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An anonymous reader writes "Harry Shum, who oversees research and development for Microsoft's Bing search engine, believes his company has now matched Google's ability to build software platforms that can harness the power of tens of thousands of servers. — 'For many years, we've really tried to play the catch-up game,' Shum says. 'And now we feel that after a lot of effort, we understand search quality problems better than before, and that if you look at Google and Bing, the quality is beginning to be very comparable.' While his comments might be a little biased, many people do share the same opinion. How do you feel about Bing's search results compared to Google's? For example DuckDuckGo, the privacy oriented search engine, uses Bing's back-end and has gained a small following on Slashdot."
suraj.sun writes with an excerpt from an article over at Ars Technica: "Los Alfaques, a bucolic campground near the Spanish town of Tarragona, isn't happy with Google. That's because searches for 'camping Alfaques' bring up horrific images of charred human flesh — not good for business when you're trying to sell people on the idea of relaxation. The campground believes it has the right to demand that Google stop showing 'negative' links, even though the links aren't mistakes at all. Are such lawsuits an aberration, or the future of Europe's Internet experience in the wake of its new 'right to be forgotten' proposals? Legal scholars like Jeffrey Rosen remain skeptical that such a right won't lead to all sorts of problems for free expression. But in Spain, the debate continues. Last week, Los Alfaques lost its case — but only because it needed to sue (U.S.-based) Google directly. Mario Gianni, the owner of Los Alfaques, is currently deciding whether such a suit is worth pursuing."
theodp writes "The WSJ reports that a coalition of Internet giants including Google has agreed to support a do-not-track button to be embedded in most Web browsers — a move that the industry had been resisting for more than a year. The new do-not-track button isn't going to stop all Web tracking. The companies have agreed to stop using the data about people's Web browsing habits to customize ads, and have agreed not to use the data for employment, credit, health-care or insurance purposes. But the data can still be used for some purposes such as 'market research' and 'product development' and can still be obtained by law enforcement officers. Meanwhile, after Google got caught last week bypassing privacy settings on Safari, and was accused of also circumventing IE's P3P Privacy Protection feature, CBS MoneyWatch contacted Mozilla to see if it had noticed Google bypassing Firefox's privacy controls. After reports that Google ponied up close to a billion dollars to Mozilla to beat out a Microsoft bid, this seems to be one of those have-you-stopped-beating-your-wife type questions that has no good answer. Anyway, according to a statement attributed to Alex Fowler, global privacy and public policy lead for Mozilla: 'Our testing did not reveal any instances of Google bypassing user privacy settings.'"
kodiaktau writes "Google is working to deliver a heads-up display allowing users access to email, maps and other tools through a wearable interface. According to the NY Times' sources, the device will be available later this year, and sell for prices comparable to smartphones. 'The people familiar with the Google glasses said they would be Android-based, and will include a small screen that will sit a few inches from someone’s eye. They will also have a 3G or 4G data connection and a number of sensors including motion and GPS. ... The glasses will have a low-resolution built-in camera that will be able to monitor the world in real time and overlay information about locations, surrounding buildings and friends who might be nearby, according to the Google employees. The glasses are not designed to be worn constantly — although Google expects some of the nerdiest users will wear them a lot — but will be more like smartphones, used when needed.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Daniel Brandt started his 'Scroogle' search engine because he wanted to provide increased privacy to people who searched online through Google. Unfortunately, while Google tolerated this for a while, they began throttling Scroogle queries. This, in combination with extensive DDoS attacks on Brandt's servers, has caused him to take Scroogle offline, along with his other domains. He said, 'I no longer have any domains online. I also took all my domains out of DNS because I want to signal to the criminal element that I have no more servers to trash. This hopefully will ward off further attacks on my previous providers. Scroogle.org is gone forever. Even if all my DDoS problems had never started in December, Scroogle was already getting squeezed from Google's throttling, and was already dying. It might have lasted another six months if I hadn't lost seven servers from DDoS, but that's about all.' Internet users who made use of the services will now need to investigate other options."
itwbennett writes "In response to Microsoft's claim that Google circumvented Internet Explorer privacy protections (following the discovery that Google also worked around Safari's privacy settings), Google on Monday said that IE's privacy protection, called P3P, is impractical to comply with."
nonprofiteer writes "With a program called Screenwise, Google is offering a total of $25 in Amazon gift cards to anyone willing to install a Chrome browser extension that will let the search giant track every website the user visits and what they do there over a year-long period. Google says it will study this in order to improve its products and services. Forbes points out that $25 in Amazon credits isn't quite enough to buy a six pack of Marshmallow Fluff ($26.75)." The money isn't much as a pure trade for privacy, but I suspect that many people would like to have their preferences be among those that shape how Google — and other companies, too — actually organize their interfaces. (Note that the tracking can be selectively turned off by the user.)
