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Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "How risky is it to use the words "bomb," "plague," or "gun" online? That was a question we posed, tongue in cheek, with a web toy we built last year called Hello NSA. It offers users suggested tweets that use words that drawn from a list of watchwords that analysts at the Dept. of Homeland Security are instructed to search for on social media. "Stop holding my love hostage," one of the tweets read. "My emotions are like a tornado of fundamentalist wildfire." It was silly, but it was also imagined as an absurdist response to the absurdist ways that dragnet surveillance of the public and non-public Internet jars with our ideas of freedom of speech and privacy. And yet, after reading the mounting pile of NSA PowerPoints, are all of us as comfortable as we used to be Googling for a word like "anthrax," even if we were simply looking up our favorite thrash metal band? Maybe not. According to a new study of Google search trends, searches for terms deemed to be sensitive to government or privacy concerns have dropped "significantly" in the months since Edward Snowden's revelations in July."
itwbennett writes: "A class-action lawsuit filed Thursday (PDF) accuses Google of strong-arming device manufacturers into making its search engine the default on Android devices, driving up the cost of those devices and hurting consumers. The suit does not argue that device manufacturers entered Mobile Application Distribution Agreements involuntarily, but that the market power of Google compels them to. 'Because consumers want access to Google's products, and due to Google's power in the U.S. market for general handheld search, Google has unrivaled market power over smartphone and tablet manufacturers,' says the suit."
itwbennett (1594911) writes "Google will no longer scan the email messages of students and other school staff who use its Google Apps for Education suite, exempting about 30 million users from the chronically controversial practice for Gmail advertising. In addition, Google is removing the option for Apps for Education administrators to allow ads to be shown to their users. Until now, ads were turned off by default, but admins could turn on this feature at their discretion. A Google spokesperson called the move part of a 'continued evolution of our efforts to provide the best experience for our users, including students' and not a response to a recent lawsuit alleging that by scanning Gmail messages Google violated wiretapping laws and breached users' privacy."
Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "If you were anywhere near the internet last week, you would have come across reports of 'DarkMarket', a new system being touted as a Silk Road the FBI could never seize. Although running in a similar fashion on the face of things — some users buy drugs, other sell them — DarkMarket works in a fundamentally different way to Silk Road or any other online marketplace. Instead of being hosted off a server like a normal website, it runs in a decentralized manner: Users download a piece of software onto their device, which allows them to access the DarkMarket site. The really clever part is how the system incorporates data with the blockchain, the part of Bitcoin that everybody can see. Rather than just carrying the currency from buyer to seller, data such as user names are added to the blockchain by including it in very small transactions, meaning that its impossible to impersonate someone else because their pseudonymous identity is preserved in the ledger. Andy Greenberg has a good explanation of how it works over at Wired. The prototype includes nearly everything needed for a working marketplace: private communications between buyers and sellers, Bitcoin transfers to make purchases, and an escrow system that protects the cash until it is confirmed that the buyer has received their product. Theoretically, being a decentralized and thus autonomous network, it would still run without any assistance from site administrators, and would certainly make seizing a central server, as was the case with the original Silk Road, impossible."
An anonymous reader writes "The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a Scientology front group, has received a 'grant from Google in the amount of $10,000 per month worth of Pay Per Click Advertising to be used in our Orange County anti-psych campaigns.' CCHR believes that ALL psychiatrists are evil. They believe that psychiatrists were behind the holocaust, and these shadow men were never brought to justice. CCHR also believes that psychiatrists were behind the 911 attacks. Scientologists believe that psychiatrists have always been evil, and their treachery goes back 75 million years when the psychiatrists assisted XENU in killing countless alien life forms. Thanks Google! We may be able to stop these evil Psychs once and for all!"
First time accepted submitter turkeydance (1266624) writes "The dark web just got a little less dark with the launch of a new search engine that lets you easily find illicit drugs and other contraband online. Grams, which launched last week and is patterned after Google, is accessible only through the Tor anonymizing browser (the address for Grams is: grams7enufi7jmdl.onion) but fills a niche for anyone seeking quick access to sites selling drugs, guns, stolen credit card numbers, counterfeit cash and fake IDs — sites that previously only could be found by users who knew the exact URL for the site."
judgecorp (778838) writes "Three weeks after Russia asserted that Crimea is part of its territory, the social networks have a problem: how to categories their users from the region? Facebook and the largest Russian social network, Vkontakte, still say Crimeans are located in Ukraine, while other Russian social networks say they are Russians. Meanwhile, on Wikipedia, an edit war has resulted in Crimea being part of Russia, but shaded a different colour to signify the territory is disputed. Search engine Yandex is trying to cover both angles: its maps service gives a different answer, depending on which location you send your query from."
