Archive for the ‘Google’ tag
As we suspected, having traffic to Spanish news sites drop by 5%-15% is kind of a big deal…
We call it the “Google News bump.” When a story on WIRED.com gets a link on the front page of Google News, traffic skyrockets. Readers click. Ads are served.
But in Spain, at least, the Google News bump is no more. On Tuesday, Google shut down Google News in Spain in response to a law that requires news aggregators to pay a fee for the right to post snippets of stories. Big Spanish publishers pushed for the law, but their math is hard to fathom. Without Google News, they get no bump, nor do they get any fee. Trying to stick it to Google is an understandable impulse, a resentment fed by the company’s monolithic influence over the web. But all the shutdown really shows is how powerless traditional publishers really are.
But where I work, at least, a 5 percent traffic dip wouldn’t exactly be something to celebrate, much less lobby lawmakers to effectively codify. And as GigaOm’s Mathew Ingram says, the damage could be worse. The chief data scientist at Chartbeat, a web service many publishers use to monitor real-time reader traffic, told Ingram that the average falloff in the hours since the Google News shutdown was more like 10 to 15 percent.
(click here to continue reading Spain’s Google News Shutdown Is a Silly Victory for Publishers | WIRED.)
and as many people have noted: removing all Google News traffic benefits the larger media companies at the expense of the smaller media companies. Google News links to both: sites you’ve heard of, and sites you haven’t. If you don’t regularly visit the websites of smaller news organizations, you probably won’t.
I wonder how this new development will play out. Will the traffic plummet for Spanish publications? Or will it not matter? And how exactly does Google News move past this trend of European countries1 demanding Google pay for fair use inclusion? Does this relate to blogging Fair Use?
Google Inc. said Wednesday it will shut its Google News service in Spain because a new law will require the company to pay publishers for displaying any portion of their work.
In a blog post, Google said it also will remove Spanish publishers from the service.
The legislation, which takes effect in January, requires Spanish publishers to charge services like Google News for showing excerpts or snippets from their publications, Google said.
“As Google News itself makes no money (we do not show any advertising on the site) this new approach is simply not sustainable,” Richard Gingras, head of Google News, wrote in a blog. He said the service will close Dec. 16.
(click here to continue reading Google Shutting Google News in Spain – WSJ.)
From Google’s Europe Blog:
[Google News is] a service that hundreds of millions of users love and trust, including many here in Spain. It’s free to use and includes everything from the world’s biggest newspapers to small, local publications and bloggers. Publishers can choose whether or not they want their articles to appear in Google News — and the vast majority choose to be included for very good reason. Google News creates real value for these publications by driving people to their websites, which in turn helps generate advertising revenues.
But sadly, as a result of a new Spanish law, we’ll shortly have to close Google News in Spain. Let me explain why. This new legislation requires every Spanish publication to charge services like Google News for showing even the smallest snippet from their publications, whether they want to or not. As Google News itself makes no money (we do not show any advertising on the site) this new approach is simply not sustainable. So it’s with real sadness that on 16 December (before the new law comes into effect in January) we’ll remove Spanish publishers from Google News, and close Google News in Spain.
For centuries publishers were limited in how widely they could distribute the printed page. The Internet changed all that — creating tremendous opportunities but also real challenges for publishers as competition both for readers’ attention and for advertising Euros increased. We’re committed to helping the news industry meet that challenge and look forward to continuing to work with our thousands of partners globally, as well as in Spain, to help them increase their online readership and revenues.
(click here to continue reading Google Europe Blog.)
Germany already has some data on how well it works, we’ll soon see if politicians are getting angry phone calls from media websites:
A German law now requires Google to secure the rights to publish any content other than links to articles and headlines. Google refused to pay for those rights, but gave publishers a choice: offer them free or face the removal of snippets and thumbnails from its services like Google News.
German media giant Axel Springer , a Google critic, demanded payment from Google for a time this fall. But Axel granted Google a free license when traffic from Google News and Google’s search engine plunged.
“I imagine the news outlets for which the law was designed will start to miss the traffic that Google sent their way,” said Colin Sebastian, an analyst at R.W. Baird.
I’ve long used Google News as a primary jumping off point to read news sites, for what it’s worth…Footnotes:
- and Rupert Murdoch companies [↩]
For perhaps the five hundredth time this decade,1 I spent a long time trying to login to YouTube to upload a video, and my password was not accepted, even though I’d copied it right out of 1 Password. After wasting about ten minutes trying to figure it out, I remembered that because I have set up a 2-Step Verification for my Google account, I have to generate an App specific password for logging into YouTube. I’m not sure why YouTube is different than other 2-Step Verification services2, but at least the solution is easy enough, once you remember that is why your password keeps failing. You’d think Google could update YouTube to at least give a hint that enabling 2-Step verification means a user can’t login simply with email and password. I mean, would it be that hard for the YouTube iOS App to add a footer to the login page? Or at least a suggestion to look to the App passwords page if a password fails a few times?
