- 1 Tax Policy
- 2 How To Remove Google From Your Life
- 3 Company
- 4 Google LLC
- 5 Google App Engine
- 6 Google Cloud
- 7 Google Allo
- 8 Google Maps
- 9 Google Earth
- 10 Google Health
- 11 Deepmind
- 12 YouTube LLC
- 13 Google Assistant
- 14 Google Home
- 15 People
- 16 Articles
- 17 Timeline
- 18 ToDo
- 19 References
Alphabet is an American multi-national holding company headquartered in California. It was created in Oct.2015 through a corporate restructuring of Google, when it became Google's parent company. Google's two founders then assumed executive roles, with Larry Page as CEO and Sergey Brin as President. Alphabet is organised around 6 areas of activities:
- Operation of a web-based search engine (Google). The group also runs YouTube, a video hosting and broadcasting site, as well as Gmail, a free on-line messaging service;
- Development and production of home automation solutions (Nest Labs): Wi-Fi networks synchronized with the control programs for thermostats, smoke detectors and security systems;
- Research and development into biotechnology (Calico): dedicated to treating aging and degenerative diseases;
- Research into artificial intelligence (Google X);
- Investment services: management of an investment fund devoted to young businesses that operate in the new technology sector (Google Ventures) and an investment fund intended for already developed companies (Google Capital);
- Operation of a fiber optic internet access network infrastructure (Google Fiber).
Climate Policy Rating: InfluenceMap B-
Although Google appears to have a positive engagement with climate change related regulations and policies, it maintains links with organisations which obstruct climate policy, ie. Business Europe, the US Chamber of Commerce, and the Japanese Business Federation. IM Report Additionally, Google has made “substantial” contribution$ to notorious climate deniers.
- Jan.03.2019: Google shifted $23bn to tax haven Bermuda in 2017. Google used a Dutch shell company in a move known as "Double Irish, Dutch sandwich" that cuts its foreign tax bill. The amount channelled through Google Netherlands Holdings BV was about €4bn more than in 2016. For more than 10 yrs, the arrangement has allowed Google’s owner, Alphabet, to enjoy an effective tax rate in the single digits on its non-US profits, about 25% of the average tax rate in its overseas markets. The Netherlands subsidiary is used to shift revenue from royalties earned outside the US to Google Ireland Holdings, a Bermuda-based affiliate, where companies pay no income tax. The tax strategy is legal and allows Google to avoid triggering US income taxes or European withholding taxes on the funds, which represent the bulk of its overseas profits. However, under pressure from the European Union and the United States, in 2014 Ireland decided to phase out the arrangement, ending Google’s tax advantages in 2020. A Google spokesman said "Word Salad". Reuters.
- Nov.25.2013: What Google tells us about the British Overseas Territories and tax havens. This week the British Overseas Territories, including Bermuda, Gibraltar, the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands and others, are meeting in London for their annual conference. The territories have come under enormous pressure to shed their tax haven label and end the secrecy. Huge amounts of money are still being routed through tax havens – something recently illustrated by Google, which a recent Financial Times report showed it funnelled €8.8bn into Bermuda last year - reducing its overseas tax rate to ~5%. After pressure from campaigners, David Cameron has announced that that the UK will set up a public register of beneficial ownership and has also got the Overseas Territories to commit to sign a multi-lateral convention on tax information sharing. But signing is one thing, action is another. Richard Grange, ActionAid.
How To Remove Google From Your Life
- Dec.20.2018: How can I remove Google from my life? How can I stop the intrusion of Google into almost everything? (After I’ve changed my email address.) Jack Schofield, The Guardian.
