As TechCrunch reports, Google will begin using website encryption, or HTTPS, as a ranking signal – a move which should prompt website developers who have dragged their heels on increased security measures, or who debated whether their website was “important” enough to require encryption, to make a change. Initially, HTTPS will only be a lightweight signal, affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, says Google. ... Over time, however, encryption’s effect on search ranking [may] strengthen, as the company places more importance on website security. ... While HTTPS and site encryption have been a best practice in the security community for years, the revelation that the NSA has been tapping the cables, so to speak, to mine user information directly has prompted many technology companies to consider increasing their own security measures, too. Yahoo, for example, also announced in November its plans to encrypt its data center traffic.
An anonymous reader writes: In response to an inquiry from European data protection regulators, Google has detailed how they evaluate and act on requests to de-index search results. Google's procedures for responding to "right-to-be-forgotten" requests are explained in a lengthy document that was made publicly available. "Google of course claims its own economic interest does not come into play when making these rtbf judgements — beyond an 'abstract consideration' of a search engine needing to help people find the most relevant information for their query. ... Google also goes into lengthy detail to justify its decision to inform publishers when it has removed links to content on their sites — a decision which has resulted in media outlets writing new articles about delisted content, thereby resulting in the rtbf ruling causing the opposite effect to that intended (i.e. fresh publicity, not fair obscurity)."
tsu doh nimh (609154) writes KrebsOnSecurity looks at a popular service that helps crooked online marketers exhaust the Google AdWords budgets of their competitors.The service allows companies to attack competitors by raising their costs or exhausting their ad budgets early in the day. Advertised on YouTube and run by a guy boldly named "GoodGoogle," the service employs a combination of custom software and hands-on customer service, and promises clients the ability to block the appearance of competitors' ads. From the story: "The prices range from $100 to block between three to ten ad units for 24 hours to $80 for 15 to 30 ad units. For a flat fee of $1,000, small businesses can use GoodGoogle's software and service to sideline a handful of competitors' ads indefinitely."
The Wall Street Journal lists 26 questions that Google and other search providers have been asked (in a meeting in Brussels earlier this week) to answer for EU regulators, to pin down what the search engine companies have done to comply with European demands to implement a "right to be forgotten." Some questions were asked directly of representatives of Microsoft, Yahoo and Google, while the regulators want answers to the others in short order. From the article:
Regulators touched on some hot-button issues in six oral questions and another 26 written ones, with answers due by next Thursday. They asked Google to describe the “legal basis” of its decision to notify publishers when it approves right-to-be-forgotten requests, something that has led to requesters’ being publicly identified in some cases. They also asked search engines to explain where they take down the results, after complaints from some regulators that Google does not filter results on google.com. That means that anyone in Europe can switch from, say, google.co.uk to Google.com to see any removed links. Among the questions: "2. Do you filter out some requests based on the location, nationality, or place of residence of the data subject? If so, what is the legal basis for excluding such requests?" and "16. Does your company refuse requests when the data subject was the author of the information he/she posted himself/herself on the web? If so, what is the basis for refusing such requests?"
An anonymous reader writes "Now that freshmeat.net / freecode.com doesn't accept any updates, I wonder how the Slashdot crowd gets news about new projects, and even new versions of existing projects. For project managers, where could you announce new versions of your project, so that it can reach not just those who already know the project. Freshmeat / Freecode had all the tools to explore and discover projects, see screenshots (a mandatory feature for any software project, even with only a console interface or no interface at all) and go to the homepage of the project. I subscribed years ago to the RSS feed and sometimes found interesting projects this way. You could replace these tools by subscribing to newsletters or feeds from the projects you follow, but that doesn't cover the discovery part." And do any of the major development / hosting platforms for Free / Open Source projects (GitHub, Launchpad, or Slashdot sister-site SourceForge) have tools you find especially useful for skimming projects of interest?
Watches that do more than tell the time have been around for a long time. (And in fiction, James Bond, Dick Tracey, and Michael Knight all had notably high-tech watches.)
