Imaginary Letter: Google CEO Larry Page Writes Congress, Asks “What’s Up With PRISM?”

google-congress-featured Over the years, Google has received several letters from the US Congress worried that it is somehow invading people's privacy. Now Congress, along with the Obama Administration and the US judicial system, is accused of invading the privacy of people who use Google's services. I thought the turnabout would be fair play, a letter from Google back to Congress. The letter below isn't real, but the points and unanswered questions are. I've written in the style of the latest letter Google received from Congress, last month about Google Glass. As Google professes it is not part of any data g [...]


Scope of Alleged Spying On Americans’ Internet Activity Massive, “Beyond Orwellian”

privacy-security-online-computer It turns out that for the past roughly 6 years, the US government has been "collecting" or "mining" US citizens' personal data and communications from telcos and Internet companies -- effectively "spying" on US citizens. Those data, it has been alleged, come in large part from direct access to the servers of most of the Internet's biggest brands: Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, AOL and others. (Dropbox was apparently cited in leaked documents as “coming soon.”) These bombshell disclosures follow yesterday's discovery that the US government was collecting Verizon telephon [...]


Google In Secret Legal Battle With Feds Over Consumer Data

In 2006, AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo all complied with Bush Administration Justice Department (DOJ) subpoenas to turn over search records -- without a fight. The subpoenas were issued pursuant to the Child Online Protection Act of 1998, which the Supreme Court had previously ruled to be unconstitutional. The requests were made anyway, and Google was the only major search engine to resist. Whether the Bush Administration anti-child porn search subpoenas were a pretext for other types of inquiries we'll never know. But now, history is repeating itself. This time it's the Obama Administration see [...]


EU-Google “Rival Links” Antitrust Settlement Provision Creates New Controversy

Google Europe legal The US Federal Trade Commission declined to address the alleged "search bias" (vertical search) claim against Google in its settlement with the company earlier this year. It's a highly problematic issue from a legal standpoint but it's the one Google's critics and rivals care most about. In short they would like to blunt or stop Google's ability to place its own content (e.g., Maps, Travel, Shopping) at or near the top of search results (Universal Search). Google's display of structured content at the top of search results is diverting or siphoning off "their" traffic, they argue. Europe [...]


More Antritrust Pain For Google: FTC To Probe Display Ads Biz

google-legal-law According to Bloomberg, Google is facing yet another antitrust headache at the hands of the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The agency is fresh off a settlement earlier this year with Mountain View over its search market dominance. This time, the FTC will reportedly be probing the display side of Google's online advertising business. The Bloomberg report says that "The FTC is looking at whether Google is using its tools to force companies to bypass competing products and use other Google properties, including a marketplace for buying and selling Internet display ads, and features that [...]


Apple Targets Samsung Galaxy S4 & “Google Now” With Amended Patent Claims

google-legal-law In the ongoing "war of the worlds" patent litigation between Apple and Samsung/Google, the Cupertino company has said it will amend its patent infringement claims to include the Galaxy S4. That's according to Foss Patents, which also reports that Apple asserts Google Now infringes two patents associated with Siri. Overall, there are five patents being asserted in the amended Apple pleadings (below). The Siri-related patents are U.S. Patent No. 8,086,604 and U.S. Patent No. 6,847,959, which pertain to a "universal interface for retrieval of information in a computer system." Apple is [...]


Two New Shoes Drop On Google: UK Tax Whistleblower And Canadian Antitrust Action

google-legal-law Within a roughly 48-hour period, Google got two big helpings of bad news. According to the Canadian newspaper Financial Post, the country's Competition Bureau is preparing to launch a formal antitrust investigation into Google's Canadian business operations. The scope and precise focus of the Canadian investigation have not been revealed. Google has a nearly 90 percent search market share in Canada according to StatCounter. Bing and Yahoo combine for less than 10 percent of the market. The other shoe comes from across the Atlantic where a former UK Google employee, Barney Jones, now has [...]


Google On Glass Privacy Issues & Congress: “Social Cues” Will Help, Plus It Takes Trust Seriously

google-glass-open-1366203189 Google Glass isn't even available for consumers and some in US Congress are already formally raising privacy questions. Google's reaction? Privacy has been "top of mind" as it has developed Glass, and it takes trust seriously. It also feels that "social cues" may help with some concerns. Google was asked about the Congressional letter during a "fireside chat" session about Google Glass at its Google I/O conference today. Google Glass director Steve Lee responded as paraphrased below: From the beginning, the social implications of wearing Glass have been at the top of our mind as we [...]


Congress Sends Google CEO Larry Page Letter Asking About Google Glass Privacy Concerns

google-glass In the midst of the 2013 Google I/O developer conference currently being held in San Francisco, Google CEO Larry Page received a formal letter from eight-members of congress addressing Google Glass privacy issues. The letter from Congress outlined eight specific areas of concern, asking specifically: Does Google have plans to prevent Google Glass from unintentionally collecting data about the user/non-user without consent? (After referencing  Google's agreement to settle charges in 2010 for collecting information from encrypted wireless networks without permission.) What proactive st [...]


Europe Finds That Google’s Motorola Unit “Abused Its Dominant Position” In Patent Fight With Apple

Google Europe The European Commission has made a preliminary determination that Google's Motorola Mobility unit "abused its dominant position" under EU antitrust rules in seeking to obtain and enforce an injunction against Apple in Germany. At the center of the dispute is Motorola's claimed misuse of  "standards essential patents" in mobile patent litigation against Apple. Google's antitrust settlement with the FTC in the US requires the company not to use standards-essential patents to block rival mobile products. The European Commission says that's what Motorola was trying to do in this case. Howe [...]


