Google

A new game has appeared in our lives that we didn’t even know we were waiting for, but now that it is here, we are instantly addicted. Known as “Google Feud,” the game is a whole lot of fun, while being incredibly difficult at the same time. People are already saying that Google Feud is the next huge game that everybody will play.

Google Feud is a web game based on the Google API. We select the questions, then the results are pulled directly from Google’s autocomplete. Beware, certain results may be offensive and/or incomprehensible.

Everybody has examples of fantastic and fun autocomplete suggestions on Google. These have now been combined with another love many internet users share: a love of Family Feud. Google Feud, very simply put, is a mixture between these two things.

How Does It Work?

When you travel to the Google Feud website, you get to choose one of four categories. These are people, culture, questions and names. You are then presented with a standard Google search sentence and you have to guess how Google will complete this. Naturally, you shouldn’t cheat by having Google open in a different tab.

An example would be to presented with “Can you smoke…” and the answer would be “catnip”. This is not a random result, however. It literally means that the majority of sentences that start with “can you smoke” entered in the Google search bar actually end with “catnip”.

Google Feud was created by Justin Hook, internet enthusiast and writer, who has already managed to make the site crash.

Thanks, everyone playing Google Feud! And by “thanks” I mean “Ahh!! You’re killing our servers!!” Doing our best to keep up…

The game pulls real questions from the Google API, as well as the actual results. One of the great things is that the answers, therefore, are not guaranteed to be always the same. After all, someone may be more interested in whether or not you can smoke something other than catnip, meaning the result will change.

Google's homepage 1998–1999

 

It is important to understand, however, that the game is not officially affiliated to Google. However, considering the site crashed because people loved it so much, there is a chance that Google will actually look at going for an acquisition. Or perhaps they will simply continue to allow it to run, as people seem highly amused by it.

The game is indeed addictive. Points are awarded for correct guess, with the most points being awarded for actually guessing the number 1 answer. If your guess is not one of the top 10 answers, however, you will get a strike. It is hoped that the game will be further developed to make it even more fun as well. At the moment, for instance, there is no possibility of challenging others. Hopefully this will change soon, and perhaps a mobile app could also be created.

The answers can be fun, but sometimes they are quite worrying as well. For instance, the number one answer for the sentence “New Yorkers are…” is “stupid”, which says a lot about public perception. Indeed, the warning that is provided that says the results can be offensive and/or incomprehensible seems to be a fair warning.

Is there a point to the game? Absolutely not. You don’t win any prizes, bar the seemingly random points. If you receive three strikes, you simply get to play another round and don’t actually lose. You don’t even get to challenge other people. However, the satisfaction of guessing it right, or even guessing it wrong just to see the answers others have given seems to be sufficient entertainment for most.

 

 

 

Google is expanding again into ventures that seem completely unrelated to what Google was once all about: search engines. Now, they have started a comparison website for car insurance, specific to California. Clearly, Google is moving above and beyond providing link information once again. It is believed that the goal of this project is to have yet another stream of advertising revenue.

Google focuses on 14 different insurance carriers. They are not offering the insurance services themselves. Rather, they will take information from users, such as what type of vehicle they have and how old it is, as well as personal information such as their employment and marital status and their gender. This information will then be used to display quotes. Effectively, Google is doing what many other websites have already been doing for years, yet they believe that they will still stand out from the crowd with their specific service.

Researching for car insurance can be time consuming. We’re working with a growing number of insurance providers to aggregate their questions into a single form.

Google is working together with a number of different insurance companies, including The General Automobile Insurance, which is a daughter company of American Family, and MetLife. Additionally, they have partnered with CoverHound, which is a different website that compares insurance, to offer quotes from companies like 21st Century Insurance and Infinity Insurance.

English: Rasterisation of the vector logo embe...

 

The chief executive of CoverHound, Keith Moore, is hopeful that by this time next year, the service will be nationwide. It seems that Google has indeed obtained licenses already in order to sell insurance in the District of Columbia and a further 48 states.

Google hopes to offer the service nationwide by next year. Google appears to have obtained licenses to sell insurance in 48 states and the District of Columbia, according to its website.

Apparently, they are taking it one step further as well. The service is likely to also include homeowner insurance in the future. This is according to an anonymous industry official who claims to be holding talks with Google about these issues. Interestingly, Google has not been available for any comments on their new insurance venture, although all details are still available on their website.

The venture is nothing truly new, as Google has been offering car insurance in the United Kingdom for some time now, having focused on the European market first.

51% of consumers could save up to 218.07 with Google Compare. 80% of consumers could save up to 71.91 with Google Compare. Based on Online independent research by Consumer Intelligence during 01 December 2014 to 31 December 2014. Our service is free to you, but we are compensated by the providers on our panel.

Google Compare Car Insurance in the UK works with as many as 126 different insurance providers and they have been hugely successful so far.

Google has been focusing on offering various price comparison tools for a while now, and the California car insurance comparison is just the latest effort to remake search results. When someone searches for insurance information, Google will provide highly detailed results. This includes such things are prices for the policies, but also insurance reviews. Furthermore, it will link back to the various retailers that offer the insurance. Google has already been hugely successful with this in their flight and hotel comparison sites. Searchers only need to enter the dates they are interested in and they will receive price quotations.