- 7.46% Vanguard Group Inc
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- 3.88% SSgA Funds Management Inc
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- 1.69% Norges Bank Investment Management
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- 1.26% Northern Trust Investments Inc,
Alphabet's largest subsidiary is Google, others being Calico, Chronicle, Dandelion, DeepMind, GV, CapitalG, X, Google Fiber, Jigsaw, Sidewalk Labs, Verily and Waymo. As of Sept.2017, their equity are held by a subsidiary known as XXVI Holdings Inc, so they can be valued and legally separated from Google. At the same time, it was announced that Google will be reorganized as a limited liability company, Google LLC.ref, Sept.2017
- Jul.18.2018: Google is fined $5 billion by EU in Android antitrust case. The European Union hit Alphabet Inc.’s Google with a record antitrust fine of €4.34 bn and ordered changes to its business that could loosen the company’s grip on its biggest growth engine: mobile phones. The bloc’s antitrust regulator found Wednesday that Google had abused the dominance of its Android operating system, which runs more than 80% of the world’s smartphones, to promote and entrench its own mobile apps and services, particularly the company’s search engine. Android phones come preloaded with Google apps and services, including Search. Competitors have long complained that Android’s dominance gives Google an unfair advantage in attracting users to those apps—and then using data from them to devise and target advertising. The preloaded apps stifle competing apps, the EU said. The EU’s decision argues that Google behaved illegally by leveraging its market power to encourage handset makers to pre-install those apps and services on their devices. The fine accounts for around 40% of Google’s 2017 net profit of $12.62 bn. Still, for cash-rich Google, the financial penalty is potentially less onerous than business changes Brussels has ordered in how Google structures deals between itself and manufacturers. Laurence Norman, Fox News.
- Jan.21.2019: Google fined record £44m by French data protection watchdog. CNIL found that company failed to offer users transparent information on data use. For the first time, the company was fined using new terms laid out in the pan-European general data protection regulation. The maximum fine for large companies under the new law is 4% of annual turnover, meaning the theoretical maximum fine for Google is almost €4bn. The lack of clarity meant that users were effectively unable to exercise their right to opt out of data-processing for personalisation of ads. Alex Hern, The Guardian. See also Surveillance Capitalism.
- Aug.14.2018: Report reveals Google is tracking you if you like it or not. Fox News.
- Dec.19.2018: Google abandons censored search engine for China. Google has “effectively ended” its work on building a censored search engine for China after a huge row between employees over the project. The Intercept said that Google had been forced to shut down 265.com, a Chinese website and a key data source it was using to build the product, to work out what words or search terms were censored. Tom Knowles, The Times.
- Dec.09.2018: Sundar Pichai and Google courted the Chinese dragon and now it’s engulfed by fire. The search giant has antagonised politicians and workers alike. Danny Fortson, The Times.
- Nov.30.2018: Google internal revolt grows as search-engine Spartacuses prepare strike over China. Internal employee revolt at Google over its secretive plans to rollout a censored search engine in China continues to grow, with one employee publicly building a strike fund to support those opposed to the plan. According to one report, the project lead attempted to bypass the normal security and privacy reviews for DragonFly and insisted on complete secrecy. Those working on the project were allegedly threatened with termination if they revealed its existence. Also, internal unhappiness with the company's work with the Pentagon where it is developing AI algorithms to identify objects in videos taken by drones under Project Maven have burst out. And then last month, more than 20,000 Google employees walked out of their offices to protest at how several executives had been secretly paid off following allegations of sexual harassment. Today's generation of Big Tech has shown itself more than willing to screw over rivals and users, and then lie about it. For Google, the fact that it was willing to develop its censored Dragonfly search product for China and did everything in its power to keep the project secret, and that it secretly paid off executives accused of sexual harassment, points to the fact that its culture is going the way of other massive corporations in the past. And then there's Facebook, which has shown itself to be a wholly untrustworthy company, and one that is willing to hire political attack firm to plant anti-Semitic smears against its critics. And then lie about it. Kieran McCarthy, The Register.
- Sept.14.2018: Google China Prototype links searches to phone nmbers. Google built a prototype of a censored search engine for China that links users’ searches to their personal phone numbers, thus making it easier for the Chinese government to monitor people’s queries. The search engine, codenamed Dragonfly, was designed for Android devices, and would remove content deemed sensitive by China’s ruling Communist Party regime, such as information about political dissidents, free speech, democracy, human rights, and peaceful protest. Previously undisclosed details about the plan, obtained by The Intercept on Friday, show that Google compiled a censorship blacklist that included terms such as “human rights,” “student protest,” and “Nobel Prize” in Mandarin. Sources familiar with Dragonfly said the search platform also appeared to have been tailored to replace weather and air pollution data with information provided directly by an unnamed source in Beijing. The Chinese government has a record of manipulating details about pollution in the country’s cities. One Google source said the company had built a system, integrated as part of Dragonfly, that was “essentially hardcoded to force their [Chinese-provided] data.” The source raised concerns that the Dragonfly search system would be providing false pollution data that downplayed the amount of toxins in the air. Ryan Gallagher, The Intercept.