An anonymous reader writes "Members of the Senate have proposed a bill that would prohibit the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) from selling to other U.S. federal agencies technical papers that are already freely available. NTIS is under the Department of Commerce. The bill is probably a result of a 2012 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) which points out that 'Of the reports added to NTIS's repository during fiscal years 1990 through 2011, GAO estimates that approximately 74 percent were readily available from other public sources.' Ars Technica notes that the term 'public sources' refers to 'either the issuing organization's website, the federal Internet portal, or another online resource.'"
redletterdave (2493036) writes "Facebook owns virtually all the aspects of the social experience—photos (Instagram), status updates (Facebook), location services (Places)—but now, Facebook is transitioning from a simple social network to a full-fledged technology company that rivals Google, moonshot for moonshot. Yet, it's Facebook's corporate control of traffic that leads many to distrust the company. In a sense, people are stuck. When the time comes for someone to abandon Facebook, whether over privacy concerns or frustration with the company, Facebook intentionally makes it hard to leave. Even if you delete your account, your ghost remains—even when you die, Facebook can still make money off you. And that's not behavior fit for a company that's poised to take over the future."
theodp (442580) writes "Over the years, Mozilla's reliance on Google has continued to grow. Indeed, in its report on Brendan Eich's promotion to CEO of Mozilla, the WSJ noted that "Google accounted for nearly 90% of Mozilla's $311 million in revenue." So, with its Sugar Daddy having also gone on record as being virulently opposed to Proposition 8, to think that that Google's support didn't enter into discussions of whether Prop 8 backer Eich should stay or go seems, well, pretty much unthinkable. "It is the chilling and discriminatory effect of the proposition on many of our employees that brings Google to publicly oppose Proposition 8," explained Google co-founder Sergey Brin in 2008. "We should not eliminate anyone's fundamental rights, whatever their sexuality, to marry the person they love." Interestingly, breaking the news of Eich's resignation was journalist Kara Swisher, whose right to marry a top Google exec in 2008 was nearly eliminated by Prop 8. "In an interview this morning," wrote Swisher, "Mozilla Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker said that Eich's ability to lead the company that makes the Firefox Web browser had been badly damaged by the continued scrutiny over the hot-button issue, which had actually been known since 2012 inside the Mozilla community." Swisher, whose article was cited by the NY Times in The Campaign Against Mozilla's Brendan Eich, added that "it was not hard to get the sense that Eich really wanted to stick strongly by his views about gay marriage, which run counter to much of the tech industry and, increasingly, the general population in the U.S. For example, he repeatedly declined to answer when asked if he would donate to a similar initiative today." So, was keeping Eich aboard viewed by Mozilla — perhaps even by Eich himself — as a possible threat to the reported $1 billion minimum revenue guarantee the organization enjoys for delivering search queries for Google?"
redletterdave writes: "At the Fire TV unveiling, Amazon officials sounded like they perfectly understood how frustrating TV streaming devices are for their owners. Amazon focused on three main problems: Search is hard, especially for anything not on a bestseller list; streaming devices often provide slow or laggy performance; and TV set-top boxes tend to be closed ecosystems. The Fire TV is Amazon's attempt to solve these three problems—the key word here being 'attempt.' Perhaps Amazon's homegrown solution was a bit premature and its ambitions too lofty, because while Fire TV can do almost everything, little of it is done right." An example given by the review is how the touted Voice Search works — it doesn't interact at all with supported apps, instead bringing up Amazon search results. Thus, even if you have access to a movie for free through Netflix, using the Voice Search for that movie will only bring up Amazon's paid options.
harrymcc (1641347) writes "Google officially — and mischievously — unveiled Gmail on April Fools' Day 2004. That makes this its tenth birthday, which I celebrated by talking to a bunch of the people who created the service for TIME.com. It's an amazing story: The service was in the works for almost three years before the announcement, and faced so much opposition from within Google that it wasn't clear it would ever reach consumers." Update: 04/01 13:37 GMT by T : We've introduced a lot of new features lately; some readers may note that with this story we are slowly rolling out one we hope you enjoy -- an audio version of each Slashdot story. If you are one of the readers in our testing pool, you'll hear the story just by clicking on it from the home page as if to read the comments; if you're driving, we hope you'll use your mobile devices responsibly.
