With Amazing Chutzpah Google Claims It Can’t Be Sued In UK Courts

Google legal Last year Google was embroiled in controversy over its circumvention of the Safari browser's cookie-privacy settings (on the iPhone and beyond). As a result the company paid a $22.5 million fine to settle the case with the US FTC approximately a year ago. The FTC summarizes the facts that lead to the settlement: [F]or several months in 2011 and 2012, Google placed a certain advertising tracking cookie on the computers of Safari users who visited sites within Google’s DoubleClick advertising network, although Google had previously told these users they would automatically be opted out of [...]


German Publishers Opt-In To Google News — For The Moment

Google legal Following the enactment of a controversial copyright law in Germany, Google said that it would require publishers to formally "opt-in" to Google News or be excluded from results. Accordingly major German publishers have decided to do so -- for now. The new law, which went into effect today and gives publishers almost total control over the use of their content, still allows news aggregators and search engines to show “single words” and modest “text excerpts” but creates legal uncertainty and potential liability for those who misinterpret the rules. What qualifies as a "text excer [...]


Bing Adds Warnings To Child-Porn Related Queries In UK; Google Rejects The Idea

bing-warning-alert-featured Bing has added new pop-up alerts that are triggered when people search for terms considered to be related to child porn, according to the BBC, in reaction to the UK's prime minister attacking Google, Bing & Yahoo over not doing enough to stop child pornography. But Google has reportedly rejected the idea of warnings. Microsoft told the BBC that the notifications aimed "to stop those who may be drifting towards trying to find illegal child abuse content on the web via search engines." "This is in addition to Microsoft's existing and longstanding policy of removing any verified links to [...]


German “Ancillary Copyright” Law To Go Into Effect, Imposes Limits On Search Results

Google legal According to a report from IDG News, a "toned down" version of an earlier, more restrictive "ancillary copyright" law has been published in Germany and will go into effect in August. The ”ancillary copyright” rule was proposed in August of 2012. In its initial form it would have required Google and others that indexed or aggregated news to pay for links or excerpts from those news items -- essentially a "link tax." The law was pushed by German magazine and newspaper publishers that see the Internet and Google, in particular, as the cause of many of their subscription, readership and [...]


Google Wins Vertical Search Antitrust Case In Germany

google-legal-cash-featured In a German case that could have broader antitrust implications in Europe, Google defeated a petition for an injunction brought by a German online weather trade group, Verband Deutscher Wetterdienstleister. The case is interesting because it involves a private antitrust action against Google and directly addresses the "search bias" argument made by Google critics. The case and petition for injunction against Google were brought on behalf of third party publishers by the weather association. I obtained an English translation of the German court's opinion. The translation is a bit awkward [...]


Google Ignites Controversy By Using “Palestine” On Homepage

Google "Palestine" Google has been at the center of heated geo-political controversy before, usually around disputed place names or borders on maps. A new controversy, however, has arisen about one of Google's international homepages: Google.ps. That's the page previously dedicated to the "Palestinian Territories." On May 1 Google dropped "territories" and now calls it "Google Palestine." This move follows UN recognition of the Palestinians last November as a "non-member state." The name change was condemned by Israeli authorities immediately after it happened. According to the Jerusalem Post D [...]


Google’s New European “Antitrust” Search Results: Here’s What They’ll Look Like

EU Flag I've found documents associated with the Google-EU settlement proposal that offer mock-ups of how the new, regulated SERPs will look. It's very interesting and greatly clarifies the settlement terms and how they will be implemented practically. These mockups look quite different (and less "disruptive") than what I imagined. There are three basic scenarios: where Google sees direct monetization from the SERP, indirect monetization in the vertical or no monetization (e.g., News in Europe). In each case the presentation and the rules will be slightly different. The screens below are all mock- [...]


EU Goes Public With Google Antitrust Proposals, “Market Test” FAQs

google-eu-featured The EU released documents this morning that detail Google's antitrust settlement proposals and explain the Competition Commission's position on various aspects of the investigation. First here's what the EU says Google has proposed: Google offers for a period of 5 years to: (i) - label promoted links to its own specialised search services so that users can distinguish them from natural web search results, - clearly separate these promoted links from other web search results by clear graphical features (such as a frame), and - display links to three rival specialised search services c [...]


Is Google’s Antitrust Settlement Offer To Europe Dead On Arrival?

google-eu-featured The European Union has "accepted" Google's formal antitrust settlement proposal -- subject to "market testing." As a practical matter, that means EU Competition Commissioner Joaquín Almunia is circulating it among Google's critics and competitors for reaction. However, there has already been plenty of (negative) reaction based on the information that came out last week in news reports. That leads to the question: is Google's settlement proposal dead on arrival? And if so, what will Almunia and the Europeans do? Is litigation inevitable? The issue that Google's competitors and critics ca [...]


German Privacy Regulator Fines Google Over Street View Data Collection, Calls For Tougher Financial Penalties

street-view-car-featured A fine of 145,000 EUR (roughly $189,000) is trivial for Google. But that's close to the maximum fine allowed by German law ($150,000 EUR). The fine is being imposed on Google for violations of German privacy and data protection laws stemming from the so-called "WiSpy" episode in 2008 - 2009 in which Google collected private emails and other personal data via its Street View cars and their efforts to map Wi-Fi locations around the world. Google was fined 100,000 EUR by French authorities for the same violations in 2011. These amounts are insignificant to Google, which just posted quarterl [...]


