EU Wants More Search Concessions, Google Defies French Authority

Google Europe Round and round she goes. The European Commission is seeking a final round of "concessions" from Google in an 11th hour effort to settle potential antitrust claims against the company. EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia made public statements asserting that Google needs to deliver additional, revised proposals within weeks to avoid a formal antitrust proceeding. What we have now is a kind of high stakes game of chicken. For well over a year there has been a very public back and forth between Google, the European Commission and Google's rivals, who object to the various proposals [...]


VA Court Delivers Blow To Yelp, Free Speech Of Users

Yelp logo A Virginia state court of appeal has ruled that Yelp must disclose the real identities of seven individuals who posted anonymous, critical reviews of an Alexandria, Virginia carpet cleaning business, Hadeed Carpet. Yelp and free speech advocacy groups have decried the decision. Hadeed said that he didn't believe that any of the reviews came from actual customers and sued to get Yelp to reveal the identities of the individuals in question. Yelp refused and the court granted Hadeed's lawyer's motion to compel. Yelp appealed and the appellate court affirmed the lower court's ruling (full o [...]


DuckDuckGo Has Biggest Day Ever In 2014 With More Than 4 Million Queries On January 7th

duckduckgo-featured The Guardian reported yesterday DuckDuckGo, the search engine that keeps user searches private, is now up to four million queries per day, with over a billion queries performed on the anonymous search engine during 2013. Prior to the PRISM scandal that revealed the NSA was regularly tracking searches on major search engines, DuckDuckGo averaged approximately 1.5 million queries a day says the Guardian. "In the weeks and months following the Guardian's publication of the NSA files, the number of [DuckDuckGo] users more than doubled," writes Guardian reporter Alex Hern. The Guardian claims [...]


EU: Google Antitrust Concessions “Unacceptable” As Second Study Condemns “Rival Links”

google-eu-featured European Union competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia announced Friday in a Spanish radio interview that Google's second round of concessions in its current antitrust settlement proposal were "unacceptable." The main obstacle to settlement is still Google's treatment of competitors and its "own content" in "vertical search" results. Almunia was directly involved in negotiating the original settlement proposal with Google, which offered to put links to competitors' sites in a privileged position in search results. He seemed initially (and perhaps naively) surprised when it was almost imme [...]


Google’s Latest Transparency Report Shows Rise In Content Removal Requests From Russia & Turkey

google-transparency-report Google announced today it has released its eighth Transparency Report since 2010 when the search engine began providing data on government requests to remove content. According to the latest Transparency Report covering the first half of 2013, Google saw a "significant" increase in the number of requests from Turkey and Russia, with Russia's requests to remove content more than double the number of requests the country filed throughout 2012. For the US, Google says it saw a 70 percent increase in the number of content removal requests compared to the second half of 2012. The site receive [...]


Sponsored Study Argues Google’s “Rival Links” Don’t Drive Enough CTRs To Rivals

Google EU flag Google's original antitrust settlement proposal, negotiated with the European Commission, was attacked by Google competitors and critics as being a token concession to competition. Anti-Google lobbying group FairSearch.org sponsored a consumer study that argued Google's presentation of three “rival links” to competitors in search results did little to drive traffic to competitors' websites. In September Google presented a second settlement proposal that made new or additional concessions. The second proposal was immediately attacked as well. Now a second FairSearch-sponsored research [...]


The Test Begins: Do Google Shopping & Other Shopping Search Engines Give You The Best Deals?

google-shopping-products-featured It sounds pretty damning. Two recent surveys suggest that Google Shopping isn't leading searchers to the best prices on products. But the surveys weren't well documented, nor did they include competitors like Bing, Shopzilla, PriceGrabber and Nextag, which have similar issues. So, Search Engine Land will be running its own fully documented tests. Every few days, we'll search for an item and show what we found, starting with today's test, a search for a toaster. Testing For The Low Price Vs. Featured Price This is a long story. It's designed to be that way so that people can understand ex [...]


French Court Orders Google, ISPs To Block Or Delist Video Sites

Google Europe The High Court of Paris recently decided that French ISPs and search engines (Google, Yahoo and Bing) must completely block access or remove 16 copyright-infringing video sites from their indexes and search results. The case was originally filed in 2011. The successful plaintiffs were several France-based film and TV trade associations, including L’Association des Producteurs de Cinéma and La Fédération Nationale des Distributeurs de Films. These groups represented a range of producer interests including American film studios. Below are the domains that Google et al must now complet [...]


Google Maps Makes Exception & Speeds Up Process To Replace Image Of Shooting Victim

Google maps icon Google Maps is making an exception to its process for reviewing image removal requests, and speeding up the actions needed to replace a satellite image of a 14-year old shooting victim. Following a story broadcast on KTVU-TV, a CNN affiliate in Oakland, California and a report on CNN.com, Google claims it will take approximately eight days to remove the image of the 2009 crime scene involving the slain teenager. According to an update on the story from CNN.com, vice president of Google Maps Brian McClendon released the following the statement: Our hearts go out to the family of this young [...]


Court Finds Google’s Book Scanning Is Fair Use: Highlights From The Ruling

google-books-featured Nearly ten years after it began and eight years after Google was sued over it, Google's program that scans books in order to make them searchable has been found legal. A judge found fair use, especially in that "Google Books does not supersede or supplant books because it is not a tool to be used to read books." The ruling by Judge Denny Chin found that the Authors Guild's claims that Google was massively infringing the copyright of books didn't hold up. Below, some of the key highlights from his ruling. The Background & Permission Needed To Scan? Most of the ruling covers the ba [...]


