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Service provider > Book & Journal Distribution > Sales and Marketing services / Subscription / Purchasing models > E-commerce Platform> General Information - Google Information
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FTC sues academic journal publisher OMICS Group for deceptive practices
- 31 Aug 2016

The Federal Trade Commission has charged academic journal publisher OMICS Group of hundreds of purported online academic journals with deceiving academics and researchers about the nature of its publications and hiding publication fees ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

The FTC's complaint alleges that OMICS Group, Inc., along with two affiliated companies and their president and director, Srinubabu Gedela, claim that their journals follow rigorous peer-review practices and have editorial boards made up of prominent academics. In reality, many articles are published with little to no peer review and numerous individuals represented to be editors have not agreed to be affiliated with the journals.

According to the FTC's complaint, OMICS does not tell researchers that they must pay significant publishing fees until after it has accepted an article for publication, and often will not allow researchers to withdraw their articles from submission, thereby making the research ineligible for publication in another journal. Academic ethics standards generally forbid researchers from submitting the same research to more than one journal.

Among the deceptive statements OMICS made to researchers, according to the complaint, were descriptions of its journals as having a high 'impact factor,' a term that describes approximately how frequently articles in a particular journal are cited in other research. Thomson Reuters' proprietary measure of journals' impact factors is the widely accepted standard, but OMICS allegedly calculated its own impact scores and did not clearly disclose that fact to consumers.

The defendants also tell researchers that their journals are indexed by federal research databases, including the National Institutes of Health's PubMed and MEDLINE services, when in fact that is not true, according to the complaint.

In addition to misrepresentations related to their journal publishing services, the FTC's complaint alleges that the defendants regularly deceive consumers while promoting academic conferences they organise. The defendants allegedly include the names of prominent researchers as participants and presenters at the conferences, which charge registration fees that can cost more than $1,000, when in fact many of those researchers often did not agree to participate in the events.

The FTC's complaint charges the defendants, OMICS Group Inc., iMedPub LLC, Conference Series LLC, and Srinubabu Gedela, with multiple violations of the FTC Act's prohibition on deceptive acts or practices.

The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint was 3-0. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada.

Brought to you by Scope e-Knowledge Center, a world-leading provider of metadata services, abstraction, indexing, entity extraction and knowledge organisation models (Taxonomies, Thesauri and Ontologies).

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Google may pay $22.5 million fine over Safari privacy breach
- 10 Jul 2012

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, will reportedly have to pay $22.5 million to settle charges that it bypassed the privacy settings of consumers using Apple's Safari browser. According to a Wall Street Journal report, the fine would be the largest penalty ever levied on a single company by the US Federal Trade Commission.

Google has been charged for using a special computer code, or ‘cookies,’ to trick Apple's Safari browser. This would enable Google to monitor users that had blocked such tracking, the newspaper reported.

According to Google, tracking of Apple users was inadvertent and did not cause any harm to consumers. Google disabled the code after being contacted by the Journal.

Google also faces potential sanctions from other governments. It is being investigated by the European Union to determine if the company complies with Europe's stricter privacy laws.

Google to end eBooks partnership with independent booksellers
- 06 Apr 2012

Representatives of Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, have reportedly contacted the American Booksellers Association and Powell's Books to announce that the company would end its Google eBooks reseller programme worldwide. In February, it had seemed as if independent booksellers were getting a reprieve when Google reinstated some affiliate stores that had low sales. But in yet another sign of industry consolidation, Google will start selling e-books solely through its recently launched Google Play, beginning January 31, 2013.

In a statement, Emily Powell, President of Powell's Books, called the news 'extremely disappointing'. The company's decision three years ago to partner with Google and provide Google eBooks was seen to be an important move for Powell's to solidify its place in the e-book industry. She noted that Powell's offers e-books from other outlets, including Ingram Content Group, and would explore opportunities to expand that business.

According to a Google spokesperson, the reseller programme failed to gain the traction that it hoped it would with customers or retailers. Google, therefore, had to make the decision to discontinue it. The company will continue to work with its partners through the transition.

US Senators seek investigation into Google’s search results
- 20 Dec 2011

US Senators Herb Kohl and Mike Lee are reportedly urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate whether Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, unfairly favours its own properties in search results.

Kohl and Lee, both members of the Senate’s antitrust subcommittee, have jointly signed a five-page letter to FTC Chairman Jonathan Leibowitz calling for ‘serious scrutiny’ of Google’s business practices. More specifically, both members have called for an investigation to see if Google is acting anti-competitively when its own properties are positioned highly in search results.

In their letter, the Senators say they ‘take no position’ on Google’s practices, but they do cite some of the arguments that were brought up by Google’s critics in the September hearing.

Given Google’s dominant market share in Internet search, any such bias would raise serious questions as to whether the company is seeking to leverage its search dominance into adjacent markets, in a manner potentially contrary to antirust law, it has been noted.

In response to similar charges, Google representatives have earlier argued that the company does not have separate products outside of its search service. However, critics point out that Google actually hosts a page titled ‘Products’, where it lists all of its offerings, including web search.

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Google's eBookstore made available in Australia
- 08 Nov 2011

Internet search services provider Google has reportedly announced the availability of eBookstore, its e-books platform, in Australia. The platform allows locals the ability to purchase e-books across a range of Internet-enabled devices.

The move comes as the company kicks off its annual Google Developer Day in Sydney. It is said to mark a significant milestone in the local e-book industry which is currently heavily contested by the likes of Amazon with its vast array of digital books, Apple with its iBookstore, and a series of local retailers.

Google announced the 2-million-book eBookstore earlier this year. The service was not available in Australia until now with the company unable to provide a local launch date at the time. The search giant has now made the service and an associated affiliate programme available to Australian residents. Google has not only launched its own store but has also partnered with Booktopia and Dymocks to sell Google eBooks as well. According to the company, QBD The Bookshop and The Co-op Bookshop will also launch Google eBook integration soon.

Google has enabled the 'Books' tab in the Australian Android Market as well, allowing the purchase of books through the application market for reading on tablets and smartphones.

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Google launches eBookstore in Canada
- 02 Nov 2011

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, has expanded its online bookstore to Canada, offering hundreds of thousands of electronic books for sale and millions of others for free.

According to Google, the company is partnering with a number of Canadian publishers for the launch including McClelland & Stewart, Douglas & McIntyre, House of Anansi and Dundurn, and retailers such as Campus eBookstore and McNally Robinson.

Google launched its eBookstore in the US in December 2010. The service was further expanded to the UK last month. Digital books sold through Google can be read on the Nook from Barnes & Noble, Sony Reader and other e-book readers. It is however not available on the Kindle from Amazon.

They can also be read on a variety of other devices including personal computers and Apple and Android tablets. The Canadian catalogue includes hundreds of thousands of books for purchase and two million free books in the public domain, according to Google.

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Google Plus user-base crosses 40 million mark
- 24 Oct 2011

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, has announced that its online social networking service 'Google Plus' has crossed 40 million users mark since its launch in June.

Google Plus reportedly attracts 40 million users now. The site was opened to the public on September 20. The service was earlier available only through invitation as part of trial runs.

Google launched 'Google Plus' in late June 2011, as part of its efforts to garner a share of the lucrative social networking space.

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Google previewing 'infinite bookcase' to organise digital books
- 19 Oct 2011

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, is previewing an 'infinite digital bookcase' concept that seeks to organise vast libraries of digital titles. Instead of placing the books on a traditional bookcase, covers are placed on an infinite 3D helix. The books are organised into 28 different subjects.

To choose a subject, users should click the subject button near the top of the screen when viewing the bookcase. The camera then flies to that subject. Clicking on a book pulls it off the shelf and brings it to the front and centre of the screen. On clicking on the high-resolution cover, the book opens to a page with title and author information as well as a short synopsis, provided by the Google Books API. All of the visuals are rendered with WebGL, a technology in Google Chrome and other modern browsers that enable fast, hardware-accelerated 3D graphics right in the browser, without the need for a plug-in.

The infinite bookcase reportedly serves as a showcase for several Google products. These include the Google Books API and Chrome, along with the WebGL standard for web-based 3D graphics. The utility links directly to books.google.com, while also providing QR codes that can be scanned by smartphones.

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Google launches e-bookstore in UK
- 10 Oct 2011

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, has reportedly launched its e-bookstore in the UK. The store can be found at google.co.uk/.

According to a report published in The Bookseller, Google has signed deals with the UK's biggest publishers, including Hachette, Penguin and Random House. The company has said it has hundreds of thousands of commercially available books to buy at launch, in addition to 2 million public domain e-books. Google eBooks are stored in an online library and accessible across devices including laptops, netbooks, tablets, smartphones and e-readers.

The development comes almost a year after its US e-book store went live. Google now plans to launch the e-book store in other English-language markets such as Australia and Canada. The European expansion is slated for next year. It is expected that the move will significantly improve Google's ability to compete with the likes of Amazon and Apple in the burgeoning e-books market.

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Google close to launching e-books platform in UK
- 03 Oct 2011

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, is reportedly preparing an 'imminent' UK launch of its e-books platform for selling digital titles, with members of Gardners Hive network able to sell the e-books from their websites.

According to reports published in The Bookseller, the company recently held a closed meeting with more than 100 independents at the Booksellers Association's Independent Booksellers Forum at the University of Warwick in Coventry, which outlined how the system could work. The service is expected to be launched within the next four weeks, with an announcement date at the Frankfurt Book Fair mooted.

While Google has refused to comment on any launch plans, the service will reportedly allow independents to have access to selling e-books. An independent can add a Google e-bookstore to its website, or act as an affiliate, which means it would receive a commission for sending a customer to Google's e-bookstore from its own website.

A third option was discussed by Gardners Commercial Director Bob Jackson at the conference. He said independents that have signed up to its Hive website will be able to sell Google e-books from their own page on hive.co.uk. It means an independent will have access to Google's catalogue of e-books, as well as the 180,000 e-books Gardners stocks.

Google launched e-books in the US in December 2010. Any e-books purchased are stored in an online library. Readers can access their books across laptops, netbooks, tablets, smartphones and e-readers.

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Google asks US court to dismiss lawsuit over Microsoft-only cloud contract
- 27 Sep 2011

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, and one of its resellers have reportedly asked a federal court to dismiss their case against the US Department of the Interior over Microsoft-only bids for cloud-based services.

In October 2010, Google and Ohio-based reseller Onix Networking sued the government agency, which they alleged had stacked the deck against the Google Apps suite of services. According to Google and Onix, the Interior Department had demanded that bidders for a $60 million contract use rival Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite Federal (BPOS) to provide e-mail and messaging services.

Google and Onix have now asked a federal claims court to dismiss the case. Government attorneys representing the Interior Department have said that they would not oppose the motion, but told the court that contrary to Google's claim, no agreement had been struck.

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Google seen close to settling lawsuit with publishers
- 16 Sep 2011

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and five publisher plaintiffs have reportedly informed a US judge that they are close to settling a lawsuit over the former’s controversial book-scanning project. Negotiations between Google and the Authors Guild, which filed suit against Google for copyright infringement with the AAP six years ago, do not appear to be making as much headway, however.

At a recently held status conference, Judge Denny Chin adopted a proposed pre-trial schedule that, if followed, would have the case ready for trial by July 2012. AAP attorney Bruce Keller told Chin that the publishers had agreed to the proposed trial schedule, but that substantial progress had been made between publishers and Google, and that he hoped the trial schedule would become ‘moot.’

Google attorney Daralynn Durie confirmed that expectation later in the hearing. Durie told Chin that progress was being made and noted that the business principals, ‘not the lawyers’, were in discussion. Authors Guild attorney Michael Boni also informed the court that talks were ongoing, and that the authors were hopeful of a settlement.

The judge adopted the proposed trial schedule and issued a single order. Under the schedule, the plaintiffs’ first brief, for class certification, would be due on December 12. Google’s rebuttal would follow on January 20. Discovery would aim to be completed by the end of March, 2012, and motions for summary judgment, assuming there would motions from all parties, would be in by mid-July 2012.

Aardvark, Sidewiki to go as part of Google's streamlining measures
- 06 Sep 2011

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, is reportedly calling off another 10 of its less successful ventures. The move is seen to be part of Google's Chief Executive Larry Page's continuing efforts to streamline the company's operations. Since his appointment in January, Page has been determined to move Google away from niche businesses and focus on the bigger products.

According to the company, all existing Google staff working on these closed ventures will be moved to other posts throughout the company.

Aardvark will face the axe, despite Google spending a reported $50 million on the purchase of the social search engine in 2010. Other products to be euthanised include Desktop, Fast Flip, Google Maps API for Flash, Google Pack, Google Web Security, Image Labeller, Notebook, Sidewiki and Subscribed Links. All of these ventures are being shut down due to low demand.

They join a growing list of Google operations shut down under Page's short era of leadership. Earlier, in June, the company announced the closure of Google Health and Google PowerMeter. It even closed down its mobile photo-sharing service Photovine just a week after launching it.

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Google making progress in copyright protection initiatives
- 05 Sep 2011

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, has reportedly made progress on four copyright-protection initiatives it outlined in December 2010.

The company, which has faced severe criticism for years over copyright issues, has completed building tools that now allow it to act on valid complaints from copyright owners in 24 hours or less on average. The tools will allow Google to act upon complaints from copyright owners that their content is appearing without permission on Google sites, starting with Blogger and Web search.

The tools simplify the process of submitting these complaint notices, which cite the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) when requesting that their works be removed from websites.

According to Kent Walker, a Google Senior Vice President and General Counsel, the tools are now being successfully used by more than a dozen content industry partners. These partners together account for over 75 percent of all URLs submitted in DMCA takedowns for Web Search. In the near future, Google will make the tools more broadly available to copyright owners that have a track record of 'valid' takedown requests, the company has said.

Google has also strengthened its process for detecting web publishers that attempt to use the company's AdSense advertising programme to display ads on pages that contain copyright-infringing content.

Google is also taking steps to give more prominent placement on its search results to authorised preview content. Additionally, the company is increasing the amount of legitimate content available through its sites.

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FTC focusing antitrust probe on Google's Android software and web search services
- 11 Aug 2011

Antitrust regulators in the US are reportedly focusing their investigation of Google, Inc. on key areas of its business. This includes the company's Android mobile-phone software and web-search related services.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, almost six weeks after serving Google with broad subpoenas, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) lawyers, together with several state attorney generals, have been enquiring whether Google prevents smartphone manufacturers that use its Android operating system from using competitors' services. They are also looking into allegations that Google unfairly acquires information collected by rivals to use on its own specialised site and then devalues the rivals' services in its search results.

The European Commission, which has imposed restrictions on Microsoft Corp.'s ability to leverage its dominant computer operating system to promote other services, has been running its own broad antitrust probe against Google since 2010.

Google has denied that it engages in unfair or illegal competitive practices. According to the company, the growing number of antitrust investigations has been stimulated by rivals anxious about its aggressive push into new business sectors.

