Google slams News Corp, The Wall Street Journal for ‘inaccuracies’

GOOG FTC

Google is no stranger to publicly responding to News Corp after the media company issued a letter last year claiming Google was engaged in unfair business practices, and today Google is once again slamming News Corp for what it’s calling inaccuracies in a recent article about the company.

In a blog post on its Public Policy blog, Google’s SVP Communications and Policy Rachel Whetstone takes apart a recent article in The Wall Street Journal profiling Google’s antitrust probe by the FTC and provides counterpoints to what she says are inaccuracies in the report: Read more

Google partners with Johnson & Johnson to build advanced surgical robots

A surgeon uses Google Glass during an operation

Google has teamed up with Johnson & Johnson-owned Ethicon to help create more advanced robotics technology for surgical use, the Wall Street Journal reported today. The Mountain View tech giant hopes to tackle the software side of the issue by creating machine vision technology to help doctors more easily guide and control surgical equipment.

Google has been pushing further into the areas of medicine, health, and fitness in recent years, with entire divisions in its Google X lab focused on creating technology like nanobots that can detect cancer. The Glass project has also been integrated into some surgical procedures and other medical applications.

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Millions of British Apple users able to sue Google over secretly-dropped cookies

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Update: A class action suit has now been funded by a major US law firm, allowing any qualifying UK user to join the action at no cost. You can complete a qualifying questionnaire here.

A not-for-profit company, Google Action Group Ltd, has been set up to manage the case which is seeking to win between £400 and £4000 in compensation for each claimant who used a .  It has appointed Hausfeld, Europe’s leading claimant firm, to challenge Google on behalf of all those Apple users in England and Wales who used the Safari browser on Apple computers, iPod Touches, iPads, and iPhones during the infringing period of Summer 2011 to about 17th February 2012.
The Google Action Group is seeking more members of the public to sign up for the legal action.  The public can join the action for  free, because the costs will be met by a £2.5m pot of money being put up by a major US litigation funding firm.

UK Apple users have been given the go-ahead to sue Google for continuing to drop cookies on their devices even after they had refused permission through their Safari browser settings.

It was revealed in 2012 that Google bypassed the setting in Safari which instructed sites not to drop cookies, enabling it to deliver personalized ads. The FTC in the US fined the company $22.5M for the practice, with millions more in additional fines levied by 38 US states. There was no government action in the UK, but a group of British iPhone users took Google to court, seeking compensation for breaching their privacy.

Google had attempted to have the case dismissed, claiming that there was no case to answer as the plaintiffs had not suffered any financial harm, but the UK’s Court of Appeal has rejected this argument, allowing the case to proceed …

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FTC denies that decision to clear Google of antitrust charges was “a close call”

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The Federal Trade Commission has issued a statement denying the WSJ‘s suggestion that the decision to clear Google of anti-competitive behavior was “a close call.”

The WSJ yesterday obtained part of one of the investigative reports, which included a sentence reading “Although it is a close call, we do not recommend that the Commission issue a complaint against Google for this conduct.”

As we stated when the investigation was closed, the Commission concluded that Google’s search practices were not, “on balance, demonstrably anticompetitive.”

Contrary to recent press reports, the Commission’s decision on the search allegations was in accord with the recommendations of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, Bureau of Economics, and Office of General Counsel.

The FTC describes the WSJ story as “misleading” …  Read more

Google, Apple & other large tech companies urge the White House & Congress not to renew the Patriot Act

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Google is one of ten tech giants to once again call on the US Government not to reauthorize the Patriot Act in its current form. The Act expires on 1st June unless it is renewed by Congress. Google was joined by Apple, AOL, Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo.

In an open letter to President Obama, NSA Director Admiral Rogers and other prominent government figures, the companies urge Congress to end the bulk collection of communications metadata–the logs that determine how and when ordinary citizens contact each other.

The letter says that mass surveillance must end, and that a revised bill must contain mechanisms to ensure that future government surveillance is both transparent and accountable …  Read more

Leaked FTC report on Google’s business practices provides fascinating look behind the scenes

File photo shows people walking by a YouTube sign at the new Google office in Toronto

Half of a 2012 FTC report on Google’s business practices has been “inadvertently disclosed” in an open records request by the WSJ. Bizarrely, what was leaked was every other page of the report. MarketingLand’s Danny Sullivan has been busy reading the report and tweeting some of the things revealed by it.

The FTC eventually concluded that Google had not violated antitrust laws by favoring its own services over that of rivals, but found it was “a close call.”

Google did, for example, promote its own services in search results …  Read more

WSJ: Google spent $16.8 million on lobbying in 2014, has almost weekly meetings at the White House

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The Wall Street Journal has published a new report highlighting the reach that Google has in the United States government. According to the report, Google employees have visited the White House 230 times since President Obama took office. That comes out to an average of roughly once a week. For comparison’s sake, Comcast employees have met at the White House just 20 times since Obama’s inauguration.

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Google hires Morgan Stanley’s Ruth Porat as new CFO

Ruth Porat

Google announced this morning that the company will soon have a new person filling the CFO role. Ruth Porat, who currently serves as chief financial officer at the finance firm Morgan Stanley, will take over for Patrick Pichette starting May 26th. “I look forward to learning from Ruth as we continue to innovate in our core–from search and ads, to Android, Chrome and YouTube–as well as invest in a thoughtful, disciplined way in our next generation of big bets,” Google CEO Larry Page said in the announcement. Read more

More information from FTC investigation reveals details of Google’s unfair search result tactics

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The Wall Street Journal today published a report highlighting an investigation done by the Federal Trade Commission that began in early 2013. The investigation centered around how Google skewed search results in an effort to promote its own services over competitors. Google, according to the FTC report, was accused of boosting its services for shopping, travel, and local businesses.

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Google moving up-market with Android Wear, announcing Tag Heuer smartwatch partnership with Intel

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While Android Wear has not yet set the world alight, Google is not sitting idly by while Apple grabs all the media attention with its Apple Watch. The company has announced a deal with Tag Heuer and Intel to create a smartwatch version of one of the watchmaker’s best-selling models, the Carrera.

TAG Heuer, Google and Intel have announced a partnership to launch a Swiss smartwatch powered by Intel technology and Android Wear. The effort signifies a new era of collaboration between Swiss watchmakers and Silicon Valley, bringing together each company’s respective expertise in luxury watchmaking, software and hardware.

While the company did not go into details, Reuters reports that the watch “will be a digital replica of the original Tag Heuer black Carrera, known for its bulky, sporty allure, and will look like the original.”

Sincere or not, Tag Heuer CEO Jean-Claude Biver says that he welcomes the launch of the Apple Watch …  Read more

Google aiming to have its self-driving car on the market by 2020

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Google’s self-driving car initiative may not be as far off as many might think. During a talk at the TED conference in Vancouver, Google’s head of self-driving cars Chris Urmson said that his team is working to launch the technology onto the market by 2020 (that year may sound familiar if you’ve followed the Apple Car rumors). The executive said that he has an 11-year-old son that could be eligible to get his license in 4 and a half years, although he hopes that won’t be needed thanks to the availability of self-driving cars. “My team and I are committed to making sure that doesn’t happen,” Urmson said (via Re/Code).

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