachs In case you're wondering where Ladizinsky came from, he's a former employee of Northrup Grumman Space Technology (yes, a weapons manufacturer) where he ran a multi-million-dollar quantum computing research project for none other than DARPA - the same group working on AI-driven armed assault vehicles and battlefield robots to replace human soldiers. .... When groundbreaking new technology is developed by smart people, it almost immediately gets turned into a weapon. Quantum computing will be no different. This technology grants God-like powers to police state governments that seek to dominate and oppress the People.  ..... Google acquires "Skynet" quantum computers from D-Wave According to an article published in Scientific American, Google and NASA have now teamed up to purchase a 512-qubit quantum computer from D-Wave. The computer is called "D-Wave Two" because it's the second generation of the system. The first system was a 128-qubit computer. Gen two
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    Normally, I'd be suspicious of anything published by Infowars because its editors are willing to publish really over the top stuff, but: [i] this is subject matter I've maintained an interest in over the years and I was aware that working quantum computers were imminent; and [ii] the pedigree on this particular information does not trace to Scientific American, as stated in the article. I've known Scientific American to publish at least one soothing and lengthy article on the subject of chlorinated dioxin hazard -- my specialty as a lawyer was litigating against chemical companies that generated dioxin pollution -- that was generated by known closet chemical industry advocates long since discredited and was totally lacking in scientific validity and contrary to established scientific knowledge. So publication in Scientific American doesn't pack a lot of weight with me. But checking the Scientific American linked article, notes that it was reprinted by permission from Nature, a peer-reviewed scientific journal and news organization that I trust much more. That said, the InfoWars version is a rewrite that contains lots of information not in the Nature/Scientific American version of a sensationalist nature, so heightened caution is still in order. Check the reprinted Nature version before getting too excited: "The D-Wave computer is not a 'universal' computer that can be programmed to tackle any kind of problem. But scientists have found they can usefully frame questions in machine-learning research as optimisation problems. "D-Wave has battled to prove that its computer really operates on a quantum level, and that it is better or faster than a conventional computer. Before striking the latest deal, the prospective customers set a series of tests for the quantum computer. D-Wave hired an outside expert in algorithm-racing, who concluded that the speed of the D-Wave Two was above average overall, and that it was 3,600 times faster than a leading conventional comput
Gary Edwards

Google's ARC Beta runs Android apps on Chrome OS, Windows, Mac, and Linux | Ars Technica - 0 views

  • So calling all developers: You can now (probably, maybe) run your Android apps on just about anything—Android, Chrome OS, Windows, Mac, and Linux—provided you fiddle with the ARC Welder and submit your app to the Chrome Web Store.
  • The App Runtime for Chrome and Native Client are hugely important projects because they potentially allow Google to push a "universal binary" strategy on developers. "Write your app for Android, and we'll make it run on almost every popular OS! (other than iOS)" Google Play Services support is a major improvement for ARC and signals just how ambitious this project is. Some day it will be a great sales pitch to convince developers to write for Android first, which gives them apps on all these desktop OSes for free.
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    Thanks Marbux. ARC appears to be an extraordinary technology. Funny but Florian has been pushing Native Client (NaCL) since it was first ported from Firefox to Chrome. Looks like he was right. "In September, Google launched ARC-the "App Runtime for Chrome,"-a project that allowed Android apps to run on Chrome OS. A few days later, a hack revealed the project's full potential: it enabled ARC on every "desktop" version of Chrome, meaning you could unofficially run Android apps on Chrome OS, Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. ARC made Android apps run on nearly every computing platform (save iOS). ARC is an early beta though so Google has kept the project's reach very limited-only a handful of apps have been ported to ARC, which have all been the result of close collaborations between Google and the app developer. Now though, Google is taking two big steps forward with the latest developer preview: it's allowing any developer to run their app on ARC via a new Chrome app packager, and it's allowing ARC to run on any desktop OS with a Chrome browser. ARC runs Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chrome OS thanks to Native Client (abbreviated "NaCL"). NaCL is a Chrome sandboxing technology that allows Chrome apps and plugins to run at "near native" speeds, taking full advantage of the system's CPU and GPU. Native Client turns Chrome into a development platform, write to it, and it'll run on all desktop Chrome browsers. Google ported a full Android stack to Native Client, allowing Android apps to run on most major OSes. With the original ARC release, there was no official process to getting an Android app running on the Chrome platform (other than working with Google). Now Google has released the adorably-named ARC Welder, a Chrome app which will convert any Android app into an ARC-powered Chrome app. It's mainly for developers to package up an APK and submit it to the Chrome Web Store, but anyone can package and launch an APK from the app directly."
Paul Merrell