Anyway, after I did the proper Google search, I ended up here, with these instructions.
Sign in using App Passwords
An App password is a 16-digit passcode that gives an app or device permission to access your Google Account. If you use 2-Step-Verification and are seeing a “password incorrect” error when trying to access your Google Account, an App password may solve the problem. Most of the time, you’ll only have to enter an App password once per app or device, so don’t worry about memorizing it.
- Visit your App passwords page. You may be asked to sign in to your Google Account.
- At the bottom, click Select app and choose the app you’re using.
- Click Select device and choose the device you’re using.
- Click Generate.
- Follow the instructions to enter the App password (the 16 character code in the yellow bar) on your device.
(click here to continue reading Sign in using App Passwords – Accounts Help.)
That’s pretty clear, and simple, once you know that is what you are required to do.
Perhaps since I’m writing a post about this procedure, I’ll remember next time I’m uploading a video from a new iOS device, or a new app that uses YouTube.
Also, the video was pretty dark, I’ll have to retry with better lighting next time I have a can of Nuclear Winter beer by Finch’s Beer…
My app specific list looks like this3
Google App specific passwords, a partial list
With a name like Nuclear Winter, what else could I do?
update, damn, this post became a spam comment magnet so we’re disabling comments for a while. Sorry.
- every time I get a new iPhone or iPad, or Apple TV basically. Though some apps use YouTube as well, I’m guessing this has happened more than three million times since I’ve enabled 2-Step Verification [↩]
- for instance, I use 2-Step Verification for Tumblr, for Twitter, for Buffer, and probably some others too [↩]
- not all shown [↩]
Almost sounds a little back-alley-ish: “hey, I’ve been deluging you with these ads for decades, but for a small fee, I’ll remove them, in certain circumstances…”
On Thursday, Google started experimenting with a new way to let users contribute to web sites in exchange for removing – or at least reducing – the number of ads. The service, called Contributor by Google, has users give between $1 and $3 a month to sites like The Onion and Mashable.
Once they pay, the ads that normally show will be replaced with a banner that says “Thank you for being a contributor.”
For Contributor, Google is only working with 10 sites, and it will take a small cut of the contributions. The sites may not be completely ad free: Google only has the power to remove ads it has served, so it should probably be described as a way to see “fewer ads” rather than no ads.
(click here to continue reading Google Experimenting With Removing Ads for a Fee – NYTimes.com.)
The only way I could see this working would be for low-traffic websites with a loyal leadership – it seems Google shares a slice of that fee with the publisher. I notice Google doesn’t disclose what the percentages actually are, it could be a 90-10 split for all we know, with Google retaining $2.70 of a $3 contribution. I doubt I’d ever use Contributor By Google, but you never know. Is the occasional visit to Urban Dictionary or The Onion worth $36 a year? Meh. Especially since I use Ghostery to block most ads in the first place, so the savings would be negligible, plus Google would be able to accumulate more data about me for their data mills.
I used to have Google Ads displayed over there on the right column, and when this blog sucked less1 and got more daily traffic, the ads paid me a few hundred dollars a year. That was quite a while ago though, certainly before Twitter and other social media soaked up my bandwidth, and the tumbleweeds started accumulating here. In fact, I removed the Google Ads several years ago, probably when Google started frequently being a bully and a thief.2Footnotes:
The No. 2 official at the Justice Department delivered a blunt message last month to Apple Inc. executives: New encryption technology that renders locked iPhones impervious to law enforcement would lead to tragedy. A child would die, he said, because police wouldn’t be able to scour a suspect’s phone, according to people who attended the meeting.
Apple executives thought the dead-child scenario was inflammatory. They told the government officials law enforcement could obtain the same kind of information elsewhere, including from operators of telecommunications networks and from backup computers and other phones, according to the people who attended.
Technology companies are pushing back more against government requests for cooperation and beefing up their use of encryption. On Tuesday, WhatsApp, the popular messaging service owned by Facebook Inc., said it is now encrypting texts sent from one Android phone to another, and it won’t be able to decrypt the contents for law enforcement.
AT&T Inc. on Monday challenged the legal framework investigators have long used to collect call logs and location information about suspects.
In a filing to a federal appeals court in Atlanta, AT&T said it receives an “enormous volume” of government requests for information about customers, and argued Supreme Court decisions from the 1970s “apply poorly” to modern communications. The company urged the courts to provide new, clear rules on what data the government can take without a probable cause warrant.
(click here to continue reading Apple and Others Encrypt Phones, Fueling Government Standoff – WSJ.)