Google is encouraging searchers to provide as much information as possible to receive an accurate quotation. It is hoped that the exact intent of the searcher will be made more clear that way. This also means that any advertisements provided by Google will be more likely to be valuable.

At the moment, however, the largest car insurance companies, which include State Farm, Progressive and Allstate ALL, are not taking part in the new Google service. This is because they already spend a huge amount of money on marketing. Additionally, the chief operating officer of TheZebra, which is another insurance search site, believes Google has got their approach wrong.

Many of the major carriers are very resistant to participate on the Google Compare platform. Based off what they’ve built in the U.K., carriers see this as a price-only comparison…and they don’t want to be compared only on the price.

 

Indeed, Glenn Rennwick, chief executive of Progressive, made a statement during the company’s earning conference last week. Here, he stated that, as a company, it was more preferable for a customer to come directly to them, rather than being directed there through Google. According to the chief executive of Allstate ALL, Tom Wilson, there is no need for the company to join in the latest Google effort either. This is because they already run Answer Financial, which is their very own price comparison website. This website currently generates a yearly $500 million for a variety of other companies, so signing over to Google seems like a bad idea. State Farm also made comments on the new Google efforts, making it very clear that they will not join in on the project. State Farm is already part of a multi-platform marketing plan that is hugely successful. They did not want to elaborate further on the details of this, due to competitive reasons.

So is Google taking things a step too far? Probably not. At present, they already offer a credit card comparison website that is very successful. The comparison site in Google also works really well, mainly because so many consumers are seeing savings with it. This despite the fact that the UK already have numerous other very successful comparison websites that were in place long before Google. It is also believed that the company is planning to move into mortgage comparison as well. Google is confident that the other states will soon follow suit, which is why they already hold licenses for those areas. Whether it will be successful remains to be seen, but Google very rarely really fails.

 

 

 

 

According to news sources, authorities in Iran have expressed an interest in allowing various internet giants, including Google, Facebook and Twitter, to operate in their country. However, the Islamic republic has stated that this would only be possible if the rules of its culture were completely respected. This according to a senior official.

 

We don’t oppose all those people who are in the international market and want to provide services in Iran, and we are ready to hold negotiations with them for their service providing in the Iranian market after accepting Iran’s cultural conditions.

 

Nasrollah Jahangard is the deputy minister for telecommunications and information technology in Iran. He added that the country is ready to enter into negotiations with the various internet giants. Their stipulation will be that cultural policies and rules must be accepted and implemented. If this can be achieved, then they will be able to offer their services in the country itself.

 

Additionally, Jahangard has explained that Iran would be willing to assist Google and other internet companies by providing them facilities that will allow them to offer their services in the country. This could potentially mean that Google will actually open up a company within Iran. It is believed that this will be staffed in the main by local people, who have a great understanding of the country’s cultural rules and policies. However, at the same time, Google in particular is known for its amazing employee engagement policies, including music rooms, colorful office furniture and more, and it is not known whether they would be able to deliver on their own policies and company culture in a country that tries to restrict the delivery of services as a whole.

 

Iran has a population of nearly 78 million people, 40 million of which use the internet. This is a huge potential market for internet giants. At the moment, the authorities frequently block the country’s access to sites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. After President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected in 2009, under much protests and claims that the hardline official rigged the elections, the sites were blocked more permanently.

 

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran

 

However, Iran now has a new president, Hassan Rouhani, and there have been talks of relaxing laws for some time now. Although social media access is still blocked, many Iranians use proxy servers in order to get around this. Additionally, in November, Mahmoud Vaez, the telecommunications minister, has stated that Iran is ready to take on “smart filtering” within no more than six months. This would allow the country to access all of the internet, while not being subjected to any content that could be deemed criminal or offensive under cultural laws.

 

Censorship in Iran has been a bone of contention for some time now, but particularly since Hassan Rouhani came into power. Rouhani is a moderate president, and he is struggling to get the conservative hardline on board. Rouhani himself uses social networks. Most interestingly, the supreme leader of Iran, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, uses social media as well.

 

One of the problems that Iran is facing in terms of allowing various internet companies into the country is that it is still under heavy sanctions. This is a result of the nuclear program in Iran, which has come under heavy condemnation by the international community. Because of these sanctions, American companies, such as Facebook and Google, struggle to enter Iran and operate from there. According to Jahangard, these types of companies currently have to wait for the legal conditions to change and be cleared so that they can operate in Iran in a convenient manner. However, online companies that are not US-based have already expressed an official interest and have started to negotiate with the country.

 

However, no official reports have been released in terms of which companies are actually taking part in these negotiations. The only official statement is that some of them are welcoming the conditions that Iran has laid out. Additionally, Jahangard added that technical preparations are currently being developed to enable these companies to gain entry into the country.

 

At the same time, however, negotiations between China, Britain, Russia, France, Germany and the US continue to occur. They are trying to get Iran to come to an agreement on their nuclear development program. The international community has imposed heavy sanctions on Iran in an attempt to stop them from developing a nuclear bomb. As a result, it is believed that any online company that is currently negotiating entry into Iran will not be able to establish their headquarters in any of these countries.

 

The deadline for Iran in terms of reaching an agreement about these negotiations is March 31. Iran continues to maintain that their nuclear program is not the development of a nuclear bomb. Rather, they want to generate power for the population of the country itself. According to Mohammad Bagher Nobakht, who is the official spokesperson for President Hassan Rouhani, the negotiations will indeed be completed by the deadline.

