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The Podium

Blog posts tagged with 'Google'

Thursday, June 02

Phishing From Behind the Great Firewall

By Brad

Yesterday, Google announced it has discovered a malware and phishing attack on its popular Gmail service. From the company’s official blog:

Through the strength of our cloud-based security and abuse detection systems, we recently uncovered a campaign to collect user passwords, likely through phishing. This campaign, which appears to originate from Jinan, China, affected what seem to be the personal Gmail accounts of hundreds of users including, among others, senior U.S. government officials, Chinese political activists, officials in several Asian countries (predominantly South Korea), military personnel and journalists.

As Cecilia Kang and Ellen Nakashima of The Washington Post report, Google’s accusation didn’t sit well with Chinese officials:

[The accusation] drew angry denials from Chinese government officials on Thursday, with a foreign ministry spokesman calling the accusation “a fabrication out of thin air.”

Asked repeatedly at a news conference about the hacking, the spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the accusations against China are “unacceptable.”

Friday, May 13

A PR Fiasco

By Brad

Via Dan Lyons of the Daily Beast comes this bombshell of a story about rivals Facebook and Google, the highly competitive social networking market, and a spectacular public relations disaster.

Wednesday, May 11

Laptops on the Cheap

By Brad

Google has announced it will begin renting laptops for $20 a month. Via Sarah Perez of Read Write Web:

The laptops will run Google’s Chrome OS, a computer operating system that does away with local storage and applications in favor of a Web browser…and only a Web browser. The browser, of course, is Google Chrome. Initially, the $20/month laptop package will only be offered to students, the report states, but it is surely a precursor to Google’s greater ambitions, in both educational institutions and the enterprise.

While Google’s service isn’t entirely altruistic — Perez describes it as a “backdoor” for the company into schools — it’s still a pretty cool move, and if it expands could be a big step toward closing the digital divide. Assuming everyone has access to broadband, that is.

Before the Senate

By Brad

At the Washington Post, Cecilia Kang has a re-cap of yesterday’s Senate testimony from Apple and Google executives on privacy and smartphones:

Subcommittee members asked the companies about other data collection and app curation issues. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) confronted Davidson over “Spy-Fi”issue, when German authorities found that Google’s Street View cameras were collecting information from wireless networks. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) revisited his concerns about Apple’s and Google’s reluctance to remove an app that identifies drunk-driving checkpoints.

In the end, few committee members seemed satisfied with the answers given in the hearing, particularly on whether companies were doing enough to protect consumer rights.

“I still have serious doubts that those rights are being respected in law or in practice,” Franken said in closing. “We need to think seriously about how to address this problem and we need to address this problem now.”

Tuesday, May 03

A Visit From Authorities

By Brad

Reuters reports that Google has run into a bit of trouble in South Korea:

Google Inc’s Seoul office was raided on Tuesday on suspicion its mobile advertising unit AdMob had illegally collected location data without consent, South Korean police said, the latest setback to the Internet search firm’s Korean operations.

The probe into suspected collection of data on where a user is located without consent highlights growing concerns about possible misuse of private information as the use of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets increases.

Such information is viewed as crucial for the burgeoning mobile advertising sector as it helps personalize online ads according to individual preferences or locations.

Interestingly, Google’s market share for search in South Korea is relatively small. But when mobile search is added in, its position in the country is substantially larger.

Monday, April 25

Tracking

By Brad

Last week, the Wall Street Journal revealed that smartphones from Google and Apple were quietly collecting data culled from the devices on user locations. As Sara Jerome of The Hill reports, this news isn’t sitting well with at least one member of Congress:

Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) called for a congressional investigation into the privacy practices of leading technology companies in the aftermath of reports that smartphones quietly store detailed information about users’ location.

Both Google and Apple have defended the data retention.

Tuesday, April 05

Getting Attention From the FTC

By Brad

Via Jeff Bliss and Sara Forden of Bloomberg, the Federal Trade Commission may be launching an antitrust investigation into Google:

An FTC investigation of Google, the world’s most popular search engine, “could be on par” with the scope of the Justice Department’s probe of Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) a decade ago, said Keith Hylton, an antitrust law professor at Boston University School of Law. Google “could fight the FTC, but that’s going to cost a lot of money and time.”