Tokyo Court Orders Google To Alter Search Suggestions & Pay Fines

google-japan-featured AFP reports a Japan court has ruled Google to alter the search suggestions and fined Google 300,000 yen ($3,100). The Tokyo District Court ruled that Google has to change the auto-completions for a search on a particular man's name - the name was undisclosed - because Google provided suggestions that the man committed criminal acts. In addition, Google was ordered to pay the man $3,100 for the mental anguish the search suggestion caused him. What is interesting is that since Google does not operate the search results from within Japan, Google technically does not and historically has not [...]


Google’s EU Antitrust Settlement Includes Labeling, Mandatory Competitive Links And Third Party Enforcement

google-eu-featured The proposed terms of the Google antitrust settlement in Europe have started to come to light, first through a report in the Financial Times, and this weekend, in articles from the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. As anticipated, the primary "remedy" Google is offering involves labeling its own results to distinguish them from third-party publishers. Yet, there are some new twists and nuances that have not been discussed or disclosed before. They involve third-party enforcement and presentation of competitive links as alternatives to Google's own content. Apparently, the settle [...]


Google (Finally) Gives EU A Formal Settlement Proposal As UK Mapping Rival Files Anti-Competitive Suit

google-maps-iphone-icon Google has formally submitted its antitrust settlement proposal to the EU. Wait, didn't that happen weeks ago? Apparently, it did not. While the parties have been talking for months (seems like years), Bloomberg reported today that Google had "formalized" its settlement proposal to avoid potential fines and other penalties. EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia is now going to "market test" Google's proposal. What that means as a practical matter is that he will circulate the proposal among Google's critics and rivals for feedback. No doubt, they will be dissatisfied because Googl [...]


EU Leans Toward “Labeling” To Resolve Antitrust Claims Against Google

google-eu-featured Those hoping for aggressive regulation or changes in the way Google conducts its search business in Europe will likely be disappointed. A new interview with EU Competition Commissioner Joaquín Almunia hints at settlement proposals and remedies now being considered in the Google antitrust case. And, they will probably look a lot like what came out of the FTC earlier this year. The interview, published in a New York Times article triggered by the filing of a new antitrust complaint over Android, offers some insights into the state of settlement negotiations between Europe and Google. The [...]


Google Notifying Searchers In EU That They Use Cookies

google-cookies-1328880075 If you search for anything at Google UK or on any of the 27 localized versions of Google in the European Union, Google will now prompt you with a notification that they are using cookies to provide search results to you. In fact, Google says that by using Google search you are agreeing to allow Google to place cookies on your computer. Here is the prompt you will see when searching on Google UK: Clicking on the "learn more" link takes you to this page where Google explains what cookies are and how they may use them. Google also shares a video which you can watch that explains this, a [...]


Google’s Mapping Contest In India Creates Uproar

india-flag-map Google has run up against some of India's restrictive laws in the past, most notably in the context of vague and expansive censorship rules for content and search results. A new episode involves a crowdsourced mapping contest run by the company to obtain data for Google Maps. According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Google ran a "Mapathon" contest in February and March offering prizes in exchange for information about local places, facilities and businesses: The Internet company invited amateur mappers as well as mapping enthusiasts to add local information through its Google Map Make [...]


Google Gets Trademark Reprieve In Sweden Over Definition Of ‘Ungoogleable’

google-g-logo "Ungoogleable" won't become an official word in Sweden ... at least, not this year. As Sveriges Radio reports (found via The Verge), the Language Council of Sweden won't be adding ogooglebar, which translates to "ungoogleable," to its official list of new words for 2012. The Council's planned definition for the word, based on common use there, was something "that can not be found on the Web using a search engine." But Google asked for an edit; it wanted the word to only refer to something that can't be found using Google. Rather than change its definition, the Council decided to drop [...]


Open Letter To EU Competition Commissioner Exerts Pressure For Tougher “Vertical Search” Settlement With Google

google-eu-featured Late last week, a group of Google critics, rivals and complainants sent an "open letter" to EU competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia asking him to focus on the "vertical search" or "search neutrality" dimensions of the Google antitrust case. The letter says, essentially, that of the "four areas of concern" raised by the EU over Google's business practices, this is the only issue that really matters. The letter asserts that the EU must address "Google’s search manipulation practices" in the form of "the systematic promotion of Google’s own services, and the systematic demotion [...]


Latest Tips From Google & Others At The International Search Summit @ SMX

Speakers at the International Search Summit, which took place alongside SMX West in San Jose last week, shared many useful tips on improving various aspects of international search from geo-targeting issues to targeting and handling different languages. Maile Ohye of Google spent over an hour speaking to delegates and answering detailed questions covering many of the issues international marketers face. She covered the geo-targeting challenges faced by organisations and discussed how the still relatively new Hreflang tag, as well as Webmaster Tools, can be used to help Google make the right [...]


Google Maps Might Be Banned In Germany Over Patent Infringement

Google Maps icon Google Maps may be banned in Germany as the result of a patent infringement lawsuit underway at a regional court in Germany. As FOSS Patents reports, Judge Matthias Zigann told Google today that he's inclined to hold the company liable for infringing a Microsoft patent that describes a "computer system for identifying local resources and method therefor." The judge reportedly called the patent, which describes how map data and local search results can be combined, a "big idea." Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents explains the possible ramifications if the judge sides with Microsoft, as expec [...]


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