NeutronCowboy writes with news that a majority of top staff members from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission have become convinced that Google "illegally used its dominance of the search market to hurt its rivals." The FTC is now drafting a memo that recommends the U.S. government begin an antitrust case against Google. "The agency’s central focus is whether Google manipulates search results to favor its own products, and makes it harder for competitors and their products to appear prominently on a results page. ... The memo is still being edited and changes could be made, but these are mostly fine-tuning and will not alter the broad conclusions reached after an inquiry that began more than a year ago, said these people, who spoke on the condition that they not be identified. ... The FTC staff memo does not mean that the government will sue Google for antitrust violations. Next, the vote of three of the five FTC commissioners would be required. And each step is a further prod for Google to make concessions to reach a settlement before going to court. Last month, Jon Leibowitz, chairman of the FTC, said a final decision on whether to sue Google would be made before the end of this year.
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Maow writes with word that the U.S. Federal Appeals Court has reversed a sales ban on Samsung's Galaxy Nexus phone. According to the decision (PDF), "Regardless of the extent to which Apple may be injured by the sales of the Galaxy Nexus, there is not a sufficient showing that the harm flows from Samsung’s alleged infringement. ...the district court abused its discretion in enjoining the sales of the Galaxy Nexus." The ruling also said Apple didn't do a good enough job showing that the allegedly infringing features were "core" to the Nexus's operation. The case centered on what is called "unified search," a method for bringing together search results from multiple places, such as a device's internal memory and the internet at large (U.S. Patent #8,086,604). "Apple must show that consumers buy the Galaxy Nexus because it is equipped with the apparatus claimed in the ’604 patent—not because it can search in general, and not even because it has unified search."
Techmeology writes "Microsoft has sent automated DMCA notices to Google demanding the removal of several legitimate URLs from its search results that Microsoft claims were facilitating the distribution of illegal copies of Windows 8, including links to BBC news articles, Wikipedia pages, U.S. government websites, and even Bing! The erroneous DMCA notices are being sent automatically by rights holders, who are increasingly using such techniques."
holy_calamity writes "A machine learning breakthrough from Google researchers that grabbed headlines this summer is now being put to work improving the company's products. The company revealed in June that it had built neural networks that run on 16,000 processors simultaneously, enough power that they could learn to recognize cats just by watching YouTube. Those neural nets have now made Google's speech recognition for U.S. English 25 percent better, and are set to be used in other products, such as image search."
itwbennett writes "That army of robotic assembly line workers we mentioned yesterday apparently can't get started soon enough. As many as 3,000-4,000 workers are on strike at Foxconn's Zhengzhou factory, upset at stricter quality control requirements with the iPhone 5 and having to work through a national holiday this week. 'According to workers, multiple iPhone 5 production lines from various factory buildings were in a state of paralysis for the entire day,' China Labor Watch said. Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo are both blocking searches in Chinese for 'Foxconn strikes.'"
angry tapir writes "The company behind the .xxx top-level domain plans to launch a search engine in an effort to drive more traffic to .xxx websites and give pornography fans a more satisfying search experience. ICM Registry, which operates the 9-month-old .xxx TLD, is scheduled to launch Search.xxx this week, said Stuart Lawley, ICM's CEO. The new search engine will give users a more streamlined searching process, help protect them from viruses and malware and help guard their privacy, he said. The search engine has cataloged 21 million webpages from .xxx sites, he said. 'It's porn, only porn, all porn,' he said. 'There's as much porn there as anyone would need, I'd imagine.'"
An anonymous reader writes "In a blog post responding to the latest controversy over Ubuntu, Mark Shuttleworth says 'integrating online scope results' are 'not putting ads in Ubuntu' because the shopping results 'are not paid placement', but 'straightforward search results'. He goes on to explain his plans to make the Home Lens of the Dash a place to find 'anything anywhere'. Like a cross between Chrome OS's new app launcher, Siri and Google Now 'it will get smarter and smarter' so you can 'ask for whatever you want' it 'just works'."
legolas writes "The official state online censorship body in Iran has reported that Google and Gmail are going to be blocked effective immediately, ostensibly in response to the contentious videos that YouTube is hosting. This comes as Iran is preparing the launch of their 'Halal' intranet to replace the current direct (albeit highly censored) access to the global Internet. While there have been several state-organized protests for the film 'Innocence Of Muslims' in Iran, the public in general doesn't seem bothered by it."