As part of its probe, the FTC is reportedly preparing to send out civil subpoenas to third parties to provide documents and evidence in its investigation. Investigators have already held a series of exploratory meetings and interviews with Google, its competitors and other third parties, providing inputs on the kinds of areas they're concerned about.

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Android tablets to surpass iPad sales by 2016, estimates Informa Research
- 01 Aug 2011

Informa Research Services, Inc., a subsidiary of Informa plc, has predicted that tablet computers running Google's Android software will compete with Apple's iPad and surpass it in 2016. According to Informa, Apple's current 75 percent market share is expected to fall to 39 percent in 2015. This is when the Android market share will grow to 38 percent, it estimates.

The overall market for tablets is expected to surpass 230 million units in 2015, compared with less than 20 million units sold in 2010. Customers are most likely to buy about 87 million Android tablets in 2015, compared with 90 million iPads, according to the estimate.

Additionally, as cheaper and more advanced Android tablets enter the market, the research firm forecasts that sales will pick up considerably, eventually surpassing iPad sales in 2016.

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Google to stop using content from rival sites on review service; faces new protests
- 25 Jul 2011

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, is reportedly facing new protests following the company's decision to stop copying information from other local websites for use in its own rival service, Google Places. The reversal brought calls for Google to stop using other types of content from rival sites, and for regulators to take action against the company for its past practices in the local information market. The company's critics are seeking a legal commitment from the company to not to revert to its earlier practice.

The turnaround is seen as the first sign of Google changing its business practices since the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) launched a broad antitrust investigation into the company last month. Last year a similar review began in Europe.

According to Google, it will no longer carry parts of reviews posted on other local web services on Google Places, which carries information about local businesses. Rival services such as Yelp, which heavily depend on user-generated ratings and reviews to draw an audience, have objected to Google using information from their users to give an unfair advantage to its own service.

Google announced this change in practice a little over a week after its legal director, Dana Wagner, came under attack about the practice from opponents at a conference of US state attorneys-general. A number of states have reportedly begun their own investigations into Google's business practices, echoing the FTC study.

Google's critics have also called on regulators to take action against it over its previous copying of content on Places.

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Google unveils Android 3.2 Honeycomb SDK platform for developers
- 18 Jul 2011

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, has reportedly released the Android 3.2 Honeycomb SDK - the mobile operating system that powered the Motorola Xoom and the MediaPad - to the public.

The new version is said to deliver an optimum experience for 7-inch tablet computers. However, Google is yet to announce a release date for SDK tools.

With Android 3.2 Honeycomb SDK (now on API 13), developers can expect to enjoy support and optimisations for more tablets, compatibility zoom for phone apps, media sync from SD card, and an extended screen support API.

Android 3.2 Honeycomb is claimed to optimise Qualcomm's Snapdragon chips, mainstream tablet processors and smartphones, and improve Android app compatibility. With these features, users can expect a richer experience.

In its recent Q2 earnings report, Google CEO Larry Page announced several Android achievements. These include over 250,000 apps offered on the Android Market; more than 6 billion app installations since the platform started in 2008; at least 550,000 Android device activations per day; and 135 million active devices worldwide.

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iriver to launch Story HD e-reader integrated with open Google eBooks platform
- 12 Jul 2011

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, has announced that the iriver Story HD e-reader will be available for sale at Target stores US-wide and on Target.com, beginning July 17, 2011. The iriver Story HD is projected as the first e-reader integrated with the open Google eBooks platform, through which one can buy and read Google eBooks over wi-fi.

The iriver Story HD is stated to be slim and lightweight with a high-resolution e-ink screen and a QWERTY keyboard for easy searching. It includes over-the-air access to hundreds of thousands of Google eBooks for sale and more than 3 million for free. The Story HD allows users to buy and read Google eBooks with e-readers through wi-fi, rather than downloading and transferring them from computer to e-readers with a cord as one can already do with more than 80 compatible devices.

The Google eBooks platform was built to be open to all publishers, retailers and manufacturers. Manufacturers like iriver can use Google Books APIs and services to connect their devices to the full Google eBooks catalogue for innovative access to a complete e-bookstore.

In December, Google eBooks launched with the ability to read Google eBooks on any device with a modern browser, on Android and iOS devices using the Google Books mobile apps, through Chrome Web Store app and on compatible e-readers. Since then, the company has added new retailers - growing to include more than 250 independent bookstores - and made Google eBooks available in the Android Market. It has also extended its affiliate network and updated its family of Google Books APIs.

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US antitrust watchdog launches probe on Google's market practices
- 27 Jun 2011

The US' Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has reportedly launched an investigation of Google, Inc.'s dominance of the Internet search industry. The nation's antitrust regulators are investigating into whether Google abuses its market power by favouring its own services over those of rivals in online searches and through other practices.

Last week, Google received a formal notification from the FTC that it was reviewing the company's business practices. Several companies doing business online have accused Google of anticompetitive practices. Complaints against Google have been filed with regulators on both sides of the Atlantic.

Google is facing increasing scrutiny from regulators globally as it bolsters its search business. US antitrust regulators have expressed concern about the Internet search industry. The company has been under investigation by the European Commission since November 2010. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has also begun probes into its business practices. The company is also facing antitrust complaints in South Korea due to the increasing dominance of its Android software for mobile phones.

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Google invites publishers, retailers to eBooks affiliates programme
- 17 Jun 2011

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, has announced that retailers, bloggers, book publishers and other website owners in the US can now become Google eBooks affiliates. Affiliates can link to Google eBooks on their sites for any of the hundreds of thousands of titles available for sale, earning a commission for referring sales to the Google eBookstore.

Google launched the programme as a limited beta in December 2010 with its first affiliate, Goodreads, a social reading site. After becoming an affiliate, Goodreads was able to refer its avid book reading fans to the Google eBookstore. When Goodreads users buy a Google eBook, they gain immediate access to their book.

Google is now inviting all interested site owners to apply to join the expanded Google eBooks affiliate programme. Participating sites are seen to gain new revenue streams by giving their book-reading audiences an easy way to buy Google eBooks.

Google eBooks affiliates become part of the Google Affiliate Network (GAN). After joining GAN, one can subscribe to the Google eBooks product feed to get links to the full set of available Google eBooks. The new Google Books APIs can be used to query a more targeted set of e-books.

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US govt. approves Google bid for Nortel patents, talks with Apple, RIM continue
- 15 Jun 2011

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has reportedly concluded an antitrust investigation into Google's bid for a collection of wireless-related patents from Canadian telecommunications-equipment maker Nortel. The DoJ approved the bid, while talks with Research in Motion (RIM) and Apple over their potential bids remain ongoing.

According to a report published in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Google has been given the go-ahead on its $900 million starting bid in an auction of over 6,000 patents from Nortel.

Earlier this month, the WSJ reported that the DoJ had not found any 'major competitive' issues with Google. The department is reportedly worried about RIM or Apple winning the auction because both have a reputation for being aggressive with intellectual property.

The auction is scheduled for June 20, with Google's 'stalking horse' bid to serve as the opening amount. The patent trove contains key components of the fourth-generation Long Term Evolution wireless technology.

Earlier this week, Microsoft, Verizon and AT&T filed objections to the sale. The companies claimed that the sale would affect essential technologies and provide the winner with an unfair advantage over its competitors. Nokia and HP have also filed objections.

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ISYS Technologies sues Google and partners over ChromiumPC trademark
- 08 Jun 2011

Intellectual property management company ISYS Technologies, US, has reportedly filed a lawsuit against Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, alleging that the latter is violating and interfering with the trademark of its ChromiumPC Modular Computer.

The suit seeks an expedited temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against Google and its partners (Acer, Amazon.com, Best Buy and Samsung) to stop further marketing efforts of the Chromebook and Chromebox PC products, as well as plans to begin selling these PC products on or about June 15, 2011. All five companies are named in the federal lawsuit that was filed in the US District Court at Utah.

Slated for general availability in the second half of 2011, the ChromiumPC is a version of the company's Xi3 Modular Computer which was formally unveiled in 2010. It was named by the Consumer Electronics Association as an Innovations Award Winner in the Computer Hardware category for the 2011 International CES trade show.

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Tablet devices, software vendors to unveil products at Taipei Computex event
- 31 May 2011

PC makers are expected to unveil new models at the Computex trade show in Taipei, to be held from May 31-June 4, 2011, according to a Bloomberg report. This will reportedly put to test the efforts of US-based Internet search services provider Google, Inc. and software vendor Microsoft Corp. to loosen Apple, Inc.'s grip on the blooming tablet computer market.

The Bloomberg report further says investors and analysts will be looking to see if Google's Android operating system can match the popularity of the iPad. Microsoft may preview its next Windows platform for tablets a year after Apple's first offering hit store shelves.

Asustek Computer, Inc. and Acer, Inc. will demonstrate new tablets featuring Google's Android this week. These companies overturned the computer market when they demonstrated low-cost netbooks at Computex in 2007 and 2008. Google and Microsoft will both send executives to the event to meet with reporters and update companies on their plans.

A recent report, released by US-based global information and media group Nielsen Company, says that the tablet is becoming the new primary computing and entertainment device, leaving behind the laptop, e-reader and MP3. According to the Nielsen data, about one-third of tablet owners who were surveyed indicated that they used their desktop PC less - or not at all - since getting a tablet. The same holds true for e-readers, netbooks, laptops and even portable music players.

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Google Correlate launched; to apply search trends to real situations
- 26 May 2011

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, has announced the launch of Google Correlate, an experimental new tool on Google Labs. The new product reportedly looks at search trends, and attempts to apply them to real-world situations.

Google Correlate enables users to find queries with a similar pattern to a target data series. The target can be a real-world trend that provided by the user or a query that a user enters. It uses search activity data to find queries with a similar pattern to a target data series - the results of which can be viewed on the Google Correlate site.

According to Google, the time series data can be used to find things - such as what search terms are more popular in the winter, more likely to be issued in 2005, match the pattern of actual flu activity, etc. The state data can be used for things like what terms correlate with the state's latitude, the annual rainfall in the state, being in New England, etc.

The Google Labs experiment has its own Labs section, which so far only consists of one thing: search by drawing. The user can simply draw a pattern on the graph, and it will give him/her web search activity that closely matches the pattern drawn.

Data for Google Correlate is available from January 2003 to the present, with data being updated on a weekly basis, according to the company.

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Google sees substantial rise in number of free titles in electronic bookstore
- 24 May 2011

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, has announced that its eBooks electronic bookstore now contains about 3 million free titles. This is up from 2 million during its launch in December 2010. The books can be read in the free Google Books Web Reader, through a free Google Books app, or by downloading them to a compatible e-reader.

Additionally, the list of independent booksellers participating in the programme has reportedly grown from about 100 to about 250. According to Google, the number of publishers has also increased from about 5,000 to about 7,000.

The eBooks service and store are cloud-based, and can be accessed from Google and partner websites, as well as from applications for the Chrome browser and Apple iOS and Android devices. About 2.5 million eBooks applications have reportedly been installed until now.

Google will be revealing Google eBooks facts and figures, and some of the stories behind them, at the forthcoming BookExpo America and related events in New York.

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FCC-FTC forum to examine phone location data storage by Apple and Google
- 18 May 2011

US Federal regulators are reportedly joining the growing list of public officials demanding answers from Apple, Inc. and Google, Inc. about the extent to which mobile devices track the location of their users and store detailed histories of their movements.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are teaming up to host a public forum next month to explore the benefits and risks of location-based services. They are inviting Apple and Google to explain themselves following recent revelations that Apple's iPhone and smartphones running Google's Android software have been storing location information.

Among other things, the forum will look at whether companies adequately disclose — and whether consumers adequately understand — how location-based services work and what privacy tradeoffs they may be accepting in using such services.

Consumers are seen to be embracing all sorts of location-based services being offered by wireless carriers, device makers and third-party developers. These include mapping tools to look up directions, social networking applications to connect with nearby friends and concierge services to find local businesses. But privacy watchdogs warn that location data that gets stored over time can provide a window into very private details about a person's life. Databases filled with such information, they fear, could become inviting targets for hackers, stalkers, divorce attorneys and law enforcement agents.

In addition to Apple and Google, the FCC and FTC are also inviting wireless company executives, consumer advocates and academics to speak at their forum

Apple and Google are facing a lot of questions in Washington about location tracking. Last week, a Senate Judiciary panel grilled executives from both companies following Apple's recent admission that the iPhone was storing the locations of nearby cellphone towers and Wi-Fi hot spots for up to a year – this data can be used to create rough map of the owner's movements. Apple also revealed that a software bug caused iPhones to continue to send anonymous location data to the company's servers even when location services on the device were turned off.

Apple has said it will no longer store the data on phones for more than seven days, will encrypt the data and will stop backing up the files to user computers. It also has fixed the bug with a free software update. Google, too, recently acknowledged that phones running Android store some GPS location data for a short time.

Executives from both companies will be testifying at a Senate Commerce hearing on location tracking on May 19, 2011.

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French publishers sue Google for scanning books without permission
- 12 May 2011

Three French publishers - Gallimard, Flammarion and Albin Michel - have reportedly sued US-based Internet search services provider Google, Inc. for scanning their books for its online library without permission.

The publishers are demanding $14 billion as compensation. They claim that Google has scanned 9,797 copyright-protected works for its digital library.

In an e-mailed statement, Google said the company had been working with French publishers for some time to find ways to increase audiences and revenue opportunities for publishers, authors and booksellers. It believes the Google Books project complies with French law and international copyright rules.

In December 2009, a Paris court had said Google's book project violated French copyrights. It had then ordered the company to stop scanning works without permission. Six months ago, Google reached an agreement with Lagardere SCA (MMB)'s Hachette Livre publishing to allow the scanning of out-of-print French books.

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Apple, Google defend smartphone privacy practices at US Senate hearing
- 11 May 2011

US-based Google, Inc. and Apple, Inc. reportedly defended their privacy practices during a US Senate hearing on May 10, 2011. The hearing, 'Protecting Mobile Privacy: Your Smartphones, Tablets, Cell Phones and Your Privacy,' followed revelations by British researchers and the Wall Street Journal that the iPhone and Android smartphones may transmit user location data to Apple and Google, respectively.

Google was represented by its Director of Public Policy, Alan Davidson, and Apple by its Vice President of software, "Bud" Tribble. Both executives emphasised that their users had the ability to control the collection and use of location-related data gathered by their smartphones. The hearing of the newly created Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, sought to examine the situation of the privacy landscape as regards the mobile sphere.

Senator Al Franken pressed Tribble hard on the issue of whether or not iPhones do or do not track location. The hearing also focused on the vast ecosystem of third-party applications that populate both the iPhone and Android ecosystems. Such third-party apps are seen to often gain access to location related and other personally identifiable data. They may also be able to share the information without having to tell the consumer they are doing so, it is feared.