 

This time in the negotiations, from the viewpoint of time, we are bound to conclude the negotiations by March 31. Of course, not just at the level of general agreements but also on the specifics we have to reach results.

 

If Nobakht is right, and an agreement is reached, it could indeed open the doors for further online development in the country. At the same time, however, Iran is keen to remind the world that the deadline is a so-called “soft deadline” and that, at worst, sanctions will continue for a longer period of time until a full agreement has been reached. The Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has stated that any agreement that can be reached should be an agreement in full, rather than a multi-staged approach. It is clear to many that Iran is ready to have the sanctions lifted and that they want to enter the new digital world, particularly since the population is now so savvy about using proxy servers anyway. Whether or not we can expect a Google or Facebook office in Teheran remains to be seen.

 

It has been announced that Google Helpouts will cease to exist on April 20. The platform, which was a place for experts to offer video chat advice, seemed like a good idea, but it did not attract enough interest for Google to continue it. It has existed for two years now, and is simply not being used enough. Google has made the official announcement via email.

We have some sad news to share with you today: Helpouts will be shutting down on April 20th, 2015. While this announcement was just posted on our site, we wanted you to hear the news directly from us. The Helpouts community includes some engaged and loyal contributors, but unfortunately, it hasn’t grown at the pace we had expected. Sadly, we’ve made the tough decision to shut down the product.

Helpouts was launched in 2013. It was designed to be a platform for people who wanted to have or find online meetings with a range of different types of experts. This would allow them to get help with specific problems by asking questions to people who know the answers. The experts could determine for themselves what prices they would charge for their advice. It was believed the service would become very popular with health care providers, but it seemed that there were significant teething problems from the start, and these problems were never truly resolved.

English: SVG version of the Google name

At the same time, many counselors were incredibly excited about the potential of Helpouts when it was launched. Many rushed to sign up, believing that any Google-backed project would immediately attract a lot of attention. Indeed, the concept of Helpouts was very clever. No longer would patients have to spend hours and hours researching the internet and diagnosing themselves with the most terrible conditions. Instead, they would be able to log on to Helpouts, choose a professional who appears to be an expert pertaining to their problem, and ask the question to someone who really knows.

Unfortunately, the service did not quite work as seamlessly as it was originally thought and professional practices were noticing that straightaway. What many professionals found was that they had expected people to call in with just a single question but that they would actually have an entire wishing list. Additionally, people who had long-term health problems that were already being treated by a different professional, would start to book in for sessions, essentially looking for some free therapy.

Indeed, many therapists tried to attract attention by offering free sessions on Helpouts for starters, transitioning over to paid models after a while. However, this never quite happened that way. This is due to the fact that many other therapists saw Helpouts as a way to make easy money quickly, charging incredibly high prices. Some were charging as much as $400 for a single session.

At the same time, however, Google could have managed the project better. One main issue was that there were too broad categories within the platform itself. This meant that users would struggle to find the type of expert they were actually looking for. For instance, the health category had a very broad description of:

Licensed health professions can provide private consultations. Helpouts may include therapy sessions, nutrition consultations, medical advice, or answers to questions about specific conditions.

At the same time, however, there was a separate category for Fitness & Nutrition. Other categories include Computers & Technology, Art & Music, Education & Careers, Cooking, Home & Garden and Fashion & Beauty.

Another significant problem with Google is that they never really developed their platform after launching it. It was thrown out there and then almost abandoned. Therapists claim that they tried to hold sessions with clients already on their books, using Helpouts instead of an office, but they may as well have used Skype instead. If, however, Google would have added features that made the sessions more effective overall, then more therapists would have been inclined to sign up. This is also due to the fact that both those who offer services and those who want to use them have to have a Google+ account, which not everybody does.

Other therapists who signed up were initially reluctant because they worried that they would not be able to meet the high volume of therapy requests they would receive. However, this high volume never really materialized. The level of demand turned out to remain quite low, with some therapists quickly removed themselves from the service after finding out that they would not get enough people to contact them.

One of the issues that therapists pointed to was that Helpouts was not able to process insurance payments. As a result, many people were unable to use it. Google could have done a lot more to promote the service, in other words. Indeed, there also seemed to be very little communication between Google and the experts offering their services, simply leaving them floating in the dark.

It wasn’t all bad news for Helpouts, however. Telemedicine is the way of the future, and any attempt to offer this is a good attempt. At the very least, it was a lesson learned. And, as a result, various other services have now been developed that do seem to offer what Helpouts tried to do. One example is Doctor on Demand.

Doctor On Demand Video Visits allow our physicians, psychologists and lactation consultants to provide focused care – without you having to leave your home. With Video, they can Look, Listen, and Engage with you to diagnose your issues and provide an effective treatment plan.

Perhaps Helpouts offered too much too soon, particularly in terms of health care. Interestingly, however, now that people are starting to come to grips with virtual consultations, they are dropping out of the program. No comments have been received from Google bar their original email. It is also not known just how popular Helpouts was during January. Whatever the numbers and whatever the reasons, however, Helpouts will cease to exist completely in just a few weeks. Whether a new format will be offered is not clear yet either.

