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Google

Hard-Coded Bias In Google Search Results? 257

bonch writes "Technology consultant Benjamin Edelman has developed a methodology for determining the existence of a hard-coded bias in Google's search engine which places Google's services at the top of the results page. Searching for a stock ticker places Google Finance at the top along with a price chart, but adding a comma to the end of the query removes the Google link completely. Other variations, such as 'a sore throat' instead of 'sore throat,' removes Google Health from its top position. Queries in other categories provide links to not only Google services but also their preferred partners. Though Google claims it does not bias its results, Edelman cites a 2007 admission from Google's Marissa Mayers that they placed Google Finance at the top of the results page, calling it 'only fair' because they made the search engine. Edelman notes that Google cites its use of unbiased algorithms to dismiss antitrust scrutiny, and he recalls the DOJ's intervention in airlines providing favorable results for their own flights in customer reservation systems they owned."
Google

Reading Google Chrome's Fine Print 607

Much ink and many electrons are being spilled over Google's Chrome browser (discussed here twice in recent days): from deep backgrounders to performance benchmarks to its vulnerability to a carpet-bombing flaw. The latest angle to be explored is Chrome's end-user license agreement. It does not look consumer-friendly. "By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any content which you submit, post or display on or through, the services. This license is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the services and may be revoked for certain services as defined in the additional terms of those services."
Google

Google Sued for $1B Over Outlook Migration Tool 332

A two-count lawsuit filed by Chicago company LimitNone alleges that Google misappropriated trade secrets and violated Illinois' consumer fraud laws when it developed "Google Email Uploader" which competes with LimitNone's "gMove" application. "Google claims its core philosophy is 'Don't be evil' but, simply put, they invited us to work with them, to trust them — and then stole our technology,'" said Ray Glassman, CEO of LimitNone, in a prepared statement. The lawsuit was filed by Kelley Drye & Warren LLP, the same commercial litigation group which challenged Google over the company's online advertising system.
Google

Google's Shareholders Vote Against Human Rights 376

yo_cruyff notes a Computerworld article on Google's recent annual shareholder meeting, which was dominated by argument over the company's human rights policies. Google's shareholders, on advice from their board, have voted down two proposals on Thursday that would have compelled Google to change its policies. "Google [has been] coming under fire for operating a version of its search engine that complies with China's censorship rules. Google argues that it's better for it to have a presence in the country and to offer people some information, rather than for it not to be active in China at all... [S]hareholders and rights groups including Amnesty International... continue to push Google to improve its policies in countries known for human rights abuses and limits on freedom of speech... Sergey Brin, cofounder and president of technology for Google, abstained from voting on either of the proposals. 'I agreed with the spirit of these proposals,' Brin said. But he said he didn't fully support them as they were written, and so did not want to vote for them."
Google

Google Gives Up IP of Anonymous Blogger 386

An anonymous reader alerts us to a story out of Israel in which Google (its Israeli subsidiary) gave up the IP address of a Blogger user without being compelled to do so by a court. A preliminary ruling was issued in which a court indicated that the slander the blogger was accused of probably rose to the level of a criminal violation. Google Israel then made a deal with the plaintiffs, local city councilmen whom the blogger had been attacking for a year. Google disclosed the IP address only to the court, which posted a message (Google says the anonymous blogger got it) inviting him/her to contest the ruling anonymously. When no response was received within 3 days, Google turned over the IP address to the plaintiffs' lawyers.
Google

A Google Blunder- the Sad Story of Urchin 164

Anenome writes "Google has a track record of buying startups and integrating them into its portfolio. But sometimes those acquisitions go terribly wrong, as Ars Technica argues has been the case with Google's 2005 purchase of web-analytics firm Urchin Software Corp. 'In the wake of Google's purchase of the company, inquiring customers (including Ars Technica) were told that support and updates would continue. Companies that had purchased support contracts were expecting version 6 any day, including Ars. What really happened is this: Google focused its attention on Google Analytics, put all updates to Urchin's other products on the back burner, and rolled out a skeleton support team. Everyone who forked over for upgrades via a support contract never got them, even though things weren't supposed to have changed. The support experience has been awful. Since the acquisition, we have had two major issues with Urchin, and neither issue was solved by Google's support team. In fact, with one issue, we were helped up until the point it got difficult, and then the help vanished. The support team literally just stopped responding.'"
Google

Google Loses Gmail Trademark Case 293

amigoro writes "A court in Germany today banned Google from using the name 'Gmail' for its popular webmail service following a trademark suit filed by the founder of G-Mail. Daniel Giersch, started using the name G-Mail in 2000, four years before Google released 'Gmail'. "Google infringed the young businessman's trademark that had been previously been registered," said the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court in its judgement."
Google

FTC Investigating Google-DoubleClick Deal 81

An anonymous reader writes "The New York Times is covering FTC interest in Google's purchase of the DoubleClick service. The investigation is in response to privacy group concerns over the amount of information Google will have available to it via its ad service and DoubleClick. Between a few days and a week from now the FTC should either declare the all clear, or elevate the process to a 'second request' stage. That would indicate more serious issues the federal body has an interest in. Google stated it was confident the purchase would hold up under scrutiny. 'In the complaint, the groups noted that Google collects the search histories of its users, while DoubleClick tracks what Web sites people visit. The merger, according to their complaint, would give one company access to more information about the Internet activities of consumers than any other company in the world.'"
Google