Senator Chuck Schumer also grilled both companies about their policies regarding how apps are approved for their respective stores, focusing on apps that provide information about where sobriety checkpoints are located.

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US Senate panel to question Apple and Google on privacy protection in mobile devices
- 10 May 2011

A US Senate panel is reportedly set to question representatives from Apple and Google on what actions the companies plan to take to protect consumers' privacy while using mobile devices. According to Sen. Al Franken, Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, the hearing is the first step in making certain that federal laws protecting consumers' privacy keep pace with advances in technology. This is particularly so in the context of mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and cell phones.

Franken further said that, while advances in mobile technology let Americans stay connected, the same know-how allows the devices to gather sensitive information about users, including recording their movements.

The hearing follows revelations by British researchers and the Wall Street Journal that the iPhone and Android smartphones may transmit user location data to Apple and Google, respectively.

However, according to Google spokesperson Chris Gaither, the company gives users notice and control over all location collection and sharing on Android-powered gadgets.

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Court rejects Google motion for summary judgment in Skyhook Wireless case
- 06 May 2011

A Massachusetts court has reportedly allowed Skyhook Wireless to go forward with its lawsuit against Google. The company has accused the search giant with trying to muscle Skyhook's Wi-Fi location technology out of the Android market. Judge Judith Fabricant of the Massachusetts Superior court denied Google's request to either grant a summary judgment or dismiss the case.

Skyhook Wireless is a Boston-based company that has developed a technology for determining geographical location using Wi-Fi as the underlying reference system. In September 2010, the company filed two lawsuits against Google - one in US District Court in Massachusetts and a second in Massachusetts state court.

The state suit, filed in Suffolk County Superior Court, claims that Google used its relationship with handset makers, specifically Motorola, to keep the Skyhook client software off their phones.

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US FTC may launch investigation on Google's dominance of the Internet search industry
- 02 May 2011

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is reportedly preparing an investigation of Google Inc's dominance of the Internet search industry. Citing three people familiar with the matter, media reports indicate that the FTC is alerting high-tech companies to gather information for the probe.

The agency has reportedly informed the companies of its plans to issue civil investigative demands for the information. The demands are similar to subpoenas.

The FTC, which has been considering a broad investigation, was awaiting a decision by the Justice Department on whether it will dispute Google's planned acquisition of ITA Software, Inc., an airline flight and ticket information provider, before proceeding with any probe.

Earlier this month, the Justice Department approved Google's $700 million purchase of ITA subject to the condition that it makes travel data available to search-engine rivals and let the government review complaints that it's acting unfairly.

Google is facing increasing scrutiny from regulators globally as it bolsters its search business. The European Commission and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott have also begun probes into its business practices. The company is also facing antitrust complaints in South Korea due to the increasing dominance of its Android software for mobile phones.

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Google announces WebM Community Cross-License initiative
- 28 Apr 2011

Internet search services provider, Google, Inc., US, has announced the WebM Community Cross-License (CCL) initiative. The initiative will seek to bring together companies that are willing to share any patents relevant to the WebM video format, and in particular the VP8 video compression algorithm.

Besides Google, Cisco Systems, Mozilla, MIPS Technologies, AMD, Samsung, Texas Instruments, Logitech, Matroska, Opera and the Xiph.org Foundation will be the founding members of the consortium. By joining the CCL, these orgaisations agree to license patents they may have and are essential to WebM technologies to other members of the CCL.

Mozilla, Opera, Xiph.Org, Matroska, Google and over 40 other partners launched the WebM Project in May 2010 with the goal of developing a world-class, open source media format for the web. The open development model has reportedly led to rapid quality improvements in WebM. The format is now supported in HTML5-capable browsers including Firefox, Opera, Chrome and Internet Explorer. Leading silicon vendors are adding WebM support to their chipsets, and some hardware implementations are already on the market.

According to media reports, the exact terms of the cross-license agreement have not been decided. The objective is to create an agreement that will extend Google's existing VP8 patent grants to all community members. Each of the community members will offer a royalty-free license to use their patents, subject to the condition that community members not sue each other. If any community member sues any other for any patent related to WebM then the suing community member will lose its rights to use any of the other WebM Patents.

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US jury passes verdict against Google in Linux patent suit
- 25 Apr 2011

A Texas jury has reportedly ruled against Internet search services provider, Google, Inc., US, in a suit that alleged some of its use of open source Linux code amounted to patent infringement. In the verdict, the jury decided that Google should pay $5 million for the infringement. This ruling is believed to have big implications for other companies using Linux technology and other open source systems.

The suit, filed in June 2009 by Bedrock Computer Technologies, also named the likes of Yahoo, MySpace, Amazon, PayPal, Match.com and AOL as defendants in the suit. The firm filed the suit against the defendants in question for violation of Patent 5,893,120, detailing methods and apparatus for information storage and retrieval using a hashing technique with external chaining and on-the-fly removal of expired data.

The ruling is reportedly the first patent infringement award over the Linux kernel, which is used in all versions of the operating system, including the Android smartphone software.

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Korean firms file antitrust complaint against Google over Android use in mobile devices
- 15 Apr 2011

Internet search services company Google, Inc., US, is reportedly facing antitrust complaints in South Korea due to the increasing dominance of its Android software for mobile phones. In a joint complaint to South Korea's Fair Trade Commission, Korean Internet portal operators NHN Corp. and Daum Communications Corp. said Google was unfairly impeding competition by using its status as a leading smartphone operating system provider, it has been reported.

The two companies, which operate South Korea's two largest Internet search sites, filed complaints against Google for blocking domestic phone carriers and manufacturers from embedding their search apps in Android devices.

Google is facing increasing scrutiny from regulators globally as it bolsters its search business. The US Federal Trade Commission is reportedly considering a broad investigation into the company's dominance of the Internet search industry. The European Commission and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott have also begun probes into its business practices.

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Microsoft accuses Google of misleading US govt. over security certification
- 12 Apr 2011

Software vendor Microsoft Corp., US, has reportedly questioned Google's security claims, accusing the latter of misleading the US government. According to Microsoft, Google has been misleading customers about the security certification of its suite of software programmes for governments.

A blog post from Microsoft Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel David Howard mentions a new unsealed court document, according to which 'Google Apps for Government' is yet to be certified under the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA). Google's site, however, clearly states that the suite is FISMA certified.

Microsoft's claim comes from documents which reveal that while Google's Apps Premier package did meet FISMA standards, its Apps for Government package did not. The software vendor called on Google to be more open in acknowledging the security fails of its cloud platform. In its response, Google hit back at Microsoft, stating that the latter's claim is obsolete and that the company has already addressed the government's security concerns.

Google has been engaged in a legal battle since last year for the last right to bid for US government cloud contracts. The company was earlier excluded from a deal to service 88,000 Department of the Interior (DoI) desktops. A judge sided with Google's belief that the bidding was rigged to favour of Microsoft, and had issued a preliminary injunction while the two sides competed against each other.

Microsoft's latest move follows its formal filing of a complaint last month against Google with the European antitrust regulators. In its complaint, Microsoft had claimed that Google engaged in a 'pattern of actions' that impeded competition unfairly. The company gave several examples of what it believed were anticompetitive acts.

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GSA working with GPO-Google partnership to offer free govt. publications online
- 08 Apr 2011

The US General Services Administration (GSA) is working with the US Government Printing Office (GPO) and GPO's relationship with the Google Book Partner Program to make popular government publications available for free electronic download through Google. The programme is making available 100 consumer-related federal government publications distributed through GSA's Federal Citizen Information Center (FCIC) on Google Books.

The public can view and download PDF copies of these publications on desktops, laptops and various e-readers. The FCIC plans to add more consumer publications to the programme. The public can also order hard copies of the publications on Google Books and through the GPO's Online Bookstore. The FCIC will coordinate delivery through GPO's Public Documents Distribution Center in Pueblo, Colorado.

Since 1970, GSA's Federal Citizen Information Center has been distributing government consumer publications from the Public Documents Distribution Center on topics like staying healthy, understanding government benefits, managing finances and saving money, avoiding scams and identity theft. President Barack Obama signed a bill into law in December 2010 renaming the distribution centre after former Congressman Frank Evans, who had gained Congressional approval for the facility in 1970. The centre is responsible for processing and distributing orders for consumer publications. Over the past 40 years, more than 800 million publications have been distributed worldwide.

With 2,200 employees, GPO is stated to be the US government's primary resource for producing, procuring, cataloging, indexing, authenticating, disseminating and preserving its official information products in digital and tangible forms. In addition to publication sales, GPO provides for permanent public access to federal government information at no charge through GPO's Federal Digital System and through partnerships with approximately 1,220 libraries nationwide participating in the Federal Depository Library Program.

The Google Book project and the company's settlement agreement over the initiative have been challenged by various publishers and associations. Last month, a US judge rejected the Google Book Settlement Agreement. He cited antitrust concerns and the need for involvement from Congress, while acknowledging the potential benefit of putting literature in front of the masses.

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US FTC may launch antitrust probe on Google's dominance of web search industry
- 05 Apr 2011

The US' Federal Trade Commission (FTC) may soon join the list of government agencies investigating Google's dominance of the Internet search industry. Citing two people familiar with the matter, media reports indicate that the FTC is considering an antitrust investigation of Google in this regard.

The FTC is awaiting a decision by the Justice Department on whether it will dispute Google's planned acquisition of ITA Software, Inc., an airline flight and ticket information provider, before proceeding with any probe.

According to a Bloomberg report, the FTC and the Justice Department share responsibility for investigating antitrust claims and could negotiate which agency would lead a major investigation into Google. The Justice Department is expected to issue a decision soon on the $700 million ITA deal.

According to a ComScore market research report, Google fields nearly 67 percent of Internet searches in the US. This domination has led to increased scrutiny of the company over the past several years. Officials in Texas and the European Commission have launched investigations into Google's search dominance, while Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is considering such a probe.

Earlier last week rival Microsoft Corp. filed an official complaint with the EU, claiming that Google engages in a 'pattern of actions' that impede competition unfairly. The company gave several examples of what it believes are anticompetitive acts.

Lawmakers including Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, and Senator Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, have urged the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust to hold a hearing on Google's dominance of Internet businesses.

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Google defers open access to Honeycomb mobile OS for tablet PCs
- 28 Mar 2011

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, is reportedly delaying widespread access to the new version of its Android software. Google is delaying the release of its tablet operating system (OS) until it works on smartphones too.

Called Honeycomb, Google launched Android 3.0 earlier this year. It marked the first Google mobile OS to be designed specifically for tablets. The Honeycomb software is already available on the Motorola Mobility Inc Xoom tablet, which went on sale in February 2011. The software is reportedly Google's first attempt to challenge the dominance of Apple, Inc.'s iPad in the nascent tablet PC market.

According to a Google spokesperson, the company will not immediately make its Honeycomb software available as open source code - the company's traditional practice with Android whereby all developers are free to modify the software as they see fit. The spokesperson said that the reason for the delay was that Honeycomb was not ready to be customised for use on smartphones. No timeline was mentioned for when Honeycomb would be available as open source software.

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NFAIS members invited to free webinar on Google Books Settlement ruling
- 25 Mar 2011

Chris Kenneally, Director of Business development at the US' Copyright Clearance Center, has extended a free registration to all NFAIS (National Federation of Advanced Information Services) members to join him and copyright expert Lois Wasoff for a webinar. The webinar - on the recent Google Books Settlement Agreement ruling - is schedule for March 30, 2011 at 12:00 pm EST. Kenneally and Wasoff will analyse the ruling of District Judge Chin, what it means for those affected by the proposed settlement, and what is likely to happen next.

Interested parties can register for the free, one-hour event by clicking on the registration link at https://copyright.webex.com/copyright/onstage/g.php?t=a&d=356403008.

Earlier this week, Chin issued his long awaited opinion in the Google settlement proceedings, rejecting the Amended Settlement Agreement (ASA) proposed by the Authors Guild, AAP and Google.

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Google offers tool for users to block sites from search results
- 11 Mar 2011

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, has reportedly unveiled a tool that allows users to block unwanted websites. The move follows the company's recent announcement to improve the quality of its search results. Google has rolled out this new feature on google.com in English for people using Chrome 9+, IE8+ and Firefox 3.5+, and will be expanding to new regions, languages and browsers soon.

According to Google, users can now click on a link in query results that gives them the option to hide all listings from sites that they dislike or find offensive or of low quality. Once an Internet domain is blocked, the user will no longer view those results in future searches, the company said.

Google reportedly gets most of its sales from search-engine advertising. It is now trying to refine the relevance of its results after receiving complaints that spammers and some websites work around its search algorithm to get more prominent placement. Earlier last month, Google had said that it changed the way it carries out web searches to feature more 'high-quality' sites, affecting 12 percent of queries. Blocked websites will be connected with users' Google accounts, and domains can later be unblocked.

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Google releases Android anti-fragmentation tool
- 07 Mar 2011

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, has reportedly issued an anti-fragmentation tool in the Honeycomb (3.0) version of Android, its mobile operation system (OS). The version is stated to have a Fragment interface that is designed to ease compatibility. It is now reportedly available for programmers who can add it to their software for running on earlier versions of Android, such as 1.6.

Google had earlier stated its intention to release technology that would stem Android's fragmentation problem. Fragmentation is seen as a challenge for programmers looking to run their software on diverse devices.

The company has now released a "Fragment" library for earlier versions of Android. The library is built into Android's Honeycomb version, providing new tools to handle issues such as different screen sizes. That version of the OS is said to appear on Motorola's latest Android-based Xoom tablet. It will also be arriving on other tablets.

However, now, the Fragment interface will supposedly be useful for older Android devices that currently enjoy a greater market share. The library can be built into applications so that programmers can use the Fragment application programming interface (API) even if it is not directly in the OS.

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Google updates search engine algorithm to weed out low-quality sites
- 28 Feb 2011

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, has announced changes to the way the company's search engine algorithm works. The update, designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites and provide better rankings for high-quality sites, is projected to affect nearly 12 percent of search queries.

With this update, Google is reportedly targeting 'content farms', which publish insipid articles structured around key words that are searched for. Such sites have been working their way to the top of Google search results. High rankings in search results are seen to be crucial as they allow websites to get more traffic and bring in more business, either through sales of goods and services or through advertising.

Google regulates its algorithms several times each year. Most of the adjustments are so minor that users do not notice them. However, according to Google, the latest change will be a little harder to miss. It reportedly took the company one year to come about with a fair way to weed out bad websites. The company is also working on many more updates that it believes will substantially improve the quality of the pages in its results.

The team at Google has said that this update does not rely on the feedback received from the Personal Blocklist Chrome extension, which it launched last week. However, it did compare the Blocklist data gathered with the sites identified by its algorithm.

The company is launching this change in the US only, to start with. It plans to roll it out elsewhere over time.

