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."
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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."
An anonymous reader writes "Over the weekend, Blake Ross, Facebook's product director and co-founder of Firefox, worked with Facebook engineers Tom Occhino and Marshall Roch to demonstrate how evil they think Google's newly launched Search plus Your World (SPYW) feature really is, and created a 'proof of concept' showing how it should really work. His team got some help from Twitter engineers and Myspace engineers, and consulted other social networks as well to really make sure the message hits home: SPYW should surface results from all social networks, not just Google+. By leveraging Google's own algorithms, the group built a bookmarklet called 'don't be evil' (a jab at Google's informal motto) and released it on a new website named Focus on the User."
hypnosec writes "Google has decided to take punitive actions against those websites that flood the top of their web pages with ads due to which the visitors have to scroll down to finally view the relevant contents on the page. According to Google, this type of layouts annoys the users and thus the web search company will be penalizing those websites through search results. The company disclosed this on its blog. According to Google over the top ads is not good for user experience and thus such websites might not get high ranking on Google web search."
New submitter smithz writes "Bloomberg is reporting that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is expanding its antitrust probe of Google Inc. to include scrutiny of its new Google+ social networking service. Google this week introduced changes to its search engine so that results feature photos, news and comments from Google+. The changes sparked a backlash from bloggers, privacy groups and competitors who said the inclusion of Google+ results unfairly promotes the company's products over other information on the Web. Before expanding the probe, FTC was already investigating Google for giving preference to its own services in search results and whether that practice violates antitrust laws. The agency is also examining whether the company is using its control of the Android mobile operating system to discourage smartphone makers from using rivals' applications. Google is facing similar investigations in Europe and South Korea."
SharkLaser writes "Microsoft's Bing search engine has overtaken Yahoo for the first time. While both Bing, Yahoo and a bunch of meta-search engines like the privacy-oriented DuckDuckGo use Bing's back-end, it clearly shows Yahoo's declining market share. comScore has also released its search data for 2011 — overall, Bing gained 3.1% of market share while Yahoo lost 1.5% and Google lost 0.7%. Yahoo's new CEO Scott Thompson has lots of work to do."
Meshach writes "Google's release of the new 'Search Plus Your World' feature has elicited harsh words from Twitter's general counsel (who used to work with Google). He claims that the changes will make information harder to find for users and be bad news for news publishers. Some analysts are wondering if this is a prelude to a legal battle similar to Microsoft's bundling of IE."
SharkLaser writes "Google is today launching an update to their search engine. This update is intended to bring you personalized search results based on your Google+ friends, sharing, pictures and likes. They're calling it 'Search plus Your World,' and the update is going to automatically personalize all search results to a greater degree than before. These personalized matches will appear along your normal search results. For example, if you are searching for images of babies, Google will now personalize your search results and give high preference to baby photos from your Google+ circles. TechCrunch is speculating that over time they will also start adding search results from all the other Google services, including Google Docs, Gmail, Contacts, Music, Voice, wallet and so on. Today's launch also uses Google+ data for another purpose: helping you search for information about people on Google+. For example, if you are searching Google for 'music,' Google will now display relevant people and pages from Google+, like Britney Spears, Alicia Keys and Snoop Dogg." Update: 01/10 18:40 GMT by S : Changed the summary to reflect that the idea of adding search results from other services was speculation from TechCrunch, and not something Google said.
New submitter DCTech writes "South Korea's Fair Trade Commission is accusing Google of methodically interfering with an anti-competition investigation into Android. 'Google deleted files and made its employees work from home in an attempt to frustrate the investigation, alleges the commission in an interview with a South Korean newspaper [machine translation]. The non-cooperation allegedly came after Google's Seoul office was raided by the commission's officials in September. The anti-competition probers were looking into whether Google's Android phones unfairly prioritize Google search and are "systematically designed" to make it difficult to switch to another option'. Now the South Korean watchdog is considering maximum fines for Google's non-compliance. Google is currently under investigation for similar anti-competition issues in Europe and the U.S."
New submitter Lexx Greatrex writes with this excerpt from Ars Technica: "Google had been sued by insurance company Lyonnaise de Garantie, which was offended by search results including the word 'escroc,' meaning crook, according to a story posted Tuesday by the Courthouse News Service. 'Google had argued that it was not liable since the word, added under Google Suggest, was the result of an automatic algorithm and did not come from human thought,' the article states. 'A Paris court ruled against Google, however, pointing out that the search engine ignored requests to remove the offending word... In addition to the fine, Google must also remove the term from searches associated with Lyonnaise de Garantie.'"
SharkLaser writes "Google's search engine has always looked pretty much the same since it was introduced in 1998. However, Google is now testing a revamped look that is the largest change the search engine has ever done to its website. The new look strips the black bar running horizontally at top and places it as an openable menu on the left side. The move is said to promote Google's other services without making the search engine too cluttered. The new side menu is also more similar to Chrome OS and allows Chromebook and Google's website to have the same look and feel. Another consequence of the move is that it now takes users two clicks to enter other services such as Images and News, which is said to improve the amount of ad clicks and visitors advertisers get. Considering that European Commission is examining claims of Google downgrading rival websites and U.S. senators are calling FTC to inspect Google for unfair practices, the move comes at a surprising time."
SharkLaser writes "Last week it was announced that Google has renewed their search deal with Mozilla. The amount Google paid to Mozilla was surprising: $300 million per year, despite the slightly falling market share of Firefox. Many took this as charity, and for the purpose of advancing the web. Now sources in the bidding process have revealed that Google's main rival in the bid was Microsoft's Bing, along with Yahoo. This bidding war was costly to Google, which is now paying 300% of what they used to, just to be Firefox's default search provider. Mozilla veteran Asa Dotzler is also giving insight into the deal between Google and Mozilla. 'Google started out as a search company. But that's not what they are today. Google's primary business is advertising. Google brought in $9.7B in revenues in Q3'11. 96% of that revenue was from ad sales. Not all traffic to Google ads is 'organic' though. To help drive ad sales, Google pays for traffic to their ads. They paid out $2.21 billion, or 24% of their ad revenues in 'Traffic Acquisition Costs.' That money goes to revenue shares with their AdSense partners and to 'distribution partners' — presumably browser makers, PC OEMs, and mobile OEMs and operators.' Google also pays shareware and freeware distributors to bundle Chrome and Google toolbar with their programs and games."
SharkLaser writes "U.S. Senators have written to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission about their concerns over Google's Internet monopoly. Google executives did themselves no favors when the Senators looked at Google's business practices in September. When asked if Google has monopoly in online search, Google chairman Eric Schmidt is quoted as saying 'I would agree, Senator, that we are in that area.' Another worrying quote is from Marissa Meyer, Google's VP of location services, who said that it was 'only fair' that Google put its own sites on higher placements than competitors. The Senators are also warning that Google is only facing one real competitor (PDF), Microsoft's Bing. Almost all other metasearch engines use either Google or Bing technology to deliver search results, including DuckDuckGo which uses Bing. In Europe Google is currently under investigation of monopoly abuse and the EU has also delayed Google's purchase of Motorola Mobility."
New submitter happyscientist writes "This is a nice 'Hello World' for using Hadoop MapReduce on Common Crawl data. I was interested when Common Crawl announced themselves a few weeks ago, but I was hesitant to dive in. This is a good video/example that makes it clear how easy it is to start playing with the crawl data."