Google Caves to Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service, Agrees to Pay Fine - nsnbc international | nsnbc international - 0 views

  • Google ultimately caved to Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service, agreeing to pay $7.8 million (438 million rubles) for violating antitrust laws. The corporate Colossus will also pay two other fines totaling an additional $18,000 (1 million rubles) for failing to comply with past orders issued by state regulators. Last year Google caved to similar demands by the European Union.
  • In August 2016 Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service responded to a complaint by Russian search engine operator Yandex and fined the U.S.-based Google 438 million rubles for abusing its dominant market position to force manufacturers to make Google applications the default services on devices using Android. Regulators set the fine at 9 percent of Google’s reported profits on the Russian market in 2014, plus inflation. Similar to the case against the European Union Google challenged the penalty in several appellate courts before finally agreeing this week to meet the government’s demands. The corporation also agreed to stop requiring manufacturers to install Google services as the default applications on Android-powered devices. The agreement is valid for six years and nine months, Russia’s Antimonopoly Service reported. Last year Google, after a protracted battle, caved to similar antitrust regulations by the European Union, but the internet giant has also come under fire elsewhere. In 2015 Australian treasurer Joe Hockey implied Google in his list of corporate tax thieves. In January 2016 British lawmakers decided to fry Google over tax evasion. Google and taxes were compared to the Bermuda Triangle. One year ago the dispute between the European Union’s competition watchdog and Google, culminated in the European Commission formally charging Google with abusing the dominant position of its Android mobile phone operating system, having launched an investigation in April 2015.
Paul Merrell

Google Says Website Encryption Will Now Influence Search Rankings - 0 views

  • Google will begin using website encryption, or HTTPS, as a ranking signal – a move which should prompt website developers who have dragged their heels on increased security measures, or who debated whether their website was “important” enough to require encryption, to make a change. Initially, HTTPS will only be a lightweight signal, affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, says Google. That means that the new signal won’t carry as much weight as other factors, including the quality of the content, the search giant noted, as Google means to give webmasters time to make the switch to HTTPS. Over time, however, encryption’s effect on search ranking make strengthen, as the company places more importance on website security. Google also promises to publish a series of best practices around TLS (HTTPS, is also known as HTTP over TLS, or Transport Layer Security) so website developers can better understand what they need to do in order to implement the technology and what mistakes they should avoid. These tips will include things like what certificate type is needed, how to use relative URLs for resources on the same secure domain, best practices around allowing for site indexing, and more.
  • In addition, website developers can test their current HTTPS-enabled website using the Qualys Lab tool, says Google, and can direct further questions to Google’s Webmaster Help Forums where the company is already in active discussions with the broader community. The announcement has drawn a lot of feedback from website developers and those in the SEO industry – for instance, Google’s own blog post on the matter, shared in the early morning hours on Thursday, is already nearing 1,000 comments. For the most part, the community seems to support the change, or at least acknowledge that they felt that something like this was in the works and are not surprised. Google itself has been making moves to better securing its own traffic in recent months, which have included encrypting traffic between its own servers. Gmail now always uses an encrypted HTTPS connection which keeps mail from being snooped on as it moves from a consumer’s machine to Google’s data centers.
  • While HTTPS and site encryption have been a best practice in the security community for years, the revelation that the NSA has been tapping the cables, so to speak, to mine user information directly has prompted many technology companies to consider increasing their own security measures, too. Yahoo, for example, also announced in November its plans to encrypt its data center traffic. Now Google is helping to push the rest of the web to do the same.
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    The Internet continues to harden in the wake of the NSA revelations. This is a nice nudge by Google.
Gary Edwards