jfruh (300774) writes "Facebook and Google only make money from people when they can access the Internet, so it stands to reason that they're working to make sure everyone has access. While Google's Project Loon seeks to use balloon-borne equipment, Mark Zuckerberg envisions a system of drones and laser beams."
jfruh writes: "You will probably not be surprised to learn that Chinese search giant Baidu censors a wide range of content, particularly political material deemed to be pro-democracy — and does so for users everywhere, not just in China. A group of activists filed suit against Baidu in New York for violating free speech laws, but the judge in the case declared (PDF) that, as a private entity in the United States, Baidu has the right to provide whatever kind of search results it wants, even for political reasons."
An anonymous reader writes "Google today announced Google Now is coming to the Chrome stable channel for Windows and Mac 'starting today and rolling out over the next few weeks.' This means Google Now notifications will finally be available to desktop and laptop Chrome users, in addition to Android and iOS users. To turn the feature on, all you need to do is sign in to Chrome with the same Google Account you're using for Google Now on mobile. If you use Google Now on multiple devices, you will need to manage your location settings for each device independently (change Location Reporting on Android and iOS)."
jfruh writes "For years, paid links returned from Google search queries have been set off from 'real' search results by their placement on the page and by a colored background. But some users have begun to see a different format for these ads: a tiny yellow button that reads 'AD' at the end of the link is the only distinguishing feature. Google is notoriously close-mouthed about this sort of thing, but it may begin rolling the new format out to more users soon."
wabrandsma writes with this story from NewScientist: "Google may be a master at data wrangling, but one of its products has been making bogus data-driven predictions. A study of Google's much-hyped flu tracker has consistently overestimated flu cases in the US for years. It's a failure that highlights the danger of relying on big data technologies.
Evan Selinger, a technology ethicist at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, says Google Flu's failures hint at a larger problem with the algorithmic approach taken by technology companies to deliver services we all want to use. The problem is with the assumption that either the data that is gathered about us, or the algorithms used to process it, are neutral. Google Flu Trends has been discussed at slashdot before: When Google Got Flu Wrong."
An anonymous reader writes "Google is facing investigation by the Competition Commission of India and potentially faces fines up to 10% of its three-year average turnover. While Google has settled anti-trust cases in the U.S. and the European Union, India's competition regime does not have provisions for settlement process." From the Times of India article linked: "The complaint against Google, also one of the world's most valued company, was first filed by advocacy group CUTS International way back in late 2011. Later, matrimonial website matrimony.com also filed a complaint. Referring to Google's settlement with the European Commission, matrimony.com counsel Ferida Satarawala said: 'Google's unfair use of trademarks as well as its retaliatory conduct are not specifically addressed in the European settlement and are distinct theories of harm being pursued by the CCI. Therefore, this settlement is unlikely to address CCI's concerns in our case.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Google's Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen were [part of a] wide-ranging session at SXSW today and they revealed that Google's data is now safely protected from the prying eyes of government organizations. In the last few days Google upgraded its security measure following revelations that Britain's GCHQ had intercepted data being transmitted between Google datacenters, Schmidt said that his company's upgrades following the incident left him 'pretty sure that information within Google is now safe from any government's prying eyes.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft is exploring whether to release a free version of Windows to increase the number of computers using the latest operating system. Currently the company seems to be testing a new version of the OS called 'Windows 8.1 with Bing', which will include Microsoft's key modern apps and services."
cold fjord writes with news that the Supreme Court has expanded the ability of police officers to search a home without needing a warrant, quoting the LA Times: "Police officers may enter and search a home without a warrant as long as one occupant consents, even if another resident has previously objected, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday ... The 6-3 ruling ... gives authorities more leeway to search homes without obtaining a warrant, even when there is no emergency. The majority ... said police need not take the time to get a magistrate's approval before entering a home in such cases. But dissenters ... warned that the decision would erode protections against warrantless home searches." In this case, one person objected to the search and was arrested followed by the police returning and receiving the consent of the remaining occupant.