TechCrunch reports that Apple, facing a substantial backlash (and some snarky competitive advertising) over goofs in the mapping software included in iOS 6, is going after the problem with a hiring spree. Here's TechCrunch's lead: "Apple is going after people with experience working on Google Maps to develop its own product, according to a source with connections on both teams. Using recruiters, Apple is pursuing a strategy of luring away Google Maps employees who helped develop the search giant’s product on contract, and many of those individuals seem eager to accept due in part to the opportunity Apple represents to build new product, instead of just doing 'tedious updates' on a largely complete platform." Meanwhile, writes reader EGSonikku "Well known iOS hacker Ryan Perrich has gotten the iOS5 Google Maps application to run on iOS6 using 'a little trickery.' (YouTube demonstration.) He has not released it yet due to crashing issues but states 'it mostly works.'"
SquarePixel writes "Europe's competition watchdog is considering formal proceedings against Google over antitrust complaints about the way it promotes its own services in search results, potentially exposing the company to a fine of 10 percent of its global turnover. Google is accused of using its search service to direct users to its own services and to reduce the visibility of competing websites and services. If the Commission found Google guilty of breaking E.U. competition rules, it could restrict Google's business activities in Europe and fine the company up to 10 percent of its annual global revenue (US$37.9 billion last year)."
SquarePixel writes "Google has yanked its free music service in China after being unable to make it popular enough. The service offered Chinese people free licensed music downloads and was launched in 2009 to compete with the rival search engine Baidu. 'Once China's second largest search provider, Google has now fallen to fourth place, overtaken by other local companies. — Google's popularity in the country has waned ever since 2010, when the company pulled the plug on its China-based search engine following disputes with the government over censorship and hacking concerns. Google's market share is at 5 percent, while Baidu's is 74 percent.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Scheduled to be released next month, Ubuntu 12.10 now includes both Amazon ads in the user's dash and by default an Amazon store in the user's launcher. The reason for these 'features'? Affiliate revenue. Despite previous controversies with Banshee and Yahoo, Canonical is 'confident it will be an interesting and useful feature for our 12.10 users.' But are the 'users' becoming products?" Update: 09/22 19:35 GMT by T : Reader bkerensa scoffs, calling the Amazon integration unobtrusive, and says objections to its inclusion in the OS should be ignored, "because in reality ads will not be found in 12.10 unless you are seeing them on a third party website you go to in a web browser." He's got screenshots.
New submitter SquarePixel writes "Microsoft is urging Safari users to switch to Bing after Google was fined $22.5 million for violating Safari privacy settings. 'Microsoft is keen to make sure that no-one forgets this, let alone Safari users, and the page summarizes the events that took place.' It tells users how Google promised not to track Safari users, but tracked them without their permission and used this data to serve them advertisement. Lastly, it tells how Google was fined $22.5 million for this and suggests users to try the more privacy oriented Bing search engine."
vu1986 writes with this bit from GigaOm: "Google has made public the details of its Spanner database technology, which allows a database to store data across multiple data centers, millions of machines and trillions of rows. But it's not just larger than the average database, Spanner also allows applications that use the database to dictate where specific data is stored so as to reduce latency when retrieving it. Making this whole concept work is what Google calls its True Time API, which combines an atomic clock and a GPS clock to timestamp data so it can then be synched across as many data centers and machines as needed." Original paper. The article focuses a lot of the Time API, but external consistency on a global scale seems to be the big deal here. From the paper: "Even though many projects happily use Bigtable, we have also consistently received complaints from users that Bigtable can be difficult to use for some kinds of applications: those that have complex, evolving schemas, or those that want strong consistency in the presence of wide-area replication. ... Many applications at Google have chosen to use Megastore (PDF) because of its semi-relational data model and support for synchronous replication, despite its relatively poor write throughput. As a consequence, Spanner has evolved from a Bigtable-like versioned key-value store into a temporal multi-version database. Data is stored in schematized semi-relational tables; data is versioned, and each version is automatically timestamped with its commit time; old versions of data are subject to configurable garbage-collection policies; and applications can read data at old timestamps. Spanner supports general-purpose transactions, and provides a SQL-based query language." Update: 09/20 17:57 GMT by T : Also in a story at Slash BI.
1sockchuck writes "Google continues to expand the global reach of its infrastructure. Today the company announced plans to build its first data center in Latin America, investing $150 million in a facility in Quilicura, Chile. Google cited growing Internet use in Latin America, and said Chile has reliable infrastructure and a business-friendly environment. Last year Google announced plans for three new server farms in the Asia Pacific region, as well as a new data center in Dublin. Over the past year, Google has invested more than $2.5 billion on servers and data centers."