Posts Tagged ‘Google

11
Aug
10

Google Street View throws light on web privacy

NEWS
Google Street View throws light on web privacy

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Google’s online map feature has become a flash point for people worried about the erosion of privacy in the Internet Age.

Street View images at Google Maps sparked controversy from the outset of the project three years ago.

Google dispatched cars and tricycles rigged with cameras and satellite positioning gear to take pictures of what one might see on streets around the world and synched the images to its free online mapping service.

Some people complained that faces could be recognised in pictures, raising the potential that people caught in compromising situations, perhaps stepping out of an adult video store, would have such moments memorialised online.

Others expressed fears that numbers from licence plates could be used to figure out who parks or lives on certain streets.

People were soon accusing Street View vehicles of straying onto private roads or yards to snap pictures in violation of the California-based internet giant’s policies.

Google adapted to ameliorate concerns. It began blurring faces and car licence plate numbers in images.

This year the Street View controversy rocketed to a new level with the revelation by Google that electronics in its picture-taking vehicles captured data from wireless internet systems not secured by passwords.

Google basically had access to unencrypted email, video downloads, web browsing or other digital information passing through wireless routers in homes or businesses as its Street View vans went by, said John Verdi, senior counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Centre.

Google has apologised repeatedly for what it called an accidental data grab, but authorities in more than a dozen countries are investigating whether the company broke privacy laws.

South Korean police on Tuesday searched the offices of Google Korea as part of its probe, an officer said.

Police seized computer hard discs and other material. After analysing the material they plan to summon the company’s staff for questioning.

Efforts by governments to get the Street View data threaten to multiply damage to people’s privacy even if Google is true to its word that it has done nothing with the information.

‘Simply handing over the data to governments can be a very bad idea,’ said Electronic Frontier Foundation international rights director Katitza Rodriguez.

‘In some cases, the remedy can be worse than the disease.’

Countries could use the pretext of investigating Street View to mine Google data in ways that ‘might create risky situations for human rights activists, dissidents, or bloggers fighting for their rights,’ she added.

Silicon Valley analyst Rob Enderle theorised that Google might have intended to map locations of open wireless ‘hot spots’ as a potential service to users.

‘Telling people where they can get on the internet for free while they are out and about sounds to me like a typical Google thing to do,’ Enderle said. ‘It wouldn’t surprise me.’

Identity thieves might view a roster of open wireless zones the way burglars might look at a list of homes left unlocked, according to the analyst.

Google said it would allow Germans to block out their homes on Street View ahead of its launch in the country this year but privacy watchdogs were still not happy.

‘Google Street View is a great tool, for instance, for tourists to scope out the location that he or she wants to visit,’ Rodriguez said.

‘However, Google’s technology is too invasive, and goes too far. We expect some degree of anonymity while we are walking on the streets.’
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12
Jul
10

Facebook Installs Panic Button For Children

NEWS
Facebook Installs Panic Button For Children

Monday, July 12, 2010

••• Young Facebook users will be able to report suspicious online behavior with the launch of a new ‘panic button’ targeting sex offenders.

Children can use the button to report abuse to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) and Facebook.

The application will automatically appear on the homepage of every user aged between 13 and 18.

The launch follows months of negotiation between Facebook and CEOP, the government law enforcement agency tasked with tracking down online sex offenders.

CEOP called for the panic button to be installed in November but Facebook has resisted the idea.

Bebo became the first network to add the button, followed by MySpace while Facebook maintained that its own reporting systems were adequate.

However pressure mounted on Facebook following the rape and murder of Ashleigh Hall, 17.

Ashleigh was killed by a 33-year-old convicted sex offender, posing as a teenage boy, whom she met on Facebook.

Forty-four police chiefs in England, Wales and Scotland, signed a letter backing CEOP’s call for a panic button on every Facebook page.

Users will be able to bookmark the Click CEOP service or add it as an application to find information about online safety.

Jim Gamble, chief executive of the CEOP Centre said: ‘Our dialogue with Facebook about adopting the Click CEOP button is well documented – today however is a good day for child protection.

‘We know from speaking to offenders that a visible deterrent could protect young people online.’

Facebook’s Joanna Shields added: ‘There is no single silver bullet to making the internet safer but by joining forces with CEOP we have developed a comprehensive solution which marries our expertise in technology with CEOP’s expertise in online safety.’

James Brokenshire, U.K. Minister for Crime Prevention said: ‘It’s a sad fact that we are now seeing more cases where sex offenders are using social networking sites to conceal their identities in order to contact children.’
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08
Jul
10

Introducing the New YouTube Mobile Website

NEWS
Introducing the New YouTube Mobile Website

Thursday, July 8, 2010

••• YouTube has upgraded its mobile website to make it more convenient and appealing to watch videos on touch-screen devices such as Apple Inc.’s iPhone and Motorola Inc.’s Droid X.

The improvements unveiled Wednesday are designed to make it easier for smart phone users to navigate YouTube’s vast video library. The fine-tuning also enables YouTube’s mobile website to stream videos in higher resolution than clips served up through YouTube applications installed on smart phones.

There is still at least one significant problem to be worked out: YouTube says the mobile website encounters some bugs on the hot-selling iPhone 4 phone. Those issues are expected to be resolved within the next few weeks. Apple sells the iPhone 4 with a YouTube application already installed on it.
The new YouTube for mobile provides an updated navigation and UI for easier browsing. The home screen is similar to what you find in the Facebook iPhone app – there are rows of icons for different options such as Browse, Favorites, Playlists, Settings and Home. YouTube Mobile Product Manager Andrey Doronichev told us that the product is designed for touchscreen devices especially, which make up the vast majority of YouTube mobile video views.