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Google selling e-books via web version of Android Market
- 25 Feb 2011

The web version of Android Market, an online software store developed by Google for Android devices, has reportedly begun to display e-books. Users need to click the 'Books' tab at the top of the page, which will load the e-book interface. The default interface is 'Apps', which also has a number of 'Books and Reference' apps, but no path to the Books portion of the site.

Once downloaded, the e-book will be added to the user's Google account. According to a Google spokesman, users can also 'return' an e-book if it does not perform as described.

Earlier this month, Google unveiled the web version of Android Market, which allowed users to sample all of the Market's apps in a single web page, rather than on an Android device. By selecting and buying an app on the web store, users can push the app to a selected Android device. Google also announced support for in-app purchases.

Media reports have noted that e-books could be the gateway for Google's long-awaited Google Music service. It is expected that the service may possibly be rolled out along with Google's Honeycomb Android 3.0 operating system.

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Google's Belgian case seen to determine future of search engines in Europe
- 24 Feb 2011

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, is reportedly fighting a Belgian ruling that will bar the company from publishing links to local newspapers on its online news service, Google News. The hearing could decide the fate of search engines and referencing services in Europe, according to media reports.

Google is appealing a 2007 Belgian court ruling that its news search breached copyright laws, forcing it to remove links and snippets of articles from French- and German-language newspapers. According to the company's lawyers, the judge in that case seemed to have badly understood the functioning of Internet search services.

Copiepresse, a group that represents French- and German- language newspapers, and an association that represents journalists on copyright issues, were among those that filed the original lawsuit after Google News was introduced in Belgium in 2006.

In its February 13, 2007 ruling, the Brussels court ordered Google to pay €25,000 ($34,300) a day until it removed news content from Belgium's French- and German-language publications. Google had then removed articles, graphics and photos linked to the papers from all its sites and cached copies visible in searches.

Google presented its arguments on February 23, 2011 and the hearing is scheduled to resume in March. Company lawyers have presented to the court that Google gets no commercial benefit from linking articles because the news service is free. The newspapers reportedly have a second lawsuit pending against Google in which they seek up to €49.1 million for the period in which their content was visible on Google News.

According to Flip Petillion, a Brussels-based partner with Crowell & Moring LLP (who isn't involved in the matter), the case could end up in the EU's highest court due to its potential implications for search engines across Europe. The Belgian tribunal could ask the 27-nation EU's Court of Justice for guidance on how to interpret copyright rules in cases such as these. He further noted that if Google wins its appeal, it would also mean the ruling cannot be used against search engines in other European countries.

The Belgian newspapers argue that Google News doesn't generate enough traffic to their sites to make inclusion attractive. The service no longer references the newspapers involved in the case. Only Google's main search site lists the newspapers, such as La Libre Belgique and Le Soir, the most-read French-language daily in Brussels.

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New Google service for publishers to manage access to digital content
- 18 Feb 2011

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, has introduced Google One Pass, a service that lets publishers set their own prices and terms for their digital content. With Google One Pass, publishers can maintain direct relationships with their customers and give readers access to digital content across websites and mobile apps.

Readers who purchase from a One Pass publisher can access their content on tablets, smartphones and websites using a single sign-on with an email and password. Importantly, the service helps publishers authenticate existing subscribers so that readers don't have to re-subscribe in order to access their content on new devices.

With Google One Pass, publishers can customise how and when they charge for content while experimenting with different models to see what works best for them - offering subscriptions, metered access, 'freemium' content or even single articles for sale from their websites or mobile apps. The service also lets publishers give existing print subscribers free (or discounted) access to digital content.

Google One Pass is another initiative developed to enable publishers to promote and distribute digital content. German publishers Axel Springer AG, Focus Online (Tomorrow Focus) and Stern.de are some of the first Google One Pass partners. Other publishers already signed up include Media General, NouvelObs, Bonnier's Popular Science, Prisa and Rust Communications. Google One Pass is currently available for publishers in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and the US.

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VoIP sues Google over 'stealing' of trade secrets
- 15 Feb 2011

Technology communications company VoIP, Inc., US, has reportedly filed a lawsuit against Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, in the New York Supreme Court. The company is accusing Google of stealing its trade secrets related to online voice technology.

The legal action stems from a September 2005 contract between Google and VoIP's Los Angeles-based subsidiary, VoiceOne Communications Corp. Under the deal, VoiceOne agreed to provide Google with its patented "Click to Call" technology that allows Internet users to place a call to advertisers or merchants simply by clicking a link on a website. The technology was designed to increase the value of online advertising by giving customers direct, free phone access to advertisers via their computers. VoIP is currently in bankruptcy proceedings.

VoiceOne was the designated carrier of phone calls initiated on Google websites under the agreement, according to the complaint. Google terminated the contract with VoiceOne in 2007, claiming that the company had violated a nondisclosure agreement by revealing that Google was its client, the suit said.

Google entered a 2006 joint venture with eBay and Skype related to Internet call services. VoiceOne argues that Google's justification for terminating the 2005 agreement was "a pretext" to allow the company to exploit VoiceOne's confidential information in its deal with eBay and Skype. The 'confidential information' includes source codes, algorithms and "know how" for monetising Internet phone calls.

The lawsuit claims trade secret theft, unfair competition, unjust enrichment and breach of contract and seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, disgorgement of illegal gains, an injunction and attorney's fees.

In a similar move, Frontier Communications sued Google in June 2010 over its Google Voice product, which gives users one phone number to connect their home, work and cell phones. Frontier, a provider of phone, Internet and satellite TV services, alleged that Google Voice infringed on its patented invention that linked multiple phone lines to a single number. That litigation is underway in the District Court of Delaware.

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FTC Commissioner expresses concern over Do Not Track tool from Google, Microsoft
- 11 Feb 2011

J. Thomas Rosch, Commissioner of the US' Federal Trade Commission (FTC), has reportedly expressed concern over the privacy solutions unveiled by US-based Google, Inc. and Microsoft Corp. for their respective browsers. The features may actually work to the companies' benefit at the expense of rivals, he noted in remarks prepared for an appearance at the recently held American Bar Association's Consumer Protection Conference in Washington, DC. The Commissioner also expressed scepticism about the Do Not Track mechanism unveiled as a feature of the open-source Firefox browser.

Google and Microsoft recently launched technologies designed to prevent the monitoring of web users to serve them tailored advertising. The tools are seen as preventative gestures by the Internet giants, intended to appease regulators keen on bolstering online privacy. In December 2010, the FTC had proposed a 'Do Not Track' tool for Internet users.

According to the FTC, the tool ought to enable registered Internet users to browse without leaving a trail of data accessible to online advertisers. When the FTC issued its original privacy report endorsing the tool, Rosch issued a statement generally supportive of the idea. However, at the ABA event, he stated that his opinion was still evolving. He noted that unlike many other firms, Microsoft and Google draw a mixture of revenue from both display and search advertising. Display advertising that keys on user behaviour is seen to be a relatively minor aspect of Google's business, which relies heavily on search. Microsoft has invested heavily in its own search-advertising business, while also shouldering the operation of search services on Yahoo Inc.'s web pages as part of a revenue-sharing partnership.

The FTC released its preliminary privacy report in December. It opened the issue up to public comments until February 18. According to a Microsoft representative, the company is in the process of preparing comments on the matter, including discussion of the new 'tracking protection' feature for the company's Internet Explorer browser.

Google unveiled its Do Not Track tool in January 2011. Called Keep My Opt-Outs, the tool enables users of the company's Chrome Internet browser to avoid behavioral tracking.

Analysts say firms that rely heavily on behavioral targeting could be hurt by Do Not Track tools. While online privacy concerns have been increasingly raised by regulators, they have largely left it to the Internet industry to set its own standards. That's due in part to a desire to protect users without at the same time choking off advertising revenue that supports a variety of free Internet services and content.

According to a Marketwatch report, the FTC has lately expressed impatience with the Internet industry's own efforts to safeguard privacy. In December, the regulator said industry efforts at self-regulation "have been too slow, and up to now have failed to provide adequate and meaningful protection".

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Google introduces Instant Preview feature for Apple iPhone, iPad
- 31 Jan 2011

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, has reportedly introduced its 'Instant Previews' feature for iOS devices like iPad, iPhone 4 and iPod touch. The company had introduced graphical previews of search results with Instant Previews in November 2010.

Instant Preview gives a visual presentation highlighting the relevant part from the search results listed for a search query. According to reports published in 9to5Mac, Google is already rolling out the same Instant Preview feature for iOS devices like iPad, iPhone 4 and iPod touch.

With Instant Previews, users can tap the accompanying magnifying glass for a pop-up preview of the website. They can get a quick glance at the site without actually having to load up the page. With Google's implementation in iOS Safari, users can flick through the previews of a particular search query, just as they can through iOS' native Safari tabs function.

Once activated, users will get a preview of the search results link on their desktop browsers. Now iOS device owners can visit the same link from their iPhone or iPad to activate it.

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Google acquires eBook Technologies to offer better digital reading experience
- 13 Jan 2011

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, has reportedly acquired eBook Technologies, Inc., a US-based provider of end-to-end e-book technology. According to Google, this acquisition is aimed at delivering richer reading experiences on tablets, electronic readers and other portable devices. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

eBook's technologies include an end-to-end electronic book platform offering a full range of e-book products and services. These include electronic reading devices, an online bookstore where readers can buy e-books, an online 'bookshelf' that lets users store their purchased content, and software that converts content into the company's e-book format.

The deal comes almost one month after Google launched its digital bookselling enterprise, Google eBooks, which is expected to help it challenge two of its powerful rivals - Amazon.com and Apple - in the digital books business. The business is valued at close to $1 billion and is expected to grow in the coming years.

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Author Solutions to distribute new titles via Google eBooks
- 05 Jan 2011

Publishing technologies and services provider Author Solutions, Inc. (ASI), US, has announced that Google will distribute all new titles from ASI imprints AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Trafford Publishing, and Xlibris, as well as titles from ASI partnership brands Balboa Press and WestBow Press, through the newly-launched Google eBooks.

Google eBook is a device-independent distribution platform, which means that books downloaded through the portal will be accessible through any Web-enabled computer, mobile phone or eReader. This provides an advantage over other digital platforms, as it doesn't bind readers to a single device.

A default price of $9.99 will be set for every ASI title made available through Google eBooks. However, each author will have the opportunity to set his or her price below $9.99. Distribution of ASI titles through Google eBooks will be included as a free service for all new ASI titles.

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Google looking to garner support from publishers for new digital newsstand
- 04 Jan 2011

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, is reportedly attempting to gain support from magazines and newspaper publishers to set up a digital newsstand for users of smartphones and tablets running the Android operating system.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Google is offering some publishers a higher percentage than the 70 percent that Apple pays out. The company is also promising to hand over customer data. The newsstand, to be operated by Google, is expected to include apps from media companies, offering versions of their publications for these devices.

The project may reportedly pit Google against a number of companies that are currently offering digital versions of publications. These include Apple with its iTunes store and Amazon.com through its Kindle Store.

Earlier, in December 2010, Google launched the Google eBookstore to compete for a share of the digital books business. Its books are compatible with a variety of devices including the Sony Reader, Apple's iPad, iPhone and iPod touch and Barnes & Noble's Nook. In line with Google's strategy, the newsstand may also support a variety of readers besides Android.

While the company is in talks with publishers about different ways to work together, Google has told the Wall Street Journal that it has nothing specific to announce at this time.

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Google denies Connecticut AG access to Street View data, may face legal action
- 20 Dec 2010

Internet search services provider Google has reportedly missed the deadline set by the Connecticut Attorney General's Office for turning over data that its Street View cars improperly collected from unsecured Connecticut personal and business wireless computer networks. The attorney general's office is now considering legal action against Google. The internet company failed to meet the December 17 deadline to turn over personal data it inadvertently collected from wireless networks.

Last week, the attorney general, Richard Blumenthal, issued the demand, in cooperation with the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP), in the form of a civil investigative demand - equivalent to a subpoena.

Google had initially claimed that the data was fragmented, but has since acknowledged that entire emails and other information may have been improperly captured. The company has called the improper data collection an accident. The company has allowed Canadian and other regulatory authorities to review similar data, but refused to provide Blumenthal's office access to the same. According to Blumenthal, reviewing this information is vital because Google's story changed - first claiming only fragments were collected, then acknowledging entire emails.

Google has said that it does not believe it broke US law. The matter has, however, been a bigger problem for the company outside the US. While it is facing probes in countries such as France, Germany and South Korea, UK authorities cleared Google of collecting 'meaningful personal details' during the company's Street View wireless data breach, earlier this year.

Earlier last month, Google signed a commitment to improve data handling to ensure breaches like the collection of WiFi payload data by Google Street View vehicles do not occur again. The undertaking commits the company to putting into place improved training measures on security awareness and data protection issues for all employees. The company has also said it will require its engineers to maintain a privacy design document for every new project before it is launched.

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Google eBookstore expected to significantly boost e-books market
- 16 Dec 2010

The recent launch of Google eBookstore by Internet search services firm Google, Inc., US, represents an important milestone in the e-books industry, media reports have pointed out. Through this venture, Google seeks to compete for a share of the digital books business, valued at about $1 billion and expected to grow in the coming years. The eBookstore concept, claimed to be much more than just another option for acquiring books, is seen to take e-books to the next level. It now incorporates key design innovations in user options and operation and also involves brick-and-mortar bookstores as partners in the enterprise. It is expected that Google will expand the service to European markets by March 2011 and to Japan later next year.

According to Forrester Research's James McQuivey, Google's entry into the market is significant as it will be reaching potential customers at a unique point in their book-buying journey. The combination of ads with the browsing of e-books is another plus point for Google, he says. Since Google plans to provide its books from the cloud, it will be able to deliver timely and targeted ads, it is expected. The buyer of a book will thereby no longer need to bear the entire cost of a book. The more pages they read (the more value they get), the more ads they get to see. This in turn will help publishers and authors to receive more value. Also, instead of relying on libraries as a method of accessing information or book, users can now search, preview, or read books (or portions of them) online anytime, anywhere.

Many devices are compatible with Google e-books - everything from laptops to netbooks to tablets to smartphones to e-readers. The new Google eBooks Web Reader allows readers to buy, store and read Google e-books in the cloud. In addition to a full-featured web reader, free apps for Android and Apple devices will make it possible to shop and read on the go.

Users can connect to their collections of books anytime, anywhere using any Adobe e-book DRM-compliant device with a web browser that includes the Android, iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad, Nook, or Sony. Users of these systems can easily download free applications tailored for eBookstore users from the homepage. They have the option to view the scanned-in pages of a book instead of the default flowing text as a result of the digitising work of Google Books. According to Google spokeswoman Jeannie Hornung, the service is not accessible on Amazon's Kindle, though it may offer support in the future.

NFAIS Director of Planning & Communication, Jill O'Neill, notes that Google Books meets the same set of benchmarks for acquiring and reading ebooks as established by Amazon's Kindle.