Fighting Government Waste One Google App At a Time - CIO.com - Business Technology Leadership - 0 views

  • Vivek Kundra, CTO of the District of Columbia, says he found two compelling reasons to switch the D.C. government over to Gmail and Google Apps: first, its cheap cost would save the taxpayer money by avoiding bloated software contracts. Second, he believes Google technology will help ensure business continuity and the safety of data in the event of a disaster or disruption.
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    Vivek Kundra, CTO of the District of Columbia, says he found two compelling reasons to switch the D.C. government over to Gmail and Google Apps: first, its cheap cost would save the taxpayer money by avoiding bloated software contracts. Second, he believes Google technology will help ensure business continuity and the safety of data in the event of a disaster or disruption. ......... Now we know why Google needs Chrome: they have the killer apps but are in need of a high end Web-App browser to run them in. Otherwise they can't begin to solve the problems of security and business continuity.
Paul Merrell

Gmail blows up e-mail marketing by caching all images on Google servers | Ars Technica - 1 views

  • Ever wonder why most e-mail clients hide images by default? The reason for the "display images" button is because images in an e-mail must be loaded from a third-party server. For promotional e-mails and spam, usually this server is operated by the entity that sent the e-mail. So when you load these images, you aren't just receiving an image—you're also sending a ton of data about yourself to the e-mail marketer. Loading images from these promotional e-mails reveals a lot about you. Marketers get a rough idea of your location via your IP address. They can see the HTTP referrer, meaning the URL of the page that requested the image. With the referral data, marketers can see not only what client you are using (desktop app, Web, mobile, etc.) but also what folder you were viewing the e-mail in. For instance, if you had a Gmail folder named "Ars Technica" and loaded e-mail images, the referral URL would be "https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#label/Ars+Technica"—the folder is right there in the URL. The same goes for the inbox, spam, and any other location. It's even possible to uniquely identify each e-mail, so marketers can tell which e-mail address requested the images—they know that you've read the e-mail. And if it was spam, this will often earn you more spam since the spammers can tell you've read their last e-mail.
  • But Google has just announced a move that will shut most of these tactics down: it will cache all images for Gmail users. Embedded images will now be saved by Google, and the e-mail content will be modified to display those images from Google's cache, instead of from a third-party server. E-mail marketers will no longer be able to get any information from images—they will see a single request from Google, which will then be used to send the image out to all Gmail users. Unless you click on a link, marketers will have no idea the e-mail has been seen. While this means improved privacy from e-mail marketers, Google will now be digging deeper than ever into your e-mails and literally modifying the contents. If you were worried about e-mail scanning, this may take things a step further. However, if you don't like the idea of cached images, you can turn it off in the settings. This move will allow Google to automatically display images, killing the "display all images" button in Gmail. Google servers should also be faster than the usual third-party image host. Hosting all images sent to all Gmail users sounds like a huge bandwidth and storage undertaking, but if anyone can do it, it's Google. The new image handling will rollout to desktop users today, and it should hit mobile apps sometime in early 2014. There's also a bonus side effect for Google: e-mail marketing is advertising. Google exists because of advertising dollars, but they don't do e-mail marketing. They've just made a competitive form of advertising much less appealing and informative to advertisers. No doubt Google hopes this move pushes marketers to spend less on e-mail and more on Adsense.
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    There's an antitrust angle to this; it could be viewed by a court as anti-competitive. But given the prevailing winds on digital privacy, my guess would be that Google would slide by.
Paul Merrell