The new smart watches from Samsung and LG, without a phone connected via Bluetooth as backhaul, can still serve to show the time and to serve as alarms (and Samsung's can measure your pulse, too), but all the magic features (like searching by voice via the watch) do require a connection. They can't play MP3s or take pictures on their own, and they don't have built-in GPS. Even so, compared to the polarizing Google Glass, the new breed of smart watches are wearables that probably are an easier sell, even if this far the trend has been to replace watches with smart phones. (Android Wear has gotten a lot of attention, but Microsoft has their own upcoming, and Apple almost certainly does, too.) Are you interested in a smart watch, and if so, what uses do you want it for? If they have no appeal to you now, are there functions that would make you change your mind on that front?
An anonymous reader writes with an excerpt from Wired about the one big problem that comes with crowdsourced data: enough eyeballs may make all bugs shallow, but may not fare as well against malice and greed: Maps are dotted with thousands of spam business listings for nonexistent locksmiths and plumbers. Legitimate businesses sometimes see their listings hijacked by competitors or cloned into a duplicate with a different phone number or website. In January, someone bulk-modified the Google Maps presence of thousands of hotels around the country, changing the website URLs to a commercial third-party booking site ... Small businesses are the usual targets. ....These attacks happen because Google Maps is, at its heart, a massive crowdsourcing project, a shared conception of the world that skilled practitioners can bend and reshape in small ways using tools like Google's Mapmaker or Google Places for Business. ... In February, an SEO consultant-turned-whistleblower named Bryan Seely demonstrated the risk dramatically when he set up doppelganger Google Maps listings for the offices of the FBI and Secret Service..
DroidJason1 (3589319) writes Microsoft has killed off two of its mapping products, MapPoint and Streets & Trips. Both of these services have received their last update and will soon be retired in favor of Microsoft's premier mapping product, Bing Maps. The company has yet to go public with a press release announcing the retirement of these two mapping services, but the Redmond giant has quietly mentioned the fate on both the services' websites. MapPoint was first released back in 1999 and made it easier to view, edit, and integrate maps into software. Streets & Trips was a route planning package. Microsoft is now pushing Bing Maps exclusively.
An anonymous reader writes Only days after receiving harsh criticism from all corners of the internet for taking down links to news articles, Google has started to reinstate those links. Google's Peter Barron denied that they were simply granting all "right to be forgotten" requests. "The European Court of Justice [ECJ] ruling was not something that we welcomed, that we wanted — but it is now the law in Europe and we are obliged to comply with that law," he said. Still, Google's actions are being called "tactical" for how quickly they were able to stir public dissent over the EU ruling. "It's convenient, then, that it's found a way to get the media to kick up the fuss for it: there are very few news organisations in the world who are happy to hear their output is being stifled. A few automated messages later, the story is back in the headlines – and Google is likely to be happy about that."
An anonymous reader writes in with this article from the BBC about Google's recent removal of a news story from search results. "Google's decision to remove a BBC article from some of its search results was "not a good judgement", a European Commission spokesman has said. A link to an article by Robert Peston was taken down under the European court's "right to be forgotten" ruling. But Ryan Heath, spokesman for the European Commission's vice-president, said he could not see a "reasonable public interest" for the action. He said the ruling should not allow people to "Photoshop their lives". The BBC understands that Google is sifting through more than 250,000 web links people wanted removed."
Albanach writes: In 2007, the BBC's economics editor, Robert Peston, penned an article on the massive losses at Merrill Lynch and the resulting resignation of their CEO Stan O'Neal. Today, the BBC has been notified that the 2007 article will no longer appear in some Google searches made within the European Union, apparently as a result of someone exercising their new-found "right to be forgotten." O'Neal was the only individual named in the 2007 article. While O'Neal has left Merrill Lynch, he has not left the world of business, and now holds a directorship at Alcoa, the world's third largest aluminum producer with $23 billion in revenues in 2013.