Google eBooks currently allows users to browse and search through the one of the largest ebooks collections in the world with more than three million titles including hundreds of thousands for sale. While Amazon claims to offer 750,000 books for sale in addition to a stable of 1.8 million free books, Apple has a more limited catalogue.

According to an Information Today report, many publishers and bookstores see Google's model as a positive step in the right direction. In the long run, notes McQuivey, Google eBooks may just convert more people to e-reading. American Booksellers Association COO Len Vlahos notes that Google is acting as an aggregator or wholesaler. Google eBooks users can either purchase a title directly from the Google site or choose to purchase through an independent bookseller. Brian Elliott, CEO of Monsoon Commerce Solutions, parent company of Alibris, sees Google eBooks as providing a new way for independent booksellers to provide their local customers access to eBooks through a familiar channel.

Just two days after Google released the eBookstore, STM publisher Elsevier announced that it would be selling a substantial part of its science and technology e-books through Google eBooks.

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Connecticut Attorney General demands access to Google's Street View data
- 13 Dec 2010

Attorney General from Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, has demanded that Google provide access to data that its Street View cars improperly collected from unsecured Connecticut personal and business wireless computer networks. Blumenthal issued the demand, in cooperation with the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP), in the form of a civil investigative demand - equivalent to a subpoena.

Google had initially claimed that the data was fragmented, but has since acknowledged that entire emails and other information may have been improperly captured. The company has called the improper data collection an accident.

Google has allowed Canadian and other regulatory authorities to review similar data, but refused to provide Blumenthal's office the same access. According to Blumenthal, reviewing this information is vital because Google's story changed - first claiming only fragments were collected, then acknowledging entire emails.

Google collected the data in 2008 while its cars trolled Connecticut streets taking photographs for its Street View service. Google has until December 17 to provide access to the information.

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Google launches e-books service - Google eBooks
- 07 Dec 2010

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, has launched Google eBooks, its digital bookselling enterprise. The service features about 3 million titles for free and hundreds of thousands for sale. Publishers include HarperCollins Publishers and Random House Group Ltd. Through this venture, Google seeks to compete for a share of the digital books business, valued at about $1 billion and expected to grow in the coming years.

Google eBooks, formerly called Google Editions, has been designed to be open. Many devices are compatible with Google eBooks - everything from laptops to netbooks to tablets to smartphones to e-readers. The new Google eBooks Web Reader allows readers to buy, store and read Google eBooks in the cloud. In addition to a full-featured web reader, free apps for Android and Apple devices will make it possible to shop and read on the go.

According to Google spokeswoman Jeannie Hornung, the service will work on some e-readers as well, including Barnes & Noble Inc.'s Nook. It is, however, not accessible on Amazon's Kindle, she said. The new service claims to be an extension of the controversial Google Books search project that aims to make all of the world's written works available online. Google will now sell books directly through an online store, and will allow independent booksellers to set up digital stores to sell Google eBooks on their own sites and get a share of the revenue.

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Google to acquire online video solutions provider Widevine Technologies
- 06 Dec 2010

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, has announced the acquisition of Widevine Technologies, Inc., in a bid to boost its online video services. Widevine provides media solutions for the delivery of digital entertainment to any device. Service providers use its multiplatform DRM and video optimisation solutions for securing high quality video and audio.

The Widevine team has reportedly worked to provide a better video delivery experience for businesses of all kinds. By forging partnerships across the entire ecosystem, the company has sought to make on-demand services more efficient and secure for media companies, and ultimately more available and convenient for users.

With this acquisition, Google plans to build upon Widevine's technology to enhance the products of both companies. The Widevine team will now become part of Google.

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Google to implement anti-piracy measures to ensure copyright protection
- 03 Dec 2010

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, has announced that it will implement new anti-piracy measures over the next several months.

Under the latest plan of action, the company will act on reliable copyright takedown requests within 24 hours. It will build tools to improve the submission process to make it easier for rightsholders to submit DMCA takedown requests for Google products (starting with Blogger and web search). For copyright owners who use the tools responsibly, the average response time will be reduced to 24 hours or less. Also, it will seek to improve its 'counter-notice' tools for those who believe their content was wrongly removed and enable public searching of takedown requests.

Google has also announced plans to improve its AdSense anti-piracy review. According to the company, it has always prohibited the use of AdSense programme on web pages that provide infringing materials. Building on its existing DMCA takedown procedures, Google will be working with rightsholders to identify and, when appropriate, expel violators from the AdSense programme.

Additionally, Google will prevent terms that are closely associated with piracy from appearing in Autocomplete. Further, it will experiment to make authorised preview content more readily accessible in search results.

These changes are expected to build on the company's efforts to give rightsholders choice and control over the use of their content.

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Google set to launch Google Editions e-book store
- 01 Dec 2010

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, is reportedly set to launch Google Editions later this month. Early reports of Google Editions ebook store first appeared in October 2009. According to Google product management director, Scott Dougall, Google Editions will debut in the US later this month and offer international services by Q1 2011.

Google had initially planned to start the venture this summer but delayed it due to technical and legal hurdles, it has been reported. The venture will allow users to buy books directly from Google or from online retailers and add them to an ebook library tied to their Google account.

More than 200 independent US booksellers are expected to sign up with Google to join the e-book service. Media reports indicate that Google has already signed deals with several major book publishers and is expected to offer hundreds of thousands of titles for purchase and millions more for free.

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Google Cloud Connect to let users sync documents on Google Docs and MS Office
- 24 Nov 2010

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, recently announced the availability of a new product - Google Cloud Connect - which seeks to make it easier for people using Google Docs and Microsoft Office to collaborate on working with documents. The product is a result of Google's acquisition of DocVerse in March 2010 at a reported cost of about $20 million.

The application works between Google Docs and Microsoft Office to synchronise changes to documents made by different editors in close to real-time. Users of Office 2003, 2007 and 2010 can sync their Office documents to the Google Cloud without ever leaving Office. Once synced, documents are backed up, given a unique URL, and can be accessed from anywhere (including mobile devices) at any time through Google Docs. As the files are stored in the cloud, people always have access to the current version.

Once in the Google Cloud, documents can be easily shared and even simultaneously edited by multiple people, from right within Office. A full revision history is kept as the files are edited, and users can revert to earlier versions in one click.

According to Google, it will soon make the feature available free of charge to the general public.

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Google signs commitment to improve data handling
- 22 Nov 2010

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, has signed a commitment to improve data handling to ensure breaches like the collection of WiFi payload data by Google Street View vehicles do not occur again.

Senior Vice President of Google, Alan Eustace, has signed an undertaking on behalf of Google Inc. which commits the company to putting into place improved training measures on security awareness and data protection issues for all employees. The company has also said it will require its engineers to maintain a privacy design document for every new project before it is launched. The payload data that Google inadvertently collected in the UK will also be deleted.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) will conduct a full audit of Google's internal privacy structure, privacy training programmes and its system of privacy reviews for new products. The audit will take place within nine months of the undertaking being signed.

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Google flays governmental curbs on Internet, terms them as trade barriers
- 16 Nov 2010

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, has condemned restrictions on the Internet by China, Vietnam and other countries. It has termed them the 'trade barriers of the 21st century' and made a case for new trade rules and talks.

In a policy paper issued by Google, the company has said that trade officials and policymakers should be deeply concerned about the impact of Internet information restrictions on economic growth and trade interests.

Google, which was involved in a spat with China this year over censorship and cyber-attacks, said that more than 40 governments now engage in broad-scale restriction of online information, a tenfold increase from just a decade ago.

Further, the company said that the transformative economic benefits of the Internet are under threat, as increasing numbers of governments move to impose onerous limits on information flow. Today more governments are incorporating surveillance tools into their Internet infrastructure; blocking online services in their entirety; imposing new, secretive regulations; and requiring onerous licensing regimes that often discriminate against foreign companies, it said.

Google further said governments should honor WTO obligations and develop new international rules that provide enhanced protection against these trade barriers of the 21st century.

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Google plans to double number of engineering jobs in India
- 12 Nov 2010

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, has reportedly announced plans to double its engineering staff in India to further strengthen its enterprise cloud computing offerings. The company's current staff strength in India is 2,000. This includes 300 engineers between its Hyderabad and Bangalore centres. The Indian engineers are reportedly developing applications for cloud computing, search, maps and ads.

The new initiative is expected to make Hyderabad the largest cloud computing site for Google. Cloud computing is an emerging technology where shared resources such as software, electricity and information are provided to computers on-demand.

According to Peeyush Ranjan, managing director (R&D), Google India, the company has more than 25 million active users including eight million active education users.

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Google spent $1.6 billion on 40 deals in 2010
- 01 Nov 2010

Internet search services provider Google Inc., US, completed 40 acquisitions worth $1.6 billion during the first three quarters of 2010, according to a regulatory filing made by the company.

According to the company's quarterly report filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Google's largest deals so far this year include mobile advertising start-up AdMob for $681 million, social networking app developer Slide for $179 million and video software maker On2 Technologies for $123 million. Apart from these, the company reportedly completed 37 other deals worth $626 million between January and September. The deals reflect Google's commitment to invest heavily in new technologies and top-level talent that is expected to enable the company to maintain its lead in the search market and push into new emerging opportunities.

The search giant has emerged from the recession with a series of strong quarterly financial reports, and plans to expand into areas other than its mainstay online-advertising business, which accounts for about 97 percent of Google's revenue. The filing states that the company plans to continue investing in systems infrastructure, increase hiring, adjust compensation programmes and continue its current pace of acquisitions.

In its regulatory filing, Google said that for all of the purchases it made this year through the end of September, the patents acquired have a 'weighted average useful life' of just more than four years. The company ended the quarter with nearly $33 billion in cash.

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Google breached Canadian privacy law, says Canada privacy commissioner
- 20 Oct 2010

Internet search services provider Google Inc, US, contravened Canadian privacy law when it inappropriately collected personal information from unsecured wireless networks in neighbourhoods across the country, an investigation has found. The Privacy Commissioner's investigation also concluded that the incident was the result of an engineer's careless error as well as a lack of controls to ensure that necessary procedures to protect privacy were followed.

The personal information collected included complete e-mails, e-mail addresses, usernames and passwords, names and residential telephone numbers and addresses. Some of the captured information was very sensitive, such as a list that provided the names of people suffering from certain medical conditions, along with their telephone numbers and addresses. It is likely that thousands of Canadians were affected by the incident.

Technical experts from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner travelled to the company's offices in Mountain View, Calif. in order to perform an on-site examination of the data that was collected. They conducted an automated search for data that appeared to constitute personal information.

To protect privacy, the experts manually examined only a small sample of data flagged by the automated search. The Privacy Commissioner launched an investigation under the federal private-sector privacy law, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, or PIPEDA, after Google revealed that its cars had inadvertently collected data transmitted over wireless networks installed in homes and businesses across Canada and around the world over a period of several years. The networks were not password protected or encrypted.

In light of the investigation, Privacy Commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart, recommended that Google ensure it has a governance model in place to comply with privacy laws. The model should include controls to ensure that necessary procedures to protect privacy are duly followed before products are launched.

The Commissioner has also recommended that Google enhance privacy training to foster compliance amongst all employees. As well, she called on Google to designate an individual or individuals responsible for privacy issues and for complying with the organisation's privacy obligations - a requirement under Canadian privacy law.

It was also recommended that Google delete the Canadian payload data it collected, to the extent that the company does not have any outstanding obligations under Canadian and American laws preventing it from doing so, such as preserving evidence related to legal proceedings. If the Canadian payload data cannot immediately be deleted, it needs to be secured and access to it must be restricted. The Privacy Commissioner will consider the matter resolved upon receiving, by February 1, 2011, confirmation from Google that it has implemented the recommendations.

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada is mandated by Parliament to act as an ombudsman, advocate and guardian of privacy and the protection of personal information rights of Canadians.

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Czech data protection authority bans Google Street View
- 23 Sep 2010

The Czech data protection authority has reportedly banned Google from collecting data for its Street View service. According to a statement issued by the Czech data protection office, Google was invading privacy by using high-level cameras capable of taking shots that go beyond the extent of ordinary sight from a street.

The Czech Office for Personal Data Protection said that it has received dozens of complaints about photographs of the interiors of homes and people engaged in private activities as well as invasive shots of private property beyond fences. Google has also been accused of failing to appoint a local representative to deal with personal data, as required by European law.

Google, which uses specially equipped vehicles to take 'street-view' pictures of municipalities worldwide, has appealed the decision. The data office has said that it would deal with the appeal.

In Germany, protests forced Google to launch a campaign giving citizens concerned about safety or privacy eight weeks to tell the company to pixel out pictures of their homes or businesses before they are published.

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Czech data protection authority halts Google's Street View data collection
- 15 Sep 2010

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, has announced that the Czech Republic's data protection authority has refused to allow further picture collection for Google's Street View map service.

The data office, which already rejected a similar request from Google in December 2009, said it would comment on the matter at a press conference on September 22.

The office launched administrative proceedings against Google in April as the latter's specially equipped vehicles taking pictures of Prague streets also collected personal information sent via unsecured wireless networks.

In neighbouring Germany, protests forced Google to launch a campaign giving citizens concerned about safety or privacy eight weeks to tell the company to pixel out pictures of their homes or businesses before they are published.

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Google to launch Google Editions in Japan in 2011
- 14 Sep 2010

Internet search services provider Google Inc., US, has announced that it will launch an electronic books service in Japan next year. According to Yoichi Sato, a strategic partner development manager at Google Japan, the Japanese version of Google Editions will start with a limited number of titles.

E-books are still relatively rare in Japan, and local publishing houses have only recently started considering how best to approach the new technology. Major Japanese publishers are still uneasy about handing over book data, especially of in-copyright titles, to Google. They fear that the content may be used for unintended purposes. Japanese copyright laws also require strict and complicated permission processes involving authors and publishers, before Google can use book contents for online searches and sales.

Google Editions is similar to but separate from the controversial Google Books search project that aims to make all of the world's written works available online. While Google Books shows a small portion of the book at a time for free, Google Editions offers access to the entire content of the scanned books for a price.

In the US and Europe, Google plans to start Editions and sell electronic books that people can read on any Internet-connected device including Apple's iPad tablet computer.

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Google CEO Eric Schmidt delivers closing international keynote at IFA 2010
- 08 Sep 2010

Google Inc. CEO Dr. Eric Schmidt took to the keynote stage at the Internationale Funkaustellung (IFA) trade show to preview new technologies - including tools for Android-powered smartphones that translate conversations from one language to another as you speak.

Schmidt spoke in Berlin at the 50th edition of the world's largest consumer electronics and home appliances tradeshow. He said more than 200,000 Android-powered smartphones are activated every day, and the Internet will soon deliver information to three or four billion people.