Law enforcement officials are clever, they can find ways to get data in other ways, like this, for instance…
And good for Tim Cook – he suggests that Apple Inc. should not be in the business of enabling the police in their quest to snoop on our phones without first getting warrants. You know, like if we were living in a constitutional Democracy with a Bill of Rights again?
In June 2013, Mr. Snowden provided reporters with documents describing a government program called Prism, which gathered huge amounts of data from tech companies. At first, tech-company executives said they hadn’t previously heard of Prism and denied participating. In fact, Prism was an NSA code word for data collection authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Tech companies routinely complied with such requests.
More than a year later, tech executives say consumers still mistrust them, and they need to take steps to demonstrate their independence from the government.
Customer trust is a big issue at Apple. The company generates 62% of its revenue outside the U.S., where it says encryption is even more important to customers concerned about snooping by their governments.
These days, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook stresses the company’s distance from the government.
“Look, if law enforcement wants something, they should go to the user and get it,” he said at The Wall Street Journal’s global technology conference in October. “It’s not for me to do that.”
In early September, Apple said the encryption on its latest iPhone software would prevent anyone other than the user from accessing user data stored on the phone when it is locked. Until then, Apple had helped police agencies—with a warrant—pull data off a phone. The process wasn’t quick. Investigators had to send the device to Apple’s Cupertino, Calif., headquarters, and backlogs occurred.
Personally, I never, ever use logins that depend upon Facebook. I have run across a few iOS apps that insist upon Facebook logins, and I deleted them rather than give up my information. I have on rare occasion used the Google login, but I’d much prefer using my own login credentials, even if it involves creating yet another password. Since I use 1Password these days, creating and maintaining unique passwords isn’t as much of a burden as it used to be.
Facebook and Google are battling to be the gateway through which users connect to websites and mobile apps. But users and businesses may be losing interest in such “social login” services.
Consumers worry about broadcasting their preferences and habits to companies and across their social networks. Businesses are torn between making life easier for users and letting Facebook and Google see the resulting data.
“A few years ago, there was a frenzy, but the interest has peaked,” says Sucharita Mulpuru-Kodali, an analyst at Forrester Research who studies social login. “There’s the fear of, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to click something and God knows what’s going to show up on my Facebook wall.’ ”
The social login buttons allow consumers to log in to other websites and apps using their usernames and passwords, for example, from Facebook Login or Google+.
But a Forrester survey of 66 large and midsize companies finds that only 17% use social-login buttons, and more than half have no plans to do so. Forrester hadn’t previously done a similar survey, but Ms. Mulpuru-Kodali says social login offerings are no longer appealing to retailers and users.
(click here to continue reading Too Much Information? Facebook, Google Face Backlash Over Logins – WSJ.com.)
I think also more consumers are realizing that Facebook and Google are not creating these tools to make consumers digital lives easier, but instead to enable Facebook and Google to collect data on consumers that they will then sell to businesses. Why make the process any easier for Big Data? Especially since Google and Facebook have repeatedly made errors that benefit their own business practices, and only apologize when the “error” becomes public, or the FTC files a complaint.
One reason users hesitate is privacy — the fear that logging in to the real-estate website Zillow through a Facebook button, for example, might inadvertently reveal the house you looked at, and its price, to your social network. Facebook says this can’t happen without a consumer’s express permission. But many users are wary because of the social network’s mixed record on privacy.
Some large brick and mortar retailers are concerned that letting Facebook or Google put code on their website might lead to the Web giants collecting their purchase data. Google says it doesn’t collect this information1.
(click here to continue reading Silicon Valley Is Waging a War Over Your Online Identity. But Is It Worth It? – Digits – WSJ.)Footnotes:
- but won’t swear to it in court [↩]
Photo Republished at Chicago’s Near West Side Is The Next Big Thing For Tech – Ch-ch-ch-changes – Curbed Chicago
My photo was used to illustrate this post
Google’s new home, the Fulton Market Cold Storage Building before renovation. Photo by Seth Anderson] The West Loop and Near West Side are gaining more momentum as Chicago’s newest tech hotspots every week. As Chicago’s economy turns towards young startups and tech incubators to help usher in the new century, neighborhood demographics and flagship business tenants are changing constantly. With dozens of new coworking spaces, names like Groupon, Lightbank and soon-to-be Motorola, River North has been the city’s tech powerhouse for at least the last five years. However some are saying that the near north neighborhood known for its luxury high rises and fine dining has become saturated and too expensive for newer, younger and less endowed companies.
click here to keep reading :
Chicago’s Near West Side Is The Next Big Thing For Tech – Ch-ch-ch-changes – Curbed Chicago
automatically created via Delicious and IFTTT
There were credible rumors1 that Google was going to move into the West Loop, but then Google signed a lease in River North instead. However, according to Crain’s Chicago, it still might happen:
Google Inc. is mapping new office territory in Chicago. The Mountain View, Calif.-based technology giant is in talks to move its Chicago office to the city’s meatpacking district, where it would lease more than 200,000 square feet, sources say. If a deal is struck, it would dramatically reshape the gentrifying Fulton Market-Randolph area, where foodies flock to a thriving restaurant row but major office tenants have yet to arrive. Landing one of the world’s most recognizable companies would bring instant legitimacy to an office market now made up of small tenants in low-rise loft buildings.