- Sept.13.2018: Google employees quit over controversial China search engine project. Seven Google employees have reportedly quit their jobs over the lack of accountability and transparency at the search giant over its controversial China search engine effort, codenamed Project Dragonfly. ast month, Google was pressured by a consortium of human rights groups to abandon the search engine, which would be app-based and censored at the behest of the Chinese government. When Poulson saw that the company did not give any credence to the human rights organizations' concerns, he decided to go public with his concerns. In August, more than a dozen human rights groups sent a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai asking him to explain what Google is doing to safeguard users from the Chinese government's censorship and surveillance. Chris Ciaccia, Fox news.
- Aug.29.2018: Google pressured by human rights groups to abandon censored search in China. ... However, Pichai has said he wants Google to be in China serving its internet users. Pichai became Google's CEO in 2015, taking over from co-founder Larry Page who became CEO of Alphabet, the holding company that owns Google. Chris Ciaccia, Fox news.
- Aug.28.2018: World's Leading Human Rights Groups Tell Google To Cancel Its China Censorship Plan. Leading Human Rights groups are calling on Google to cancels its plan to launch a censored version of its search engine in China, which they said would violate the freedom of expression and privacy rights of millions of internet users in the country. The letter was signed by groups including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders, Access Now, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Center for Democracy and Technology, PEN International, and Human Rights in China. Google is a member of the Global Network Initiative, or GNI, a digital rights organization that works with a coalition of companies, human rights groups, and academics. All members of the GNI agree to implement a set of principles on freedom of expression and privacy, which appear to prohibit complicity in the sort of broad censorship that is widespread in China. The principles state that member companies must “respect and work to protect the freedom of expression rights of users” when they are confronted with govt demands to “remove content or otherwise limit access to communications, ideas and information in a manner inconsistent with internationally recognized laws and standards.” Every two years, members of the GNI are assessed for compliance with the group’s principles. One source said that Google’s conduct is due to be reviewed this year, and it is likely that its Chinese censorship plans will be closely scrutinized through that process. Ryan Gallagher, The Intercept.
- Aug.02.2018: Google may help China censor sites. Google has been accused of being in “chilling” complicity with the Chinese government after plans for a censored version of its search engine were leaked. The site, code-named Dragonfly, would block access to sites including the BBC, Wikipedia and Facebook, as well as searches related to human rights, democracy and religion. Terms such as “anticommunism” or George Orwell’s Animal Farm would return a blank, documents obtained by The Intercept, a news website, showed. A source said that staff aware of the project had concerns about Google’s role in censorship, planned by top executives without public scrutiny. Google’s main service is covered by China’s “Great Firewall”, which prevents access to non-compliant sites. The company ran a censored search engine in China from 2006 to 2010, when it was criticised by US politicians for compromising its “don’t be evil” policy. It cited concerns about attempts to limit free speech when it withdrew. This year the technology giant removed most mentions of the “don’t be evil” mantra from its code of conduct after critics said that it was incompatible with its work for the Pentagon on video-analysis technology that could be used to target drone strikes. Google denied that could happen but did not renew the defence contract. Mark Bridge, The Times.
- Aug.02.2018: Google Readying “Dragonfly” Censored Search Engine in China. Google is preparing to launch a service in China that will allow Chinese censors to block search terms about human rights, democracy, religion and peaceful protest. The project, code-named Dragonfly, was launched in Spring 2017, and accelerated after Google’s CEO met with a top Chinese govt official in Dec.2017. Patrick Poon of Amnesty International told The Intercept, “The biggest search engine in the world obeying the censorship in China is a victory for the Chinese govt — it sends a signal that nobody will bother to challenge the censorship any more.” Democracy Now. See also Google’s Dragonfly: A Bellwether for Human Rights in the Digital Age
- Aug.01.2018: Google plans to launch censored search engine in China. GOOGLE IS PLANNING to launch a censored version of its search engine in China that will blacklist websites and search terms about human rights, democracy, religion, and peaceful protest. The project – code-named Dragonfly – has been underway since spring of last year. The source said that they had moral and ethical concerns about Google’s role in the censorship, which is being planned by a handful of top executives and managers at the company with no public scrutiny. Previously, between 2006 and 2010, Google had maintained a censored version of its search engine in China. At the time, the company faced severe criticism in the US over its compliance with the Chinese govt’s policies. Google ceased its search service in 2010. Since then, however, censorship and surveillance in China has become more pervasive. In 2016, the country’s govt passed a new cybersecurity law, which Human Rights Watch said “strengthens censorship, surveillance, and other controls over the internet.” The govt is using new automated systems to monitor and censor the internet, and it has cracked down on privacy technologies that Chinese people were using to circumvent the restrictions. Despite the continued repression, opinions have changed at the highest levels of Google. China now has more than 750 million internet users, equivalent to the entire population of Europe. It therefore represents a potentially massive revenue stream for the internet giant, which is likely a factor in its decision to relaunch the search platform in the country. Another reason for the planned policy reversal may be that since Google last operated its search tool in China, the company’s leadership structure has markedly changed. Co-founders Brin and Larry Page have adopted less hands-on roles, though they still serve on the company’s board of directors. Ryan Gallagher, The Intercept.