Schmidt also previewed other advances in development at Google. These include voice-powered search for Android, the mobile operating system for smartphones, and Street-view search for Android. Further, he noted that Android and the Android app store will be added to GoogleTV, which fuses television with the Web and search tools. Plans call for GoogleTV to launch this fall in the US. Also, users will be able to use Android-powered smartphones and the Apple iPhone as remote control devices for GoogleTV.

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Google to settle Buzz lawsuit for $8.5 million
- 07 Sep 2010

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, has reportedly agreed to pay $ 8.5 million to settle a legal dispute with several users of Google's web-based email service Gmail. Gmail users claimed that Google Buzz, a social-networking app found within Gmail, violated their personal privacy.

Legal paperwork, recently made available online, detailed the proposed settlement, which awaits approval by the federal court judge in San Francisco presiding over the case. According to court documents, legal representatives that filed the class-action suit staked out 30 percent of the settlement money and the seven named plaintiffs were to get no more than 2,500 dollars each. The rest of the money, which Google is to deposit in a fund, was earmarked for organisations devoted to Internet privacy policy or education. The settlement also called on Google to do more to educate people about privacy at Buzz.

Google Buzz social network was in troubled waters after the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against Google's failure to protect users' personal data, in February this year. Google quickly worked and fixed the issue while the service continued to receive lukewarm response from Gmail users. A number of changes have been implemented in the service since then. The court filing came as Google updated its privacy policy.

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Google faces antitrust enquiry in Texas over search rankings methods
- 06 Sep 2010

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, has announced that its methods for recommending websites are being reviewed by Texas' attorney general. The investigation was spurred by complaints that the company had abused its power as the Internet's dominant search engine.

The antitrust inquiry disclosed by Google is seen as just the latest sign of the intensifying scrutiny facing the company as it enters its adolescence. Since its inception in a Silicon Valley garage 12 years ago, Google is observed to have gone from a quirky startup to one of the world's most influential businesses with annual revenue approaching $30 billion.

A spokesman for Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott confirmed the investigation, but declined further comment. The review appears to be focused on whether Google is manipulating its search results to stifle competition. The pecking order of those results can make or break websites because Google's search engine processes about two-thirds of the search requests in the US and handles even more volume in some parts of the world.

That dominance means a website ranking high on the first page of Google's results will likely attract more traffic and generate more revenue, either from ads or merchandise sales.

European regulators already have been investigating complaints alleging that Google has been favouring its own services in its results instead of rival websites.

Several lawsuits filed in the US have also alleged Google's search formula is biased. Google believes Abbott is the first state attorney general to open an antitrust review into the issue.

According to Google, its closely guarded search formula strives to recommend websites that are most likely to satisfy the needs of each user's request. Regulators and lawmakers in the US and Europe also have been looking into Google's privacy practices and its acquisitions as the company tries to fortify its power.

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New Zealand officials clear Google of Street View crime
- 03 Sep 2010

New Zealand officials have cleared internet search services provider Google of any criminal charges, after it collected data from wireless networks for its 'Street View' mapping service. Earlier in June, the New Zealand Privacy Commissioner called in the police after Google admitted that its cars taking photographs of cities in over 30 countries had inadvertently gathered personal data sent over unsecured wifi systems.

Privacy regulators in Australia, Europe, the US and Canada also launched investigations into data the web giant's camera-equipped cars collected while taking photos of streets and houses.

New Zealand police said Google's actions did not constitute a criminal offence and they had referred the matter back to the Privacy Commissioner. However, the NZ police cyber crime centre has said that the case underlined the need for web users to put in place security measures when using wireless networks.

Concerns in the case centre on Google's collection of so-called 'payload data', unencrypted information sent on wireless networks that are not protected by passwords which can contain personal information, including the content of e-mails. Google said in July that its 'Street View' cars would resume operations in some countries but collect only photos and 3D imagery, not wifi data.

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Google continues to pursue social-networking capabilities, acquires Angstro
- 30 Aug 2010

Internet search services provider Google Inc. has reportedly acquired Internet company Angstro. Google has confirmed the acquisition. However, it declined to comment on how it planned to use Angstro technologies. Financial terms were also not disclosed.

This acquisition is seen to be part of Google's efforts to build a social-networking service that can effectively compete with Facebook Inc. Rohit Khare, one of the founders of the company, will now serve Google in a new role.

The move is the latest in a series of acquisitions by Google aimed at boosting its social-networking offerings. Angstro marks the fourth company acquired by Google this month. Earlier during the month, Google bought Slide, a social games developer; Jambool, developer of the Solid Gold virtual currency platform that competes with Facebook Credits; and Like.com, a visual shopping engine.

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Google takes visual search application Goggles to Apple's iOS platform
- 25 Aug 2010

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, has announced plans to bring its visual search application Google Goggles to Apple's iOS platform. With this move, the company seeks to make the application available for iPad and iPhone users.

Google Goggles retrieves useful information from a picture a user snaps along with his/her respective GPS position. The application is already available for Google Android powered mobile devices via the Android Marketplace.

Still in its Beta, Google Goggles works on a few main things, such as books, business cards, artwork and landmarks. According to Google, future updates will make the product more effective and useful with more accurate and relevant information.

With Google Goggles, taking a picture of a book will take a user to Google Books, where the user could actually read the entire book online, assuming it is offered on Google Books. Google says the application also has facial recognition capabilities. The company has, however, opted not to include this feature for now, due to privacy concerns.

The current version of Google Goggles is in the process of getting approved by Apple, in order to have the app published in Apple's App Store.

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Google seen to cooperate with Motorola for Android 3.0 tablet
- 20 Aug 2010

As several smartphone makers are working aggressively to form cooperation agreements with Google for an Android 3.0 tablet PC, Motorola is currently the company's priority choice, Digitimes Research senior analyst Mingchi Kuo has said citing upstream component makers.

Kuo pointed out that cooperation would be similar to Google's G1 smartphone, under which the two firms and their telecom partners would all have the rights to label their names on the device. Verizon is expected to be the distributor of the device in the telecoms channel.

Motorola's tablet PC will feature the Tegra 2 platform from Nvidia and a 10.1-inch panel supplied by Sharp. The panel has a lower brightness than that of Apple's iPad, but is thinner in size. The tablet PC will be manufactured by Motorola and is set for mass production by the end of 2010, according to Kuo.

Further, Kuo has noted that Google is said to have been heavily involved in setting the specifications of the Android 3.0 tablet, including its user interface, to ensure a good user experience. The device is expected to ship over two million units in 2011.

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Spain sues Google for illegal data collection
- 18 Aug 2010

A judge in Spain has reportedly opened an investigation into whether internet search services provider Google illegally collected data from unsecured wireless networks while gathering photographs for Google's photo-mapping service Street View.

According to a New York Times report, a representative from Google has been ordered to appear before the judge, Raquel Fernandino, in early October over a lawsuit filed by a Spanish association of Internet users. While the summons was issued last month, it was made public only this week.

Street View has caused regulatory and legal problems for Google in other European countries like Switzerland and Germany which follow strict privacy laws. Earlier in May, a judge in Hamburg opened a criminal investigation of Google over its collection of data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks in Germany. Google had then said that the collection of data was accidental and apologised for what it called a programming error.

A spokeswoman for Google has said that the company will cooperate fully with the judge and other Spanish authorities to resolve the privacy concerns.

Street View was introduced in Spain three years ago, and according to Google, it had proved very popular. Plans to expand the coverage in Spain have been delayed pending an outcome in the data collection dispute.

Apedanica, the Spanish association of Internet users, contends that Google violated an article in Spain's criminal code that prohibits the unauthorised interception and collection of such communications data. The judge's investigation is reportedly the most serious threat so far in Spain for Google and its mapping service.

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Google may acquire visual search firm Like.com
- 17 Aug 2010

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, is reportedly set to acquire Like.com, a visual search and e-commerce company that lets users search for products using images. Media reports estimate the deal size at $100 million.

This is not the first time that Google has looked into visual search. It first made an attempt to acquire Like.com's predecessor, Riya.com, in 2005. Like.com uses core technology developed by Riya, which was focused on facial recognition.

Like.com, co-founded in August 2004 by Munjal Shah and Burak Gokturk, has often been named as one of the best startup companies. The company's image-matching technology has certain important patents, making the acquisition economically and legally beneficial to Google.

Like.com has shown interest in developing visual search technology. Google provides a similar feature on its own search engine. In December 2009, it launched a visual search application for mobile phones. Google had also acquired UK-based startup Plink, which develops mobile visual search applications, for an undisclosed sum in April 2010.

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Google acquires Jambool's Solid Gold virtual currency platform
- 16 Aug 2010

Internet search services provider Google Inc. has announced that it has acquired Jambool, developer of the Solid Gold virtual currency platform that competes with Facebook Credits. Jambool CEO Vikas Gupta and CTO Reza Hussein, who previously worked on Amazon.com, announced the deal in a company blog post.

While the details of the acquisition were not disclosed, media reports indicate that Google is paying about $ 70 million for this acquisition. Jambool's Solid Gold virtual payment platform lets application developers insert payment options into online games and other applications.

With this acquisition, Google seeks to further boost its social-networking presence. Earlier this month, Google announced the acquisition of Slide, a US based manufacturer of social apps for sites like Facebook, Orkut, MySpace, Bebo and Friendster.

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Germany may introduce legislation to limit Google's street mapping service
- 13 Aug 2010

Germany may reportedly introduce legislation to limit the activity of internet search services provider Google Inc.'s street mapping service. The Street View service offers detailed pictures of neighborhoods captured by Google cameras.

Earlier this week, Google had announced plans to introduce the service in 20 of the country's biggest cities by the end of 2010. Citing an unidentified Interior Ministry spokesman, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Ministry was reacting to public concern by considering modifications to existing privacy rules, which may need legislation.

Google has said that it was concerned new rules may inhibit companies from building map products.

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Google to launch Street View service in 20 German cities by year-end
- 11 Aug 2010

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, plans to launch its Street View mapping service for 20 German cities by 2010-end, media reports have quoted the company as saying. German officials have reportedly flayed Street View, which offers detailed pictures of neighborhoods captured by Google cameras. Due to their insistence, the company will blur the faces of individuals and licence plates. Also, people may opt to have images of their homes removed from the database.

The cities will include Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Cologne.

The announcement, seen to have come on short notice in the middle of the summer vacation, has drawn the attention of privacy watchdogs. They point to the fact that residents can only ask for their house to be removed for a four-week period. Also, the fact that Google has refused to set up a hot line to answer questions has raised concerns. The privacy groups have urged Google be more transparent on how it will handle the data of those who wish to opt out of the mapping programme.

German Consumer Protection Minister Ilse Aigner has reportedly said Google must accept faxes and written letters from those without Internet access. According to him, thousands have already downloaded a standard objection letter available on the ministry's website.

Google claims to be doing more than what is legally required to protect privacy. The company's Street View has led to controversies in various countries such as Germany and South Korea. There is fear that people may be filmed without their consent at places where they did not wish to be seen.

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Google, Verizon outline network neutrality rules
- 10 Aug 2010

Internet search services provider Google Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc., a US-based American broadband and telecommunications company, have released a policy statement, according to which, phone and cable TV companies, that provide Internet access, should be barred from slowing down, blocking or charging to prioritise Internet traffic flowing over their regular broadband lines. The companies, however, left room for broadband providers to charge extra to route traffic from premium services such as remote medical monitoring and smart-grid controls over dedicated networks that are separate from the public Internet.

Google and Verizon laid out their vision in a policy proposal that they hope can serve as a framework for Congress and the Federal Communications Commission in drafting so-called 'network neutrality' rules. Such rules are meant to ensure that phone and cable providers cannot favour their own services or discriminate against Internet phone calls, online video and other web services that compete with their core businesses.

Although broadband providers such as Verizon and Internet-content companies such as Google are at opposite ends in the increasingly bitter debate over such rules, the two companies have been in talks for months to try to identify common ground. Their proposal comes just days after the FCC declared an impasse in negotiations to craft an industry-wide compromise on the thorny issue.

The proposal from Google and Verizon is expected to give the FCC authority to enforce those rules for wired networks by prohibiting broadband providers from discriminating against or favoring Internet traffic. The proposal would allow the agency to impose a penalty of up to $2 million on companies that violate the rules. Wireless carriers, which have more capacity constraints, would not be subject to the restrictions, although they would have to disclose their network management practices.

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Google acquires social technology company Slide
- 09 Aug 2010

Internet search services provider Google Inc. has announced the acquisition of Slide, a social technology company. Slide is a US based manufacturer of social apps for sites like Facebook, Orkut, MySpace, Bebo and Friendster. No detailed product plans were announced with the deal.

With this acquisition, Google seeks to boost its social-networking presence. According to media reports, this is a key area where Google wants to grow as Americans spend 33 percent of their online time in social networking and online gaming. In announcing the acquisition, Google Engineering Director David Glazer said that the company would be investing even more to make Google services socially aware.

Some of Google's earlier attempts to crack the social networking sector have ended in disappointment. This includes Dodgeball, a mobile social-networking service that let users share their location with friends, and more recently Google Buzz, a social-networking service tied to Gmail. Google Buzz got off to a bad start when users complained about privacy violations.

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Google cleared of privacy breach in the UK
- 02 Aug 2010

The UK's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has cleared internet search services provider Google Inc. of collecting 'meaningful personal details' during the company's Street View wireless data breach, earlier this year.

The ICO recently visited Google's premises to assess samples of the 'pay-load' data it inadvertently collected. While Google considered it unlikely that it had collected anything other than fragments of content, the data-protection agency wanted to make its own judgement as to the likelihood that significant personal data had been retained and, if so, the extent of any intrusion.

The ICO concluded that the information collected by Google's cars did not include meaningful personal details that could be linked to an identifiable person. The ICO further noted that there is also no evidence as yet that the data captured by Google has caused or could cause any individual detriment.

In May 2010, Google acknowledged that its Street View vehicles had inadvertently collected data over public Wi-Fi networks while marking the location of the Wi-Fi networks and taking pictures for its online mapping service. The company had then said that while it was a mistake to collect personal data, it does not believe it has broken any laws. Google continues to work with relevant authorities to answer their questions and concerns. The British report likely will not affect the ongoing investigations in the US, Germany, France and other countries.

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Google acquires Metaweb to improve search
- 19 Jul 2010

Internet search services provider Google Inc. has acquired Metaweb, a company that maintains an open database of people, places, and things called Freebase. Google will integrate this information into its search algorithms. This is expected to further boost Google's ability to accept search queries, and to provide smart contextual information based on the synthesis of the search input.

Google and Metaweb plan to maintain Freebase as a free and open database for the world. Both parties plan to contribute to and further develop Freebase, and are inviting other web companies to use and contribute to the data.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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China renews Google's operating licence
- 12 Jul 2010

Internet search services provider Google Inc. has announced that China has renewed its Internet licence, after the company's local venture pledged to allow its Web content to be supervised by regulators. An official with China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology confirmed that the licence was renewed for another year for Beijing Guxiang Information Technology, the operator of Google's China website.

