Google Fiber creates thriving startup industry in Kansas City

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Ben Barreth, owner of the Homes for Hackers house

When Google first announced Fiber, thousands of cities jockeyed to be the first test location, but to many people’s dismay, Kansas City was eventually named the winner. For the past year, internet service in the area has been booming thanks to the network, which in turn has made it a popular area for startups and entrepreneurs, according to a new report from CNET. When Google announced Fiber, web designer and Kansas City local Ben Barreth bought a house in the startup district in hopes of being one of the first people to be connected to the network. In order to pay for the house, he started it up as the “Home for Hackers,” which he says is a place for startups and entrepreneurs to rent out a space to work and be connected the incredibly fast internet service. Read more

Google will face fines in France if it doesn’t fix privacy issues within 3 months

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Google has run into trouble with the French government yet again for its privacy tactics. According to a new report from Bloomberg, the company has three months to change its policy surrounding its users’ data to avoid being fined. Five other European countries will supposedly follow France’s actions by the end of July. The country says Google is violating its privacy laws because it “prevents individuals from knowing how their personal data may be used and from controlling such use.”

Google, of course, denies these allegations and said that its “privacy policy respects European law and allows us to create simpler, more effective services” and it has “engaged fully with the data protection authorities involved throughout this process and will continue to do so going forward.”

The French data protection watchdog ordered the company to spell out for users why it collects information “to understand practically the processing of their personal data,” better inform users of its privacy policy, and “define retention periods of personal data processed that do not exceed the period necessary for the purposes for which they are collected.” CNIL is also asking the owner of the Gmail messaging system to request users’ permission for “the potentially unlimited combination” of their data, ask users’ approval to collect their data with tools such as the “Doubleclick” and “Analytics” cookies, “+1” buttons or any other Google service on third-party websites, and “inform users and then obtain their consent in particular before storing cookies in their terminal.”

Google can be fined a maximum of 150,000 euros, or $198,000, and 300,000 euros in for a repeated offense. Spain, the U.K., and Germany are all expected to take action soon, as well. This all comes on the heels of five countries ordering for more information about Google Glass privacy yesterday.  Read more

Google preparing to open ‘Android Nation’ retail stores in India

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Back in February, we reported that Google was preparing to open its own retail stores by the end of the year in order to allow consumers to try Nexus, Chrome and even potentially more experimental products like Google Glass. According to a report today from The Economic Times, Google is in the process of opening new “Android Nation” retail stores in attempt to increase its exposure in India:

The US company will partner BK Modi’s Spice Global to set up the stores in various Indian cities, starting with New Delhi later this year. Like other such stores in Indonesia, each Android Nation store will promote and sell Android smartphones and tablets across multiple brands like Samsung, HTC, Sony, LG and Asus, to name a few. The first Indian store will open in New Delhi’s Select Citywalk, a person with direct knowledge of the situation informed ET. Google has been scouting for a 1,200-1,500 sq ft location for this store.

It actually won’t be the first time Google has opened up an Android Nation retail store. As noted in the report, Google also operates two locations in Jakarta, Indonesia through a partnership with Indonesian electronics retailer Erafone.

Google’s new efforts won’t just hit India, there are also apparently plans to expand into the Middle East, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Africa with the help of partner Spice Global. The company will also turn 50 of its 900 Spice Hotspots into Android Nation locations to expedite the expansion. Read more

Google’s top legal chief says the company is not ‘in cahoots’ with the NSA

David Drummond, Google's top legal chief

David Drummond, Google’s top legal chief

A lot of false facts were spread around when the original news regarding the NSA’s relationship with technology companies broke. Since then, Google, Apple, and other others have been on a mission to repair their public image. In an interview with the Guardian, Google’s top legal chief reaffirmed the fact that the company is not “in cahoots” with the NSA, nor does it give the government direct access to its servers.

“We’re not in cahoots with the NSA and there is no government programme that Google participates in that allows the kind of access that the media originally reported,” David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer, said. “There is no free-for-all, no direct access, no indirect access, no back door, no drop box,” Drummond reaffirmed.

“We didn’t know [Prism] existed,” he said, suggesting that Google was just as surprised by the leaked reports as citizens were. Read more

Google’s Waze acquisition could be in danger because of risky filing tactics

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The idea that Google could lose ownership of Waze less than ten days after buying it for a rumored billion dollars might sound incredible, but that’s the intriguing possibility raised by a law professor from Ohio State University writing in the New York Times.

The law requires companies to make what’s known as a Hart-Scott-Rodino filing for any intended acquisition so that the proposed deal can be checked for anti-trust issues before it takes place. Google apparently didn’t make this filing.

According to a person close to Google, the company skipped the Hart-Scott-Rodino filing by relying on an exemption. This filing is not required if the acquisition is of a foreign company that has sales and assets in the United States of less than $60.9 million. Waze is an Israeli company with headquarters in Silicon Valley, so it comes under this test.

Waze probably doesn’t have $50 million in revenue worldwide, yet the test also looks at assets. Given that Waze is worth $1 billion, it is hard to see that the value of its intellectual property in the United States business doesn’t meet the test. And the F.T.C. has previously indicated that companies should include this type of intellectual property in informal guidance …  Read more

Data-protection authorities in five countries raise Google Glass privacy concerns with the company

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Data-protection authorities in Australia, Canada, Israel, Mexico and New Zealand have written a joint letter to Google CEO Larry Page expressing concerns about Google Glass, and asking the company eight specific questions about the product, reports ZDNet.