 

 

 

 

Last month, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit in which Google Inc. was accused of engaging in harmful behavior against owners of smartphones. The accusation was that handset manufacturers were forced to use the Android operating system, which also meant that Google apps were the default option at all times.

While Apple has not listened to my complaints ...

According to consumers, smartphone manufacturers like Samsung Electronics Co. were forced to favor apps offered by Google, such as YouTube. It also meant that they could not favor competitors to Google, such as Bing, which is owned by Microsoft Corp. The lawsuit claimed that the prices of smartphones were driven upwards, as it is not possible for a Google competitor to get their foot in the market over the Google apps.

However, Beth Labson Freemon, the U.S. District Judge presiding over the case in San Jose, CA, stated that consumers have not been able to demonstrate that the high prices were a direct result of illegal activities by Google, in which they were forcing handset manufacturers to enter into a restrictive contract. Furthermore, the judge did not feel able to determine just how many different levels there were in the supply chain between the producers of the handset, who had signed what were allegedly anticompetitive contracts, and the actual consumers.

Their alleged injuries – supracompetitive prices and threatened loss of innovation and consumer choice – are not the necessary means by which defendant is allegedly accomplishing its anticompetitive ends.

The judge has given the plaintiffs the opportunity to amend their claims, which they must do within three weeks. This is a legal requirement under Sherman Antitrust Law, a federal law, and the unfair competition law of California.

“The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 was the first measure passed by the U.S. Congress to prohibit trusts. The Sherman Act authorized the Federal Government to institute proceedings against trusts in order to dissolve them. Any combination “in the form of trust or otherwise that was in restraint of trade or commerce among the several states, or with foreign nations” was declared illegal.

One of the plaintiff’s lawyers, Robert Lopez, was not available to comment on the decision. Additionally, Google’s spokesperson Aaron Stein declined to comment at all. It is believed that this may be due to the fact that similar antitrust claims are being made against Google in Europe.

In November, the European Parliament urged their antitrust authorities to break up Google, which is based in Mountain View, CA. They also asked the European Commission to look into various proposals that would break the link between search engines and other services, thereby stopping them from dominating the market.

Because of these European antitrust issues, Google must at present be relieved that the case has been dismissed. They are still dealing with the Russian watchdog, who are actually making very similar claims. They have stated that forcing Android smartphone developers to run Google as the default search engine is against their anti-monopoly law. Yandex NV, which is the largest search engine in Russia, has asked the national watchdog to investigate these claims. They believe that Android users are forcefully limited into which services they are able to use.

Not only are the Russians fighting against Google on their own, the entire European Union is as well. Margrethe Vestager is the new antitrust chief, and she has taken the world by storm. Google is just one of her many victims, as she is also going after Amazon.com Inc, and Apple Inc. Plus, she is going after Gazprom, moving away from the online companies. She has taken over the case against Google, which has been going for nearly five years now, and she is committed to bringing it to a fair end. She has publicly claimed to be highly impressed by the evidence presented by the competitors who are starting an action against Google.

I have now met with a number of the complainants and been very impressed by their nuances, the complaints that they make, the way that they make it very fundamental, very basic.

She has claimed that the information that has been provided does indeed make her feel that Google is stifling competition, as they are able to control the data of individuals more easily. At the same time, however, although she understands this is a significant issue, she will not add it to the current investigations and case against Google. This is also due to the fact that the full investigation is still pending. A number of questionnaires have been sent out to market participants in order to identify just what the influence of Google is and whether or not this is in breach with antitrust laws.

The current EU case against Google goes together with four other cases. These are against Fiat, Apple, Amazon and Starbucks. It is hoped that steps forward will be identified within the next few weeks so that the case can, eventually, be wrapped up. The outcome of this may also influence the response by the plaintiffs in our own country.

Naturally, therefore, this initial dismissal by the U.S. Federal Judge is not the end of the case. Although Lopez was not available to comment, it is believed that he will present the necessary information within three weeks. Particularly, he will likely be resending a full analyses of the supply chain that exists between Google, smartphone manufacturers and consumers.

The lawsuit didn’t include an analysis of the number of supply-chain levels between the phone manufacturers who sign the agreements and consumers, the judge said. Without that information, it’s impossible to figure out if the agreements inflate consumer prices, Freeman wrote.

Naturally, Google has denied these claims. They have, on numerous occasions, explained that manufacturers have complete control over the apps they choose to install on their devices. Additionally, users have the ability to manually change the settings and run any applications they want. It is not clear what the next moves of either side are going to be, as neither have been available or willing to comment.

 

 

 

 

In 2013, Google partnered up with Uber and poured over $250 million into the company. People were expecting greatness! After all, Google is one of the wealthiest companies in the world, and they have maps, including streetview, for almost all of the planet. What better partnership could exist? However, it seems that the honeymoon period didn’t last very long.

Uber had told the world they want to create a self-driving vehicle.

Uber on Monday announced plans to open a research and development center in Pittsburgh, where the company plans to study the futuristic field of autonomous cars.

This is something that Google had been working on as well. Additionally, Uber is hiring people to develop new types of maps. Last but not least, it seems they are also in talks with Facebook, which is Google’s nemesis.

English: Wordmark of Google Maps

Naturally, Google is doing the same thing and they seem to be getting their own back over Uber with a ride-sharing app.

