Tag: Google

Dutch prepare to take on Google

boyne2_1Search engine outfit Google could face fines of up to $18.6 million if it does not stop violating the privacy of internet users in the Netherlands, the Dutch data protection agency warned.

The DPA said that Google is breaching the country’s data protection act by using people’s private information such as browsing history and location data to target them with customised ads.

Google has until the end of February to change how it handles the data it collects from individual web users or will have to start writing cheques.

The company’s handling of user data under its new privacy guidelines, introduced in 2012, has also been under investigation in five other European countries – France, Germany, Britain, Italy and Spain.

Jacob Kohnstamm, chairman of the Dutch DPA appears to have had a gutsful of Google prevaricating.

“This has been ongoing since 2012 and we hope our patience will no longer be tested,” said.

Google needs to adequately inform users in advance and ask for permission before it uses data in this way, the DPA said.

It ordered the company to stop the violations or face incremental fines up to a maximum of 15 million euros. It said Google must start informing users of its actions and seeking their consent.

Google should be careful, the Dutch managed to humiliate the British Empire on more than one occasion and a tech Empire should be a doddle.


Spanish press backtracks on Google News

web-abc-madrid_sevillaAfter Google stopped printing news snippets on its News page from Spanish newspapers, the websites of those esteemed organs died.

Now it seems that the Spanish newspapers are asking the government to step in to force Google back.

Google shut its Google News service in Spain after the country bought in a new copyright law which would have forced Google to pay for the use of news snippets.

The Spanish Newspaper Publishers’ Association (AEDE) issued a statement last night saying that Google News was “not just the closure of another service given its dominant market position”, recognising that Google’s decision: “will undoubtedly have a negative impact on citizens and Spanish businesses.

“Given the dominant position of Google (which in Spain controls almost all of the searches in the market and is an authentic gateway to the Internet), AEDE requires the intervention of Spanish and community authorities, and competition authorities, to effectively protect the rights of citizens and companies”.

In other words, Google has the newspaper industry by the short and curlies and if the Spanish government does not do something quick, there will not be an industry to moan about the search engine’s control.

The only workable option is to take the route followed in Germany: to give Google a special deal that allows it to carry on as before, but without having to pay — which would gut the new copyright law completely.

It would also mean that Google would not only be allowed to do what it likes, but continue to have total control of the world’s media. It seems the Spanish Newspapers have found out the hard way that Google already uses its algorithm to decide what is news and which magazines have a right to exist


Europe continues its anti-Google campaign

euroflagzThe European Commissioner in charge of antitrust matters is to meet up with the companies that complained about Google’s behaviour in Europe.

According to a report in Reuters, the new commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, wants to gather more information on the case.

To that end she is to meet companies with a beef – those include Microsoft, Hotmaps, Expedia, TripAdvisor and a gaggle of publishers.  They all believe that Google is abusing its dominance in the European sphere.

Late last month the European Parliament voted to break up Google – that vote however lacks teeth.

Vestager has teeth and has the ability to impose swingeing fines on Google if it’s shown it has antitrust tendencies.

Meanwhile, Reuters also reports that a German company is suing Google and Youtube for allegedly infrong a patent for video compression it own.

Driverless cars hit UK roads soon

googlecarYesterday’s Autumn Statement by chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne included information about driverless car tests in the UK.

According to Innovate UK – an arm of the government, £10 million will be plunged into formal trials that will start in January 2015.

The trials will last between 18 and 36 months and will take place in Greenwich, Milton Keynes and Coventry, and Bristol.

Innovate UK said its aim is to make the UK the global hub for research and development of driverless vehicles and other technologies.

Nick Jones, a technologist at Innovate UK, said: “Cars that drive themselves would represent the most significant transformation in road travel since the introduction of the internal combustion engine. It’s vital that trials are carried out safely, that the public have confidence in the technology and we learn everything we can… so that legal, regulation and protection issues don’t get in the way in the future.”

£10 million doesn’t seem quite enough to make the UK the hub for driverless car technology, given that Google and a number of large car manufacturers are plunging heavy investment into the concept.

Apple App store safety is a myth

tumblr_mc8zb8BqH31rttlrno1_400If you believe the Tame Apple Press you would think that the Microsoft and Google App stores were a terrible place full of Apps poisoned with malware, while the Apple App store is so rigorously checked, that all is completely safe.

But a study by InfoWorld has poured cold water on that particular myth claiming that the store has just as much malware inside.