- Mar.22.2010: A new approach to China: an update. ... earlier today we stopped censoring our search services—Google Search, Google News, and Google Images—on Google.cn. Google Blog.
Google App Engine
Google for Work
Google Cloud Print
Google Cloud Connect
Google Cloud Messaging
Google Cloud Platform
Google Maps is a web mapping service, offering satellite imagery, street maps, 360° panoramic views of streets (Street View), real-time traffic conditions (Google Traffic), and route planning for traveling by foot, car, bicycle and air (in beta), or public transportation.
Google Maps began as a C++ desktop program. Google acquired the developer in Oct.2004, and converted it into a web application. After acquiring a geospatial data visualisation company and a realtime traffic analyzer, Google Maps was launched in Feb.2005.refref
Mass Surveillance: "Anyone using Google Maps on a smartphone is working in support of GCHQ." ref The Snowden Papers revealed that GCHQ and the NSA intercepted Google Maps queries made on smartphones, and used them to locate the users.
- May.01.2018: Scammers use Google Maps to skirt link-shortener crackdown. Scam sites have been abusing a little-known feature on Google Maps to redirect users to dodgy websites. According to security shop Sophos, scammers are using the Maps API as a defacto link-shortening service, hiding their pages as redirects within Maps links. Shaun Nichols, The Register.
Google Earth is a computer program that renders a 3D representation of Earth. The program superimposes satellite images, aerial photography, and GIS data onto a 3D globe, allowing users to see cities and landscapes from various angles. Users can explore the globe by entering addresses or coordinates. Users can add their own data using Keyhole Markup Language. Google Earth is able to show various kinds of images overlaid on the surface of the earth and is also a Web Map Service client.
In addition to Earth navigation, Google Earth provides a series of other tools, through the desktop application. Globes for the Moon and Mars are available, as well as the night sky. A flight simulator game is also included. Other features allow users to view photos from various places uploaded to Panoramio, information provided by Wikipedia on some locations, and Street View. The web-based version of Google Earth includes Voyager, a feature that periodically adds in-program tours, often presented by scientists and documentarians.
Google Earth has been viewed by some as a threat to privacy and national security, leading to the program being banned in multiple countries. Some countries have requested that certain areas be obscured in Google's satellite images, usually areas containing military facilities.
- Dec.20.2018: Google’s Earth: how the tech giant is helping the state spy on us. We knew that being connected had a price – our data. But we didn’t care. Then it turned out that Google’s main clients included the military and intelligence agencies. Where we go, what we do, what we talk about, who we talk to, and who we see – everything is recorded and, at some point, leveraged for value. Google, Apple and Facebook know when a woman visits an abortion clinic: the phone GPS coordinates don’t lie. One-night stands and extramarital affairs are a cinch to figure out: two smartphones that never met before suddenly cross paths in a bar and then make their way to an apartment across town, stay together overnight, and part in the morning. Google handles billions of searches and YouTube plays daily, and has a billion active Gmail users, meaning it had access to most of the world’s emails. Google has pioneered a whole new type of business transaction. Instead of paying for its services with money, people pay with their data.