… “Google is an unbelievable engine,” says Chicago tenant broker Bob Chodos, a principal at Seattle-based Colliers International who is not involved in the Google deal. “Wherever they go gets bigger.” Google’s employees, mostly in sales, are outgrowing the Kinzie Street tower where the company’s lease for about 150,000 square feet expires at the end of 2015. As Google expands here, it is expected to need more than 200,000 square feet, and possibly up to 300,000, sources say.
Enter Sterling Bay Cos., which reached an agreement to buy the 10-story Fulton Market Cold Storage warehouse, the tallest in the neighborhood, in 2011. The Chicago developer is converting the existing building and an attached new structure into about 540,000 square feet of office and retail at 1000 W. Fulton St. by late next year.
In addition to Google, Boka Restaurant Group—which includes chef Stephanie Izard’s nearby Girl & the Goat and Little Goat Diner—is finalizing a deal for a steakhouse on the ground floor of the former meat storage facility, sources say.
Already, construction of a Soho House hotel is underway near the intersection of Halsted and Randolph streets. Nobu Hospitality Group, whose owners include actor Robert De Niro, in March confirmed its desire to put another boutique hotel and a Japanese restaurant on Randolph.
(click here to continue reading Has Google outgrown River North? – In Other News – Crain’s Chicago Business.)
I’ve taken a few photos of this building over the years…
- which I swear I blogged about, but now cannot find [↩]
Editors love controversy, especially when Apple is involved, and even better if Google is involved as well. Controversy leads to increased web traffic, and theoretically, salary raises for editors. Thus the minor topic of Apple’s Map app continues to dominate the tech press, and has even leaked out to general news coverage.
Counternotions asks, as part of its Apple MapsGate FAQ, a question I asked as well, namely what was Google’s role in all this? Did Google refuse to bring parity between Android Maps and iOS Maps for a strategic reason? Or spite? or what?
Q: Then why did Apple kick Google Maps off the iOS platform? Wouldn’t Apple have been better off offering Google Maps even while it was building its own map app? Shouldn’t Apple have waited?
A: Waited for what? For Google to strengthen its chokehold on a key iOS service? Apple has recognized the significance of mobile mapping and acquired several mapping companies, IP assets and talent in the last few years. Mapping is indeed one of the hardest of mobile services, involving physical terrestrial and aerial surveying, data acquisition, correction, tile making and layer upon layer of contextual info married to underlying data, all optimized to serve often under trying network conditions. Unfortunately, like dialect recognition or speech synthesis (think Siri), mapping is one of those technologies that can’t be fully incubated in a lab for a few years and unleashed on several hundred million users in more than a 100 countries in a “mature” state. Thousands of reports from individuals around the world, for example, have helped Google correct countless mapping failures over the last half decade. Without this public exposure and help in the field, a mobile mapping solution like Apple’s stands no chance.
Q: So why not keep using a more established solution like Google’s?
A: Clearly, no one outside Mountain View and Cupertino can say who’s forced the parties to come to this state of affairs. Did Google, for example, want to extract onerous concessions from Apple involving more advertising leeway, user data collection, clickstream tracking and so on? Thanks to the largest fine in FTC’s history Google had to pay (don’t laugh!), we already know how desperate Google is for users’ data and how cavalier it is with their privacy. Maybe Apple didn’t like Google’s terms, maybe it was the other way around, perhaps both parties agreed it was best to have two separate apps available…we don’t know. After well-known episodes with Microsoft, Adobe and others, what we do know is that Apple has a justifiable fear of key third parties dictating terms and hindering its rate of innovation. It’s thus understandable why Apple would want to wrest control of its independence from its chief rival on its most important product line.
Q: Does Apple have nothing but contempt for its users?
A: Yes, Apple’s evil. When Apple barred Flash from iOS, Flash was the best and only way to play .swf files. Apple’s video alternative, H.264, wasn’t nearly as widely used. Thus Apple’s solution was “inferior” and appeared to be against its own users’ interests. Sheer corporate greed! Trillion words have been written about just how misguided Apple was in denying its users the glory of Flash on iOS. Well, Flash is now dead on mobile. And yet the Earth’s obliquity of the ecliptic is still about 23.4°. We seemed to have survived that one.
(click here to continue reading Apple Maps: The FAQ « counter notions.)