Simon Phipps, who is an Open Saucy blogger, wrote that developers who are competing with Apple find that getting their apps into the store nearly impossible and those writing Apps for Apple find that the rules are constantly changing.

“But if you’re a scammer looking to make a fast buck, it appears that Apple process can be defeated and the scale of the problem became apparent in the the Apache OpenOffice community,” Phipps said.

For several months, the user support mailing list has been bothered with apparently random questions from people seeking support for an iPad app. Apache OpenOffice doesn’t even have an iOS version, so people wondered how there could be questions about supporting it.

It turned out that there was a $2.99 app in Apple’s iTunes Store and the developer who posted this app has used all sorts of tricks to populate the entry. He dubbed it Quickoffice Pro, which was the name of a genuine app bought by Google in 2012 and finally discontinued in 2014. Buyers would likely have an instinctive trust for the name, especially because the app uses the icon from the real Quickoffice product.

It simply displays a gray screen with the word Tap. When you tap the screen, the app exits. The developer has pointed angry customers at an innocent open source project whose ethos is to treat all user queries seriously and that doesn’t have the resources to mount a response for lack of volunteers.

It was posted under Lee Elman’s personal Apple developer account without permission or his  knowledge.

But how did this happen if Apple claims to meticulously screen all submissions to the store? InfoWorld found other examples. Again real accounts are being used for fake products.
Apple is not saying anything about the allegations.


Inbox to replace Gmail

330ogleGoogle plans to replace Gmail with Inbox, according to three engineers behind the project.

Lead designer Jason Cornwell said that in the short term Gmail is here to say, but in the longer term the new mail product will replace it.

“That’s why we’re launching it as a separate product. We care deeply about Gmail and Gmail users, but in the end as we add more features to Inbox and respond to user feedback we hope that everyone will want to use Inbox instead of Gmail. Ultimately, our users will decide,” Cornwell said.

It had been believed one email product possibly target both casual (Gmail) and power (Inbox) users. But Cornwell said that the two mail technologies were not aimed at different audiences. Both Gmail and Inbox are designed to scale from low volume to high volume users.

It appears then that Google’s decision will be based on what users want.

Cornwell added that Google could not add Inbox features into Gmail, mostly because the way people use the product has changed.

“With Inbox, we took a step back and did a lot of research into how most people are using email today. What we found was that email works as a todo list for many people, that phone usage is starting to eclipse desktop usage, and that many people have negative feelings towards email because it feels like so much work. We built Inbox as a separate product because we did not feel like we could solve those problems by just adding more features on to Gmail. We needed to start from scratch to build a tool that really helps you stay on top of your life,” he said.

Cross-browser support is also being tested internally across all of Google. The holdup is apparently because “we want to make sure that everything works perfectly before enabling it for all of our users.”

Google is also interested in attempting to integrate with other email systems such as Outlook.com and Yahoo. The Gmail app for Android recently gained this functionality.

The option to change the mobile app’s notification sound will become available “within the next few months.” Being able to download all attachments might also be coming.

The Undo Send feature and the ability to customize Snooze times are being worked on right now. Google is also developing a unified inbox option to handle multiple email addresses, adding signatures, building out Calendar integration further, and adding Drive integration.

Gangham Style nearly broke YouTube

0921-gangnam-style_full_600Gangnam Style, the South Korean pop star’s enduring video phenomenon from 2012, nearly broke YouTube by getting more than 2,147,483,647 views and creating a sort of Y2K fault.

The site’s original view counter was not designed to take that many hits and its developers could not believe that a video would be watched by numbers greater than a 32-bit integer (2,147,483,647 views).

Google, which owns YouTube, in a blog post this week. ” ‘Gangnam Style’ has been viewed so many times we had to upgrade!”

When programmers built YouTube nine years ago, they probably never imagined that a video on the young platform — back when several million views was considered a smash hit — might be watched more than 2.1 billion times.

As of late Wednesday morning, “Gangnam Style” had breached the barrier, showing more than 2,152,512,000 views.

Fortunately YouTube did not collapse with smoke pouring out of a server.  YouTube’s software engineers saw the problem coming and recently updated to a 64-bit view counter across the site, Google spokesman Matt McLernon said. The view counter can now go up to 9 quintillion views (9,223,372,036,854,775,808, to be exact), which should hold PSY for a while.

“Nothing actually broke,” McLernon said. “There was never anything that actually went wrong. It’s just people having fun with the language.”