Keyhole Inc created a programme that stitched satellite images and aerial photographs into seamless 3D computer models of the Earth that could be explored as if they were in a virtual reality game world. The CIA poured an unknown amount of money into Keyhole, in partnership with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, a major intelligence organisation. The CIA and NGA were not just investors; they were also clients, and they involved themselves in customising Keyhole’s virtual map product to meet their own needs. In 2004, the same year Google went public, Brin and Page bought the company outright, CIA investors and all. They then absorbed the company into Google’s growing internet applications platform. Keyhole was reborn as Google Earth. The purchase of Keyhole was a milestone for Google, marking the moment the company stopped being a purely consumer-facing internet company and began integrating with the US govt. In 2006, Google Federal went on a hiring spree, snapping up managers and salespeople from the army, air force, CIA, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. In 2010, as a sign of just how deeply Google had integrated with US intelligence agencies, it won an exclusive, no-bid $27m contract to provide the NGA with “geospatial visualisation services”, effectively making the company the “eyes” of America’s defence and intelligence apparatus. In 2011, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the federal agency that researches weather and the environment, switched over to Google. In 2014, the city of Boston deployed Google to run the information infrastructure for its 76,000 employees – from police officers to teachers – and even migrated its old emails to the Google cloud. The Forest Service and the Federal Highway Administration use Google Earth and Gmail. This mixing of military, police, govt, public education, business and consumer-facing systems – all funnelled through Google – continues to raise alarms.
It has invested $100m in CrowdStrike, a major military and intelligence cyber defence contractor that led the investigation into the alleged 2016 Russian govt hacks of the Democratic National Committee.
It also runs Jigsaw, a hybrid thinktank/technology incubator aimed at leveraging internet technology to solve thorny foreign policy problems – everything from terrorism to censorship and cyberwarfare. ... Jigsaw seemed to blur the line between public and corporate diplomacy, and at least one former state department official accused it of fomenting regime change in the Middle East. Yasha Levine, "Surveillance Valley: The Secret Military History of the Internet, The Guardian.
- Nov.13.2018: The new Google Health unit is absorbing health business from DeepMind, Alphabet's AI research group. DeepMind's health subsidiary is moving under the newly-formed Google Health led by former Geisinger CEO David Feinberg. DeepMind's health team is the maker of an app called Streams, which helps doctors and other clinicians spot signs of kidney failure and other potential diagnoses. The moves are part of a broader strategy to increase collaboration and communication amongst Alphabet's various health projects, which are scattered across the organization. Christina Farr, CNBC.
- Nov.11.2018: Google hires a health care CEO to organize its fragmented health initiatives. Google has hired Geisinger Health CEO David Feinberg to oversee its many health care initiatives. Google has been interested in health care for some time; its current efforts are quite fragmented, and they span across several teams and its parent Alphabet’s companies, including Nest, Verily, Calico, DeepMind, and Google Fit. In 2008, Google launched a project called Google Health, which aimed to unify patients’ medical data stored by different providers. It ultimately folded in 2013, and paved the way for Google Fit, a fitness ecosystem for Android phones and WearOS smartwatches. In July, it was reported that Nest had quietly acquired health monitoring startup Senosis. Alphabet also invests and owns two research and development organizations, Verily and Calico. Calico has been studying genomes to unlock the secrets of aging. Feinberg’s hire is an indication that the company wants to unify its many health initiatives . Dami Lee, The Verge.
- Deepmind Technologies Inc
DeepMind Technologies Ltd is a British artificial intelligence company founded in Sept.2010. The company is based in London, but has research centres in California and Canada. Acquired by Google in 2014, the company has created a neural network that learns how to play video games in a fashion similar to that of humans, as well as a Neural Turing machine, or a neural network that may be able to access an external memory like a conventional Turing machine, resulting in a computer that mimics the short-term memory of the human brain.
- https://deepmind.com/applied/deepmind-health/, https://deepmind.com/applied/deepmind-health/about-deepmind-health/
... NHS patient data will only ever be used to help improve hospital care. No NHS patient data will ever be connected to Google accounts or services, and it won’t ever be used for any commercial purposes like advertising or insurance. Doing so would be illegal, and would go against the ethical code that underpins our culture and work.
- Nov.14.2018: Google 'betrays patient trust' with DeepMind Health move. Moving healthcare subsidiary into main company breaks pledge that ‘data will not be connected to Google accounts’. Alex Hern, The Guardian.
- Nov.14.2018: Google takes a tighter grip on NHS data. Deepmind, the British AI company bought 4 years ago by Google but has maintained its operational independence, is moving much of its health unit into § Google Health, which is based in America. Deepmind Health has been pioneering clinical AI research in the UK by teaming up with hospital trusts to use consented patient records to train their algorithms to diagnose disease. Deepmind has previously promised that NHS data “will never be connected to Google accounts or services or used for any commercial purposes like advertising or insurance”. It said yesterday: “We’re fully committed to all our NHS partners. Patient data remains under our partners’ strict control, and all decisions about its use will continue to lie with them.” IOW, "Word Salad". Philip Aldrick, The Times.