Jean-Louis Gassée adds re: the Apple Maps conversation a salient point, namely that Apple gave no hint that Maps was in its early stages:
The ridicule that Apple has suffered following the introduction of the Maps application in iOS 6 is largely self-inflicted. The demo was flawless, 2D and 3D maps, turn-by-turn navigation, spectacular flyovers…but not a word from the stage about the app’s limitations, no self-deprecating wink, no admission that iOS Maps is an infant that needs to learn to crawl before walking, running, and ultimately lapping the frontrunner, Google Maps. Instead, we’re told that Apple’s Maps may be “the most beautiful, powerful mapping service ever.”
After the polished demo, the released product gets a good drubbing: the Falkland Islands are stripped of roads and towns, bridges and façades are bizarrely rendered, an imaginary airport is discovered in a field near Dublin. Pageview-driven commenters do the expected. After having slammed the “boring” iPhone 5, they reversed course when preorders exceed previous records, and now they reverse course again when Maps shows a few warts.
Even Joe Nocera, an illustrious NYT writer, joins the chorus with a piece titled Has Apple Peaked? Note the question mark, a tired churnalistic device, the author hedging his bet in case the peak is higher still, lost in the clouds. The piece is worth reading for its clichés, hyperbole, and statements of the obvious: “unmitigated disaster”, “the canary in the coal mine”, and “Jobs isn’t there anymore”, tropes that appear in many Maps reviews.
(The implication that Jobs would have squelched Maps is misguided. I greatly miss Dear Leader but my admiration for his unsurpassed successes doesn’t obscure my recollection of his mistakes. The Cube, antennagate, Exchange For The Rest of Us [a.k.a MobileMe], the capricious skeuomorphic shelves and leather stitches… Both Siri — still far from reliable — and Maps were decisions Jobs made or endorsed.)
Re-reading Joe Nocera’s piece, I get the impression that he hasn’t actually tried Maps himself. Nor does he point out that you can still use Google Maps on an iPhone or iPad:
The process is dead-simple: Add maps.google.com as a Web App on your Home Screen and voilà, Google Maps without waiting for Google to come up with a native iOS app, or for Apple to approve it. Or you can try other mapping apps such as Navigon. Actually, I’m surprised to see so few people rejoice at the prospect of a challenger to Google’s de facto maps monopoly.
(click here to continue reading Apple Maps: Damned If You Do, Googled If You Don’t | Monday Note.)
Also, glad to see that others think as little of Joe Nocera as I do.
More on the benefits of iOS users feeding Google’s insatiable data maw – benefits for Google that is – from Fortune’s Philip Elmer-Dewitt:
Unbeknownst to me, I’ve been feeding geographical information into Google’s (GOOG) mapping database for years — searching for addresses, sharing my location, checking for traffic jams on Google Maps. Google, for its part, has been scraping that data for every nugget of intelligence its computers can extract. Without consciously volunteering, I’ve been participating in a massive crowdsourcing experiment — perhaps the largest the world has ever seen. Who knows what I might have been teaching Google Maps if I’d been navigating the surface of the planet with an Android phone in my pocket?
Apple, by building its much-loved (and now much-missed) iPhone Maps app on Google’s mapping database, has been complicit in this Herculean data collection exercise since the launch of the first iPhone in 2007. The famous Google cars that drive up and down the byways of the world collecting Street View images get most of the attention, but it’s the billions upon billions of data points supplied by hundreds of millions of users that make Google Maps seem so smart and iOS 6’s new Maps app seem so laughably stupid.
(click here to continue reading Why Apple pulled the plug on Google Maps – Apple 2.0 – Fortune Tech.)
Feud is the wrong word, really, these are just competing businesses, not personal enemies, but still bears watching their competition unfold. At least this article in the NYT isn’t just trolling Apple, like Joe Nocera’s bit of vomit from yesterday.
Being kicked off the iPhone has potentially significant consequences for Google, whose Maps service earns more than half its traffic from mobile devices, and almost half of that mobile traffic has been from iPhone users. Apple’s move strikes at the heart of Google’s core business, search, because about 40 percent of mobile searches are for local places or things.
“Local is a huge thing for Google in terms of advertising dollars, and search is very tied to that,” said Barry Schwartz, an editor at Search Engine Land, an industry blog. “Knowing where you are, when you search for coffee, it can bring up local coffee shops and ads that are much more relevant for the user.”
But with maps, Google, which has long been the dominant digital mapmaker, now must adjust to a new rival, along with the loss of valuable iPhone users.
Even though Android phones far outnumber iPhones — 60 percent of smartphones run Android, versus 34 percent for iPhones, according to Canalys, a research firm — iPhone users account for almost half of mobile traffic to Google Maps.