YouTube Beats Viacom In Copyright Suit (Again); Viacom To Appeal (Again)

youtube-logo-200 To borrow a famous quote from Yogi Berra: It's like deja vu all over again. YouTube beat Viacom again today in the long-running copyright battle the two have waged, and Viacom is again saying that it plans to appeal the ruling. The Hollywood Reporter broke the news and has posted the court's decision, too. In today's ruling, Judge Louis Stanton -- who also ruled in YouTube's favor back in 2010 -- wrote that "the burden of showing that YouTube knew or was aware of the specific infringements of the works in the suit cannot be shifted to YouTube to disprove." That's a fundamental concept of [...]


Federal Judge Expresses Anger Toward Apple, Motorola For Using Global Litigation “As A Business Strategy”

android-apple-ios In the original Star Trek series episode called "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield," two nearly identical aliens, inflamed by mutual hatred, beam down to their decimated planet to continue their fight, seemingly for eternity. That might also be a way to describe the Apple-Android global litigation: it goes on and on, seemingly forever. A frustrated federal judge in Florida has publicly attacked both Apple and, in this case, Motorola (Google) for being unwilling to voluntarily streamline and simplify their case or engage in sincere settlement talks. According to Bloomberg, exasperated US  [...]


New Google Antitrust Complaint In Europe Calls Android A “Trojan Horse”

Google Europe Yesterday, the Fairsearch.org coalition, now featuring Oracle and Nokia, filed a fresh antitrust complaint in Europe against Google. The complaint focuses on Android and calls the operating system a "'Trojan Horse' to deceive partners, monopolize the mobile marketplace and control consumer data." Fairsearch cites data showing that Android dominates the smartphone market in Europe to the tune of a roughly 70 percent market share. It also cites Google's dominance of the mobile search market (96 percent share). However, StatCounter shows a smaller OS share for Android in Europe (46 percent vs [...]


Administrative Body Affirms Samsung Violation Of Apple “Text Selection” Patent

android-apple-ios According to Reuters, a judge on the US International Trade Commission (ITC)  has affirmed that Samsung infringed an Apple patent involving "text selection" (copy, cut, paste). The ITC is a "quasi-judicial federal agency" that reviews patent and trade-related disputes. The decision above is not final and must be reviewed by the full ITC body. Apple originally filed seven infringement complaints against Samsung in 2011. Last October another individual ITC judge held that Samsung infringed four of the seven Apple patents. The full ITC asked that two of those four claims be re-examined mor [...]


EU Imposes €561 Million ($731 Million) Fine On Microsoft — With Google In Mind

European EU flag The European Commission has made good on its promise last week to fine Microsoft for failing to continue to offer Web browser choice on its PC software through 2014. The Commission imposed a fine of €561 million ($731 million) for not upholding its agreement to offer alternative Web browsers to Windows users. In 2009, Microsoft agreed with the Commission to offer a browser "choice screen" (featuring IE, Firefox, Chrome, etc.) on its Windows PC software to enable consumers to make a browser selection and not simply "choose" IE by default. That choice screen reportedly disappeared in Febr [...]


Google Shares How Often The FBI Sends National Security Letters For User Information

google-legal-law How do you talk about requests for user information that, legally, you can't talk about? In the case of "National Security Letters" that Google receives from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, a start is to talk generally about the number of requests received. In a blog post today, Google explains that it will now provide broad figures about how many National Security Letters it receives. Not familiar with how the FBI uses these? Google explains: "The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation can issue a National Security Letter (NSL) to obtain identifying information about a subscriber [...]


Google Prepares New Streaming Music Service As Record Industry Slams Company’s Anti-Piracy Efforts

Google music There were several reports from late last week indicating that Google is negotiating with major labels in anticipation of the launch of Spotify-like music streaming service. As part of these negotiations, according to the LA Times, "Google is proposing a premium subscription service" on YouTube that would encompass music videos and perhaps audio-only songs. The suggested launch window is fall 2013. A well-executed streaming capability would potentially threaten smaller services such as Spotify or MOG. Apple is also rumored to be preparing a streaming Internet radio competitor to Pand [...]


EU Regulators “Plan To Take Action” Against Google Privacy Policy

google-privacy-200 When it comes to the issue of privacy, it seems that Google and Europe are on opposite sides of an ocean, metaphorically speaking. Reuters reports this morning that frustrated European authorities "plan to take action" against Google for its failure to satisfy them regarding its consolidated privacy policy. Google has maintained that its privacy policy conforms to all European laws and regulations. Privacy regulators from France and across Europe have heavily criticized the "consolidated" Google privacy policy and say it overreaches. However, they've stopped short of declaring it "illegal." [...]


Google Countersues British Telecom In US, UK For Patent Infringement

BT OneVoice Google (and Motorola Mobility) have counter-sued the UK's BT Group (British Telecom) for patent infringement in the US and UK. This follows a 2011 patent lawsuit filing by BT against Google. Google has probably asserted its patents in an effort to provide some negotiating leverage against BT in any future settlement discussions. The patents at issue concern IP telephony, data management, networking and mobile technology. BT claims that several of Google's services infringe its patents, including aspects of Android. By contrast Google says that BT has infringed its patents with the latter's [...]


Oracle V. Google Part Deux: The Copyright Appeal

Oracle has filed an appeal in its unsuccessful copyright and patent case against Google involving the Java programming language (specifically Java APIs). Oracle acquired Java when it bought Sun Microsystems several years ago. At trial, Oracle was basically shut out on all its claims. It appears that Oracle is only appealing the copyright portion of the case. The jury originally did find copyright infringement by Google, but also found that Google's selective use of Java in the Android OS constituted "fair use." Fair use is a defense against infringement. The judge in the case, William Al [...]


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