An anonymous reader writes In the aftermath of the European Court of Justice "right to be
forgotten" decision, many asked whether a similar ruling could arise elsewhere. While a privacy-related ruling has yet to hit Canada,
Michael Geist reports
that last week a Canadian court relied in part on the decision in issuing
orderrequiring Google to remove websites from its global
index. The ruling is unusual since its reach extends far beyond Canada. Rather than ordering the company to remove certain links from the search results available through Google.ca, the order intentionally targets the entire database, requiring the company to
ensure that no one, anywhere in the world, can see the search results.
angry tapir (1463043) writes Microsoft will soon offer a service aimed at making machine-learning technology more widely usable. "We want to bring machine learning to many more people," Eron Kelly, Microsoft corporate vice president and director SQL Server marketing, said of Microsoft Azure Machine Learning, due to be launched in beta form in July. "The line of business owners and the marketing teams really want to use data to get ahead, but data volumes are getting so large that it is difficult for businesses to sift through it all," Kelly said.
The service will have "...an interface called the Machine Learning Studio. The palette includes visual icons for some of the most commonly used machine-learning algorithms, allowing the user to drag and drop them into a visually depicted workflow." Algorithms themselves are implemented in R, which the user of the service can use directly as well.
NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) writes In Authors Guild v Hathitrust, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has found that scanning whole books and making them searchable for research use is a fair use. In reaching its conclusion, the 3-judge panel reasoned, in its 34-page opinion (PDF), that the creation of a searchable, full text database is a "quintessentially transformative use", that it was "reasonably necessary" to make use of the entire works, that maintaining four copies of the database was reasonably necessary as well, and that the research library did not impair the market for the originals. Needless to say, this ruling augurs well for Google in Authors Guild v. Google, which likewise involves full text scanning of whole books for research.
Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "Following broad security scares like that caused by the Heartbleed bug, it can be frustratingly difficult to find out if a site you use often still has gaping flaws. But a little known community of software developers is trying to change that, by creating a searchable, public index of websites with known security issues. Think of Project Un1c0rn as a Google for site security. Launched on May 15th, the site's creators say that so far it has indexed 59,000 websites and counting. The goal, according to its founders, is to document open leaks caused by the Heartbleed bug, as well as 'access to users' databases' in Mongo DB and MySQL. According to the developers, those three types of vulnerabilities are most widespread because they rely on commonly used tools. For example, Mongo databases are used by popular sites like LinkedIn, Expedia, and SourceForge, while MySQL powers applications such as WordPress, Drupal or Joomla, and are even used by Twitter, Google and Facebook."
redletterdave (2493036) writes 'Apple has purchased Spotsetter, a social search engine that uses big data to offer personalized recommendations for places to go. Spotsetter was designed to combine recommendations from friends with trusted reviews and other data to create more social maps. It would show you which friends were 'experts' in a given area, and you could tag your friends as experts (like LinkedIn) to boost the influence of their recommendations. You could also discover new places by browsing Spotsetter's maps to see where your friends have been and what they've recommended. Spotsetter's app, which was available on iOS and Android, officially closed down just six days ago.'
The EU's new rule (the result of a court case published May 13) requiring that online businesses remove on request information that is "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant" has struck a chord with more than 12,000 individuals, a number that's rising fast. Other search engines, ISPs, and firms are sure to follow, but the most prominent reaction to the decision thus far, and one that will probably influence all the ones to come, is Google's implementation of an online form that users can submit to request that information related to them be deleted. The Daily Mail reports that the EU ruling "has already been criticised after early indications that around 12 per cent of applications were related to paedophilia. A further 30 per cent concern fraud and 20 per cent were about people's arrests or convictions"; we mentioned earlier this month one pedophile's request for anonymity. As the First Post story linked above puts it, the requirement that sites scrub their data on request puts nternet companies in the position of having to interpret the court’s broad criteria for information meeting the mandate's definition of "forgettable," "as well as developing criteria for distinguishing public figures from private individuals." Do you favor opt-out permissions for reporting facts linked to individuals? What data or opinions about themselves should people not be able to suppress? (Note: Google's form has this disclaimer: "We're working to finalize our implementation of removal requests under European data protection law as soon as possible. In the meantime, please fill out the form below and we will notify you when we start processing your request." That finalization may take some time, since there are 28 data-protection agencies across the EU to harmonize.)