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Google

Google Publishes Commitments It Made To Settle EU Antitrust Case 8

Posted by Soulskill
from the keep-your-nose-clean dept.
itwbennett writes "Google has done what the European Commission declined to do: publish the details of the latest commitments Google made in a bid to settle a long-running antitrust case involving its treatment of rival specialist search services, among other matters. On the company's European policy blog, Google's senior vice president and general counsel, Kent Walker, announced the publication of what he called the 'full text' (PDF) of the company's commitments. In fact, the 93-page document contains a number of redactions, including details of a parameter used to rank search results, the identities of two companies with customized contracts for Adsense For Search, and a proposal for modification of those contracts to comply with the other commitments."
Censorship

This Isn't the First Time Microsoft's Been Accused of Bing Censorship 56

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-can't-find-that-right-now dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Microsoft has censored Chinese-language results for Bing users in the United States as well as mainland China, according to an article in The Guardian. But this isn't the first time that Bing's run into significant controversy over the 'sanitizing' of Chinese-language search results outside of mainland China. In November 2009, Microsoft came under fire from free-speech advocates after New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof accused the company of 'craven kowtowing' to the mainland Chinese government by sanitizing its Chinese-language search results for users around the world. Just as with The Guardian and other news outlets this week, Microsoft insisted at the time that a 'bug' was to blame for the sanitized search results. 'The bug identified in the web image search was indeed fixed,' a Microsoft spokesperson told me in December 2009, after I presented them with a series of screenshots suggesting that the pro-Chinese-government filter remained in effect even after Kristof's column. 'Please also note that Microsoft 'recognize[s] that we can continue to improve our relevancy and comprehensiveness in these web results and we will.' Time will tell whether anything's different this time around."
Programming

The First Open Ranking of the World Wide Web Is Available 53

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the brought-to-you-by-164 dept.
First time accepted submitter vigna writes "The Laboratory for Web Algorithmics of the Università degli studi di Milano together with the Data and Web Science Group of the University of Mannheim have put together the first entirely open ranking of more than 100 million sites of the Web. The ranking is based on classic and easily explainable centrality measures applied to a host graph, and it is entirely open — all data and all software used is publicly available. Just in case you wonder, the number one site is YouTube, the second Wikipedia, and the third Twitter." They are using the Common Crawl data (first released in November 2011). Pages are ranked using harmonic centrality with raw Indegree centrality, Katz's index, and PageRank provided for comparison. More information about the web graph is available in a pre-print paper that will be presented at the World Wide Web Conference in April.
China

Bing Censoring Chinese Language Search Results For Users In the US 100

Posted by Soulskill
from the good-thing-americans-don't-know-foreign-languages dept.
kc123 sends this report from The Guardian: "Microsoft's search engine Bing appears to be censoring information for Chinese language users in the U.S. in the same way it filters results in mainland China. Searches first conducted by anti-censorship campaigners at FreeWeibo, a tool that allows uncensored search of Chinese blogs, found that Bing returns radically different results in the U.S. for English and Chinese language searches on a series of controversial terms. These include Dalai Lama, June 4 incident (how the Chinese refer to the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989), Falun Gong and FreeGate, a popular internet workaround for government censorship."
Your Rights Online

Blogger Fined €3,000 for 'Publicizing' Files Found Through Google Search 248

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-crafty-hackers-and-your-keyword-searches dept.
mpicpp points out an article detailing the case of French blogger Olivier Laurelli, who had the misfortune to click links from search results. Laurelli stumbled upon a public link leading to documents from the French National Agency for Food Safety, Environment, and Labor. He downloaded them — over 7 Gb worth — and looked through them, eventually publishing a few slides to his website. When one of France's intelligence agencies found out, they took Laurelli into custody and indicted him, referring to him as a 'hacker.' In their own investigation, they said, "we then found that it was sufficient to have the full URL to access to the resource on the extranet in order to bypass the authentication rules on this server." The first court acquitted Laurelli of the charges against him. An appeals court affirmed part of the decision, but convicted him of "theft of documents and fraudulent retention of information." He was fined €3,000 (about $4,000).
The Military