Exclusive: Google mulling Wi-Fi for cities with Google Fiber - Network World - 0 views

  • Google is considering deploying Wi-Fi networks in towns and cities covered by its Google Fiber high-speed Internet service. The disclosure is made in a document Google is circulating to 34 cities that are the next candidates to receive Google Fiber in 2015.
  • Google Fiber is already available in Provo, Utah, and Kansas City, and is promised soon in Austin, Texas. It delivers a "basic speed" service for no charge, a gigabit-per-second service for US$70 per month and a $120 package that includes a bundle of more than 200 TV channels. Installation costs between nothing and $300. Google has sent the 34 cities that are next in line for Google Fiber a detailed request for information and they have until May 1 to reply.
  • Specific details of the Wi-Fi plan are not included in the document, which was seen by IDG News Service, but Google says it will be "discussing our Wi-Fi plans and related requirements with your city as we move forward with your city during this planning process."
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  • Google is also asking cities to identify locations it would be able to install utility huts. Each 12-foot-by-30-foot (3.6-meter-by-9.1-meter) windowless hut needs to allow 24-hour access and be on land Google could lease for about 20 years. The huts, of which there will be between one and a handful in each city, would house the main networking equipment. From the hut, fiber cables would run along utility poles -- or in underground fiber ducts if they exist -- and terminate at neighborhood boxes, each serving up to 288 or 587 homes. The neighborhood boxes are around the same size or smaller than current utility cabinets often found on city streets.
Gary Edwards

Google on Google Chrome - comic book - 0 views

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    Google Chrome is Google's browser project based on the extraordinary WebKit portable layout engine. Yes, Google has written their own open source browser. The reasons for Google taking this unusual step are very compelling - as this excellent presentation explains. I also think Chrome will be a game changer. The WebKit engine shows up in Adobe's Apollo RiA and, Apple's SproutCore-Cocoa RiA model. Microsoft of course offers the OOXML-XAML-Silverlight RiA that is based on .NET-WPF proprietary formats, protocols and interfaces. These are RiA efforts can be used as either browser plug-ins or stand alone runtimes. Now Google has entered the RiA fray with both feet coming down hard on a browser based runtime engine. Google RiA isn't a "Plug-in". It's the browser as both a browser and RiA runtime engine. Very cool. Let the battle begin!
Gary Edwards

Google and the Linux desktop - Stephen Vaughn-Nicols responds to DavidCoursey: Gooogle Android is coming after Microsoft WindowsComputerworld Blogs - 0 views

  • Google's goal? To set up a cloud-based set of Windows file-compatible applications that will work hand-in-glove with Google Linux-powered desktops. Google already has the applications: Google Docs, GMail, Google Calendar, etc. etc. Now, just add an operating system where they, and not the boys from Redmond, call the shots, and they're in business.
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    Google's goal? To set up a cloud-based set of Windows file-compatible applications that will work hand-in-glove with Google Linux-powered desktops. Google already has the applications: Google Docs, GMail, Google Calendar, etc. etc. Now, just add an operating system where they, and not the boys from Redmond, call the shots, and they're in business.
Gary Edwards

The Google Apps Revenue Myth: $10mm In 2009 (GOOG) - 0 views

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    There are two theories about Google Apps (Spreadsheet, Word-processor, GMail, etc.): Google Apps will rapidly become a multi-billion dollar business that will diversify Google's dependence on search Google Apps will kill Microsoft The first of these theories, a source outside Google familiar with Apps tells us, is laughable.
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    The reason Google-Docs is failing to crack the iron grip Microsoft has on business enterprises is the same reason that Linux desktops running OpenOffice failed :: It's the Business Process's that are bound to the Microsoft Office productivity environment that block the shift to Open Web computing. See, It's the Business Process!
Gary Edwards

