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Archive for July, 2009

28
Jul

Apple rejects Google

Too bad, so sad:

In recent weeks, Apple turned down two applications that Google had submitted for review in hopes that they would be added to the company’s App Store, highlighting the increasingly complex relationship between the two companies.

Google said in a blog post last week that Apple had rejected an application called Google Latitude that would have allowed users to broadcast their location and see where their friends were.

“We worked closely with Apple to bring Latitude to the iPhone in a way Apple thought would be best for iPhone users,” the company said. It added that Apple had asked it to build a mobile-friendly Web version of the service instead, to “avoid confusion” with the standard map application on the iPhone, which also uses Google map data.

On Tuesday, a Google spokeswoman, Sara Jew-Lim, said that several weeks ago Apple rejected an application that would bring Google Voice service to the iPhone. Ms. Jew-Lim declined to elaborate.

Actually, this whole episode is indicting of proprietary software and secrecy in general. Apple looks bad for trying to protect its exclusive setup with AT&T. And as for Google, how ingenious of them to come up with a product that lets them collect all of your telephone numbers and be in charge of routing all your calls. What’s next? Google SnailMail? Have correspondence sent to Mountain View and Google will scan it and serve it up to you with ads? (This is not such a far fetched concept by the way, there are startups out there that do this: Earth Class Mail and PaperlessMail .) Maybe Google will buy one of them).

23
Jul

Privacy watchdogs blast Google over its online books product's lack of privacy

Good to see there are folks out there browbeating the Monster of Mountain View about its complete lack of privacy safeguards:

Google's effort to put entire books online creates serious privacy concerns, civil liberties groups warned today.

The Mountain View company's repository of data about its users' reading habits could become a “one-stop shop for government and civil litigant fishing expeditions into the private life of Americans,” the groups wrote in a letter to Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

“Google book search is like someone following you down the aisle at the library, writing down every book you pick up and every book you sit down to read,” Nicole Ozer, technology and civil liberties director with the ACLU of Northern California, one of the organizations pressuring Google, said in an interview.

ACLU, Electronic Frontier Foundation and UC Berkeley's Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic voiced their worries as Google tries to expand the number of books available through its service. Proposed settlements with book publishers and two universities – subject to court approval – would allow it to make millions of more books available.

As usual, Google is trying to claim it takes privacy seriously. At least, that's what employees of the company are saying, without offering any specifics. (Translation: It's a bunch of hot air).

The watchdogs are asking Google to do the following:

  • Respond only to properly issued search warrants and court orders. Users should be alerted if their information is sought.
  • Retain user book search data for longer than 30 days (Google currently anonymizes cookies after 18 months and IP addresses after 9 months). Nor should it tie any book information it collects to behavior on other of the company's services without consent.
  • Create a clear privacy policy for books and publish data annually about the demands it receives for book information.

If history is any indication, these requests will probably be ignored or shelved.

17
Jul

City of Los Angeles' plan to switch to Google criticized

It's not just the private sector that Google would like to monetize. It's the public sector too:

A Los Angeles councilman and the head of a police group are questioning the city's plan to move government e-mail and other records onto Google's hosted Web service Google Apps.

“Anytime you go to a Web-based system, that puts you just a little further out than you were before,” LA City Councilman Tony Cardenas told The Associated Press. “Drug cartels would pay any sum of money to be aware of our progress on investigations.”

Paul Weber, president of the LA Police Protective League, also said he is worried about the safety of sensitive police investigation records if they are moved to Google Apps.

Considering that data stored on Google's servers has been accessed by unauthorized users before, that's not a unreasonable concern. It happened earlier this year, and it happened again this month:

[Weber's] worries came just one day after the online-messaging service Twitter acknowledged hackers were able to access confidential information stored with Google, which has been promoting greater use of “cloud computing” – storing data online rather than on individual computers under a company's or government agency's direct control.

The Monster of Mountain View is trying its best to soothe away legitimate fears by calmly claiming its service is secure:

“We agree that security is a very important consideration for any organization considering cloud computing, and we've been working very closely with the City of Los Angeles to address any questions and concerns government officials or citizens might have,” the statement said. “Security is at the core of how we design Google Apps, and as the City of Los Angeles' evaluation report notes, the proposed cloud computing system is an improvement over the level of security currently in place. It also provides other benefits of cloud computing — such as increased innovation at reduced cost — which are driving the city's request for a cloud solution to suit its IT needs.”

No mention of any commitment to user privacy… well, that's not a surprise. Google doesn't even pretend to care about privacy until directly confronted about its lack of safeguards. Then they try to claim they do care. Except they don't. They can't care about user privacy. It would undermine and restrict their business model…. their ability to make gobs of cash.

7
Jul

Google to turn Chrome into an operating system

Surprise, surprise:

Challenging Microsoft's grip on PCs, Internet search giant Google said late Tuesday night that it intends create its own computer operating system.

Google said the OS is initially aimed at netbooks — small, cheap and incredibly popular sub-notebooks — and would be an “open source” project built with and by many developers.

Google is currently meeting with hardware manufacturers to [sic] aprise them of its plans, and hopes to have it on computers by the second half of 2010.

Google has denied for years any interest in taking on Microsoft or Apple with its own operating system, but Tuesday took a new direction.

New direction, what a joke. Google's goal all along has been to get into a position where they can wield complete control over the entire computing industry. They want power – greater power than even Microsoft has ever had. They want the time users spend in front of their screen to be spent using Google products, whether they're searching for something on Google, buying something through Google Checkout, publishing their thoughts through Blogger, looking up a local business on Google Maps, sharing their location with Google Latitude, publishing eons of information to Google Docs & Spreadsheets, reading and replying to messages in Gmail, playing with Google Earth, networking on Orkut, watching videos on YouTube, and surfing the Web with Google Chrome.

Now that Chrome is being turned into an operating system, Google will have the potential to monitor everything its users do with built in phone home features. Imagine all those screens… individual portals through which the giant, secretive corporation that is Google can watch with a never-blinking eye, capturing oodles of information and monetizing it for profit.

That is Google's business plan: to know everything there possibly is to know and use that information to make money. Lots of money. And if people get hurt in the process, so what? Profit is more important than anything else.

1984, here we come!