Duck Duck Go’s Post-PRISM Growth Actually Proves No One Cares About “Private” Search

duckduckgo-featured Look out, Google! Duck Duck Go is on the rise, posting a 50% traffic increase in just eight days. Is this proof people want a "private" search engine, in the wake of allegations the PRISM program allows the US government to read search data with unfettered access? Nope. Google has little to worry about. People don't care about search privacy, and Duck Duck Go's growth demonstrates this. Don't get me wrong. If you ask people about search privacy, they'll respond that it's a major issue. Big majorities say they don't want to be tracked nor receive personalized results. But if you look at [...]


Google To State AG’s: We’ve Blocked Over 3 Million Bad Ads From “Rogue Online Pharmacies”

google-cop-police-featured As part of its response to a potential subpoena by the Mississippi attorney general and accusations from The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) earlier this month that Google facilitates the sale of drugs without a prescription, among other illegal transactions,  Google legal director, Adam Barea, says the company has blocked or removed from its systems more than 3 million ads by suspected "rogue pharmacies" in the last two years.   The current complaints from the State Attorneys General focus primarily on Google allowing illegal sites to show in the organic search result [...]


Mississippi Attorney General To Subpoena Google For Illegal Sale Of Prescription Drugs

google-legal-law-featured Mississippi attorney general Jim Hood will subpoena Google records and emails to determine if Google facilitated the sale of drugs without a prescription and other illegal products, including counterfeit copies of movies, games and music. "Google is aiding and abetting criminal activity and putting consumers at risk," says Hood, "This is of grave concern to the chief law enforcement officers of this nation." The attorney general heads an intellectual property section of the National Association of Attorneys General and is urging other attorney generals to follow his lead. According to a [...]


Spurred By PRISM Scandal, StartPage & Ixquick Surpass 3 Million Daily Searches

startpage-ixquick-200px Alternative search engines are having a good week, likely thanks to public awareness and concern over data and privacy issues being raised by the PRISM scandal. StartPage and Ixquick, two small search engines from the same company, announced this week that they surpassed three million daily searches for the first time. More specifically, they hit 3.4 million direct searches on Wednesday (June 12). Ixquick.com is the company's meta search engine that doesn't include Google search results; the company launched StartPage.com in 2009 to provide Google search results with the increased privac [...]


State AGs: Google Still Allows & Profits From Illegal Drug Ads

Google legal The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) is accusing Google of continuing to give consumers access to illegal and counterfeit goods -- including drugs -- in its search results, and is allowing sites that deal in such goods to advertise with Google. NAAG has asked Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page to discuss its concerns at a national meeting of state attorneys general that's happening June 17-19 in Boston. There's no formal statement that I can find on the NAAG website, but both USA Today and the Mississippi Business Journal are quoting that state's AG, Jim Hood, co-chair [...]


Google Refuses Hollywood Studio Requests To De-List File Storage Site Mega

dmca-google In recent weeks, Hollywood studios NBC Universal and Warner Bros both submitted DMCA takedown requests asking Google to de-list the file storage website Mega from its search index. According to a report on TorrentFreak, NBC Universal claimed Mega's homepage  linked to the NBC-owned film Mama, while Warner Bros alleged Mega made pirated copies of its film Gangster Squad available from its website. Since Mega's homepage doesn't link to any files, Google did not remove the website from its search index. Launched in January of this year, Mega is the successor site of Megaupload, a fil [...]


EU Says More Google “Concessions” Needed Before Antitrust Settlement

google-eu-featured The vigorous lobbying efforts of Google critics FairSearch.org and Foundem's SearchNeutrality.org seem to be paying off. Earlier today EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told members of the European Parliament that additional "concessions" would probably be required of Google to settle the antitrust investigation against the company and avoid litigation and potential financial penalties. According to Reuters, Almunia said the following: After [all the settlement proposal feedback is received] we will analyze the responses we have received, we will ask Google, probably, I cannot an [...]


Interflora Wins Five-Year Battle Over Google AdWords Trademark Infringement

interflora-logo The High Court of England and Wales ended a five year legal battle between Marks & Spencer and Interflora yesterday.  The court ruled in favor of flower delivery network Interflora, concluding that retailer Marks & Spencer breached trademark infringement laws by bidding on the keyword "Interflora" in its Google AdWords campaigns. In the European Union, Google allows bidding on trademarked keywords except when the ads are deemed to be misleading and "confusing as to the origin of the advertised goods and service." Yesterday's ruling finds Spencer & Marks in breach of that exc [...]


Hollywood Asks Google To Stop Listing Piracy Documentary, Claiming It’s Piracy Too

dmca-google The recently released TPB AFK: The Pirate Bay - Away from Keyboard, a documentary that sympathizes with the founders of the infamous file sharing website The Pirate Bay, has become the target of fraudulent link takedown requests from major Hollywood Studios, including Viacom, Paramount, Fox and Lionsgate. After its February release on The Pirate Bay website under a Creative Commons license making it free to download, Google has received multiple DMCA takedown requests asking that links to the film be removed from search results. The requests came through anti-piracy firms representing th [...]


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 [...]


Wired Revisits Story Of Federal Sting & $500M Penalty Over Google’s Pharmacy Ads

Wired is telling the story of David Whitaker, a federal prisoner that helped the U.S. government catch Google breaking the law by allowing and helping foreign pharmacies sell drugs via Google AdWords. It's a story you may have heard before; the Wall Street Journal did a similar exposé on Whitaker and the federal sting operation in early 2012. Wired tells how Whitaker used a pseudonym and convinced Google AdWords reps to help him tweak his pharmacy websites so that they'd be approved for AdWords. To prove that Google's behavior was widespread, Whitaker went through a different rep—one [...]


German Court Says Google Must Block Libelous Words Added Via Autocomplete Function

Google Germany In a surprising turn of events, Germany's top civil court overturned two lower court rulings on a case involving Google's autocomplete function. According to the ruling, it is Google's responsibility to block libelous words that appear next to a name via the autocomplete function if Google has been alerted to the defamatory words. The plaintiff in the case was an unidentified nutritional supplements company that filed the lawsuit against Google because the German-language site's autocomplete function was adding the terms "Scientology" and "fraud" to the company's name in search queries. The [...]


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 [...]


Governments Across The Globe Are Making More Requests To Remove Content From Google Services

google-transparency-report According to a new Transparency Report released today, Google received 4,096 government requests to remove 42,249 pieces of content during 2012. The purpose of Google's Transparency Reports is to record the number of worldwide government requests to censor content on Google services, and offer insight into the amount of censorship happening across the globe. The latest report demonstrates an uptick in the number of requests to remove political content, as well as the number of areas where the requests originate. According to Google's announcement, "In this particular time period, we [...]


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 [...]


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 [...]


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