Posts tagged Google
Posts tagged Google
Google demands probable-cause, court-issued warrants to divulge the contents of Gmail and other cloud-stored documents to authorities in the United States — a startling revelation Wednesday that runs counter to federal law that does not always demand warrants.
The development surfaced as Google publicly announced that more than two-thirds of the user data Google forwards to government agencies across the United States is handed over without a probable-cause warrant.
A Google spokesman told Wired that the media giant demands that government agencies — from the locals to the feds — get a probable-cause warrant for content on its e-mail, Google Drive cloud storage and other platforms — despite the Electronic Communications Privacy Act allowing the government to access such customer data without a warrant if it’s stored on Google’s servers for more than 180 days.
» via Wired
We’ve noted that the MPAA’s case against Hotfile is surprisingly weak, and seems to be arguing that usage alone is proof of Hotfile’s complicity in any infringement done by users. This is a strange argument, which is more smoke and mirrors than anything legit. It’s as if the MPAA believes that if it just screams “but… but… piracy!” loud enough, the judge will forget to look at the actual law. However, in a bit of a surprising move, Google is trying to step in and inform the judge on one key piece of the case, with an amicus brief.
A new Web standard proposal authored by Google, Microsoft, and Netflix seeks to bring copy protection mechanisms to the Web. The Encrypted Media Extensions draft defines a framework for enabling the playback of protected media content in the Web browser. The proposal is controversial and has raised concern among some parties that are participating in the standards process.
In a discussion on the W3C HTML mailing list, critics questioned whether the proposed framework would really provide the level of security demanded by content providers. Mozilla asked for clarification from the authors about whether it would be possible to implement the proposal in an open source Web browser. Google’s Ian Hickson, the WHATWG HTML specification editor, called the Encrypted Media proposal “unethical” and said that it wouldn’t even fulfill the necessary technical requirements.
“I believe this proposal is unethical and that we should not pursue it,” he wrote in response to a message that Microsoft’s Adrian Bateman posted on the mailing list about the draft. “The proposal above does not provide robust content protection, so it would not address this use case even if it wasn’t unethical.”
» via ars technica
After a Wall Street Journal story last week about Google bypassing the privacy settings on Apple’s Safari Web browser, Microsoft has written a blog post accusing Google of doing similar things on Internet Explorer.
But what is happening on IE is a bit different, and it involves a problem that has been known about for some time by Microsoft and privacy researchers.
» via The Wall Street Journal (Subscription may be required for some content)
The argument that if consumers care about their privacy they shouldn’t use these technologies is a cop-out. This technology is now completely woven into every part of society and business. We didn’t tell people who wanted safer cars simply not to drive. We made safer cars.
Well, safety advocates, consumers and the government dragged the automobile industry toward including seat belts, air bags, more visible taillights and other safety features. Christopher N. Olsen, assistant director in the division of privacy and identity protection at the Federal Trade Commission, expects that as the privacy violations pile up, Congress could enact laws to protect consumers. “Industry should redouble its efforts to focus on privacy issues, or they may face additional pressure in form of legislation from Congress,” he said.
Such legislation would not be ideal for anyone. As technology companies rightly argue, more legislation and regulation stifle innovation.
But the current system of self-regulation is clearly not working. “The F.T.C. has been very active on the enforcement front; we’ve recently entered into consent decrees with large companies like Facebook and Google, and we have pushed other companies too,” Mr. Olsen said.
» via The New York Times (Subscription may be required for some content)
Two former FTC chairs, James Miller and Daniel Oliver, have written an opinion piece chiding the current FTC for its antitrust investigation into Google. As we’ve noted in the past, politicians seem to be going after Google simply because it’s a convenient target that’s big, and not because of any clear harm for consumers. Some Google competitors don’t like Google very much, but that’s no reason to call out the antitrust guns[.]
Remember all that talk of how the supporters of SOPA/PIPA were "humbled" by the protests of January 18th, and how they had learned their lessons about trying to push through a bill without actually involving the stakeholders? Remember the talk of how they hoped a new tone could be found in the debate? Yeah. Apparently someone forgot to send that memo to RIAA boss Cary Sherman, who has taken to the pages of the NY Times to lash out at those who fought against SOPA/PIPA, chalking the whole thing up to a massive “misinformation” campaign by Google and Wikipedia. The whole thing is chock full of ridiculous claims, so we might as well go through it bit by bit.
If you’d like the full-length refutation, there you go. (Read after I’d written my spur-of-the-moment rant posted a few minutes ago.)
“The hyperbolic mistruths, presented on the home pages of some of the world’s most popular Web sites, amounted to an abuse of trust and a misuse of power. When Wikipedia and Google purport to be neutral sources of information, but then exploit their stature to present information that is not only not neutral but affirmatively incomplete and misleading, they are duping their users into accepting as truth what are merely self-serving political declarations.”
No fan of the RIAA, much less SOPA, but this in particular is an interesting point.
Any attempt by pro-SOPA lobbyists to claim the high moral ground in the protests—which they still insist on claiming was entirely the work of a few large corporations rather than a genuine public outcry that those corporations got involved with late in the game—is absolutely, categorically bullshit, and I do not swear lightly. Let me explain:
The Wikipedia community debated this extensively and agreed that while articles are neutral, the organization can and does have political views regarding issues that affect it and its mission (and it does have a mission). The protest announcement clearly drew that distinction. Google’s search results are neutral (despite pressure from the RIAA), but the organization has a Chief Internet Evangelist and a motto that suggests that they do believe that some positions are better than others. The movie companies “just” produce movies, but they have the MPAA. The music companies “just” produce music, but they have the RIAA.
The TV networks he mentions later didn’t just stay neutral; they avoided covering what was a fairly major story in the making, which is can be in itself a form of bias. (Do we in the library world really have to be reminded of the power of censorship to stifle dissent by pretending that both the issue and the protest never happened?) When one of them did do a piece, the representative for the pro-SOPA side was the general counsel of NBCUniversal, which owned the show doing it. And need we mention Creative America? The TV companies didn’t use their soapbox because they didn’t want to draw attention to public protests against their corporate interests by acting as a corporation; instead, they tried recruiting all of their employees into an astroturf campaign.
And speaking of “hyperbolic mistruths, presented on the home pages of some of the world’s most popular Web sites, […] information that is not only not neutral but affirmatively incomplete and misleading, […] duping their users into accepting as truth what are merely self-serving political declarations,” well, there’s this link going ‘round to a misleading and misinformation-filled Op-Ed by a professional corporate advocate in one of the world’s most trusted newspapers… .