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:
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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

Google being investigated by EU over allegations made by Nokia, Microsoft

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According to a new report out of the Financial Times, Google is being investigated by European officials due to allegations that it has anti-competitive deals set up with select smartphone manufacturers. This isn’t the first time Google has run into trouble with the EU, as the company has been investigated for antitrust issues in the past.

Microsoft and Nokia made these allegations and claim that Google is forcing Android manufacturers to delay the launch of devices running their two operating systems. The European Union is also looking into claims that Google requires manufacturers to preload its services on their devices. Read more

No more roaming fees in Europe as of July 2014

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Good news for anyone living in any of the 27 EU countries: as of next July, you’ll pay the same rate for calls and data when travelling within Europe as you do at home, reports The Telegraph.

Consumers will next year be able to use their mobile phones across the European Union for the same price as at home, it is planned, after officials voted to fast-track major reforms of telecoms regulation.

Roaming fees for voice calls, texts and internet access will effectively be completely scrapped under the proposals, which are part of a broader effort to create a single European telecoms market …  Read more

Google Glass teardown: “It’s surprisingly simple”

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What’s the first thing you do when you’ve just picked up your $1500 Google Glass headset? If you’re Scott Torborg and Star Simpsons, it’s apparently to reach for the spudges and screwdrivers …

We eagerly brought Glass back to the lab to begin the dissection. Speculation reigned: what if the entire body of Glass is potted with epoxy requiring strong solvents to access? Which part is the battery in? How hackable is this thing? Where are the sensors? Any extra hardware features yet to be unlocked by future software updates? But first, where to even begin opening it?

With no idea of what lay ahead, we started by removing the titanium frame from the pod that holds all the good stuff …  Read more

Google partners with HP to push Apps to small-medium businesses in blow to Microsoft

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Google has partnered with HP, the world’s largest PC manufacturer, to promote Google Apps to small businesses, reports AllThingsD.

HP has become a Google Apps reseller and will package management tools with its PCs, printers and other IT gear.

Although more than five million businesses use Google Docs, Microsoft Office remains the default solution, with many either unaware of Google Apps or unsure of how to use them. But if you buy a PC and it comes with Google Apps pre-installed, you’re much more likely to give it a try …  Read more