itwbennett writes "Google has done what the European Commission declined to do: publish the details of the latest commitments Google made in a bid to settle a long-running antitrust case involving its treatment of rival specialist search services, among other matters. On the company's European policy blog, Google's senior vice president and general counsel, Kent Walker, announced the publication of what he called the 'full text' (PDF) of the company's commitments. In fact, the 93-page document contains a number of redactions, including details of a parameter used to rank search results, the identities of two companies with customized contracts for Adsense For Search, and a proposal for modification of those contracts to comply with the other commitments."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Microsoft has censored Chinese-language results for Bing users in the United States as well as mainland China, according to an article in The Guardian. But this isn't the first time that Bing's run into significant controversy over the 'sanitizing' of Chinese-language search results outside of mainland China. In November 2009, Microsoft came under fire from free-speech advocates after New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof accused the company of 'craven kowtowing' to the mainland Chinese government by sanitizing its Chinese-language search results for users around the world. Just as with The Guardian and other news outlets this week, Microsoft insisted at the time that a 'bug' was to blame for the sanitized search results. 'The bug identified in the web image search was indeed fixed,' a Microsoft spokesperson told me in December 2009, after I presented them with a series of screenshots suggesting that the pro-Chinese-government filter remained in effect even after Kristof's column. 'Please also note that Microsoft 'recognize[s] that we can continue to improve our relevancy and comprehensiveness in these web results and we will.' Time will tell whether anything's different this time around."
First time accepted submitter vigna writes "The Laboratory for Web Algorithmics of the Università degli studi di Milano together with the Data and Web Science Group of the University of Mannheim have put together the first entirely open ranking of more than 100 million sites of the Web. The ranking is based on classic and easily explainable centrality measures applied to a host graph, and it is entirely open — all data and all software used is publicly available. Just in case you wonder, the number one site is YouTube, the second Wikipedia, and the third Twitter." They are using the Common Crawl data (first released in November 2011). Pages are ranked using harmonic centrality with raw Indegree centrality, Katz's index, and PageRank provided for comparison. More information about the web graph is available in a pre-print paper that will be presented at the World Wide Web Conference in April.
kc123 sends this report from The Guardian: "Microsoft's search engine Bing appears to be censoring information for Chinese language users in the U.S. in the same way it filters results in mainland China. Searches first conducted by anti-censorship campaigners at FreeWeibo, a tool that allows uncensored search of Chinese blogs, found that Bing returns radically different results in the U.S. for English and Chinese language searches on a series of controversial terms. These include Dalai Lama, June 4 incident (how the Chinese refer to the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989), Falun Gong and FreeGate, a popular internet workaround for government censorship."
mpicpp points out an article detailing the case of French blogger Olivier Laurelli, who had the misfortune to click links from search results. Laurelli stumbled upon a public link leading to documents from the French National Agency for Food Safety, Environment, and Labor. He downloaded them — over 7 Gb worth — and looked through them, eventually publishing a few slides to his website. When one of France's intelligence agencies found out, they took Laurelli into custody and indicted him, referring to him as a 'hacker.' In their own investigation, they said, "we then found that it was sufficient to have the full URL to access to the resource on the extranet in order to bypass the authentication rules on this server." The first court acquitted Laurelli of the charges against him. An appeals court affirmed part of the decision, but convicted him of "theft of documents and fraudulent retention of information." He was fined €3,000 (about $4,000).
coondoggie writes "The scientists at DARPA say the current methods of searching the Internet for all manner of information just won't cut it in the future. Today the agency announced a program that would aim to totally revamp Internet search and 'revolutionize the discovery, organization and presentation of search results.' Specifically, the goal of DARPA's Memex program is to develop software that will enable domain-specific indexing of public web content and domain-specific search capabilities. According to the agency the technologies developed in the program will also provide the mechanisms for content discovery, information extraction, information retrieval, user collaboration, and other areas needed to address distributed aggregation, analysis, and presentation of web content."
ananyo writes "Publishing giant Elsevier says that it has now made it easy for scientists to extract facts and data computationally from its more than 11 million online research papers. Other publishers are likely to follow suit this year, lowering barriers to the computer-based research technique. But some scientists object that even as publishers roll out improved technical infrastructure and allow greater access, they are exerting tight legal controls over the way text-mining is done. Under the arrangements, announced on 26 January at the American Library Association conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, researchers at academic institutions can use Elsevier's online interface (API) to batch-download documents in computer-readable XML format. Elsevier has chosen to provisionally limit researchers to 10,000 articles per week. These can be freely mined — so long as the researchers, or their institutions, sign a legal agreement. The deal includes conditions: for instance, that researchers may publish the products of their text-mining work only under a license that restricts use to non-commercial purposes, can include only snippets (of up to 200 characters) of the original text, and must include links to original content."
jfruh writes "Baidu, a company that offers a search engine, a Wikipedia-style user-edited encyclopedia, and other online services, is a household name in China. Now the company is seeking to gain ground on Google in the rest of the world, opening local search sites (in local languages) for Thailand, Brazil, and Egypt."