Google received approval to operate in China after it agreed to stop rerouting users of Google.cn to its site in Hong Kong, which is not subject to China's online censorship. Search requests at Google.cn from within mainland China will now require an extra click that then takes the user to the Hong Kong site.

China's decision to allow Google to continue operations has resolved a lengthy dispute that had threatened the company's future in the country. In January 2010, Google threatened to exit the Chinese market after cyber attacks originating from the nation targeted its systems. The attacks were aimed at obtaining personal data and proprietary information belonging to human-rights activists who use the company's Gmail e-mail service.

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Google to launch Google Editions in Japan in early 2011
- 09 Jul 2010

Internet search services firm Google, Inc. will reportedly launch its e-bookstore Google Editions in Japan early next year. The service is expected to enable the purchase of e-book titles for reading on devices such as smartphones, PCs as well as e-book readers.

Google currently offers the Google Books service which allows free access to sections of at least 2 million titles from more than 30,000 publishers across the world. However, Google Editions will offer access to entire publications for a fee.

Google Editions is claimed to be among a growing number of game-changing distribution and reading models available to publishers and book consumers. The service is projected to allow users to procure e-books from various websites via different devices, including Apple's iPad and Amazon's Kindle. According to sources, Google is calling on publishers to sign a contract as it plans to distribute over half of its sales to publishers.

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EU to look closely at Google antitrust probe
- 08 Jul 2010

The European Union's antitrust chief, Joaquin Almunia, has reportedly said that his office is continuing to investigate antitrust concerns about Google Inc. During a recent speech on digital media in London, Almunia said that the EU investigation is still at an early stage but that officials were aware of the 'importance of search to a competitive online marketplace'.

Almunia added that his office is investigating allegations of anti-competitive conduct in the search business. The antitrust chief has said that he is looking 'very carefully' at allegations that Google Inc. unjustly demotes rivals' sites in search results. A Google spokesman confirmed that the company is aware of the continuing inquiry and has been cooperating with the commission.

In February 2009, Google revealed, in a blog post, that the EU had begun investigating the company for possible anticompetitive behaviour. The EC investigation was triggered by complaints filed by eJustice.fr, a French legal search engine; Ciao, a German search site that has been acquired by Microsoft Corp; and Foundem, a UK price comparison site. However, according to Google, its search results are entirely controlled by algorithms that demote sites with little useful content for users. Low rankings matter because a higher ranking in a Google search drives higher volumes of traffic to websites.

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Google's Chinese licence renewal remains uncertain
- 06 Jul 2010

After a wait of five days, Internet search services firm Google, Inc., US, continued to be kept uninformed on whether or not its operating licence in China would be renewed, according to media reports. The licence, issued by the Chinese government, is necessary for Google to operate its China-based website, Google.cn. Tensions between the company and Chinese officials have put the licence renewal in doubt.

Google's relations with Beijing have been tense since it announced in January 2010 that it no longer wanted to cooperate with Chinese web filtering following hacking attacks. The company closed its China-based search engine in March and began routing users to its unfiltered Hong Kong site. It recently stopped automatic switching following objections from the Chinese government. Chinese government officials had said that if Google continued redirecting users, the company's Internet Content Provider licence would not be renewed.

Google's web search services have also been partially blocked in China. According to company spokeswoman Jessica Powell, Google Suggest, a feature that provides probable search terms when user types their query, continues to be blocked.

The loss of its Chinese licence is expected to set back Google's efforts to tap into the world's most populous Internet market of nearly 400 million users. Web surfers can still reach the Chinese-language Hong Kong site by typing in its address, but industry analysts predict that web surfers are likely to switch to Chinese competitors such as Baidu.

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China blocks Google Suggest searches
- 01 Jul 2010

A Google search feature was reportedly blocked in China on Thursday. Google users in China were unable to use Google's search suggestions feature, as the company awaits Beijing's decision on whether to renew its operating license amid tensions over censorship.

According to Google spokeswoman Jessica Powell, the search queries produced by Google Suggest are being blocked for mainland users in China. Normal searches that do not use query suggestions remain unaffected.

Google's relations with Beijing have been tense since the US-based search giant announced in January that it no longer wanted to cooperate with Chinese Web filtering following hacking attacks. Google closed its China-based search engine in March and began routing users to its unfiltered Hong Kong site. The company recently stopped automatic switching following objections from the Chinese government. Chinese government officials had said that if Google continues redirecting users, the company's Internet Content Provider licence will not be renewed.

The loss of its Chinese license would set back Google's efforts to tap into the world's most populous Internet market of nearly 400 million users. Web surfers can still reach the Chinese-language Hong Kong site by typing in its address, but industry analysts predict that are likely to switch to Chinese competitors such as Baidu Inc.

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Google to stop redirecting Chinese site users to Hong Kong page
- 29 Jun 2010

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, has announced plans to stop redirecting users of the Google.cn site to its Hong Kong page. Since the company's January announcement that it was not willing to censor results on Google.cn, it has been automatically redirecting everyone using Google.cn to Google.com.hk. This redirect, which offers unfiltered search in simplified Chinese, was working well for users and for Google. However, Chinese government officials have said that the redirect is unacceptable, and if Google continues redirecting users, the company's Internet Content Provider licence will not be renewed.

Instead of automatically redirecting all users, Google has now started taking a small percentage of them to a landing page on Google.cn that links to Google.com.hk, where users can conduct web search or continue to use Google.cn services. This approach is seen to ensure commitment not to censor results on Google.cn and give users access to all services from one page.

Google has announced that over the next few days it will end the redirect entirely, taking all Chinese users to the new landing page. The company has re-submitted its ICP licence renewal application based on this approach.

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Google examining impact of new Chinese laws on Google Maps service
- 24 Jun 2010

Internet search services provider Google Inc is reportedly examining the impact new Chinese regulations could have on its Google Maps service. China's State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping recently announced new regulations that require firms providing online map and location services to apply for a license.

According to reports published in the official China Daily newspaper, the laws give China the right to close providers that fail to get a license. To be eligible for a license, service providers would need to keep map servers storing data within China and have no record of information leaks over the last three years. The mapping bureau has reportedly approved 18 domestic firms to provide online mapping services. Several foreign companies had applied for a license.

Google Maps is one of Google's most popular products. It enables users to search local maps and plot routes for free. Google products and services such as Google Groups, YouTube and Blogger are already blocked in China. The new regulations could pose a new hurdle for Google. Earlier in March, the company moved its China servers to Hong Kong after a diplomatic spat with Beijing over censorship.

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US states join hands to investigate Google's Street View project
- 22 Jun 2010

About 30 US states are looking to work together to examine how Google, Inc.'s Street View vehicles were able to collect Internet users' personal data from unsecured wireless networks. Led by Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, the joint investigation will seek additional information from Google. Also, it will examine whether or not laws were broken when the company mistakenly collected data on people's web usage.

In a recent interview, Blumenthal said that a core group of state attorneys general had agreed to combine their resources and expertise to scrutinise the issue. According to him, over 30 states had expressed interest in the matter. He expects a 'significant group' of states will ultimately join the probe.

The multi-state inquiry is the latest development in a growing privacy controversy that made news across the globe. Google has blamed the mistake on an experimental piece of software which was accidentally used in its signal-collection tool. It has hired an Internet security firm to examine the software error.

In May 2010, Google acknowledged that its Street View vehicles had inadvertently collected data over public Wi-Fi networks while marking the location of the Wi-Fi networks and taking pictures for its online mapping service. The company has reportedly said that while it was a mistake to collect personal data, it does not believe it has broken any laws. According to a Google spokesperson, the company continues to work with relevant authorities to answer their questions and concerns.

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Google may launch one-click payment system for news content by year-end
- 21 Jun 2010

Internet search services provider Google Inc is reportedly set to launch a paid content system for publishers, which it is calling Newspass. According to a report in an Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, Google is reaching out to publishers to get them to sign up for the system, which is slated for launch later this year.

Google is yet to confirm the La Repubblica report. According to the La Repubblica article, the Newspass system seems to have many elements of a paid content proposal that the company made to the Newspaper Association of America in 2009. In a document to the Newspaper Association of America in September 2009, the company summarised that 'open' need not mean free, and content on the Internet can thrive supported by multiple business models - including content available only via subscription.

Google News has received criticism from news publishers for its free aggregation of content, despite the service giving greater visibility and driving traffic to many news publishers. With Newspass, people will reportedly be able to log-in to the sites of participating news publishers using a single login. Publishers will be able to select what the type of payment they want to accept, including subscriptions and micropayments. People who find content from participating publishers in Google search will see a paywall icon next to that content and be able to purchase access directly from there using Checkout.

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France joins privacy probe targeting Google's Street View mapping service
- 18 Jun 2010

French data protection agency Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertes (CNIL) has said that Google Inc. recorded passwords and bits of e-mail messages while collecting data for its Street View mapping service. France is the latest country to accuse Google Inc. for illegally gathering private data from Wi-Fi networks in the country through its Street View project.

Google recently came under fire for capturing online activities over Wi-Fi networks in over 30 countries while it was photographing neighbourhoods for its Street View feature. The company has been handing over data to authorities in the affected countries for the past two weeks.

CNIL is reportedly examining the data that it received from Google on June 4. According to a CNIL representative, the organisation may yet seek financial or criminal penalties over the privacy breach.

Earlier last month, Google acknowledged that it had mistakenly collected data over public Wi-Fi networks in more than 30 countries. The company had then said that the information was sent over unencrypted residential wireless networks as Google's Street View cars with mounted recording equipment passed by. The company also said that the data collection that took place in all the countries where Street View had been catalogued was unintentional and happened due to a programming error.

Australia and Germany have already launched their own investigations into the matter. Several state attorneys general in the US are also looking into the issue.

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Google to digitise 400,000 Austrian library books
- 16 Jun 2010

Austria's national library, Osterreichischen Nationalbibliothek (ONB), has announced a 30-million-euro deal with Internet search services provider Google Inc. to digitise 400,000 copyright-free books, a vast collection spanning 400 years of European history.

According to ONB, the Austrian library project concerns one of the world's five biggest collections of 16th- to 19th-century literature, totaling about 120 million pages. Under the deal, Google will cover the costs of digitising the collection - set at around 50 to 100 euros per book. The ONB will pay to prepare the books for scanning, store the book data, and provide public access to it.

Scanning work will begin in 2011 in Bavaria in southern Germany, and is expected to last around six years. The library hopes that the process will help preserve its original works, as well as provide digital back-up copies in case of a disaster. According to Johanna Rachinger, head of the ONB library, Google will not have exclusive use of the scanned books, which will be accessible on the ONB's website at www.onb.ac.at, the Google Books library at books.google.fr and its European counterpart www.europeana.eu.

Google has been scanning millions of books to create a digital library and electronic bookstore. The project has been dogged by controversy because of anti-trust, copyright and privacy issues. Google has until now digitised about 12 million books, drawn from over 40 libraries. This includes those of Stanford and Harvard universities, with a similar deal struck in March with Rome and Florence universities in Italy.

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Spanish anti-crime association sues Google over Street View project
- 14 Jun 2010

Internet search services provider, Google, Inc., US, has once again come under criticism for its Street View project. A crime prevention association in Spain has accused Google of illegally gathering private data from Wi-Fi networks in the country through its Street View project, and filed a suit against the company in a Madrid court. Many countries have recently raised several doubts and questions regarding the company's method of data collection.

The Spanish Data Protection Association (AEPD) started a probe on May 19 to determine if the company had broken the law protecting citizens' personal data and rights.

Earlier last month, Google had said that it had collected data over public Wi-Fi networks by mistake in about 30 countries. It was then suspected that the company might have violated privacy laws. Privacy commissioners globally have also questioned the company about privacy issues.

Under pressure from European officials, Google acknowledged that it had collected snippets of private data worldwide. The company had then said that the information was sent over unencrypted residential wireless networks as Google's Street View cars with mounted recording equipment passed by. The company also said that the data collection that took place in all the countries where Street View had been catalogued was unintentional and happened due to a programming error. It, however, assured that the information had not been used and would be deleted as per regulations. Javier Rodriguez, Google's Director for Spain, has said that the data would be returned to AEPD.

It is now being suspected that the company might have committed a crime under Article 197 of the Criminal Code. Violation of the law could draw up to four years in prison.

In addition, Greece and Austria have also banned Google's Street View vehicles.

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Google unveils new web indexing system, Caffeine
- 10 Jun 2010

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, recently announced the completion of a new web indexing system called Caffeine. According to Google, Caffeine will provide 50 percent fresher results for web searches than the company's previous index. Also, users can now find links to relevant content much sooner after it is published than was possible before.

Google's old index had several layers, some of which were refreshed at a faster rate than others; the main layer would update every couple of weeks. Content was not added to the Google search index until a layer was refreshed. This caused a significant delay between publishing content and having it show up on the search engine.

Caffeine is projected to analyse the web in small portions and update the search index on a continuous basis, globally. As it finds new pages, or new information on existing pages, it can add these straight to the index. Caffeine is projected to allow for indexing of web pages on an enormous scale. According to the company, it takes up nearly 100 million gigabytes of storage in one database and adds new information at a rate of hundreds of thousands of gigabytes per day.

Google reportedly opted for a new search indexing system because content on the web is expanding significantly. It is growing not just in size and numbers but with the advent of video, images, news and real-time updates, the average webpage is richer and more complex. In addition, people's expectations for search are higher than they used to be. Searchers want to find the latest relevant content and publishers expect to be found the instant they publish.

Google recently went live with Caffeine, and the service is now being used in all Google searches. A regular Internet-trolling search-engine user may start seeing different search results, hopefully more up-to-date, relevant news stories and blog posts, according to the company.

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Google to surrender Street View Data
- 07 Jun 2010

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, will reportedly surrender the data it illegally collected over unsecured wireless networks. Google's chief executive, Eric E. Schmidt, has said that the company would share the data with regulators in France, Germany and Spain. The data is thought to include snippets of personal information like bank account numbers and e-mail.

Earlier, Google had resisted to requests from European officials and privacy advocates to surrender the data, stating that it required time to evaluate legal issues. In a recent interview to The Financial Times, Schmidt said that the software code responsible for the data collection was in 'clear violation' of Google's rules. Google will publish a review of its privacy practices within next month. The company also plans to publish the findings of an external audit into its Wi-Fi snooping operations.

Last month, Google admitted that it had, since 2006, systematically collected private data while compiling its Street View photo archive. The information was sent over unencrypted residential wireless networks as Google's Street View cars with mounted recording equipment passed by. The company had then assured that the information has not been used and would be deleted as per regulations.

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Consumer Groups call for FTC probe over Google's acquisition of Invite Media
- 04 Jun 2010

US-based consumer advocacy organisation Consumer Watchdog and the Center for Digital Democracy have called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google's recent acquisition of display advertising company, Invite Media, for around $70 million. According to the organisations, the deal raises substantial competitive and privacy concerns.