In July, according to comScore Mobile Metrix, 12.6 million iPhone users visited Maps each day, versus 7.6 million on Android phones. And iPhone users spent an hour and a half using Maps during the month, while Android users spent just an hour.
Those users are a valuable source for Google, because it relies on their data to determine things like which businesses or landmarks are most important and whether maps have errors.
(click here to continue reading Apple’s Feud With Google Is Now Felt on the iPhone – NYTimes.com.)
I welcome the rivalry, maps will1 improve for all users as a result.Footnotes:
- should? [↩]
Wow! Remember that guy Vitaly Borker? We blogged about his crazy case back in 2010, he figured out how to game Google search with the realization that even bad comments elevated his site in Google rankings. It sounds like it was even worse than we know. Four years, plus three years of probation is a stiff sentence, but it might not be enough.
A Brooklyn man who terrified customers of his online eyewear store with threats of violence, including rape, was sentenced on Thursday to four years in federal prison and ordered to pay nearly $100,000 in restitution and fines.
Vitaly Borker, 36, who owned and operated DecorMyEyes from his home in Sheepshead Bay, pleaded guilty in May 2011 to charges of fraud and sending threatening communications. He admitted that he had scared dissatisfied customers with phone calls and e-mails, in some cases vowing rape, murder or dismemberment, according to prosecutors.
A handful of Mr. Borker’s victims were summoned to testify about calls and e-mails they had received, which turned out to include a threat to slice off the legs of one customer. Federal District Judge Richard J. Sullivan said, at the end of one day of testimony, that he found the victims credible and so disturbing that he revoked Mr. Borker’s bail, which had allowed him to live at home under restrictions.
In addition to four years in prison, Mr. Borker was told he would be on probation for three years after his release, during which he will not be allowed to use a computer. He was also told to receive psychiatric and substance-abuse counseling.
(click here to continue reading Vitaly Borker, Owner of DecorMyEyes, Sentenced for Threats to Customers – NYTimes.com.)
You might have heard that Google engineers created a way to surreptitiously collect data on all Safari users – including all iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch users – ignoring the privacy settings. As a result of a computer scientist by the name of Jonathan Mayer, his investigation, and a subsequent media uproar, the FTC got involved, and eventually fined Google a few nickels.
The Federal Trade Commission fined Google $22.5 million on Thursday to settle charges that it had bypassed privacy settings in Apple’s Safari browser to be able to track users of the browser and show them advertisements, and violated an earlier privacy settlement with the agency.
The fine is the largest civil penalty ever levied by the commission, which has been cracking down on tech companies for privacy violations and is also investigating Google for antitrust violations.
“The social contract has to be that if you’re going to hold on to people’s most private data, you have to do a better job of honoring your privacy commitments,” said David C. Vladeck, the director of the commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a call with reporters. “And if there’s a message the commission is trying to send today, it’s that.”
The commission said Google had broken the terms of a 2011 settlement over privacy missteps related to the Buzz, a social networking tool now defunct.
(click here to continue reading F.T.C. Fines Google $22.5 Million for Safari Privacy Violations – NYTimes.com.)
And I say nickels, because, to quote an earlier blog post:
The fine for violating the agreement is $16,000 per violation, per day. Because millions of people were affected, any fine could add up quickly, depending on how it is calculated
(click here to continue reading FTC Should Pursue Case Against Google at B12 Solipsism.)
Let’s do the math, as best we can on this convenient envelope on my desk. Google broke their agreement for about a year.1 Even if there was only one violation per day, this adds up to $5,840,000 in fines. But there are probably 200,000,000 iOS devices in active use2, plus desktop Macs running Safari, so potentially, Google was liable for 200,000,000 x 365 x $16,000 = $1,168,000,000,000,000 in fines. Doh! Of course, the FTC doesn’t have the gumption to fine any corporation that much. Instead they fined Google $22,000,000.
For comparison, Google’s annual revenue is over $43,000,000,000 (per their 2nd Q 2012 report PDF). $22.5 million divided by $43.16 billion is 0.05213%. A joke in other words, a rounding error. If you made $50,000 a year in gross salary, and you got a fine of this magnitude, you’d pay…wait for it…$26. Yep, just twenty six dollars. Would it be worth it to you to pay a couple bucks a month in exchange for sellable advertising data on 200 million phones and iPads? Hell yes! Those cookies are a large reason why Google makes $43 billion a year, obviously they are valuable!
Google got off way, way too easily.
What about those incompetent boobs at the Federal Trade Commission? The FTC isn’t very motivated to snoop out privacy invasions in the first place, as Wired reported back in June, 2012:
Jonathan Mayer had a hunch.
