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 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 [...]

French ISP Takes On Google By Blocking Its Ads For A Week

logo_free Google may be endearing itself to New Yorkers by providing free wi-fi in Chelsea, but the company's contribution -- or lack thereof -- to Internet infrastructure in France is reportedly making it enemies. That's why ISP Free earlier this year put in an ad blocker to strip out ads from Google sites and any sites accessed via Google, according to a reports in Ad Age and The Economist. The blocker was turned off after a week, and it only worked for a fraction of Free's users -- those who were using the latest version of the Freebox ISP hardware and software. But it highlighted the challenges t [...]

Google Wins With FTC Antitrust Settlement, Industry Reacts Pro & Con

Google FTC logos Google walked away largely unhurt from yesterday's FTC antitrust investigation settlement, and in the 24 hours or so since that announcement, the online/marketing/tech industry has responded with mixed reactions. In a nutshell, the FTC settlement prevents Google from scraping third-party content for inclusion in its search results (what it used to do with content from companies like Yelp and TripAdvisor), requires Google to make it easier for advertisers to export campaigns to other platforms, and also requires Google to let competitors fair and reasonable access to its patents for "standar [...]

Strange Bedfellows: Apple-Google Team Up In $500MM Bid For Kodak Patents

google-legal-law A few years ago it wouldn't have been all that strange to see Google and Apple working closely together on something like a joint patent initiative. Then the "thermonuclear" rift happened and the cacophony of bitter lawsuits. Indeed, in the wake of the global litigation between Apple and Google surrogate Samsung and the more direct (Google owned) Motorola-Apple lawsuits, it's very unlikely to see these two companies working together. Yet BusinessWeek reports that Google and Apple have teamed up to bid $500 million for bankrupt Eastman Kodak Co.'s patent portfolio: The two companies, c [...]

French Come After Google For “Back Taxes”

Taxes Reuters reports that French authorities are talking to Google about paying substantial "back taxes." The wire service says that the French Budget Minister Jerome Cahuzac had "convincing proof" that Google owed France money. France is one of several European countries that believe Google should be paying more in taxes. Cahuzac said that if the parties failed to come to some agreement France would take the issue to the courts. All this seems to confirm what was reported earlier this month by satirical French publication Le Canard Enchaine that Google was to be hit with a billion Euro tax b [...]

Google Puts “Cookiegate” To Bed As More Legal Battles Loom

google-privacy-200 The incident informally known as "Safarigate" or "Cookiegate" is now behind Google. On Friday, a court approved Google's $22.5 million settlement with the FTC. Some Google critics decried the settlement as having little impact on Google. The episode began in February of this year, when the Wall Street Journal discovered that Google (and others such as Gannett’s PointRoll) were circumventing mobile Safari’s default “no third party cookies” settings in order to track user behaviors. Google contended it was simply trying to make its "+1 buttons" work on iOS. The company argued nothi [...]

Google: 63% Of YouTube Videos Are Now Restricted In Turkey

Google-Turkey We know that this year Government requests to remove content has skyrocketed so far in 2012. Thanks to Google's more detailed transparency reports that were rolled out earlier this year, we can also see the most egregious countries along with request data. Turkey supplied 501 requests so far in 2012, up 1,013% from the previous reporting period. The most surprising  morels of information was that Google is now restricting Turkish users from accessing 63% of YouTube videos. The removal requests were all submitted on "alleged criticism of Atatürk, the government or national iden [...]

Google: Government Requests To Remove Content Spiked In First Half Of 2012

remove content Google announced that the number of content removal requests submitted by governments have spiked in the first half of the year. From January through June 2012, there were there were 1,791 requests from government officials around the world to remove 17,746 pieces of content, almost double the previous six-month period. Here is the chart showing the recent spike in content removal requests: From January to June 2012, the following countries made the most requests to remove content: Turkey (501) United States (273) Germany (247) Brazil (191) United Kingdom (97) Gover [...]

Cash-Strapped Euro Governments Look To Online Giants For Additional Tax Revenues

tax-money-180px Google, Facebook, Twitter and even Starbucks are being criticized and investigated for what several European governments consider to be tax avoidance. In the UK and France in particular Google is under scrutiny. And earlier this week a French newspaper (albeit like the satirical Onion) reported that French authorities had served a whopping EUR 1 billion tax bill on Google. Google has denied that it has received such a bill. Google's practice of billing advertisers and running profits through its Irish subsidiary, which is legal, allows the company to minimize taxes. According to a Reuter [...]

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