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Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

Piracy

Google Changes 'To Fight Piracy' By Highlighting Legal Sites 140

Posted by timothy
from the sponsored-links-you-might-also-enjoy dept.
mrspoonsi writes Google has announced changes to its search engine in an attempt to curb online piracy. The company has long been criticised for enabling people to find sites to download entertainment illegally. The entertainment industry has argued that illegal sites should be "demoted" in search results. The new measures, mostly welcomed by music trade group the BPI, will instead point users towards legal alternatives such as Spotify and Google Play. Google will now list these legal services in a box at the top of the search results, as well as in a box on the right-hand side of the page. Crucially, however, these will be adverts — meaning if legal sites want to appear there, they will need to pay Google for the placement.
Censorship

BBC Takes a Stand For the Public's Right To Remember Redacted Links 109

Posted by timothy
from the keep-the-microfiche-version-around-for-comparison dept.
Martin Spamer writes with word that the BBC is to publish a continually updated list of its articles removed from Google under the controversial 'right to be forgotten' notices." The BBC will begin - in the "next few weeks" - publishing the list of removed URLs it has been notified about by Google. [Editorial policy head David] Jordan said the BBC had so far been notified of 46 links to articles that had been removed. They included a link to a blog post by Economics Editor Robert Peston. The request was believed to have been made by a person who had left a comment underneath the article. An EU spokesman later said the removal was "not a good judgement" by Google.
Google

Ask Slashdot: Why Can't Google Block Spam In Gmail? 261

Posted by timothy
from the spy-vs-jerkface dept.
An anonymous reader writes Every day my gmail account receives 30-50 spam emails. Some of it is UCE, partially due to a couple dingbats with similar names who apparently think my gmail account belongs to them. The remainder looks to be spambot or Nigerian 419 email. I also run my own MX for my own domain, where I also receive a lot of spam. But with a combination of a couple DNSBL in my sendmail config, SpamAssassin, and procmail, almost none of it gets through to my inbox. In both cases there are rare false positives where a legit email ends up in my spam folder, or in the case of my MX, a spam email gets through to my Inbox, but these are rare occurrences. I'd think with all the Oompa Loompas at the Chocolate Factory that they could do a better job rejecting the obvious spam emails. If they did it would make checking for the occasional false positives in my spam folder a teeny bit easier. For anyone who's responsible for shunting Web-scale spam toward the fate it deserves, what factors go into the decision tree that might lead to so much spam getting through?
China

China Bans "Human Flesh Searching" 109

Posted by timothy
from the but-human-flesh-is-delicious dept.
hackingbear writes The Supreme People's Court, China's top court, has outlined the liabilities of network service providers in a document on the handling of online personal rights violation cases. "Rights violators usually hide in the dark online. They post harmful information out of the blue, and victims just can't be certain whom they should accuse when they want to bring the case to court," said Yao Hui, a senior SPC judge specializing in civil cases. Those re-posting content that violates others' rights and interests will also answer for their actions, and their liability will be determined based on the consequences of their posts, the online influence of re-posters, and whether they make untruthful changes to content that mislead. This essentially tries to ban the so-called human flesh searching. Though this does not stop others from using the chance to highlight the country's censorship problems even though the rulings seem to focus on personal privacy protection.
Software

Brown Dog: a Search Engine For the Other 99 Percent (of Data) 23

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-it-fetches-data dept.
aarondubrow writes: We've all experienced the frustration of trying to access information on websites, only to find that the data is trapped in outdated, difficult-to-read file formats and that metadata — the critical data about the data, such as when and how and by whom it was produced — is nonexistent. Led by Kenton McHenry, a team at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications is working to change that. Recipients in 2013 of a $10 million, five-year award from the National Science Foundation, the team is developing software that allows researchers to manage and make sense of vast amounts of digital scientific data that is currently trapped in outdated file formats. The NCSA team recently demonstrated two publicly-available services to make the contents of uncurated data collections accessible.
AI

Artificial General Intelligence That Plays Video Games: How Did DeepMind Do It? 93

Posted by timothy
from the they-can't-let-you-do-that-dave dept.
First time accepted submitter Hallie Siegel writes Last December, an article named 'Playing Atari with Deep Reinforcement Learning' was uploaded to arXiv by employees of a small AI company called DeepMind. Two months later Google bought DeepMind for 500 million euros, and this article is almost the only thing we know about the company. A research team from the Computational Neuroscience Group at University of Tartu's Institute of Computer Science is trying to replicate DeepMind's work and describe its inner workings.
Censorship

DuckDuckGo Now Blocked In China 82

Posted by Soulskill
from the fowl-play-suspected dept.
wabrandsma sends this news from Tech In Asia: Privacy-oriented search engine DuckDuckGo is now blocked in China. On Sunday DuckDuckGo founder and CEO Gabriel Weinberg confirmed to Tech in Asia that the team has noticed the blockage in China on Twitter. DuckDuckGo had been working fine in mainland China since its inception, aside from the occasional 'connection reset' experienced when accessing many overseas websites from within the country. But now the search engine is totally blocked in China. ... [T]he GreatFire index of blocked sites suggest that DuckDuckGo got whacked on September 4. DuckDuckGo joins Google in being censored and blocked in the nation. Google, after years of being throttled by China's Great Firewall since the web giant turned off its mainland China servers in 2010, was finally blocked totally in June this year.
Businesses