As you have undoubtedly noticed, Google Glass has been the subject of many articles that have raised concerns about the obvious, and perhaps less obvious, privacy implications of a device that can be worn by an individual and used to film and record audio of other people.  Fears of ubiquitous surveillance of individuals by other individuals, whether through such recordings or through other applications currently being developed, have been raised.  Questions about Google’s collection of such data and what it means in terms of Google’s revamped privacy policy have also started to appear …  Read more

Google wishes to clear its name after NSA crisis, claims First Amendment protects it

The NSA's $2b data centre in Bluffdale, Utah (source: businessweek.com)

The NSA’s $2b data centre in Bluffdale, Utah (source: businessweek.com)

Last week, we reported on a letter Google had sent to the U.S. government in which it asked for the release of national security request data. A week later, the company is now asking for the secretive Foreign Intelligence Court to lift a gag order, claiming that it has the constitutional right to clear its name after openly discussing government data requests.

A Google spokesperson says the company is asking the court to let it “publish aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures, separately,” because “lumping national security requests together with criminal requests – as some companies have been permitted to do – would be a backward step for our users.” Google is essentially asking for more leeway to describe its relationship with the government following the NSA leak two weeks ago. It wants to publish the total numbers of requests the court makes and which users are affected. The company says that the First Amendment gives it the right to disclose the information it is forced to hand over to the government.

The full statement from Google follows:
Read more

Technology will enable us to be immortal within 20 years, says Google’s head engineer

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Google engineering director Ray Kurzweil, never a man to shy away from bold predictions about the future, says he believes that advances in medical technology will enable human beings to be immortal within 20 years.

Speaking at the Global Future 2045 World Congress, CNBC reports (via BGR) Kurzweil’s prediction that the pace of medical developments will be such that life expectancy will be continually extended such that we will never die.

The life expectancy was 20 years 1,000 years ago. … We doubled it in 200 years. This will go into high gear within 10 and 20 years from now, probably less than 15 we will be reaching that tipping point where we add more time than has gone by because of scientific progress …  Read more

Digg’s Google Reader replacement to launch publicly on June 26, here’s what it looks like

When Google announced it was shutting down Reader, struggling web company Digg announced that they would develop a replacement service. In a blog post on Monday, the company announced that its much-awaited RSS service would open to the public on June 26th.

The service, which will be called Digg Reader, will have very basic functions, including a feature that allows users to vote stories to the top that they believe are important. When the company surveyed more than 18,000 users, many wanted the service to be clean, simple, and fast. Digg, of course, says it has met all of those demands.

Within 60 days of the launch, many features will continue to be released, including: Read more

Samsung / Jay-Z partnership is official, yielding free music for some Samsung smartphone owners

Update: The App is now live.

As expected, last night during game 5 of the NBA Finals Samsung confirmed its partnership with media mogul Jay-Z by running a 3-minute commercial.  The video showed Jay working on a new album and closed with Samsung’s “The Next Big Thing is Here” slogan and directing fans to MagnaCartaHolyGrail.com.

Screen Shot 2013-06-17 at 8.30.07 AMThe website features a countdown to July 4th, when Jay-Z’s new album will be released, alongside images on him working on the album and they even sneaked a close-up of a Galaxy next to Jay’z signature gold chains.  The first million Galaxy S 3/4 and Note II owners to download the customized Magna Carta app on June 24th will receive a free copy of the new album when it is released on July 4th.

Samsung reportedly paid upwards of $20 million to launch this partnership with Jay-Z.  Exact details of the deal are unknown, but at that price-tag we’re assuming there is more to come from this partnership.

Google’s new initiatives to block child pornography praised by child protection officials

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Google has been praised by child protection organisations for two initiatives it hopes will make it easier to eradicate child pornography from the web, reports UK newspaper The Telegraph.

Google’s initiatives take two forms. First, the creation of an image-flagging database accessible to all tech companies, so that any image identified as child sexual abuse can be blocked across the web. Second, a $2m fund available to software developers to create tools to combat the problem.

John Carr, a government adviser on child internet safety, said: “Google have stepped up. No one can argue about that. In all my time working in this space no company has ever devoted anything like this level of resources to working with civil society organisations to attack online child abuse images.”

Susie Hargreaves, chief executive officer of the Internet Watch Foundation, which is part-funded by Google, said: “This announcement is inspiring for those who are at the forefront of tackling child sexual abuse content. We know that the best way to tackle what is some of the most horrific content online is by working with others from all over the world to combat this on a global platform.” …  Read more

Google unveils latest moonshot: balloon-powered Internet access

We’ve seen several reports of Google wanting to bring Internet access to emerging-countries, and the company has now announced a project that will greatly help it accomplish that goal. In a post on the official Google blog,  Mike Cassidy announced the next “moonshot” from Google’s mysterious X lab, balloon-powered Internet access.

Google believes that it might be possible to build a ring of balloons that travel around the globe on the stratospheric winds and provide Internet service to the earth below. The company does warn us that this idea is still in the very early days of development, but says that it has built a system that uses balloons carried by winds at altitudes as high as planes and beams Internet at speeds as fast or faster than current 3G networks.  Read more