- Nov.22.2016: NHS using Google technology to treat patients. The Royal Free hospital trust has teamed up with tech giant Google to share patient data so it can save more lives. Privacy campaigners are concerned about data breaches. Information on more than 1.6m patients a year will be shared with a subsidiary of Google. Sarah Bloch-Budzier, BBC News. Google subsidiary DeepMind has been given access to NHS patient data from millions of Londoners, without patients' knowledge or consent. ref Linkback: Government Databases
- May.29.2018: YouTube accused of controlling which videos users watch. YouTube has been accused of using a new algorithm to sneakily force its choice of videos on viewers. It is testing the algorithm to alter the rankings of clips in subscription feeds, the personalised playlist of videos from all the channels a user subscribes to. The firm, owned by Google, began testing the change unannounced, prompting anger once it was spotted by users. YouTube’s algorithms already recommend videos on the main YouTube homepage based on a visitor’s previous viewing. Critics have complained that the algorithms favour “viral” and polarising content. Experts said the ultimate aim would be to provide higher revenues. Paul Armstrong, of Here/Forth, a technology consultancy, said: “The algorithm can do whatever YouTube wants it to. Mark Bridge, The Times.
- Aug.29.2017: YouTube gets a new logo for the first time in 12 years. Napier Lopez, The Next Web.
Google Assistant, website
Google Assistant is an intelligent personal assistant which can engage in two-way voice dialogue with the user. The Assistant can search the Internet, schedule events, adjust hardware settings on the user's devices, and show information from the user's Google account. The Assistant has been, and is being, further extended to support a large variety of devices, including cars and 3rd party smart home appliances.
Google has announced that the Assistant will be able to identify objects, gather visual information through the device's camera, support purchasing products and sending money.
- May.08.2018: Google Duplex: An AI System for Accomplishing Real-World Tasks Over the Phone. Google Blog.
Google Home, website
Google Home is a smart speaker, which allows users to speak voice commands to interact with services and smart home appliances through § Google Assistant, Google's personal assistant software. A large number of services are integrated, both in-house and 3rd-party, allowing users to listen to music, control playback of videos or photos, receive news updates, control lighting, and more. Multiple Google Home devices can be placed in different rooms for synchronized playback of music. Multi-user support allows the device to distinguish between up to 6 people's voices.
- May.13.2018: Who are the new movers and shakers in the UK public affairs world? Katie O’Donovan, public policy and govt relations manager, Google. A former Labour party head of briefings, O’Donovan was a special adviser in the New Labour years and is now seen as one of the key Blairite lobbyists in the private sector. O’Donovan left Westminster in 2007 to work for Coca-Cola but was lured back in 2010 to work on the doomed David Miliband leadership campaign. She then helped to establish the campaigns and communications function at Mumsnet. O’Donovan joined Google three years ago and is also a board member of the Internet Watch Foundation. David Singleton, Public Affairs News.
- Dec.13.2018: New Zealand courts banned naming Grace Millane’s accused killer. Google just emailed it out. That one of the world’s biggest companies rides roughshod over a court order tells you all you need to know about the giants of Silicon Valley. Toby Manhire, The Guardian.
- Aug.21.2018: If Google goes to China, will it tell the truth about Tiananmen Square? The company’s controversial plan to relaunch search is a chance to stand up for truth in the age of disinformation. Google’s plan to relaunch search in China, the world’s largest market, is facing pushback from employees, human rights defenders and politicians. With good reason. The Chinese government will insist that the search engine suppress results related to the Tiananmen democracy protests of 1989, in which several hundred peaceful protesters were shot by the army. Deirdre K Mulligan, Daniel S Griffin, The Guardian.
- Aug.17.2018: Google responds to location-stalking outcry by… tweaking words on its BS support page. Google has responded to an outcry over how it continues to keep a record on people's whereabouts – even when they specifically opt-out – by changing the word of its misleading help page. These changes to language are irrelevant to the main argument. Google says that all users can change their privacy settings, it provides an option named "Location History," and then specifically does not tie location data from its two largest apps to that option. Why does it do that? Because it is worth a lot of money to Google. Tracking location provides valuable data to sell to advertisers who can specify that they want ads to be targeted to people who live in or have visited highly specific locations. Kieren McCarthy, The Register. See also Google risks mega-fine in EU over location 'stalking'
- Aug.13.2018: Google keeps tracking you even when you specifically tell it not to: Maps, Search won't take no for an answer. Google has admitted that its option to "pause" the gathering of your location data doesn’t apply to its Maps and Search apps – which will continue to track you even when you specifically choose to halt such monitoring. ... It's almost as if the approach taken by Google is purposefully confusing because by continuing to store that data and associating it with individual accounts it can continue to make huge sums of money selling it to third parties. Kieren McCarthy, The Register.