Combining Invite Media's database with the information Google gathered though the AdMob deal and the earlier DoubleClick acquisition raised substantial privacy concerns. According to senior officials at both organisations, the deals give Google unprecedented access to consumers' personal data. The Invite purchase appears to be anticompetitive, they said.

Google formally announced its acquisition of Invite Media, a company that developed a system for real-time bidding on display ad space, on June 3, 2010. According to the company, it has been investing significantly in its display ad business, and as a result, publishers are getting improved returns while advertisers and agencies are running more effective campaigns. Invite Media, Google said, will add to that equation.

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Google criticised for mapping UK's entire WiFi networks for database
- 01 Jun 2010

Fitted with radio aerials, the street view car of Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, has reportedly mapped the UK's entire wireless network. The database thus collated, media reports indicate, is used for commercial purposes through Google's search engine.

Every WiFi wireless router (a device that links a computer with the Internet) has reportedly been entered into a Google database. According to media reports, the street view cars have photographed almost every home in the country.

The data is used on Google Maps to help cell-phone and iPhone users to access information relevant to the area. The project remained secret until a recent inquiry in Germany forced Google to admit that it had 'mistakenly' downloaded e-mails and other data from unsecured wireless networks.

Google had then argued that companies such as Skyhook Wireless, which has a contract with Apple, have already mapped the networks. According to Google, the information, which lists the networks' Service Set-ID (SSID) number and Media Access Control (MAC) address but not their house number, is publicly available. This is so because the wireless signals extend beyond the property in which they are located.

Though Google has suspended the use of street view cars across the world, its work in the UK is already complete.

Authorities in the US, the UK and other countries have asked Google to retain the downloaded e-mails pending a full inquiry. However, it is not clear what its obligations are concerning the WiFi data. Privacy campaigners point to a breakdown in regulation. They claim that more meticulous regulation with a deeper comprehension of the issues involved and the related technology might have ensured that such a breach of privacy did not happen.

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Google, Facebook face more scrutiny on privacy policies
- 31 May 2010

US lawmakers have reportedly strengthened their enquiry into the privacy practices of two Internet companies - Google, Inc. and Facebook, Inc.

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee recently asked Facebook and Google to cooperate with investigations into privacy practices at both companies. Representative John Conyers Jr. has also sent mails expressing concern on whether the two companies are doing enough to protect users' privacy.

Google came under fire for capturing online activities over Wi-Fi networks in over 30 countries while it was photographing neighbourhoods for its Street View feature. Facebook rolled out privacy fixes this week after being critisised for pressing users to publicly share more personal information.

Conyers has asked Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Chief Executive, to explain his company's privacy practices. Also, he wanted Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, to retain the data and records related to the Wi-Fi data collection and to cooperate with state and federal agencies. The House Judiciary Committee is considering hearings and legislation.

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Google releases open source learning platform, CloudCourse
- 28 May 2010

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, recently released an internal learning platform, CloudCourse, under an open source license. Built on Google's App Engine, CloudCourse allows anyone to create and track learning activities. It also offers calendaring, waitlist management and approval features.

CloudCourse is fully integrated with Google Calendar and can be further customised to sync the data with other internal systems; schedule classes in your locations; and look up user profile (employee title, picture, etc).

CloudCourse was developed to provide a course scheduling system fully integrated with Google services. By releasing CloudCourse as open source, Google hopes to help developers who want to port or build enterprise applications on App Engine. As the source code is open, and as more and more schools explore and embrace Google's Apps for Education, CloudCourse may become another part of the ed-tech arsenal.

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Google ties up with American Booksellers Association for digital books
- 27 May 2010

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, and the American Booksellers Association (ABA) have reportedly formed a partnership. The partnership was announced at a session on Google Editions at the BookExpo America 2010 during the ABA Day of Education with ABA COO Len Vlahos and Tom Turvey, director of strategic partnerships for Google. Both Google and ABA will partner on digital books starting with the official launch of Google Editions later this year.

Google anticipates having 400,000 books - STM, trade and professional - at the launch. The books will be compatible with all e-readers except for Amazon's Kindle. These books can be read offline using Google Gear, which allows for caching in the browser. ABA currently offers e-books on the IndieBound.com website through Ingram, and it will continue to do so. The Google agreement is not exclusive.

While Google will not sell print titles, its system will support print books bundled with the digital edition. Also, Google and ABA will allow bookstores to geo-affiliate in order that bookstores will share in the sale when customers download a Google digital book in the store.

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Google-led consortium developing platform to integrate web and TV
- 24 May 2010

A Google-led consortium of technology companies, including Sony, Intel, Adobe, Logitech, DISH Network and Best Buy, will reportedly support a platform and offer devices that combine the web with television. The announcement was made at Google's I/O developer conference in San Francisco.

The new platform will be called Google TV. It is based on Google's Android platform and runs the Google Chrome web browser. The new platform is expected to allow users to search and watch content from television content providers, the web, applications and personal content libraries from stationary and mobile devices.

Sony and Logitech have said that they will deliver products based on the new Intel Atom processor and integrating Google TV later during the year. Sony has assured both a standalone TV model and a set-top box-type unit incorporating a Blu-ray disc drive.

Logitech will launch a companion box that will bring Google TV to existing high definition home entertainment systems, including a controller that combines keyboard and remote capabilities. In addition, Adobe Flash will be integrated directly into the Google Chrome browser on Google TV.

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Consumer Watchdog critical of Google Street View, calls for FTC probe
- 18 May 2010

US-based consumer advocacy organisation Consumer Watchdog has called on the Federal Trade Commission to launch an immediate probe of Google’s prying on private WiFi networks. In a blog post on its Website, Google recently admitted that it had, since 2006, systematically collected private data while compiling its Street View photo archive. The information was sent over unencrypted residential wireless networks as Google's Street View cars with mounted recording equipment passed by.

The flagrant intrusion into consumers’ privacy came to light as a result of tough questions from European regulators. While Google now acknowledged gathering ‘payload data’ from WiFi networks, the company, less than a month ago, had denied accumulating the information. Google engineers attributed the discrepancy to a ‘mistake.’

Consumer Watchdog has called on the FTC to document what data Google has been gathering, for how long and what the company does with it. The FTC has the authority and public trust necessary to get to the bottom of Google’s data collection practices. The probe should reveal exactly how consumers’ privacy has been compromised and what remedies are required, said Consumer Watchdog.

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European privacy regulators angered by Google Street View data collection‎
- 17 May 2010

European privacy regulators and advocates reacted angrily after Internet search services provider Google Inc. recently admitted that it had, since 2006, systematically collected private data while compiling its Street View photo archive. Under pressure from European officials, Google recently acknowledged that it had collected snippets of private data worldwide.

In a blog post on its Website, Google has said that the information was sent over unencrypted residential wireless networks as Google's Street View cars with mounted recording equipment passed by. The company also said that the data collection that took place in all the countries where Street View had been catalogued was unintentional and happened due to programming error. Google has apologised for the error. The company assured that the information has not been used and would be deleted as per regulations.

German minister for food, agriculture and consumer protection, Ilse Aigner, has demanded a full accounting after Google revealed that the data collection could include the websites viewed by individuals or the content of their e-mails. According to the German minister, this was a violation of privacy law.

Johannes Caspar, the data protection supervisor for Hamburg, who is leading the German government's dealings with Google on the issue, said the company's disclosure of illegal data collection would be looked into by a panel of European national data protection chiefs that advises the European Commission. He however declined to speculate the action European officials could take.

The improper collection of data came to light after German data protection officials asked Google, two weeks ago, to detail the information it had collected from household wireless local area networks.

Despite its efforts to address the situation, Google may reportedly face an uphill battle in Germany overcoming skepticism about its intentions. Till Steffen, the justice senator for the city-state of Hamburg, has introduced a bill in the German Parliament that would fine Google for displaying personal property in Street View without the consent of owners. The bill, introduced in the upper house of the German Parliament, would fine Google $62,500, or 50,000 euros, for each time it failed to remove the personal property of a citizen who requested to be exempted from Street View.

Google has faced a series of legal entanglements over privacy issues in Europe. Earlier, in April 2010, data protection regulators from eight European countries, New Zealand and Israel sent a joint letter to Google criticising the company's social networking service, Buzz, which reportedly publicised the connections of some users without their permission. This latest episode could further complicate Google's business in the region.

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Most US publishers sign up for new e-bookstore, Google Editions
- 10 May 2010

Online search services provider Google, Inc., US, has reportedly garnered the support of almost all publishers in the US for its digital bookstore, which is expected to be launched next month. More than 25,000 publishers and authors have agreed to participate in Google Editions, the company’s venture to distribute books online.

Assuming books with expired copyright are included, Google is projected to handle more than 4 million books, including about 2 million handled by the publishers that have agreed to join. This is set to be the world's largest virtual bookstore. The entry of Google is likely to accelerate the growth of the e-book business, already pioneered by rivals like Apple and Amazon.

While the company did not elaborate on details of Google Editions, an official emphasised that it would include almost all publishers in the US. Google Editions is projected to allow users to easily buy books via its online search service and is likely to involve a model where publishers decide the retail price.

Google Editions claims to be among a growing number of game-changing distribution and reading models available to publishers and book consumers. In a recent announcement, publishers in Australia have welcomed Google’s decision to launch Google Editions. While it remains unknown about when the service will become available in Australia, local response to the US announcement has been positive.

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E-books market expected to undergo sea-change with Google Editions entry
- 07 May 2010

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, is making all the right moves that will help it dominate the e-book space, reports eWeek.com. The e-book marketplace is observed to be turning increasingly crowded. Initially, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com were competing for customer dollars. But after Apple launched its iBooks service for the iPad, all that reportedly changed.

Publishers are now able to send their books for selling on several different e-platforms and make profit in a space they originally feared. Another competitor – Google – is making its way to the market. The company plans to release its service in July this year. Amazon.com, Apple and the others are already wondering what the search giant has planned.

Google is known for its tendency to enter the market, find the right place to promote its service and win out or perform well enough to succeed. So far, the mainstream public is still opting for hardcovers over e-versions of a book. But as more and more people become aware of e-books, they will be looking for the best solution, it is observed. While Amazon.com's Kindle or Apple's iPad lead the market today, Google's service, Google Editions, may change that soon. eWeek.com looks at how Google Editions could help the company win the e-books market.

The biggest challenge in the e-books space today is trying to get mainstream consumers to buy titles. Google reportedly has the ability to draw the mainstream. While Apple is convincing consumers to look at tablets, it is debatable whether iBooks will really turn out to be the killer app. Google plans to make the new service available in as many places as possible. Users will be able to buy e-books online from a slew of retailers, including independent book stores. Google also plans to make Editions available to mobile-device users. A major impediment for Google's competitors in the e-books market is that they rely on their own mobile devices to sell books. Google, on the other hand, realises that relying so heavily on a single device will hold it back. It therefore plans to offer its books on as many products as possible.

While publishers had earlier criticised Google for its books digitising project, they are now beginning to warm to the search giant, as they realise the profit potential of e-books. The company is yet to announce any partnerships with publishers, making it difficult to state how many books will be available on the service. Given the success of the iBooks and the Kindle, both big and small publishers are expected to ink deals with Google.

To roll out Editions in as many places as possible, Google plans to share a majority of its profit with partners. While publishers are already making big profits on their deals with Amazon.com and Apple, it is obvious that they will migrate to the e-books platform that will deliver best returns. If Google Editions becomes as successful as it is expected to be and continues to share the bulk of its profits with retailers and publishers, it could put competitors in a dangerous position.

The iPad is not the dominant player in the e-books market, even though it is seen to deliver a fine reading experience. In a few years time, Apple would have likely dominated the e-books market if not for Google's intervention. Google’s new service could help its chances of taking on Apple. With a slew of e-books available for download quickly for the device, the Kindle is claimed to be the most successful e-reader currently. But it is expected that once Google enters the market, Amazon.com will need to drastically change its strategy just to stay relevant.

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Google wins copyright violation cases in Europe and US
- 04 May 2010

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, has reportedly won a legal victory in Germany on whether image search and showing thumbnails is tantamount to copyright law violation. According to the Google European Public Policy Blog, the German Supreme Court has ruled that Google Image Search does not infringe copyright. The case had been filed by an artist who had uploaded photos of her paintings on her website. She sued Google since the photos were displayed in the company’s image search results.

It is expected that the German ruling would be adopted by other European courts. Google has already successfully defended itself against similar claims in the US under the ‘fair use’ doctrine.

Additionally, Google has won a trademark case involving AdWords, brought to court by Rosetta Stone, an educational content provider. Rosetta Stone contended that the use of its trademarks as ‘keyword triggers’ was an infringement of trademark, and confused its consumers. The judge granted a summary judgment that ends a case before trial – an opinion is yet to be issued.

Earlier, in February 2010, Google came under fire for privacy violation in Italy. Media reports indicate that an Italian court sentenced Google's Chief Legal Officer, Chief Privacy Counsel and former Chief Financial Officer to six months in prison each for violating the nation’s privacy laws. The executives are not likely to serve prison time since Italian criminal laws allow suspension and commutation of short prison sentences for first-time offenders. However, Google has expressed plans to appeal the ruling which, according to observers, exemplifies the need for enterprises operating in Europe to conform to strict privacy laws. The court decision is also seen to raise questions on whether Internet service and content providers that allow third-party content on their sites should step up their monitoring process.

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Google, Library of Congress to archive Twitter posts
- 20 Apr 2010

The Library of Congress has announced a partnership with networking site Twitter. Twitter is donating its archives of tweets to the Library of Congress, going back to the first one posted by co-founder Jack Dorsey on March 21, 2006.

The Library of Congress will store tweets to provide researchers a better way to revert to discussions of significant events. Only tweets meant for public viewing will be available. Accounts with restrictive privacy settings will not be included. Also, the Library of Congress will not be able to offer access to specific tweets until six months after they are posted.

In a related announcement, internet search services provider Google announced plans to roll out a new tool that will allow people to sift through Twitter messages about specific topics by day, month or year. Only tweets going back to February 11, 2010 will be available initially. Google eventually expects to gain access to all the messages dating back to Twitter's birth.

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Google launches Cloud Printing plan for Chrome OS
- 19 Apr 2010

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, is set to launch early-stage designs, software code and documentation of a project called Google Cloud Print. The new initiative will allow users of the company's Chrome OS operating system print documents to any printer from any application.

The technology would give away with the need to install printer drivers by routing print jobs from desktop, Web and mobile applications via a Chrome OS Web-hosted broker.

Google Cloud Print can be used to submit and manage print jobs. While the project is still in its initial phase, Google has expressed interest to engage interested vendors and developers in the process of developing this technology.

Chrome OS was launched by Google in November 2009. The first netbooks that run the OS are expected to hit the market late this year.

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