An anonymous reader writes "Former Google executive Stafford Masie believes that traditional search is dying because users are choosing to query their friends and followers on services like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Here's the quote from the video: 'The pie of search query volumes in the world – that business is shrinking. Why? Because people are going and doing search queries – search query volumes are moving towards social containers. They're moving away from static pages being searched and they're moving more towards dynamic real-time stream content. Like Twitter. Like Tumblr. Like Facebook. Those things have a better result because the penetration, the personalization associated with it, and the constant freshness of the content. So I believe that Google's search volume – the business Google is in on the search side – that business is shrinking. And they've got to do something about it.'"
silentbrad writes with these selections from an article at Ars Technica: "The Recording Industry Association of America found itself in an unusual position this week: opposing an anti-piracy bill that's gaining momentum in Congress ... the RIAA argues the bill won't be effective at shutting down rogue sites. The trade group warns of 'indefinite delays' as claims of infringement are investigated. And it complains that the process envisioned by OPEN would allow for 'endless submissions by parties such as Google,' further gumming up the process. All the while, the alleged rogue site would be able to continue operating. The RIAA also warns that the need to hire an attorney to navigate the ITC's arcane legal process will 'put justice out of reach for small business American victims of IP theft.' The trade group complains that sites aren't held responsible for the infringing activities of their users, a rule the trade group says 'excuses willful blindness and outright complicity in illegal activity.' RIAA also says it's 'virtually impossible' to prove that a site infringed willfully, as OPEN requires."
jfruh writes "A French court has ruled that Google is unfairly subsidizing its free mapping products, making for unfair competition with paid services. This might seem ridiculous, but keep in mind that Google started charging for use of its mapping API once the free version had come to dominate the market."
The copyright battles going on right now are not all about SOPA, PIPA, or even the wider-reaching ACTA: suraj.sun snips thus from TorrentFreak: "At a behind-closed-doors meeting facilitated by the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport, copyright holders have handed out a list of demands to Google, Bing and Yahoo. To curb the growing piracy problem, Hollywood and the major music labels want the search engines to de-list popular filesharing sites such as The Pirate Bay, and give higher ranking to authorized sites. ... If the copyright industry had their way, Google and other search engines would no longer link to sites such as The Pirate Bay and isoHunt. In a detailed proposal handed out during a meeting with Google, Yahoo and Bing, various copyright holders made their demands clear. The document, which describes a government-overlooked 'Voluntary Code of Practice' for search engines, was not intended for public consumption but the Open Rights Group obtained it through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request."
Trailrunner7 writes "The FBI is in the early stages of developing an application that would monitor sites such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as various news feeds, in order to find information on emerging threats and new events happening at the moment. The tool would give specialists the ability to pull the data into a dashboard that also would include classified information coming in at the same time. One of the key capabilities of the new application, for which the FBI has sent out a solicitation, would be to 'provide an automated search and scrape capability for social networking sites and open source news sites for breaking events, crisis and threats that meet the search parameters/keywords defined by FBI/SIOC.'"
Hugh Pickens writes "PC Magazine reports that the U.S. government used convicted con artist David Whitaker, owner of an online business selling steroids and human growth hormone to U.S. consumers, to help federal agents in a sting operation against Google when he began advertising with Google with advertisements that included the statement 'no prescription needed,' clearly violating U.S. laws. Google's settlement with the U.S. government for $500 million blamed AdWords sales by Canadian pharmacies, who allegedly were selling drugs to U.S. consumers. 'We banned the advertising of prescription drugs in the U.S. by Canadian pharmacies some time ago,' Google said then. 'However, it's obvious with hindsight that we shouldn't have allowed these ads on Google in the first place.' Peter Neronha, the U.S. attorney for Rhode Island who led the multiagency federal task force that conducted the sting, claims that chief executive Larry Page had personal knowledge of the operation, as did Sheryl Sandberg, a Google executive who now is the chief operating officer for Facebook. In 2009 Google started requiring online pharmacy advertisers to be certified by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy's Verified Internet Pharmacy Practices Sites program and hired an outside company to detect pharmacy advertisers exploiting flaws in the Google's screening systems."