- Jun.23.2018: Google abandons military contract after staff rebellion. Nine Google software engineers refused to work on a security feature for the US military, inspiring a rebellion and potentially costing the firm $billions. Insiders said coders refused to create an “air gap” to isolate and protect Pentagon data, because of moral concerns about the company helping the US to wage war. The defensive layer would have enabled Google to win lucrative military commissions but bosses reportedly agreed to halt the project. The group’s success gave colleagues the confidence to protest in large numbers against an existing contract to develop drone technology, it is claimed. more Mark Bridge, The Times.
- Jun.02.2018: Google is cashing in on spy apps for stalkers. Google is profiting from the sale of mobile phone apps that are being used by abusive men to spy illegally on their partners. Tracking apps that can be bought online and secretly installed on phones are estimated to be used against at least 10,000 women in Britain each year. More than 3,000 spy apps are available on Google’s Play Store. Last year of the 3,062 people who rang the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, a charity set up to help victims of stalking, 1.6 per cent reported the use of tracking devices. Many of the tracking apps described themselves as being for legitimate purposes, such as parental monitoring of children’s phones, but several paid-for Google adverts appeared under searches such as “How to catch cheating girlfriend”. Since the research was published Google has stopped adverts appearing under abuse-related searches. However, the researchers said this week that nearly 3,500 apps suitable for spying remained on the store. Dame Vera Baird, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners’ lead for victims, called for regulation to limit the “dream applications for perpetrators of domestic abuse and stalkers”. Google said that it had made changes to its Android operating system, including changing the way that apps running in the background operate with a phone’s microphone and camera. Most of the apps can be used legitimately by parents to monitor their children or by owners to track their phone if it is stolen. Anyone tracking their partner surreptitiously may break the Computer Misuse Act by installing the app on the victim’s phone without their knowledge. They may also be committing a stalking offence. The National Police Chiefs’ Council advises people to change their phone’s passcode regularly, review the apps on it and use anti-malware software that can scan for hidden spy apps. People who think they are being stalked can call the Suzy Lamplugh Trust’s helpline on 0808 802 0300. Mark Bridge, Fiona Hamilton, The Times.
- Jun.01.2018: Ding-dong over Google doorbell that recognises faces. Google is bringing doorbells equipped with facial-recognition cameras to Britain’s suburbs, raising concerns about invasion of privacy. As with other internet-connected bells, the £230 system detects visitors as they approach the house and streams footage to the owner’s phone. ...has alarmed privacy campaigners. Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group. The doorbell will go on sale next month. Google indicated that purchasers would be responsible for ensuring that they used the devices lawfully. Linkback: Facial Recognition. Mark Bridge, The Times.
- May.20.2018: Google accused of undermining new data privacy rules. Just days before a sweeping overhaul to European data privacy laws, a bitter row has boiled over between Google and more than 4,000 websites and digital news publishers. The General Data Protection Regulation is widely viewed as the most substantial change to privacy laws since the internet was conceived. Publishers claim Google is trying to skirt elements of the new regime, however, by flipping the compliance obligation onto them. The $750bn (£557bn) behemoth last week quietly invited a handful of media trade groups to closed-door talks. Its overtures were rejected. Brussels, meanwhile, has also come under heavy fire. Critics say the GDPR will strengthen the grip of Google and Facebook over the internet. The intention of the new privacy regime is to give EU citizens more control over how their personal information is used, and allow them to opt out of the current data free-for-all. Analysts expected Google to be hit hard; but in March, it said any company that wants to continue to use its ad platform must obtain data use permissions on its behalf. Further, it said it would provide no information on how it then chooses to use that data. The publishers have called for transparency from Google as to how customers’ data is used. They have also taken issue with its attempt to cast itself as a “controller” rather than a “processor” of data. Google denied it was abusing its market power, and said it was attempting to comply with the new regime. There are much broader concerns, however, about the GDPR regime, which many believe will prove to be a monumental blunder by the European Union that will only strengthen the Facebook-Google duopoly and prevent European rivals emerging. Danny Fortson, The Times.