We’re thinking a lot about how in the long-term, this might become useful in people’s lives, and there are a lot of ways we can imagine this going. One is in the direction of the shared vehicle. The technology would be such that you can call up the vehicle and tell it where to go and then have it take you there.

Both Uber and Google have long been considering doing same day delivery options for staple items like groceries. Put all of this together and it seems as if the two are at an all out war.

It is a known fact that business relationships forged in Silicon Valley don’t last. There is a constant fear of being outdone, and all companies simply want to grow bigger and bigger. Sometimes, this means that partners can be each other’s competitor at the same time. Remember that in 1997, for instance, Microsoft invested in Apple technology and, to do this, there is still collaboration between Google and Apple as well.

However, the friendship between Google and Apple is non-existent and it hasn’t been since the Android was developed. The reality, however, is that neither can exist without the other. Hence, they choose to coexist as much as possible. This could be how Google and Uber will move forward as well, both being leaders in the field of self-driving vehicles.

Although there is an overlap between the two companies, Google is actually moving into something unfamiliar to them. Google Shopping Express is still in its infancy and the focus continues to be on advertising, not on developing life-changing apps. In fact, Jeff Holden, Chief Product Officer at Holden, is playing down the relationship between the two.

We’ve got a wide-ranging partnership with Google. We’re incorporated with Google Maps, for example.

However, what does this mean for the next five years, when we can actually expect to see the driverless vehicles on the road? At the minute, Uber is reliant on Google Maps, but they have made no secret of the fact that they are hiring their own staff to research new map technology. Google, on the other hand, is pouring millions into Google Shopping Express, through which they expect to earn more advertising revenue. Yet, companies like Uber and Amazon and other such likes could get in the way of this.

Google has also created a car-pooling app, which is currently being tested in-house. According to Bloomberg Business, this app is created to directly compete with Uber itself. But others on the inside said interest in ride-sharing is nothing but a side project for Google. It isn’t clear which side of the argument is truthful, but it is clear that Uber is worried.

Of course, the competition is also on for talent, and not just for dollars and customers. Uber is working very hard on its new research center for safety, mapping and driverless cars. This is something they are doing in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University. This is one of the world’s leaders in robotics research. Interestingly, the university from Pittsburgh also delivered some of the researchers that are working on Google’s autonomous driving programs.

Google has not yet commented on whether they are now directly in competition with Uber. Uber, on the other hand, wanted to show the world that relationships are still positive and good.

Uber has a strong relationship with Google and greatly values working closely with David Drummond. We look forward to continuing our collaborative dialogue with Google about the future of our partnership in the years to come.

However, it seems clear that Uber has a few worries, since they are sniffing out other potential partners. At present, they are looking at how they can combine their current car service with Facebook Messenger. This partnership is based on programs that are running successfully on the Asian continent, including WeChat and ReCode, who are behind start-ups like Didi Dache. Facebook has declined to provide any comment on the matter.

Naturally, any of these projects are still years in the making. Additionally, Google has a huge head start since they are the global leaders on map technology. Additionally, we have seen from Apple that trying to beat Google at maps is all but impossible. When Apple developed a system other than Google Maps to be delivered on their iOS devices, users were in uproar. It took just a few months for Google to develop an iPhone Maps app and settle things down again. Another clear example on how partnerships can be found in the unlikeliest of places.

Anybody that wants to make it in the business world has to try and get a spot between the true giants. This is risky, but it is also part of business and it seems that Uber understands this. Indeed, it is clear that cooperation does not happen without some clear and present dangers and the lessons learned from past exploits are still fresh in the minds of most potential partners. This can make it very difficult to work together, even if it does make economic sense.

 

Open information group WikiLeaks has learned that Google had disclosed three staff email addresses to the US government three years ago. This was done after a federal judge issued a warrant. WikiLeaks sent a letter to Eric Schmidt, executive chairman at Google, because they are upset about the fact that it took three years for Google to disclose this information. They claim that the failure to disclose this information means that Google users were not reasonably able to protect their right to privacy.

English: A van that purports to be the 'WikiLe...

The letter came from Michael Ratner, who is a New York-based lawyer working at the Center of Constitutional Rights. In it, he requested Google to disclose a full list of the materials that were given to the FBI. Additionally, Ratner wants to know whether any challenge was made against the warrant itself and whether any other demands have been made since.

Interesting, Google made the revelation on Christmas Eve, which is a period when there is very little news. They stated that the emails and IP addresses of three specific members of staff were handed over following an order by the Justice Department. The three staffers were Kristinn Hrafnsson, a Google spokesperson; Sarah Harrison, a British citizen; and Joseph Farrell, a senior editor. Google said that they had been unable to divulge this information sooner as they had also been imposed with a gagging order. These non-disclosure orders have at some point been lifted, although it is not clear when this happened.

Harrison, the British citizen who heads the Courage Foundation, has spoken out about her feelings over the whole affair.

Knowing that the FBI read the words I wrote to console my mother over a death in the family makes me feel sick.

She felt the government invaded her privacy, as she is a British journalist and not a Google employee. As such, she feels that both Google and the government in this country are breaking their own laws, as she is not able to retain her privacy and there is clearly no protection of the press.