The young computer scientist suspected that online advertisers might be following consumers around the web — even when they set their browsers to block the snippets of tracking code called cookies. If Mayer’s instinct was right, advertisers were eying people as they moved from one website to another even though their browsers were configured to prevent this sort of digital shadowing. Working long hours at his office, Mayer ran a series of clever tests in which he purchased ads that acted as sniffers for the sort of unauthorized cookies he was looking for. He hit the jackpot, unearthing one of the biggest privacy scandals of the past year: Google was secretly planting cookies on a vast number of iPhone browsers. Mayer thinks millions of iPhones were targeted by Google.
The feds are often the last to know about digital invasions of your privacy. This is precisely the type of privacy violation the Federal Trade Commission aims to protect consumers from, and Google, which claims the cookies were not planted in an unethical way, now reportedly faces a fine of more than $10 million. But the FTC didn’t discover the violation. Mayer is a 25-year-old grad student working on law and computer science degrees at Stanford University. He shoehorned his sleuthing between classes and homework, working from an office he shares in the Gates Computer Science Building with students from New Zealand and Hong Kong. He doesn’t get paid for his work and he doesn’t get much rest.
If it seems odd that a federal regulator was scooped by a sleep-deprived student, get used to it, because the federal government is often the last to know about digital invasions of your privacy. The largest privacy scandal of the past year, also involving Google, wasn’t discovered by federal regulators, either. A privacy official in Germany forced Google to hand over the hard drives of cars equipped with 360-degree digital cameras that were taking pictures for its Street View program. The Germans discovered that Google wasn’t just shooting photos: The cars downloaded a panoply of sensitive data, including emails and passwords, from open Wi-Fi networks. Google had secretly done the same in the United States, but the FTC, as well as the Federal Communications Commission, which oversees broadcast issues, had no idea until the Germans figured it out.
(click here to continue reading Your FTC Privacy Watchdogs: Low-Tech, Defensive, Toothless | Threat Level | Wired.com.)
No wonder Google, and Microsoft, and others, spend so much money on lobbyists…
Google spent $5.03 million on lobbying from January through March of this year, a record for the Internet giant, and a 240 percent increase from the $1.48 million it spent on lobbyists in the same quarter a year ago, according to disclosures filed Friday with the clerk of the House.
By comparison, Apple spent $500,000; Facebook spent $650,000 Amazon spent $870,000; and Microsoft spent $1.79 million. Google even outspent Verizon Wireless, a notoriously big spender, which spent $4.51 million.
(click here to continue reading Under Scrutiny, Google Spends Record Amount on Lobbying – NYTimes.com.)Footnotes:
The real question is how long will Google be content on losing money, lots of money, on Android? Especially since most of Google’s mobile ad revenue comes from Apple. Seems to me Google is hedging their Android bet by purchasing Motorola.
Brian Hall digs in a bit:
I mean, Android isn’t making a dime for Google. It’s a massive cost center. With the acquisition of Motorola, which isn’t making money from Android, Google will have dropped upwards of $20 billion on Android.Think of that: $20 billion.Twenty billion of shareholder money.…
Then I thought, considering my relentless criticism at Google for not breaking out any costs or revenues associated with Android, that someone at Google was feeding this reporter a story — and he bit, hook line and sinker. Not sure. Fellow seems to genuinely think that all the money Google continues to pour into Android, with no return, is an acceptable — strategic — business practice. Perhaps it’s because I don’t live in Silicon Valley. I mean, near as I can tell, beyond the insiders who are getting rich flipping talent, the only companies actually earning sustained revenues are Apple and Google. I guess earning revenues is no longer the hot trend in Silicon Valley.
(click here to continue reading Android so good it doesnt even have to make Google any money! Ever! | brian s hall.)
Google really has lost whatever ethics it may have once had1 and should really have to pay a price for their latest lapse. Especially since Google and the Federal Trade Commission had an arrangement already, and Google violated it within weeks…
The Stanford privacy researcher who first uncovered Google evading the default privacy settings for all users of Apple’s Safari web browser believes that the Federal Trade Commission has a “slam dunk” case that Google violated its privacy agreement with the government.
“The facts in this case are unusually clear cut,” Jonathan Mayer, a grad student in computer science and law and a researcher at the Stanford Law Center for Internet and Society, in a phone interview with TPM.
The settlement, first struck in October 2011 , was the result of the FTC’s year-long privacy investigation into Google over its failed Google Buzz social network. The FTC concluded that Google had indeed misled users and violated their privacy and subjected Google to 20 years worth of privacy audits and ordered that Google no longer “misrepresent” its privacy settings to users. If Google violates any of the terms of the settlement, the FTC can slap the company with a $16,000 civil fine for every day that the company violated any of the terms.
On Thursday night, The Journal reported that the FTC “is examining whether Google’s actions violated last year’s legal settlement,” and another regulatory body in France (the CNIL) and several states attorneys general were also investigating Google over the practice and could levy fines of their own.