PSY’s trademark horse-riding dance video, is almost 2½ years old and was uploaded in July 2012, “Gangnam Style” was the first clip to hit a billion views and is the most-watched video of all time. It was even the 5th most-played video on YouTube this past summer.

“People still play this video an absurd number of times,” he said.

To commemorate the occasion, YouTube has added a new wrinkle: If you hover your cursor over the “Gangnam Style” view counter, the numbers spin backwards and forwards.

UK to tax Amazon, Google

gosborneUK chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne unveiled his autumn statement today and said he would tax multinationals who avoid paying tax.

He told the House of Commons that the government will raise £5 billion over the next five years by taxing profits from banks and companies like Google and Amazon who make money in the UK and then shift it abroad.

He said that some large multinationals including companies in technology “use elaborate structures to avoid paying tax”.

He will introduce a 25 percent tax on such profits. The diverted profits tax might be difficult to collect however.

Earlier this year, Google chairman Eric Schmidt said that if governments griped about companies like his not paying enough tax, they should introduce legislation to change the picture.

However, the situation is complicated by the fact that firms like Google and Starbucks will simply find other ways to avoid paying tax and such changes really require international cooperation.

One financial analyst told TechEye that even if 20 countries agreed to such changes, the companies might simply find country 21.

Tablets face squeeze from notebooks, phones

ipad3Shipments of notebooks are only set to grow 0.6 percent in 2015, amounting to 174.6 million units, while sales of tablets will fall by 3.5 percent to 185.6 million units.

That’s according to Taiwanese market intelligence firm Trendforce, which said that this year notebook vendors struggled to gain market share this year by essentially engaging in a price war.

But Caroline Chen, a notebook analyst at the company, said that next year we’ll see an array of different products with tablets and low priced notebooks facing stiff competition from smartphones and so called phablets.

She thinks notebook vendors need to rethink their strategies.

Tablets didn’t do well this year and overall 366 million mobile PCs – a category that she defines as including notebook computers and tablets – shipped. That’s largely similar to sales last year.

Subsidies from major players like Microsoft, Google and Intel have skewed the market. Chromebooks, she thinks, will account for eight million units in 2015.

She said that because subsidies from Intel and Microsoft lower manufacturers’ costs, the subsidies benefit end users.  “It would be better if Microsoft and Intel can find more substantial ways to develop the market,” she said.


EU wants to widen “right to be forgotten”

thanks-for-the-memory-movie-poster-1938-1020198195European privacy regulators want Internet search engines such as Google and Microsoft’s Bing (MSFT.O) to scrub results globally, not just in Europe, when people invoke their “right to be forgotten”.

The European Union’s privacy watchdogs agreed on a set of guidelines on Wednesday to help them implement a ruling from Europe’s Supreme Court that gives people the right to ask search engines to remove personal information that is “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant”.

Google has been scrubbing results only from the European versions of its website such as Google.de in Germany or Google.fr in France, but they still appear on Google.com.

Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, the head of France’s privacy watchdog and the Article 29 Working Party of EU national data protection authorities, told a news conference that from the legal and technical analysis we are doing, they should include the ‘.com’.

Google said the company had not yet seen the guidelines but would “study them carefully” when they are published.

Google has previously said that search results should be removed only from its European versions since Google automatically redirects people to the local versions of its search engine.

However some feel that Google’s current approach waters down the effectiveness of the court ruling, given how easy it is to switch between different national versions.

The search engine has problems in Europe. Google is facing multiple investigations into its privacy policy and is bogged down in a four year EU antitrust inquiry.

The EU ruling has pitted privacy advocates against free speech campaigners, who say allowing people to ask search engines to remove information would lead to a whitewashing of the past.

EU to vote on Google breakup

euroflagzA motion to break up search giant Google will be debated in the European parliament this week.

That follows scrutiny of Google’s practices within Europe by antitrust regulators.

The vote, proposed by MEPs from Germany and Spain proposes that Google’s search business should be separated from the rest of its business activity.

But even if the vote goes against Google, the parliament doesn’t have the power to take it to pieces.  Nevertheless such a vote in favour would be a bad PR blow to Google, which has led a spin initiative in the last few months to convince Europeans that it isn’t evil.

What a positive vote might do is to put pressure on the EU’s competition commissioner to scrutinise Google more.

Google has argued that it is not anticompetitive and that it already has plenty of competition in Europe.  That hasn’t stopped publishers like News Corp and German publishing outfit Axel Springer getting irated about Google’s marketing clout.