An anonymous reader writes "Canadian law professor Michael Geist reports that the Canadian arm of the RIAA is calling for new Internet regulation, including website blocking and search result manipulation. While the Canadian music industry experienced increased digital sales last year (sales declined in the U.S.) and the Ontario government is handing out tens of millions of tax dollars to the industry, the industry now wants the government to step in with website blocking and ordering search companies to change their results to focus on iTunes and other sales sites."
waderoush writes "An Xconomy column [Friday] suggests that Google is getting too big. When the company was younger, most of its acquisitions related to its core businesses of search, advertising, network infrastructure, and communications. More recently, it's been colonizing areas with a less obvious connection to search, such as travel, social networking, productivity, logistics, energy, robotics, and — with the acquisition this week of Nest Labs — home sensor networks and automation. A Google acquisition can obviously mean a big payoff for startup founders and their investors, but as the company grows by accretion it may actually be slowing innovation in Silicon Valley (since teams inside the Googleplex, with its endless fountain of AdWords revenue, can stop worrying about making money or meeting market needs). And by infiltrating so many corners of consumers' lives — and collecting personal and behavioral data as it goes — it's becoming an all-encompassing presence, and making itself ever more attractive as a target for marketers, data thieves, and government snoops. 'Any sufficiently advanced search, communications, and sensing infrastructure is indistinguishable from Big Brother,' the column argues."
theodp writes "Writing in the NY Times, Dr. Haider Javed Warraich shares a dirty little medical secret: doctors do 'Google' their patients, and the practice is likely to only become more common. And while he personally feels the practice should be restricted to situations where there's a genuine safety issue, an anecdote Warraich shares illustrates how patient search could provide insight into what otherwise might be unsolved mysteries — or lead to a snap misdiagnosis: 'I was once taking care of a frail, older patient who came to the hospital feeling very short of breath. It wasn't immediately clear why, but her breathing was getting worse. To look for accidental ingestions, I sent for a drug screen and, to my great surprise, it came back positive for cocaine. It didn't make sense to me, given her age and the person lying before me, and I was concerned she had been the victim of some sort of abuse. She told me she had no idea why there was cocaine in her system. When I walked out of the room, a nurse called me over to her computer. There, on MugShots.com, was a younger version of my patient's face, with details about how she had been detained for cocaine possession more than three decades earlier. I looked away from the screen, feeling like I had violated my patient's privacy. I resumed our medical exam, without bringing up the finding on the Internet, and her subsequent hospital course was uneventful.'"
theodp writes "After being punished by Google for manipulative SEO tactics, a contrite Rap Genius says it's back in Google's good graces. 'It takes a few days for things to return to normal, but we're officially back!' reads a post by the Rap Genius founders. 'First of all, we owe a big thanks to Google for being fair and transparent and allowing us back onto their results pages. We overstepped, and we deserved to get smacked.' Rap Genius credits some clever trackback scraping programming for its quick redemption, but a skeptic might suggest it probably didn't hurt that Rap Genius' biggest investor, Andreessen Horowitz, is tight with Google."
AHuxley writes "The American Civil Liberties Union sought to challenge the U.S. legal 'border exemption' three years ago. Can your laptop be seized and searched without reasonable suspicion at the border? A 32 page decision provides new legal insight into legal thinking around suspicionless searches: your electronic devices are searchable and seizable for any reason at the U.S. border. The ACLU may appeal. Also note the Kool-Aid comment: 'The report said that a reasonable suspicion standard is inadvisable because it could lead to litigation and the forced divulgence of national security information, and would prevent border officers from acting on inchoate "hunches," a method that it says has sometimes proved fruitful.'" It's even legal for them to copy the contents of your laptop for no reason at all, just in case they need to take a peek later. A bit of context from the ACLU: "The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Pascal Abidor, a dual French-American citizen who had his laptop searched and confiscated at the Canadian border ... Abidor was travelling from Montreal to New York on an Amtrak train in May 2010 when he had his laptop searched and confiscated by customs officers. Abidor, an Islamic Studies Ph.D. student at McGill University, was questioned, taken off the train in handcuffs, and held in a cell for several hours before being released without charge. When his laptop was returned 11 days later, there was evidence that many of his personal files had been searched, including photos and chats with his girlfriend."