It appears that the data net that Google cast was so wide that any and all communication made by or sent to the three people were intercepted. This included draft emails and the content of their trash email. The dragnet included the date and time of the communication, where it went to and came from, how long it was and how big it was. Additionally, all internet account details had to be handed over, including IP addresses and telephone numbers and their online activity.

An expert at the American Civil Union on privacy and staff attorney, Alexander Abdo, expressed his surprise at the “shockingly broad” request of the warrant.

This is basically ‘Hand over anything you’ve got on this person’. That’s troubling as it’s hard to distinguish what WikiLeaks did in its disclosures from what major newspapers do every single day in speaking to government officials and publishing still-secret information.

Google has not disclosed which documents they have provided to the government other than the fact that they came under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. Additionally, they were keen to stress that they follow the law and will not further discuss an individual case.

When we receive a subpoena or court order, we check to see if it meets both the letter and the spirit of the law before complying. And if it doesn’t we can object or ask that the request is narrowed. We have a track record of advocating on behalf of our users.

It is believed that the court order is part of a criminal investigation into WikiLeaks, which was originally started in 2010. This was in relation to the very publication of WikiLeaks and included information provided by Chelsea Manning, who is now in prison. The criminal investigation into WikiLeaks was set up under Virginia jurisdiction and in May last year, it was still fully active.

When Chelsea Manning was prosecuted, it was revealed that at least seven people involved with WikiLeaks were being monitored by the FBI. She was convicted to 35 years in a military prison, and she is currently in Fort Leavenworth, KS.

The warrants against WikiLeaks are in relation to Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the 1917 Espionage Act. Indeed, these are the same laws that were used to prosecute Manning. Additionally, Edward Snowden, another whistleblower, has also been charged with the same offenses. According to Julian Assange, the editor-in-chief and founder of WikiLeaks, the warrant is just part of a larger conspiracy against himself and his staff.

Google rolling over yet again to help the US government violate the constitution – by taking over journalists’ private emails in response to give-us-everything warrants.

 

The warrants themselves are being taken to the Geneva United Nations human rights council. Here, they will be reviewed by Judge Baltasar Garzon, from Spain. He also heads the defense team for Assange, who has been in exile in the embassy to Ecuador in London for several years now. There is currently an extradition warrant out on him to Sweden, where he is alleged to have committed several counts of sexual assault, although he has not been charged with these.

Interesting, Google is not the only one to have received such demands. Twitter had also received a warrant, but they challenged the demand. This gave them the opportunity to tell their users, so they were able to take appropriate safety measures. Twitter was asked to hand over access to the details of Icelandic MP Birgitta Jonsdottir and a volunteer for Wikileaks.

Twitter immediately contacted Jonsdottir, so she was able to start a legal campaign. However, despite her efforts and an appeal, a ruling went against her and two other defendants. As a result, information that were collected remained a secret.

Nowadays, it is common for tech companies to at least reveal how often they have received US authority requests to divulge information. However, only rarely will they tell who the targets are. Often, this is because a non-disclosure order is put in place on them. Google, for instance, received some 32,000 requests from various governments. This is an increase of 15% compared to the previous year.

 

 

 

 

 

Google has publicly released all important details on a Windows 8.1 security vulnerability. Some 90 days ago, they initially disclosed the issue to Microsoft. This led to a widespread debate over the Project Zero security initiative launched by the online giant. The initial report went to Microsoft in September and described the bug that allows a user who is logged in to execute code on any machine running Windows 8.1 even without administrator privileges.

The issue has to do with NtAppelpCacheControl(1). It is incredibly obscure and you really need to know what you are looking for in order to find it. Firstly, you need to have the program to get an access token, provided by a system-level process. An example is BITS. After that, the function has to be engaged so that an entry can be made in the actual application’s compatibility cache. Normally, only someone with admin codes should be able to achieve this. It now seems, however, that when the access token gets examined, the impersonation level of the program does not get checked. This means that someone at user level is able to use the software to pretend they are a privileged program. As a result, they are able to change the cache itself. If this is crafted properly by someone who knows what they are doing, Windows could use this cache to run an arbitrary executable file that then has elevated privileges. Google’s security team immediately notified Microsoft about the blunder in their programming.

This bug is subject to a 90 day disclosure deadline. If 90 days elapse without a broadly available patch, then the bug report will automatically become visible to the public.

As promised, the details of the bug were revealed on December 30, when the deadline passed. The release included the exact workings of the proof-of-concept code. This has been made available by the Chocolate Factory both in executable binary form and source code.

However, it seems that Google has stirred up a brand new storm now. Some people seem to think that the disclosure policy employed by Project Zero is far too aggressive. This project was first started in July 2014 and its aim has always been to find and identify bugs in any software that is used regularly in the public sphere. It now seems that various people have spoken out against this aggressive approach.

Automatically disclosing this vulnerability when a deadline is reached with absolutely zero context strikes me as incredibly irresponsible and I’d have expected a greater degree of care and maturity from a company like Google.

However at the same time, there are users who feel that Project Zero is absolutely necessary. They believe that those bugs that haven’t been disclosed yet may well have been identified by hackers already. After all, if Google can find them, others can as well. By releasing the bugs after a set deadline, Project Zero gives program owners the opportunity to make changes and it gives users the opportunity to not use the program until the bug is fixed. Indeed, those who support Project Zero feel that keeping issues a secret doesn’t help anybody. It is only when a vulnerability is exposed to all of those who use a program, that they are aware of the fact that their security is at risk, giving them a true opportunity to actually take actions against it. Ben Hawkes, security researcher at Google, has also defended the auto-disclosure policy.