DARPA Seeks the Holy Grail of Search Engines 78

Posted by samzenpus
from the find-it-now dept.
coondoggie writes "The scientists at DARPA say the current methods of searching the Internet for all manner of information just won't cut it in the future. Today the agency announced a program that would aim to totally revamp Internet search and 'revolutionize the discovery, organization and presentation of search results.' Specifically, the goal of DARPA's Memex program is to develop software that will enable domain-specific indexing of public web content and domain-specific search capabilities. According to the agency the technologies developed in the program will also provide the mechanisms for content discovery, information extraction, information retrieval, user collaboration, and other areas needed to address distributed aggregation, analysis, and presentation of web content."
Science

Elsevier Opens Its Papers To Text-Mining 52

Posted by samzenpus
from the take-a-look dept.
ananyo writes "Publishing giant Elsevier says that it has now made it easy for scientists to extract facts and data computationally from its more than 11 million online research papers. Other publishers are likely to follow suit this year, lowering barriers to the computer-based research technique. But some scientists object that even as publishers roll out improved technical infrastructure and allow greater access, they are exerting tight legal controls over the way text-mining is done. Under the arrangements, announced on 26 January at the American Library Association conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, researchers at academic institutions can use Elsevier's online interface (API) to batch-download documents in computer-readable XML format. Elsevier has chosen to provisionally limit researchers to 10,000 articles per week. These can be freely mined — so long as the researchers, or their institutions, sign a legal agreement. The deal includes conditions: for instance, that researchers may publish the products of their text-mining work only under a license that restricts use to non-commercial purposes, can include only snippets (of up to 200 characters) of the original text, and must include links to original content."
China

Chinese Search Giant Baidu Launches International Sites 38

Posted by samzenpus
from the spreading-out dept.
jfruh writes "Baidu, a company that offers a search engine, a Wikipedia-style user-edited encyclopedia, and other online services, is a household name in China. Now the company is seeking to gain ground on Google in the rest of the world, opening local search sites (in local languages) for Thailand, Brazil, and Egypt."
Canada

Canadian Music Industry Calls For Internet Regulation, Website Blocking 198

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the copyright-trumps-human-rights dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Canadian law professor Michael Geist reports that the Canadian arm of the RIAA is calling for new Internet regulation, including website blocking and search result manipulation. While the Canadian music industry experienced increased digital sales last year (sales declined in the U.S.) and the Ontario government is handing out tens of millions of tax dollars to the industry, the industry now wants the government to step in with website blocking and ordering search companies to change their results to focus on iTunes and other sales sites."
EU

EU Commissioner Renews Call for Serious Fines in Data Privacy Laws 162

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the except-when-the-state-does-it dept.
DW100 writes "Despite Google being fined €900,000 by Spanish authorities and €150,000 in France for its controversial privacy policies in recent months, an EU commissioner has admitted this is mere 'pocket money' to the company. Instead, a new legal regime that would have seen Google fined $1bn for breaching data protection laws is needed to make U.S. companies fear and respect the law in Europe. 'Is it surprising to anyone,' asked Commissioner Viviane Reding, 'that two whole years after the case emerged, it is still unclear whether Google will amend its privacy policy or not? Europeans need to get serious. And that is why our reform introduces stiff sanctions that can reach as much as 2% of the global annual turnover of a company. In the Google case, that would have meant a fine of EUR 731 million (USD 1 billion). A sum much harder to brush off.'"
Google

Actually, It's Google That's Eating the World 205

Posted by timothy
from the respond-only-with-your-real-name-and-gps-coordinates dept.
waderoush writes "An Xconomy column [Friday] suggests that Google is getting too big. When the company was younger, most of its acquisitions related to its core businesses of search, advertising, network infrastructure, and communications. More recently, it's been colonizing areas with a less obvious connection to search, such as travel, social networking, productivity, logistics, energy, robotics, and — with the acquisition this week of Nest Labs — home sensor networks and automation. A Google acquisition can obviously mean a big payoff for startup founders and their investors, but as the company grows by accretion it may actually be slowing innovation in Silicon Valley (since teams inside the Googleplex, with its endless fountain of AdWords revenue, can stop worrying about making money or meeting market needs). And by infiltrating so many corners of consumers' lives — and collecting personal and behavioral data as it goes — it's becoming an all-encompassing presence, and making itself ever more attractive as a target for marketers, data thieves, and government snoops. 'Any sufficiently advanced search, communications, and sensing infrastructure is indistinguishable from Big Brother,' the column argues."
Medicine