theodp writes "In another case of Microsoft's-loss-is-Google's-gain, GeekWire reports that Google has made a big hire from Microsoft, bringing aboard TED crowd-pleaser Blaise Agüera y Arcas, the well-known software architect and designer who was among the Redmond company's elite ranks of distinguished engineers. Known for his work on services including Photosynth and Bing Maps, Agüera y Arcas called the move 'the hardest decision of my life'. A stunning preview of Photosynth was released by Microsoft last week, and TED just released a video of Agüera y Arcas demonstrating the technology at a conference earlier this year."
cagraham writes "Google is currently testing a web-connected thermostat, similar to the popular Nest Thermostat, according to The Information. The device would display energy usage details, and allow user's to control it from a web app. This actually marks the second time Google has ventured into home energy, after their PowerMeter web app that was shut down in 2011. Web connected devices could allow Google access to a treasure trove of data on people's daily habits and routines."
An anonymous reader writes "Until now, it was particularly difficult to obtain reliable figures on the results of the Android operating system in China. Indeed, there is no 'centralized app store' and most smartphones sold in the country do not use Google services, including activation. In fact, it is very difficult to know the actual results. The search engine Baidu has corrected this by publishing a report on trends in the mobile internet for the 3rd quarter 2013. It appears that there would be now 270 million active users of the Google platform in the country (more than 20% of the total population). Growth would, however, decrease with a small 13% against 55% for the same period last year but up 10% compared to Q2 2013."
rtoz sends word that a French court has ordered Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft to remove 16 unauthorized video streaming sites from their search results. Many ISPs were also ordered to block access to the sites. According to TorrentFreak, "The court ruled that the film industry had clearly demonstrated that the sites in question are 'dedicated or virtually dedicated to the distribution of audiovisual works without the consent of their creators,' thus violating their copyrights. As a result the search services of Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and local company Orange are now under orders to 'take all necessary measures to prevent the occurrence on their services of any results referring to any of the pages' on these sites. Several ISPs – Orange, Free, Bouygues Télécom, SFR, Numéricable and Darty Télécom were also ordered to 'implement all appropriate means including blocking' to prevent access to the infringing sites."
v3rgEz writes "Wish you were a little more organized? Have trouble finding that archived contract when you actually need it? Don't feel too bad: The National Security Agency has the same problem, claiming that its contract database is stored manually and impossible to search by topic, category, or even by vendor in most cases."
An anonymous reader writes "From the guy who brought you CD syncing and the original music locker (both of which saw lawsuits from record labels) comes the latest invention to rock the music world: a real-time radio search engine. 1000s of worldwide stations are indexed in real-time and users can search and play most any popular artist — even the digital holdouts (Tool, Led Zeppelin, etc) that are unavailable on paid services like Spotify. (Kinda wonder why Google hasn't done this.) Link on main page points to an API for those who want to build mobile and web services."
Frequent correspondent Bennett Haselton writes with a forward-looking response to a recent ruling that peer-to-peer network participants have little privacy interest in files stored on their computer and that they have made available via P2P. Writes Bennett: "A court rules that law enforcement did not improperly 'search' defendants' computers by downloading files that the computers were sharing via P2P software. This seems like a reasonable ruling, but such cases may become rare if P2P software evolves to the point where all downloads are routed anonymously through other users' computers." Read on for the rest.
Slashdot contributor Bennett Haselton writes "In 2007, I wrote that you could find troves of credit card numbers on Google, most of them still active, using the simple trick of Googling the first 8 digits of your credit card number. The trick itself had been publicized by other writers at least as far back as 2004, but in 2013, it appears to still be just as easy. One possible solution that I didn't consider last time, would be for Google itself to notify the webmasters and credit card companies of the leaked information, and then display a warning alongside the search results." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.