The biggest and most important change comes in the form of HQ streams. If you’ve ever watched YouTube videos on the iPhone app, you know that the quality isn’t that great. That’s because it utilizes an old stream format for second generation networks. The new YouTube mobile site is designed for today’s networks though, including the HQ streaming option that’s currently available in the Android version of the YouTube app. There’s a huge quality difference when you watch videos in both formats.

YouTube, owned by Google Inc., is sprucing up its mobile website as part of its effort to create a “video operating system” that works on any gadget with a screen. Mobile phones are a particularly important target for YouTube. In five years, the site expects more people to be surfing the Web on mobile phones than on desktop computers.

As it stands now, YouTube says it’s showing more than 100 million videos per day on mobile devices. That’s roughly the same number of YouTube clips that were being watched on office and home computers when Google bought the site for $1.76 billion in late 2006. YouTube says people now watch more than 2 billion daily videos through all its distribution channels.
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• Source(s): YouTube, LLC
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07
Jul
10

Google’s China webpage licence under review

NEWS
Google’s China webpage licence under review

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

••• Google Inc’s application to renew its Chinese Website license (Internet Content Provider license) is currently under review, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said yesterday.

But the ministry didn’t give a deadline for the license review.

It was the Chinese regulator’s latest response regarding the fate of Google China, which recently stopped redirecting automatically web searchers on China’s mainland to its Hong Kong site and applied to renew its license in the world’s largest Internet market last month.

“Google’s annual check-in is under way but there’s no detailed deadline for the result because its submission is relatively late,” said ministry spokesperson Wang Lijian.

The ministry is the body responsible for renewing and reviewing Internet content provider licenses.

Google shut down its mainland-based search engine on March 22 and rerouted users to its Hong Kong site.

It stopped the automatic redirect because regulators told the company its Internet license would not be renewed if it kept it going.

“We re-applied for the license at the end of last month and we are waiting for the results now,” said Marsha Wang, Google China’s spokesperson.

At present, only “music,” “translate” and “shopping” links, in Chinese, appear on the Google China webpage.

Visitors to google.cn will also see a tab that says, in English, “We have moved to google.com.hk.”

Clicking on that takes users to the Chinese-language site in Hong Kong.

Google clearly doesn’t want to give up the Chinese market, with more than 300 million netizens on the mainland. On the other hand, it has said it does not want to subject its Web searches to what it considers censorship under Chinese law.
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22
Jun
10

U.K. police probing alleged Google privacy breach

NEWS
U.K. police probing alleged Google privacy breach

U.K. Police Investigating Alleged Google Privacy Breach Through Public Wi-Fi Networks

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

••• Britain has become the latest country to open an investigation into whether Google violated communication and privacy laws by mistakenly gathering data over public Wi-Fi networks.

London’s Metropolitan Police says it is looking into complaints that the search engine’s ‘Street View’ project picked up people’s online activities through unprotected networks.

It says it is determining what offences, if any, were committed.

Privacy International, a London-based privacy watchdog that filed the case with police, says it had received complaints from members of the public who feared their personal data could be at risk.

The French independent privacy watchdog CNIL said last week that Google, following a complaint, had handed over personal data sucked up by its technicians.

The attorney general of the U.S. state of Connecticut is also looking into whether Google broke the law.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced on Monday that his office will lead a multi-state probe of “Google’s deeply disturbing invasion of personal privacy.”

“Street View cannot mean Complete View – invading home and business computer networks and vacuuming up personal information and communications,” Blumenthal said.

Similar probes have begun in Germany, Australia and New Zealand, where police are investigating Google and some of the internet giant’s employees for collecting private information while they photographed streets for the Google Maps website.
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22
Jun
10

U.S. States step up ante against Google over wireless data

NEWS
U.S. States step up ante against Google over wireless data

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

••• The attorney general of a U.S. state is looking into whether Google broke the law by capturing people’s personal data from wireless networks.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced on Monday that his office will lead a multistate probe of “Google’s deeply disturbing invasion of personal privacy,” which has drawn ire and scrutiny in an array of countries.

“Street View cannot mean Complete View – invading home and business computer networks and vacuuming up personal information and communications,” Blumenthal said.

Similar probes have begun in U.K., Germany, Australia and New Zealand, where police are investigating Google and some of the internet giant’s employees for collecting private information while they photographed streets for the Google Maps website.

Blumenthal said people had a right to know what information Google gleaned, how it was done and why.

He also wanted the internet giant to detail what safeguards are in place to fix the situation.

“While we hope Google will continue to cooperate, its response so far raises as many questions as it answers,” Blumenthal said.

“Our investigation will consider whether laws may have been broken and whether changes to state and federal statutes may be necessary.”

Blumenthal has asked Google to explain how and when it learned its Street View bicycles and cars were capturing data from unencrypted wireless networks and why they recorded the quality of wireless networks they passed.
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09
Jun
10

Google’s new search index Caffeine goes live

NEWS
Google’s new search index Caffeine goes live

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Internet giant Google has given its search engine capabilities a jolt with the launch of a new indexing system dubbed ‘Caffeine’.

The new system will process hundreds of thousands of pages simultaneously every second, and promises to serve content 70 percent fresher than the current algorithm, including material derived from real-time Web technologies, such as Twitter.
Google’s ‘Caffeine’ is understood to take up nearly 100 million gigabytes of storage in one database.

Previously, Google would assess a fraction of the Web each night, index it and push it out in its results.

With Caffeine, as Google crawls the Web and finds new information, it indexes it immediately.

The ‘Caffeine’ formula has slashed the average search response time to about half that of ‘old’ Google, and is geared to decipher complex keyword strings with greater ease – things that search engine experts say Microsoft really hit on when it released Bing.
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• The Official Google Blog: Our new search index: Caffeine
• Source(s): Google Inc. – Carrie Grimes, Software Engineer
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