The Other Exam Room: When Doctors 'Google' Their Patients 231

Posted by Soulskill
from the like-dr.-house-but-lazier dept.
theodp writes "Writing in the NY Times, Dr. Haider Javed Warraich shares a dirty little medical secret: doctors do 'Google' their patients, and the practice is likely to only become more common. And while he personally feels the practice should be restricted to situations where there's a genuine safety issue, an anecdote Warraich shares illustrates how patient search could provide insight into what otherwise might be unsolved mysteries — or lead to a snap misdiagnosis: 'I was once taking care of a frail, older patient who came to the hospital feeling very short of breath. It wasn't immediately clear why, but her breathing was getting worse. To look for accidental ingestions, I sent for a drug screen and, to my great surprise, it came back positive for cocaine. It didn't make sense to me, given her age and the person lying before me, and I was concerned she had been the victim of some sort of abuse. She told me she had no idea why there was cocaine in her system. When I walked out of the room, a nurse called me over to her computer. There, on MugShots.com, was a younger version of my patient's face, with details about how she had been detained for cocaine possession more than three decades earlier. I looked away from the screen, feeling like I had violated my patient's privacy. I resumed our medical exam, without bringing up the finding on the Internet, and her subsequent hospital course was uneventful.'"
Google

Rap Genius Returns To Google Search Rankings 115

Posted by Soulskill
from the play-nice-with-the-internets dept.
theodp writes "After being punished by Google for manipulative SEO tactics, a contrite Rap Genius says it's back in Google's good graces. 'It takes a few days for things to return to normal, but we're officially back!' reads a post by the Rap Genius founders. 'First of all, we owe a big thanks to Google for being fair and transparent and allowing us back onto their results pages. We overstepped, and we deserved to get smacked.' Rap Genius credits some clever trackback scraping programming for its quick redemption, but a skeptic might suggest it probably didn't hurt that Rap Genius' biggest investor, Andreessen Horowitz, is tight with Google."
Privacy

US Federal Judge Rules Suspicionless Border Searches of Laptops Constitutional 462

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the i've-got-an-inchoate-hunch dept.
AHuxley writes "The American Civil Liberties Union sought to challenge the U.S. legal 'border exemption' three years ago. Can your laptop be seized and searched without reasonable suspicion at the border? A 32 page decision provides new legal insight into legal thinking around suspicionless searches: your electronic devices are searchable and seizable for any reason at the U.S. border. The ACLU may appeal. Also note the Kool-Aid comment: 'The report said that a reasonable suspicion standard is inadvisable because it could lead to litigation and the forced divulgence of national security information, and would prevent border officers from acting on inchoate "hunches," a method that it says has sometimes proved fruitful.'" It's even legal for them to copy the contents of your laptop for no reason at all, just in case they need to take a peek later. A bit of context from the ACLU: "The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Pascal Abidor, a dual French-American citizen who had his laptop searched and confiscated at the Canadian border ... Abidor was travelling from Montreal to New York on an Amtrak train in May 2010 when he had his laptop searched and confiscated by customs officers. Abidor, an Islamic Studies Ph.D. student at McGill University, was questioned, taken off the train in handcuffs, and held in a cell for several hours before being released without charge. When his laptop was returned 11 days later, there was evidence that many of his personal files had been searched, including photos and chats with his girlfriend."
Google

Google Nabs Bing Maps Architect 94

Posted by timothy
from the now-that's-an-exit-strategy dept.
theodp writes "In another case of Microsoft's-loss-is-Google's-gain, GeekWire reports that Google has made a big hire from Microsoft, bringing aboard TED crowd-pleaser Blaise Agüera y Arcas, the well-known software architect and designer who was among the Redmond company's elite ranks of distinguished engineers. Known for his work on services including Photosynth and Bing Maps, Agüera y Arcas called the move 'the hardest decision of my life'. A stunning preview of Photosynth was released by Microsoft last week, and TED just released a video of Agüera y Arcas demonstrating the technology at a conference earlier this year."

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