Is Alibaba Comparable To a US Company? 126

Posted by timothy
from the well-the-name-is-magical-to-start dept.
lpress writes Alibaba is this week's hot news — they have had a lengthy PR campaign (preceded by a documentary film) followed by a record-setting stock offering. After a day of trading Alibaba's market capitalization was comparable to that of established tech giants. But, there are cultural and structural differences between Alibaba and U.S. companies. Alibaba is tightly woven into a complex fabric of personal, corporate and government organization relationships. The same can be said of information technology companies in Singapore. Is owning a share of, say, Apple, conceptually the same as owning a share of Alibaba?
China

Why a Chinese Company Is the Biggest IPO Ever In the US 191

Posted by timothy
from the visible-from-space dept.
An anonymous reader writes The Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has made headlines lately in US financial news. At the closing of its Initial Public Offering (IPO) on Friday, it had raised $21.8 billion on the New York Stock Exchange, larger even than Visa's ($17.9 billion), Facebook's ($16 billion), and General Motors ($15.8 billion) IPOs. Some critics do say that Alibaba's share price will plummet from its current value of $93.60 in the same way that Facebook's and Twitter's plummeted dramatically after initial offerings. Before we speculate, however, we should take note of what Alibaba is exactly. Beyond the likes of Amazon and eBay, Alibaba apparently links average consumers directly to manufacturers, which is handy for an economy ripe for change. Approximately half of Alibaba's shares "were sold to 25 investment firms", and "most of the shares went to US investors."
The Courts

Court Rules the "Google" Trademark Isn't Generic 159

Posted by samzenpus
from the what's-in-a-name dept.
ericgoldman writes Even though "googling" and "Google it" are now common phrases, a federal court ruled that the "Google" trademark is still a valid trademark instead of a generic term (unlike former trademarks such as escalator, aspirin or yo-yo). The court distinguished between consumers using Google as a verb (such as "google it"), which didn't automatically make the term generic, and consumers using Google to describe one player in the market, which 90%+ of consumers still do.
United States

U.S. Threatened Massive Fine To Force Yahoo To Release Data 223

Posted by timothy
from the your-government-at-work dept.
Advocatus Diaboli writes The U.S. government threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 a day in 2008 if it failed to comply with a broad demand to hand over user data that the company believed was unconstitutional, according to court documents unsealed Thursday that illuminate how federal officials forced American tech companies to participate in the NSA's controversial PRISM program. The documents, roughly 1,500 pages worth, outline a secret and ultimately unsuccessful legal battle by Yahoo to resist the government's demands. The company's loss required Yahoo to become one of the first to begin providing information to PRISM, a program that gave the National Security Agency extensive access to records of online communications by users of Yahoo and other U.S.-based technology firms.
EU

European Commission Reopens Google Antitrust Investigation 96

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-be-evil-in-europe dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Earlier this year, European Commission regulators finally agreed to a settlement in the organization's long-running antitrust investigation of Google's search and advertising business. Unfortunately for Google, it didn't stick. The EC said today they're reopening the investigation after a large number of "very negative" complaints about the settlement. "The key objection to the proposed settlement, which would have allowed rival services to buy spaces at the top of search results pages, was that it would not prevent Google from favoring its own services, and would divert money from the rivals to Google even if they received clickthroughs from the adverts — rather than the zero-cost solution if they were ranked highly in 'organic' search results, and Google was prevented from putting its own commercial services above those." The Commission is also looking into other parts of Google's business, including its influence over mobile devices through Android.
China

Alibaba's US IPO Could Top $20 Billion 97

Posted by timothy
from the following-in-google's-footsteps dept.
mpicpp writes with a snippet from Businessweek: Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is seeking to raise as much as $21.1 billion in its initial public offering, in what could be the largest sale of new stock in the U.S. ever. The Chinese company and shareholders including Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO:US) plan to sell 320.1 million American depositary shares for $60 to $66 apiece, according to a regulatory filing today (BABA:US). At the high end of that range, the offering would surpass Visa Inc.'s $19.7 billion IPO in March 2008 and give the company a market value of $162.7 billion. Alibaba's executives are now able to meet fund managers to build demand for the IPO and they plan to begin the roadshow in New York next week, people with knowledge of the matter have said. The Hangzhou-based company has garnered years of attention for its scale — with 279 million active buyers in the year through June — and its exposure to a growing Internet consumer base in China.
Censorship

MetaFilter Founder Says Vacation Firm Forged Court Docs To Scotch Review 116

Posted by timothy
from the but-such-a-nice-film-festival dept.
IonOtter (629215) writes Matt Haughey, founder of MetaFilter, has challenged a Cease & Desist letter from Sundance Vacations, a seller of time-shares with a reputation for aggressive sales tactics and suppression of criticism. Only this time, it seems that the plaintiff may have forged court documents ordering Mr. Haughey, Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines to remove any and all mentions of the links and posts in question. Legal blog Popehat has picked this up as well, prompting Ken White to wryly note, "...Sundance Vacations is about to learn about the Streisand Effect." The story is gaining traction, and being picked up by Boing-Boing, as well as hitting the first page of search results on Google.
Google

Google Serves Old Search Page To Old Browsers 152

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-get-what-you-get-and-you-like-it dept.
Rambo Tribble writes: In an apparent move to push those using older browsers to update, Google is reported to be serving outdated search pages to said browsers. The older pages lack features available on the newer versions, and this policy compounds with the limits announced in 2011 on Gmail support for older web clients. As a Google engineer put it, "We're continually making improvements to Search, so we can only provide limited support for some outdated browsers." The BBC offers a fairly comprehensive analysis.

Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it. -- Perlis's Programming Proverb #58, SIGPLAN Notices, Sept. 1982

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