Project Zero believes that disclosure deadlines are currently the optimal approach for user security – it allows software vendors a fair and reasonable length of time to exercise their vulnerability management process, while also respecting the rights of users to learn and understand the risks they face.

At the same time, Hawkes stated that he understood the necessity of analyzing and monitoring the effects of the policy. So far, it has been shown that most of the reported bugs are fixed before the deadline actually passes. This demonstrates that software developers are committed to the security and safety of their users.

Microsoft, however, seemed less happy about the disclosure. They have stated that they did indeed receive the statement about the bug and have been working on fixing it. Unfortunately, they were unable to do so within the deadline period. An email has been received from El Reg, spokesperson for Microsoft, in which it was explained that they are trying to address an Elevation of Privilege problem. However, Microsoft wanted to stress that the bug could only be exploited by somebody that already has the necessary and valid login credentials. Additionally, they need to have local access to the machine in question. According to El Reg, so long as all users have an up-to-date anti-virus package and ensured they install all the Windows Security Updates, and made sure they have their firewall switched on, they should not have any problems with the bug. Interestingly, Patch Tuesday is on January 13, but it is not known whether the issue will be fixed by then. Microsoft seems to be keeping quiet about how much progress they are making on fixing this issue at all.

Although the bug was released under Project Zero on December 30, it still took quite a number of days for news agencies to become aware of it. However, it is now found across all tech and marketing websites. This is the flip side of Project Zero, in a way. Although there is certainly something to be said for releasing details on bugs that aren’t fixed within a certain deadline, it also means that it is almost impossible to not know that Microsoft has a bug. However, the vast majority of Microsoft users do not have any real understanding of coding and credentials and they may be unnecessarily put off by the operating system when they are actually not at any risk. On the other hand, it should be Microsoft’s responsibility to set people’s minds at ease and explain how the bug is getting fixed.

Recently, Google has pushed a new update out very quietly to Android developers. Their guidelines now prohibit developers from including user testimonials in the Play Store under their app descriptions. The rule has been implemented in order to stop developers from making their apps easier to find by using unrelated or irrelevant keywords in their apps. Very often, the user testimonials are actually fake and have been placed there by the developers themselves, to allow for keyword stuffing. This will no longer be possible.

Google has released new advice to their developers as well. They now ask that all descriptions be kept short and sweet. They should provide a highlight of the best points of the app and they should include a short but very accurate description of the app itself. Additionally, they are no longer allowed to use repetitive keywords. Furthermore, Google has included a specification that user testimonials can no longer use “unrelated keywords or references” and that these testimonials cannot be included in the description of the app itself.

Please do not include user testimonials in your app description. They tend to be dubious and are frequently utilized to include references to popular search terms and competitor apps in violation of the policies outlined here. Let your users speak for themselves via Play’s comment review system.

It is quite obvious what Google is trying to do. At present, the testimonials are filled with spammy keywords. As a result, people no longer trust them to be an accurate description of the app itself and they are losing faith in the Google Play Store, in general. Indeed, users do not appreciate the fact that they are confronted with a full range of irrelevant apps that only show up because they are using keywords that link to other searches.

As expected, Google is not actually asking their app developers to stick to the new rules. Rather, they are telling them to. If excessive references and details are included that refer to other products and apps, they will be penalized. This will, of course, create a problem for developers as they often try to capitalize on the fact that they have had a successful app, which allows them to push any new apps forward.

The new guidelines are designed to ensure that Android users have a positive and honest experience when they go to the Play Store. Within the existing Google Play guidelines, anti-spamming rules have long been included. Publication of spam has never been allowed, but they have now expanded on those rules by including the use of repetitive, deceptive and irrelevant content or keywords. If developers do not stick to these rules, Google will lower the ratings of the app. The new guidelines have made it very clear that the consequences can be severe.

It can result in your app being suspended or your developer account being terminated.

However, most developers have already found a way around the new guidelines. Indeed, they have seen the update coming for quite some time and they have already been working on options to work around it. The most popular one is the use of screenshots instead.

This new policy won’t, at this point, prevent developers from overlaying user testimonials on screenshots, which is another common practice.

However, for users, the new development should be highly positive. Indeed, it means that they will no longer be confronted with as many apps that have absolutely no relevance to them anymore. In the past, when you would search for an app, the description of the app itself would include a customer review with links to other apps of the same developer. Although these may now still be there on screenshots, it is much easier to not look at screenshots and simply read the description, which will have to highlight what the app is about and what its main features are.

In reality, it was about time that Google included such an update. Before these updates, if you were to search for something like “best photography app,” you could end up with a list of apps that had absolutely nothing to do with photography at all, but simply had those keywords in their description. This has now changed completely, meaning search results are more honest and realistic. But the guidelines do not mean that app developers cannot ask their users to leave reviews. It simply means that these reviews can no longer be used in the description of the app itself.

This is an important factor because users do look for reviews in order to decide whether or not to download an app. It seems, therefore, that Google may be moving closer to the way Amazon deals with their products, allowing for reviews without these affecting the popularity of a product in search options. However, this does raise the question about how you can ensure reviews are honest and reliable. It is easy enough to find websites that will pay people to leave positive reviews for products that they sell on Amazon, so it could be that the same will happen with the Google Play Store.