(click here to continue reading FTC Has ‘Slam Dunk’ Case Against Google, Privacy Researcher Says | TPM Idea Lab.)
and from the WSJ:
In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission is examining whether Google’s actions violated last year’s legal settlement with the government in which Google pledged not to “misrepresent” its privacy practices to consumers, according to people familiar with the investigation.
The fine for violating the agreement is $16,000 per violation, per day. Because millions of people were affected, any fine could add up quickly, depending on how it is calculated. The FTC declined to comment.
A group of state attorneys general, including New York’s Eric Schneiderman and Connecticut’s George Jepsen, are also investigating Google’s circumvention of Safari’s privacy settings, according to people familiar with the investigation. State attorneys general can have the ability to levy fines of up to $5,000 per violation.
In Europe, the French Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés, or CNIL, has added the Safari circumvention technique to its existing pan-European investigation into Google’s privacy-policy changes, according to a person close to the investigation. The CNIL is the agency that levied a €100,000 ($130,960) fine on Google last year for collecting passwords and other personal information when Google vehicles were gathering information for its Street View map service.
(click here to continue reading Google Faces New Privacy Probes – WSJ.com.)
Google power and deep pockets shouldn’t be enough to evade the law, the FTC should make an example of Google, and really bring the hammer down.Footnotes:
- perhaps it never had ethics and was just better at covering up its questionable decisions. No matter [↩]
Don’t Be Evil is a thing of the past, the new Google is brash in its insistence that consumers are the product. You are their product, to be sold to advertisers. What you want is not important, only your demographic information is, since that is the commodity that makes Google wealthy.
Google Inc. and other advertising companies have been bypassing the privacy settings of millions of people using Apple Inc.’s Web browser on their iPhones and computers—tracking the Web-browsing habits of people who intended for that kind of monitoring to be blocked.
The companies used special computer code that tricks Apple’s Safari Web-browsing software into letting them monitor many users. Safari, the most widely used browser on mobile devices, is designed to block such tracking by default.
Google disabled its code after being contacted by The Wall Street Journal.
WSJ’s Jennifer Valentino-DeVries has details of Google and other advertising companies that were bypassing privacy levels set by users of Apple’s Safari browser on their iPhones. Photos: Getty Images
The Google code was spotted by Stanford researcher Jonathan Mayer and independently confirmed by a technical adviser to the Journal, Ashkan Soltani.
In Google’s case, the findings appeared to contradict some of Google’s own instructions to Safari users on how to avoid tracking. Until recently, one Google site told Safari users they could rely on Safari’s privacy settings to prevent tracking by Google. Google removed that language from the site Tuesday night.
…Google’s privacy practices are under intense scrutiny. Last year, as part of a far-reaching legal settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission the company pledged not to “misrepresent” its privacy practices to consumers. The fine for violating the agreement is $16,000 per violation, per day. The FTC declined to comment on the findings.
(click here to continue reading Google Tracked iPhones, Bypassing Apple Browser Privacy Settings – WSJ.com.)
Utterly embarrassing for Google, and right when the Congress is poised to look at Google’s privacy practices.
For the record, I use Google constantly, have had a Gmail account since it was first offered, use Google Analytics on this site, even have Google ads (if you haven’t blocked them like I have)
The EFF Foundation blogs:
Earlier today, the Wall Street Journal published evidence that Google has been circumventing the privacy settings of Safari and iPhone users, tracking them on non-Google sites despite Apple’s default settings, which were intended to prevent such tracking.
This tracking, discovered by Stanford researcher Jonathan Mayer, was a technical side-effect—probably an unintended side-effect—of a system that Google built to pass social personalization information (like, “your friend Suzy +1’ed this ad about candy”) from the google.com domain to the doubleclick.net domain. Further technical explanation can be found below.
Coming on the heels of Google’s controversial decision to tear down the privacy-protective walls between some of its other services, this is bad news for the company. It’s time for Google to acknowledge that it can do a better job of respecting the privacy of Web users. One way that Google can prove itself as a good actor in the online privacy debate is by providing meaningful ways for users to limit what data Google collects about them. Specifically, it’s time that Google’s third-party web servers start respecting Do Not Track requests, and time for Google to offer a built-in Do Not Track option.
Meanwhile, users who want to be safe against web tracking can’t rely on Safari’s well-intentioned but circumventable protections. Until Do Not Track is more widely respected, users who wish to defend themselves against online tracking should use AdBlock Plus for Firefox or Chrome, or Tracking Protection Lists for Internet Explorer.1 AdBlock needs to be used with EasyPrivacy and EasyList in order to offer maximal protection.
(click here to continue reading Google Circumvents Safari Privacy Protections – This is Why We Need Do Not Track | Electronic Frontier Foundation.)