Google Claims Government Requests For User Information Have Increased Over 100% Since 2010

google-transparency-report Google released an updated Transparency Report today, claiming government requests for user information have increased more than 100 percent since it began posting transparency reports in 2010. According to Google, this is the eighth update to its transparency report in the last three years. Google said the climb in requests is in part a result of an increase in the number of governments wanting information, "More governments have made requests than ever before. And these numbers only include the requests we're allowed to publish." The top three governments requesting information between [...]


French Court Orders Google To Remove Max Mosley Images From Search Engine Results

Google logo After making a public plea for the European courts to dismiss a lawsuit filed by former Formula One president Max Mosley, Google found out today the French court has ruled in favor of Mosley and is forcing the search engine to censure search results. According to a report on Reuters.com, the French court has ordered Google to, "Remove and cease, for a period of five years beginning two months after this decision, the appearance of nine images identified by Max Mosley in the Google Images search engine results." To keep the images in question from showing up in search results, Google says it [...]


Don’t Want Your Searches Encrypted? Add ?nord=1 To Your URL Parameters

Google logo Not interested in having Google encrypt and secure your searches for some reason? Well, now there is a way to stop Google from forcing you to search using Google SSL search, as it made everyone use last month. All you need to do is add ?nord=1 to the Google URL parameter. For example, searching Google for SSL would bring you to this secure URL. Trying to remove the https in front of it, will still bring you to the https version. https://www.google.com/search?q=ssl But if you add ?nord=1 and drop the https, the URL will stick on the non-SSL version. http://www.google.com/?nord=1#nor [...]


Google, Android Makers Sued By Apple “Rockstar” Consortium Over Search, AdWords

Google legal Roughly two years ago Google and a consortium of companies competitively bid for the vast patent portfolio of bankrupt Canadian Company Nortel Networks. Google initiated the bidding with $900 million but ultimately was outbid by the Rockstar consortium, consisting of Microsoft, Apple, Blackberry, Ericsson and Sony. Google's final bid was $4.4 billion. Rockstar won the patents for $4.5 billion. Now Google has been sued by Rockstar and two subsidiaries over several of the patents in the former Nortel portfolio: US Patents 6,098,065; 7,236,969; 7,469,245; 7,672,970; 7,895,178; 7,895,183; a [...]


Dear Google Rivals: Do These New Proposals Solve Your Antitrust Concerns? Love, The EU

google-eu-featured Three years into its investigation of Google over antitrust issues relating to search, the European Union took another step closer toward a likely resolution, asking Google rivals and other third-parties to review a settlement proposal. Notably, the general public wasn't invited to participate. The news comes via several reports today. The European Union's Competition agency posted nothing on its website, though the move follows on what it promised to do earlier this month. The Wall Street Journal and Reuters say that 125 companies have been asked to comment on the latest proposal, in [...]


Yahoo-Microsoft Search Tensions On Public Display In Court Ruling

Microsoft has essentially had to sue Yahoo to get the company to fully comply with the terms of their 2010 "Search Alliance" agreement. Yahoo under Marissa Mayer had sought to delay rollouts of Bing search results in Taiwan and Hong Kong, awaiting a new Microsoft CEO. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer resigned ahead of schedule under board pressure because of a growing sense that Microsoft's core businesses were increasingly under siege and the company wasn't making sufficient headway. Former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop is arguably the leading candidate to succeed Ballmer. Regarding the Bing rollou [...]


New Disconnect Tool Enables Private Searches Without Logging Out Of Online Accounts

Disconnect Logo_Oct2013 Online security software provider Disconnect launched their latest search tool, Disconnect Search this week. According to the announcement, Disconnect Search allows users to perform private searches on sites like Google, Yahoo and Bing via their address bar or omnibox, "without having to change their behavior." Disconnect says their new tool routes search queries through the company's servers, making it appear as if the queries are, "coming from Disconnect instead of a specific user's computer." Disconnect's technology also prevents search engines from passing along keywords to the websites [...]


New Google Antitrust Offer A “Significant Improvement” Says EU

Google Europe After Google's competitors loudly complained about the company's antitrust settlement proposal, which displayed three "rival links" to alternative' search results, European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said it would take new "concessions" for Google to successfully settle its antitrust case with Europe. Google has now reportedly made those concessions. Almunia characterized Google's updated settlement offer, submitted last month, as a "significant improvement." According to a Reuters report, "Almunia told lawmakers in the European Parliament he believed the new offer made i [...]


SEO Companies Fined Over Fake Reviews

reviews-240px Several SEO companies have agreed to stop publishing fake online reviews, and will also pay penalties ranging from $2,500 to almost $100,000 as part of settlement announced today with the New York attorney general's office. The AG's year-long investigation ultimately caught 19 companies involved in writing and posting fake online reviews, including numerous small businesses. But the investigation began when the AG's office posed as a yogurt shop and contacted SEO companies asking for help in fighting negative reviews. The investigation revealed that SEO companies were using advanced IP spo [...]


Post-PRISM, Google Confirms Quietly Moving To Make All Searches Secure, Except For Ad Clicks

keywords-not-provided-featured In the past month, Google quietly made a change aimed at encrypting all search activity -- except for clicks on ads. Google says this has been done to provide "extra protection" for searchers, and the company may be aiming to block NSA spying activity. Possibly, it's a move to increase ad sales. Or both. Welcome to the confusing world of Google secure search. Two Years Ago: Secure Searching For Logged-In Users In October 2011, Google began encrypting searches for anyone who was logged into Google. The reason given was privacy. Google said it wanted to block anyone who might potentially be ea [...]


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