Virtucon writes "This one goes to the old adage 'closing the stable door after the horse bolted.' A French court on Wednesday ruled that Google must remove from its search results photos of a former Formula One racing chief, Max Mosley, participating in an Nazi-themed orgy. Google could be fined up to 1,000 Euros/day for not complying. What's strange here is that Mosley A) Sued in a French Court B) Didn't go after anybody else other than Google and C) has definitely strange tastes in extracurricular activities. In this day and age it's laughable to think that once your private photos/videos hit the Internet that you have any expectation of reining them in or filtering the embarrassing parts out. Google isn't the only game in town so to speak in terms of Internet search. I wonder if his lawyers checked out Yahoo or WebCrawler?"
ccguy writes "It seems that while Google could really care less about your site and has no real interest in hacking you, their automated bots can be used to do the heavy lifting for an attacker. In this scenario, the bot was crawling Site A. Site A had a number of links embedded that had the SQLi requests to the target site, Site B. Google Bot then went about its business crawling pages and following links like a good boy, and in the process followed the links on Site A to Site B, and began to inadvertently attack Site B."
Nerval's Lobster writes "While Google built its highly profitable search business atop a complex mix of algorithms and machine learning, its latest initiative actually depends on people power: Helpouts, which allows users (for a fee) to video-chat with experts in particular fields. Google has rolled out the service with a few brands in place, such as One Medical and Weight Watchers, and promises that it will expand its portfolio of helpful brands and individuals over the next several months. Existing categories include Cooking, Art & Music, Computers & Electronics, Education & Careers, Fashion & Beauty, Fitness & Nutrition, Health, and Home & Garden. Some Helpouts charge nothing for their time; for example, the 'Cooking' section of the Website already features a handful of chefs willing to talk users through baking, broiling, slicing and dicing for free. A few vendors in the Computers & Electronics section, by contrast, charge $2 per minute or even $200 per Hangout session for advice on WordPress setup, Website design, and more. So why is Google doing this? There are plenty of Websites that already dispense advice, although most rely on the written word—Quora, for example, lets its users pose text-based questions and receive answers. There's also rising interest in Massive Open Online Courses, also known as MOOCs, in which thousands of people can sign online to learn about something new. In theory, Helpouts (if it's built out enough) could make Google a player in those markets, as well as specialized verticals such as language learning — and earn some healthy revenue in the process."
theodp writes "A pending Google patent for Identifying Prospective Employee Candidates via Employee Connections lays out plans for data mining employees' social graphs to find top job candidates. According to the patent application, the system would consider factors including the performance of the employees at the company whose circles you are in — under the assumption that the friends of top performers are more likely to be top performers themselves. It's the invention of three Googlers, including an HR VP who was quoted recently in an article that questioned the wisdom of certain Google hiring practices said to encourage 'echo chamber' hiring."
cagraham writes "Google promised in 2005 to never "ever" put banner ads on their search results, but that appears to be changing. The company confirmed to SearchEngineLand that it is running a "small experiment" involving large-scale banners on searches for Southwest Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, and Crate&Barrel, among others. The ads are being shown in less than 5% of searches, and only in the US, for now. Interestingly enough, the Google exec who wrote the no banner ads promise was Marissa Mayer, now CEO of Yahoo."
An anonymous reader writes "Security firm ThreatTrack Security Labs today spotted that certain Bing ads are linking to sites that infect users with malware. Those who click are redirected to a dynamic DNS service subdomain which in turns serves the Sirefef malware from 109(dot)236(dot)81(dot)176. ThreatTrack notes that the scammers could of course be targeting other keywords aside from YouTube. The more popular the keywords, the bigger the potential for infection."
Google is apparently displeased with sites designed to extract money from arrestees in exchange for removing their mugshot pictures online, and is tweaking its algorithms to at least reduce their revenue stream. From the article at The New York Times: "It was only a matter of time before the Internet started to monetize humiliation. ... The sites are perfectly legal, and they get financial oxygen the same way as other online businesses — through credit card companies and PayPal. Some states, though, are looking for ways to curb them. The governor of Oregon signed a bill this summer that gives such sites 30 days to take down the image, free of charge, of anyone who can prove that he or she was exonerated or whose record has been expunged. Georgia passed a similar law in May. Utah prohibits county sheriffs from giving out booking photographs to a site that will charge to delete them. ... But as legislators draft laws, they are finding plenty of resistance, much of it from journalists who assert that public records should be just that: public."