The Plot to Kill Google | Wired - 0 views

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    Caught this at Clusterstock and found it to be quite the story! ClusterStock's John Carney focused on how Microsoft was using governemnt muscle to trip up competitors. Now it's Googles turn. From the Wired story: "Then, late in the day, Barnett brought up the two words Google lawyers least wanted to hear: Section Two-as in, Section Two of the Sherman Antitrust Act, which criminalizes monopolies. The Justice Department invoked Section Two to splinter Standard Oil in 1911, break up AT&T in 1982, and prosecute Microsoft in 1998. Now Barnett was signaling not just that the Google-Yahoo deal was dead but that the government saw Google as a potential monopolist. In fact, Barnett insisted, if the deal wasn't substantially changed or scuttled, he would sue within five days. It was a stunning blow. Google had expected a speedy approval. Now the company, whose brand is defined by its "Don't be evil" slogan, faced the prospect of being hauled into court on an antitrust charge. Google and Yahoo tried to salvage the negotiations, but on the morning of November 5, three hours before the DOJ was going to file its antitrust case, they abandoned the deal."
Paul Merrell

2nd Cir. Affirms That Creation of Full-Text Searchable Database of Works Is Fair Use | Bloomberg BNA - 0 views

  • The fair use doctrine permits the unauthorized digitization of copyrighted works in order to create a full-text searchable database, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled June 10.Affirming summary judgment in favor of a consortium of university libraries, the court also ruled that the fair use doctrine permits the unauthorized conversion of those works into accessible formats for use by persons with disabilities, such as the blind.
  • The dispute is connected to the long-running conflict between Google Inc. and various authors of books that Google included in a mass digitization program. In 2004, Google began soliciting the participation of publishers in its Google Print for Publishers service, part of what was then called the Google Print project, aimed at making information available for free over the Internet.Subsequently, Google announced a new project, Google Print for Libraries. In 2005, Google Print was renamed Google Book Search and it is now known simply as Google Books. Under this program, Google made arrangements with several of the world's largest libraries to digitize the entire contents of their collections to create an online full-text searchable database.The announcement of this program triggered a copyright infringement action by the Authors Guild that continues to this day.
  • Part of the deal between Google and the libraries included an offer by Google to hand over to the libraries their own copies of the digitized versions of their collections.In 2011, a group of those libraries announced the establishment of a new service, called the HathiTrust digital library, to which the libraries would contribute their digitized collections. This database of copies is to be made available for full-text searching and preservation activities. Additionally, it is intended to offer free access to works to individuals who have “print disabilities.” For works under copyright protection, the search function would return only a list of page numbers that a search term appeared on and the frequency of such appearance.
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  • Turning to the fair use question, the court first concluded that the full-text search function of the Hathitrust Digital Library was a “quintessentially transformative use,” and thus constituted fair use. The court said:the result of a word search is different in purpose, character, expression, meaning, and message from the page (and the book) from which it is drawn. Indeed, we can discern little or no resemblance between the original text and the results of the HDL full-text search.There is no evidence that the Authors write with the purpose of enabling text searches of their books. Consequently, the full-text search function does not “supersede[ ] the objects [or purposes] of the original creation.”Turning to the fourth fair use factor—whether the use functions as a substitute for the original work—the court rejected the argument that such use represents lost sales to the extent that it prevents the future development of a market for licensing copies of works to be used in full-text searches.However, the court emphasized that the search function “does not serve as a substitute for the books that are being searched.”
  • The court also rejected the argument that the database represented a threat of a security breach that could result in the full text of all the books becoming available for anyone to access. The court concluded that Hathitrust's assertions of its security measures were unrebutted.Thus, the full-text search function was found to be protected as fair use.
  • The court also concluded that allowing those with print disabilities access to the full texts of the works collected in the Hathitrust database was protected as fair use. Support for this conclusion came from the legislative history of the Copyright Act's fair use provision, 17 U.S.C. §107.
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