The investigation would center around Google’s massive share in the search business. Last week, Microsoft urged the European Union to launch a similar antitrust investigation into its rival in search.

Thursday, March 31

Wiring KCK

By Brad

In brighter Google news, via Cecilia Kang of the Washington Post, the company has finally picked a pilot city for its experimental fiber network:

Last year, Google announced it would provide one community with the ultra-fast connections, which are more than 100 times faster than the average connection in America today.

More than 1,100 cities applied to receive the high-speed network. Google announced in a blog post Wednesday that it has signed a development agreement with Kansas City.

Google is scheduled to have the network up and running sometime in 2012.

Giant vs. Giant

By Brad

Microsoft (which knows a thing or two about antitrust cases) is accusing Google of antitrust violations and is asking the European Union to investigation. Reports Steve Lohr of the New York Times:

The litany of particulars in Microsoft’s complaint, the company’s lawyers say, includes claims of anticompetitive practices by Google in search, online advertising and smartphone software. But a central theme, Microsoft says, is that Google unfairly hinders the ability of search competitors — and Microsoft’s Bing is almost the only one left — from examining and indexing information that Google controls, like its big video service YouTube.

Such restraints, Microsoft contends, undermine competition — and thus pose a threat to consumer choice and better prices for online advertisers.

Wednesday, March 30

Settling the Buzz Debacle

By Brad

Last February, Google jumped on the micro-blogging scene when it launched Google Buzz. Things didn’t quite go as planned, however, and the launch quickly fired up privacy concerns. Now, over a year later, the online search giant has settled with the Federal Trade Commission over the botched launch. Jacqui Cheng of Ars Technica reports on the settlement:

Google is barred from misrepresenting privacy settings to its users and must now obtain consent before sharing information with third parties—including when Google makes any sort of change to its existing services. Google also must establish and maintain a “comprehensive privacy program” for the next 20 years. The Commission voted unanimously in favor of the settlement agreement.

Google’s take on the settlement is posted on the company’s official blog.

Friday, March 25

The Social Search Network

By Brad

Over at GigaOm, Mathew Ingram speculates that while a rumor about Facebook getting into the online search business may not be accurate at the moment, it will be soon:

Facebook is already involved in search to a certain extent: the company did a deal with Microsoft last fall to add results from its network to the Bing search engine, and Blekko — the search engine startup launched by Rich Skrenta last year — also has a search that includes social results based on Facebook “likes” and other activity. But so far, Facebook’s involvement consists of allowing Bing and Blekko to crawl or index its data rather than doing so itself.

Google, meanwhile, made a big show of launching social and real-time search earlier this year, but the reality is that the majority of what those searches pull in (apart from Google-related social activity) is Twitter results. As Google knows, when it comes to real-time social information, Facebook is the 800-pound gorilla.

Later in the article, Ingram reveals some startling numbers about Facebook:

[U]sers spend 700 billion minutes a month on the site, and post 30 billion pieces of content, including likes and status updates and comments.

700 billion minutes each month? Wow.

Friday, March 11

Looking at Google

By Brad

At Politico, Mike Zapler reports on a new effort to place online search/advertising Google on the regulatory hot seat:

Media consolidation, net neutrality and Google’s dominance in Internet search are among the issues the Senate’s leading legislator on antitrust issues plans to scrutinize in the months ahead.

Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), who heads the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, listed those issues as priorities in an announcement Thursday outlining his top concerns for the 112th Congress.

Kohl specifically called out Google as a potential cause for concern. The senator in December urged the Justice Department to conduct a “careful review” of the search giant’s attempted acquisition of travel search software firm ITA.

“In recent years, the dominance over Internet search of the world’s largest search engine, Google, has increased and Google has increasingly sought to acquire e-commerce sites in myriad businesses,” Kohl said in a news release.

Monday, March 07

Rumor of the Day

By Brad

Via Ashlee Vance, Brad Stone, and Douglas McMillan of Bloomberg:

Facebook Inc., the world’s biggest social-networking company, is holding talks with Skype Technologies SA about offering Web video calls to its 500 million users, two people familiar with the discussions said.