Lollipop causes headaches for old Nexus users

kojakThe Tame Apple Press is rubbing its hands with glee that Google’s latest OS, Lollipop, appears to break old versions of its  flagship Nexus tablet.

The BBC , which is a big fan of Apple gear, seems to have spun the story as if the bug broke all Android machines, when actually the OS has positive reviews.

“Early adopters of Google’s latest Android operating system are warning others of problems with the software, “thundered Auntie only to admit in the next paragraph the bugs only affected Nexus 7 users. The Nexus 7 came out in 2012.

There is no doubt that there is something wrong with Lollipop and its reaction to some of the gear under the bonnet of an Ancient Nexus 7, but frankly, it is amazing it upgraded at all.

The BBC hints that more problems have not arisen because the OS is only available to a limited number of machines, because many network operators and device manufacturers have yet to complete their own tests.

Ironically, the OS was supposed to revamps the system’s user interface, offers greater control over notifications, and makes changes to the way the OS executes code, which Google said should mean fewer “temporary glitches” than before.

Android Lollipop adapts its look to suit smartwatches, smartphones and tablets

Nvidia, LG and Motorola have also released Android Lollipop updates for some of their handsets and tablets.

The work around for Nexus 7 users is to turn off Google Now, change transitions to zero and limit it to two background apps maximum.

Several Android Lollipop users have also highlighted compatibility problems with Air-based apps.

Apple said sorry  in September after faults with iOS 8 caused some of its new iPhones to be unable to make and receive calls, which was supposed to be the phone’s main job.

Google unlocks advertising secret — don’t trust Google

google-ICSearch engine outfit Google has realised that the secret to getting people to install its home monitoring equipment is to pretend that it has nothing to do with it.

The outfit has started selling connected thermostat, its connected smoke alarm and its Dropcam monitors to the great unwashed.

The only problem is that Google has a bit of a rap sheet when it comes to personal privacy, and a in a moment of self-awareness, twigged that no one really trusts it. The common perception is that if Google was involved monitoring you, it must be selling some of your personal data  somewhere else.  If you have a dropcam monitor in your bog, and you have difficultly having a bowel movement, your computer will display shedloads of laxative adverts.

Google has got around the problem by not mentioning its name in any of its nationally televised ads and has made the adverts funny.

Nest is advertising itself with the image that it is a tiny bit weird to put these things into your home. But they’re also cool – and there is no question that Google is spying on you.

You can see the adverts here  and they do not mention the G word.

It is uncertain that this will be enough to ease punters fears about Google doing evil to their smoke alarm.

Get ready to wear a smart shirt

fobwatchA survey from Gartner said that less wearable electronic devices for fitness will ship in 2015 because of confusion in the marketplace.

While 70 million wearables will ship in 2014, that figure will fall to 68 million next year.

That is because the entry of smartwatches into the marketplace will have overlap in functionality.

But the figure is set to rise again in 2016 because lower cost machines will be available along with a variety of different designs.

The push to get people to use fitness wearables is being funded by a number of industry giants including Qualcomm, Apple, Google, Samsung, Microsoft, Nike and Intel.

Gartner sys the five main form factors are smart wristbands, sports watches, other fitness monitors, heart rate monitor chest straps and so called smart clothes.

This last category has the biggest potential for growth, according to Gartner and so-called “smart shirts” are no becoming available.  The research firm didn’t say whether the next step will be “smart pants”.

While smartwatches will come in many different price range, those costing $150 or over are likely to include accelerometers and gyroscopes but unlike health wristbands will have to tell the time and have the capacity to send and receive texts.

Google gets its hardware knickers in a twist

Nexus 9A report by financial analysts at Seeking Alpha suggests that Google has come adrift with its smartphone hardware strategy.

Seeking Alpha claims the Nexus programme does not now include the kind of devices most people would rush out to buy.

And even devices like the joint Google-HTC One GPe – which the analysts describe as the “Rolls Royce” of five inch Android smartphones is in a spot of bother. Because it’s sold out.

The Nexus 5 is last year’s model with an ancient Qualcomm 800 CPU and less memory.

The Nexus 6 is sold out but anyway it’s too big because few want a six inch screen.  The Motorola G isn’t sold out but it’s last generation.

Seeking Alpha Analyst Anton Wahlman says that everything Google is selling on its site is sold out, suggesting the behemoth is losing its way on the hardware front. You can read more of what he has to say about the debacle, here.