Archive for Google

Google Chat Trouble with Tribbles

An obvious thought: if Google even looks as though it is positioning this as a way to “kill iMessage”, Apple will never support it, and if Apple doesn’t support it then operators are going to wonder why they’re letting Google screw up their golden goose, and they won’t support it after all. Google can preload it on Android phones, but that’s not “killing iMessage”; it’s “providing an alternative to iMessage”, which WhatsApp and latterly Facebook Messenger have done for years without “killing” iMessage.

Google, seems to be rewriting the Star Trek episode of The Trouble With Tribbles, but with chat apps taking the part of the tribbles.

Source: The Overspill: when there’s more that I want to say | Charles Arthur’s site for links, observations and writing

Google removed 100 bad ads per second in 2017

In 2017, we took down more than 3.2 billion ads that violated our advertising policies. That’s more than 100 bad ads per second! This means we’re able to block the majority of bad ad experiences, like malvertising and phishing scams, before the scams impact people. We blocked 79 million ads in our network for attempting to send people to malware-laden sites, and removed 400,000 of these unsafe sites last year. And, we removed 66 million “trick-to-click” ads as well as 48 million ads that were attempting to get users to install unwanted software.

Source: An advertising ecosystem that works for everyone

The Pixel 2’s free original-quality Google Photos uploads are only available through the end of 2020

Free, unlimited original-quality storage for photos and videos taken with Pixel through the end of 2020, and free, unlimited high-quality storage for photos taken with Pixel afterwards.

UPDATE: Someone at Google reached out to clarify this issue. As fair a response as I could have hoped for. Here’s the Q&A:

  • Me: If I have original-quality photos stored for free, what happens to them once the end of 2020 deadline passes? Do they get deleted? Compressed? Do they stay there but I lose access to them unless I pay for enough storage so they fit?
  • Google: They remain at original quality, for free. The change is only for taken photos thereafter.

Source: The Pixel 2’s free original-quality Google Photos uploads are only available through the end of 2020

Your Data is Being Manipulated

Google learned American racism and amplified it back at all of its users.

Source: Your Data is Being Manipulated – Data & Society: Points

Google now knows when its users go to the store and buy stuff

Google has begun using billions of credit-card transaction records to prove that its online ads are prompting people to make purchases – even when they happen offline in brick-and-mortar stores

The new credit-card data enables the tech giant to connect these digital trails to real-world purchase records in a far more extensive way than was possible before. But in doing so, Google is yet again treading in territory that consumers may consider too intimate and potentially sensitive.

Privacy advocates said few people understand that their purchases are being analyzed in this way and could feel uneasy, despite assurances from Google that it has taken steps to protect the personal information of its us

Source: Google now knows when its users go to the store and buy stuff – The Washington Post

Why Apple Defends Encryption

Why Apple Takes a Stance Where Others Don’t — Apple is far from the first company to find itself in government crosshairs. BlackBerry, for example, was forced to decrypt communications for the Indian government in 2010 or shut down operations in the country. Those same tools have since expanded and are used in other countries to monitor BlackBerry devices.

Let’s go back to Gruber’s list: Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter. I’ll add Amazon and Samsung. In each case, these companies’ business models don’t put them in nearly the same position as Apple.

Google is fundamentally an advertising company that collects data on its users. That information can’t be encrypted so only the user can see it, since that would prevent Google from accessing it and using it for targeted advertising. Even removing the ad issue, some of Google’s services fundamentally won’t work without Google having access to the underlying data. Google is taking a stronger stance with Android encryption, at least on the technology side (slowly, because Google doesn’t control most Android hardware). But Google isn’t vocal about this since all its data is accessible with a warrant. It isn’t in the company’s interest to call attention to this fact. However, I do know that Google does whatever it can to prevent spying and other monitoring, such as encrypting all communications between its data centers.

Microsoft is fundamentally a software company. The firm already offers strong encryption for PCs (Bitlocker), but it isn’t consumer friendly and Microsoft owns only a tiny fraction of the mobile market. Its biggest customers, corporations and governments, are long used to monitoring Microsoft platforms for legitimate enterprise security reasons. Of all the companies here, Microsoft is in the best position to back up Apple, but Microsoft has such a long history of working with, and selling to, government that the company shies away from public conflict on this issue. Outside of the public eye, Microsoft is currently being held in contempt of court as the company battles the Department of Justice to protect user data stored overseas in a case that could define the future of cloud computing.

Facebook and Twitter? All data in social networks is accessible via lawful access (heck, most of it is effectively public anyway). Like Google, these companies are essentially ad platforms that need access to our data. While Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey may support strong encryption as individuals, there isn’t anything their companies can do about it on a practical level. Amazon? It doesn’t sell the hardware that matters, and as primarily a retailer, it isn’t in a position to do or say anything that will make a difference. (The exception is in Amazon Web Services, which makes extensive use of encryption, including government-proof options.) Samsung? Samsung is a foreign company that the U.S. government would be unlikely to take seriously.

Massive tech companies like Cisco, IBM, Oracle, and even HP simply aren’t in the right part of the market to advocate on behalf of consumers.

All these companies place a high priority on the security of their products and services, but, for the most part, they can’t build things that allow us to control our information and keep it private.

And again, to be perfectly clear, any time you enable monitoring, you reduce privacy and security. All back doors are security vulnerabilities. These are the equivalent to the laws of physics, not technical problems we haven’t solved yet.

Apple is nearly unique among technology leaders in that it’s high profile, has revenue lines that don’t rely on compromising privacy, and sells products that are squarely in the crosshairs of the encryption debate. Because of this, Apple comes from a far more defensible position, especially now that the company is dropping its iAd App Network.

Source: Why Apple Defends Encryption

Google ‘Customer Match’ means your email address is now for sale to the highest bidder

Google is close to rolling out a tool named “Customer Match” which, it appears, will combine a logged-in Google account with any email address handed by a customer to a retailer to create lists of addresses to target specific users with marketing material.

Source: Google ‘Customer Match’ means your email address is now for sale to the highest bidder – 30 Sep 2015 – Computing News

Google Photos may be free — but there’s still a cost

The information gleaned from analyzing these photos does not travel outside of this product?—not today. But if I thought we could return immense value to the users based on this data I’m sure we would consider doing that. For instance, if it were possible for Google Photos to figure out that I have a Tesla, and Tesla wanted to alert me to a recall, that would be a service that we would consider offering, with appropriate controls and disclosure to the user.

Source: Google Photos may be free — but there’s still a cost | iMore

take a look at this chunk from the Google Photos license agreement:

Some of our Services allow you to upload, submit, store, send or receive content. You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.

When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing you have added to Google Maps). Some Services may offer you ways to access and remove content that has been provided to that Service. Also, in some of our Services, there are terms or settings that narrow the scope of our use of the content submitted in those Services. Make sure you have the necessary rights to grant us this license for any content that you submit to our Services.

Our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored.

 

Why not Google?

We agree on the broad strokes, but the reason I choose to minimize Google’s access to me is that my balance of utility versus ethical comfort is different. Both companies do have flaws, but they’re different flaws, and I tolerate them differently:

  • Apple is always arrogant, controlling, and inflexible, and sometimes stingy.
  • Google is always creepy, entitled, and overreaching, and sometimes oblivious.

Source: Why not Google? – Marco.org

Safari users win right to sue Google over privacy

The case revolves around a so-called Safari workaround, which allegedly allowed Google to avoid the Safari web browser’s default privacy setting to place cookies, that gathered data such as surfing habits, social class, race, ethnicity, without users’ knowledge.

via Safari users win right to sue Google over privacy – BBC News.