EU Questions Google Privacy Policy 168

An anonymous reader writes "The BBC is running a piece noting that the EU is scrutinizing Google's privacy policy this month. The company's policy of keeping search information on their servers for up to two years may be violating EU privacy laws. A data protection group that advises the European Union has written to the search giant to express concerns. The EU has a wide range of privacy protections that set limits to what information corporations may collect and what they may or may not do with it. In the US on the other hand privacy laws generally cover government actions while the business sector remains largely unregulated. Is it perhaps time to follow the European example and extend privacy laws to include corporations?"
Google

Google Shareholders Reject Censorship Proposal 163

prostoalex writes "At the annual shareholder meeting, Google put forth for voting a proposal for the company not to engage in self-censorship, resist by all legal means the demands to censor information, inform the user in case their information was provided to the government, and generally not to store sensitive user data in the countries with below average free speech policies. As this proposal, if passed, would effectively mean the end of Google's China operations, the shareholders rejected the document at the recommendation of the Board of Directors."
Google

Google's Evil NDA 452

An anonymous reader writes "Google's motto is "Don't Be Evil" — but they sure have an evil non-disclosure agreement! In order to be considered for employment there, you must sign an agreement that forbids you to 'mention or imply the name of Google' in public ever again. Further, you can't tell anyone you interviewed there, or what they offered you, and you possibly sign away your rights to reverse-engineer any of Google's code, ever. And this NDA never expires. Luckily, someone has posted excerpts from the NDA before he signed it and had to say silent forever." At the bottom of the posting are links to a few other comments on the Web about Google's NDA, including a ValleyWag post that reproduces it in its entirety.
Censorship

Orkut In Pact With Indian Law Enforcement 88

food4thought writes "The Economic Times reports that Orkut has signed a pact with Indian Cyber Crime Cell. They have now pledged to block any 'defamatory or inflammatory content', or hand over IP address information to police if asked.' Deputy Commissioner of Police (enforcement) Sanjay Mohite said the pact means they do not have to go through the lengthy process of asking the Central government to communicate with Orkut. The practice so far has been to first send a request to the Centre's computer emergency response team in New Delhi. This team processes the request through its channels and even if a forum is finally blocked, the "culprits" still remain untraceable as no IP addresses can be obtained ... "Now we can do away with the process and not just directly ban content but also obtain details of IP addresses and service providers quickly," Mohite said.' How long before we see these 'informal arrangements' elsewhere?"
Google

Businesses Scramble To Stay Out of Google Hell 303

whoever57 writes "Forbes has up an article on the consequences of being dumped into a claimed 'supplemental index', also known as 'Google Hell'. It uses the example of Skyfacet, a site selling diamonds rings and other jewelery, which has dropped in Google's rankings and saw a $500,000 drop in revenue in only three months after the site owner paid a marketing consultant to improve the sites. The article claims that sites in the supposed 'supplemental index' may be visited by Google's spiders as infrequently as once per year. The problem? Google's cache shows that Google's spiders visited the site ss recently as late April. 'Google Hell is the worst fear of the untold numbers of companies that depend on search results to keep their business visible online. Getting stuck there means most users will never see the site, or at least many of the site's pages, when they enter certain keywords. And getting out can be next to impossible--because site operators often don't know what they did to get placed there.'"
Google

Outcry Over Google's Purchase of Doubleclick 242

TheCybernator writes to mention that several activist groups have cried out in protest of the Google buyout of Doubleclick reported in recent news. "'Google's proposed acquisition of DoubleClick will give one company access to more information about the Internet activities of consumers than any other company in the world,' said the complaint lodged with the Federal Trade Commission. 'Moreover, Google will operate with virtually no legal obligation to ensure the privacy, security, and accuracy of the personal data that it collects.' The complaint was filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center along with the Center for Digital Democracy and the US Public Interest Research Group, all of which are involved in online privacy issues."
Google

Google Sought To Hide Political Dealmaking 283

A blog entry by Michael Kanellos at ZDNet links to and expands upon an article in the Charlotte Observer. Last year Google was apparently throwing its weight around in North Carolina, seeking tax breaks from state and local legislators. When the company didn't get what it wanted pressure was brought to bear on legislative aides, journalists, and politicians. The search giant was especially touchy about keeping the negotiations secret: "Executives didn't want anybody even to mention the company's name for fear that competitors could learn of its plans. Most involved with the negotiations were required to sign nondisclosure agreements ... That posed challenges for elected officials, charged with conducting the public's business in the open. As the tax measure wended its way through the legislature, some lawmakers began linking it to Google." The results of this deal are extremely lucrative for both sides. Google brought some $600 million in investment and as many as 200 jobs to the state, and legislation enacted with Google's help is projected to save the company some $89 million in taxes over 30 years.

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