If the deal turns out to be true, Facebook will join Apple and Google in helping make images like this from 2001: A Space Odyssey an ubiquitous reality:

Friday, February 25

Overhauling the Algorithm

By Brad

Last night, Google announced it was changing its search algorithm. While the company tweaks their search results all the time, this one seems like a substantial overhaul. From the official Google blog:

Many of the changes we make are so subtle that very few people notice them. But in the last day or so we launched a pretty big algorithmic improvement to our ranking—a change that noticeably impacts 11.8% of our queries—and we wanted to let people know what’s going on.

At GigaOm, Mathew Ingram says the changes are in an attempt to limit search results from so-called “Content Farms” — sites that generate a ton of low-quality content to generate advertising revenue:

Google hasn’t specifically said that the changes are aimed at content farmers — in fact, the term doesn’t appear anywhere in its blog post, which simply refers to “low-quality sites” — but Search Engine Land says the rollout is almost certainly aimed in that direction. According to Google, the changes affect about 12 percent of the company’s search results, which is a fairly large proportion for such a change, and an earlier revision last month targeted so-called “scraper” sites, which simply copy content verbatim from other sites.

Wednesday, February 16

Returning to Street View

By Brad

Google’s Street View gaffe refuses to go away. The Hill’s Gautham Nagesh reports:

Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and John Barrow (D-Ga.) want the Federal Communications Commission to examine an incident last year involving cars that take “street view” images for Google Maps. They called for the investigation in a letter sent to the FCC on Wednesday.

Last October, the Federal Trade Commission closed the book on its own investigation into the matter. No word yet on whether the FCC will take a look themselves.

Tuesday, February 01

Getting Word Out of Egypt

By Brad

With the Egyptian government continuing its crackdown on Internet access, Google and Twitter are teaming up to help citizens connect to the outside world. Reports Cecilia Kang of the Washington Post:

Over the weekend, a small group of engineers from the companies got together to create the service that allows anyone with access to voice service—landline or mobile—to leave a messsage that automatically gets transmitted into a tweet, according to the Google blog. People cut off from Internet and mobile services in Egypt could call +16504194196 or +390662207294 or +97316199855. Tweets from the call would be sent with the hashtag: #egypt.

Today in the Search Wars

By Brad

Via Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land, the latest spat between tech giants Google and Microsoft is, not surprisingly, over search:

Google has run a sting operation that it says proves Bing has been watching what people search for on Google, the sites they select from Google’s results, then uses that information to improve Bing’s own search listings. Bing doesn’t deny this.

Friday, January 14

Travel Delay

By Brad

Sara Forden and Jeff Bliss of Bloomberg report that Google’s proposed purchase of travel software company ITA Software Inc. may face a rocky road courtesy of the Justice Department:

Google Inc. may face an antitrust lawsuit by the U.S. Justice Department over its $700 million acquisition of ITA Software Inc., according to people familiar with the situation.

Department officials haven’t made a final decision about whether to sue to block the purchase by Google, owner of the world’s most popular search engine, said the people, who requested anonymity because the agency discussions are confidential. Google announced in July its plans to acquire ITA, which provides online airline flight and ticket information. The next month, government lawyers said they were extending their ITA investigation.

Companies such as Microsoft and Expedia are strongly against the deal. Stay tuned…

Thursday, January 13

The Next Tech Fight

By Brad

With the net neutrality debate having been settled (for now), a new tech fight is brewing on Capitol Hill: search neutrality. Reports Cecilia Kang of the Washington Post:

Google search engine guru Matt Cutts met with members of the Federal Trade Commission and staff on Capitol Hill this week to argue why the firm opposes federal rules on Internet search results.

The visit, what Cutts calls his “education tour,” comes as Washington and Europe have been focusing on the search giant’s business practices. European regulators have launched an investigation brought by complaints from some companies that Google has purposefully lowered their rankings, making it difficult to compete.

Tuesday, December 21

Unable to Live Without Broadband

By Brad

Chicago Breaking Business reports:

Twenty four percent of 1,950 U.S. adults questioned in the online survey conducted by Zogby International said high-speed Internet had the greatest impact on their lives, followed closely by Facebook at 22 percent and Google with 10 percent.

Of the technologies people say they cannot live without, high-speed Internet came in first at 28 percent and email was second at 18 percent.

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