- Jan.24.2018: Alphabet unveils business unit devoted to cyber security. Alphabet Inc launched a new business unit on Wednesday that will sell cyber security software to Fortune 500 companies, the latest move by the parent of Google to become a big player in corporate computing. Astro Teller oversees Google[x]. Paresh Dave, Reuters.
- Aug.01.2017: New Google Algorithm Restricts Access to Left-wing, Progressive Web Sites. In the 3 months since Internet monopoly Google announced plans to keep users from accessing “fake news,” the global traffic rankings of a broad range of left-wing, progressive, anti-war and democratic rights organizations have fallen significantly. Andre Damon, Niles Niemuth, Global Research.
- Jul.05.2016: Waging America’s Wars Using Renewable Energy. Big institutions are fueling a revolution in the energy sector. The top 20 purchasers of renewable electricity include many of the large technology, consumer goods, and retail companies that are regularly toasted for their electrical hygiene. #Google Inc, Amazon Web Services Inc, Wal-Mart Stores Inc, Dow Chemical Co, Facebook Inc, Ikea Group Corp, Kaiser Permanente, Microsoft Corp, Mars Inc, Proctor & Gamble, Apple Inc, Hewlett Packard. Google’s activity amounts to almost 26% of the total capacity built by the other 350 institutions in the BNEF database combined. Challenged by a climate change skeptic at a Mar.2014 shareholder meeting, Apple Inc Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook shut down the criticism, saying, “If you want me to do things only for (return on investment) reasons, you should get out of this stock.” Even Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s sustainability program has put the company on the map of American renewables. "Every corporation has a different reason for doing PPAs, with sustainability, corporate values, and the price hedge and stabilizing effect on costs all being part of it," said Neha Palmer, Google's head of energy strategy, global infrastructure. "It's clear we are not the only ones finding value in doing these types of activities." Bloomberg.
- Feb.13.2007: Google’s Evil Master Plan for World Domination. Is Google looking to dominate the world? Many believe so. They certainly have their hands in more things than most people can keep track of. A video entitled “Master Plan – about the power of Google” suggests that not only is Google becoming too powerful but that they have obtained a mass of information on people, disregarding our privacy. The video even suggests that Google is sharing this information with the CIA. Video David Wallace, SearchRank.
- Apr.2007: DoubleClick acquired. DoubleClick provides a suite of products that enables agencies, advertisers, and publishers to work efficiently, and will enable Google to extend its ad network. Google outbid rival Microsoft. ref
- Oct.2006: YouTube acquired.ref
- See "Google's Acquisition Report Card (May.2007) ref, here (saved in WIP/Google).
- 1996: Backrub: the search engine site was originally named Backrub when it launched in 1996. However, after only two years it was renamed Google, a play on the word ‘googol’ - the mathematical term for the number one followed by 100 zeros – which Larry Page and Sergey Brin thought represented the goal of the company to organise the huge volume of information that exists in the world and make it useful.ref
Good article here, references fines, monopoly abuse, etc.
Sophie Schmidt is Eric Schmidt's daughter; see articles + info in EURef Campaigning. Sundar Pichai is CEO at Android Inc, and on Alphabet's board.ref Jason Kint, founder of digital publishers’ trade body Digital Content Next.
- Alphabet spells riches for the boss. Tom Knowles, The Times, Apr.28.2020.
- Corporate Political Engagement Index 2018. The new index of 104 multi-national companies, many of whom regularly meet with govt, has found nearly 75% are failing to adequately disclose how they engage with politicians. Only one company received the highest grade, with the average grade being "E" – representing poor standards in transparency. Transparency International UK, Nov.2018.
- The A-List of Climate Policy Engagement. Which global companies lead in strategic lobbying for the ambitions of Paris? Rankings measure how a corporation or trade association behaves towards 2°C aligned climate and energy policy. Influence Map, Apr.2018.
- Revealed: Google made large contributions to climate change deniers. Stephanie Kirchgaessner, The Guardian, Oct.11.2019.
- Extinction Rebellion defies protest ban and targets Google. ‘Nurse-in’ held outside company’s offices in protest at funding of climate deniers Damien Gayle, Vikram Dodd, Jessica Murray, The Guardian, Oct.16.2019.