Responses to the new guidelines have been mixed. On the one hand, users have reacted positively as they feel that any search results they receive are more honest and reliable. Naturally, developers have been less enthusiastic about the development. They feel that using reviews in descriptions are actually an age-old marketing technique that should not be removed.

There is a fine line between making stuff up and marketing. Yes, we all understand that there is some cheeky marketing out there, but just turn on the TV – you see this sort of thing everywhere!

Indeed, any advertisement is, most often, a lie to some degree. Every product claims to be the best, the most innovative and the most necessary. What Google is basically saying is that you are no longer allowed to truly promote your product, and this can be a real problem. Advertising will never be fully honest, after all.

Google is a true dominant giant in the world today. They are developing driverless cars and they are looking at ways of using balloons to allow internet access for the world. It seems to many people that the company is a Nirvana for the most “out there” scientific projects that are out of touch with the normal world. Naturally, Google doesn’t see things that way and the head of the driverless car project, Chris Urmson was keen to refute those ideas.

We aren’t here to be a Willy Wonka chocolate factory. We’re here to explore hard problems that aren’t being pushed in other places and move them towards products and out into the world.

Unfortunately, Google’s ambitions have hit a setback with their Glass project. Glass is one of Google X’s experiments: smart glasses. For this project, they had to go back to the drawing board. The test version went on sale last week, but this had to be suspended and the project received a new manager.670px-googlelogo-300x102

This comes at the same time as Wall Street funking out about the relationship between Google’s increasingly high spending and their profit margins. Their Moonshot projects, for instance, also came under scrutiny. Indeed, although Google’s profits did rise by 20% last year, their development costs went up by 35% and their operating costs by 30%. Naturally, Google believes the Glass changes are par for the course and required before it can really be made available. However, the reality is that there was also a sense of reversal. Critics who believe Google is placing personal gain over privacy are having a field day over this.

Eric Schmidt, who was a Glass chairman, had stated that Glass 2.0 would soon be on sale. Yet, Google quickly replaced Schmidt with Tony Fadell, who, incidentally, used to work for Apple. Fadell also manages the Nest (smart home) element of Google. The first order of business for Fadell was to take Glass back off the market, without any mention of when, and if, it would be released again.

Clearly, the release of Glass wasn’t handled properly. It may have been backed by Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google with much enthusiasm, but it came to very little. Nevertheless, Google remains ambitious at the same time. Indeed, it seems that everybody agrees that the market of wearables is anything but dead and that it makes good business sense for Google to continue to invest in these products. At the same time, however, customers are very disappointed.

Glass suddenly feels like a very expensive Kickstarter project. It always sounds awesome at first, and some charismatic people do a fabulous job of selling the concept to you. You slap down some money, and eventually get a half-baked product that’s quickly abandoned by its makers.

Indeed, questions are now being raised about how Google decides to invest and how they manage their products. The belief behind Google X was always that the company had the opportunity to change the world by developing ambitious ideas that seem impossible to realize, through the work of engineers who love a good challenge. This is in stark contrast to Apple’s methods of working, under which Fadell was a key figure as well. It was his team that developed the iPod, but this was under the understanding that user experience is more important than technological development. It is for this reason that Apple works for years on their prototypes, in complete secrecy, before ever talking about a new product.

Perhaps a new model does indeed need to be created for Google’s most ambitious projects, above and beyond what is currently offered by Google X. Chief executive and co-founder Larry Page certainly seems to agree. He felt that Google’s investment approaches should be seen like those of Warren Buffett, the legendary investor: management teams should be able to run near independent businesses within the company itself. Wall Street also continues to be involved and is demanding greater disclosure. However, Page says this would not be possible, as it would release information to competitors that should still remain secret. For investors, however, it looks as if Google lacks a degree of discipline.

Interestingly, it does seem as if no internal agreement exists on the larger projects within Google. Some believe that the company will back anything that involves objects, like cars and glasses, to connect to the internet. After all, according to Mr Mahaney, this is how Google will get more data.

They’re the ultimate tax on the internet.

As always, Google disagrees. They feel they have come under fire needlessly, being accused of pushing advertisements to online users, when what they really want to do is solve world problems and make life a little easier. This could really have an impact on society and, therefore, businesses.

Of course, many people are now starting to compare Google to Microsoft, which also famously tried to go above and beyond its core monopoly. Indeed, both pro- and anti-Google advocates are making this same comparison. Microsoft famously spent billions of dollars on Bing and failed to achieve any results. Similarly, Google invested heavily in Google+ social networking, but found that they spent a lot of money trying to rival Facebook and essentially wasted it.

However, there is a big difference as well. Microsoft failed when it looked for markets that were outside of the realms of the PC. Google, on the other hand, continues to bid strongly on future developments. Companies who have traditionally not invested in growth, like Yahoo!, AOL and eBay, are the ones which have really lost money, after all.

No opinions have been received from investors at Google and, in reality, they can only go along with what happens anyway. Since a third stock class was created last year by Mr Brin and Mr Page, it is guaranteed that there will never be a dilution of majority control in the company either. It is felt that those who do not want to take big investment risks simply should not invest in Google.