government Stories March 16, 2016

Google Hangouts now lets App customers video chat with up to 25 participants

You’ll soon be able to hold video chat meetings with much larger groups as today Google begins increasing the number of participants Apps customers can have in a Google Hangouts video call at any one time. The old limit of 10 participants today gets increased to 25 users.

The change comes to Apps customers only— Business, Government, and Education—  while all other Hangouts users will still have the old limit of 10 participants for video.

Google notes that it will only show “the 10 most active video call participants” along the bottom of the video chat to maintain quality, but it will switch on the fly between active users for the new limit of up to 25 participants.

All Apps customers should start to see the new participant limit increase roll out over the next few days.

government Stories May 21, 2015

app-store

A multinational government group known as the Five Eyes intelligence alliance – the spy group comprising Canada, the U.S., Britain, Australia and New Zealand – planned to hack Android phones by compromising both Google and Samsung app stores. The plan was revealed in newly-released Snowden files dating back to 2012, reports CBC News.

Five Eyes specifically sought ways to find and hijack data links to servers used by Google and Samsung’s mobile app stores [trying] to find ways to implant spyware on smartphones by intercepting the transmissions sent when downloading or updating apps.

The alliance planned to begin by analyzing traffic to the stores to identify the Internet usage habits of targets (such as which apps they used), but the ultimate goal was to plant spyware that would enable them to extract data from targeted smartphones, or even to take control of them …  expand full story

government Stories May 8, 2015

google

Several Google executives held a question and answer session on Reddit today to address (and avoid) a variety of different topics. Perhaps most notably, the Google executives voiced their support for the federal appeals court ruling on Thursday that said bulk collection of telephone records by the NSA is not lawful.

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government Stories February 20, 2015

google

Last year, the Italian government gave Google 18 months to reform its tata collection policies and change the way it stores and treats that user data. The Wall Street Journal reports today that Google has now agreed to allow the Italian government to perform spot checks at its Mountain View headquarters. The regulator will get quarterly updates from Google and have the ability to send someone  to Mountain View for “on-the-spot checks.”

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government Stories February 18, 2015

Google-London-Lede

The US government is seeking to have more regulatory control over the digital realm, and many tech companies are taking a stand. Google is definitely one of those, taking to its Public Policy Blog today to tell the world about proposed changes to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 41, a procedural rule that sets limits on search warrants. The Advisory Committee on the Rules of Criminal Procedure, at the request of the Department of Justice, is proposing a big change to this rule, and Google says it could be a “monumental” threat to constitutional rights.

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government Stories August 21, 2014

Mikey-Dickerson-Video

After spending a lot of his time keeping Google’s servers running smoothly, Mikey Dickerson is officially a government employee. After resolving launch issues with HealthCare.gov last year, the White House asked the former Googler to be its deputy chief information officer of the federal government and administrator of the United States Digital Services Team.

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government Stories May 19, 2014

Google-Fiber-24-cities

Tom Wheeler — the Chairman of the FCC, the federal commission currently in the middle of a firestorm surrounding net neutrality — today praised Google for its checklist of requirements for cities to meet that are interested in working with Google to roll out fiber networking.

Google’s checklist includes various measures and decisions that help enable the company to quickly add their fiber services to a city or municipality. Wheeler specifically cites this as something that the FCC should look into, as it effectively cuts through red tape and speeds up deployment of faster service: expand full story

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 11.39.30 AM

There is a United States federal agency that specializes in collecting and cataloguing scientific research papers of all kinds. The NTIS — National Technical Information Service — will serve up files or paper copies of these records for $25 or $73, respectively. The issue, as pointed out by NPR, is that most of these records are available for free elsewhere, and are easier to find with Google than with the NTIS’ outdated website. And so, ever the enemy of a wasteful budget, Tom Coburn has introduced the Let Me Google That For You Act of 2014 to abolish the NTIS. expand full story

government Stories March 21, 2014

eric-schmidt

Google chariman Eric Schmidt joined a group of tech CEOs who met with the president and members of the administration today to discuss the implementation of recently-announced changes in the National Security Administration’s spying practices. Other CEOs in the group represented Facebook, Dropbox, Netflix, and more. Along with the president were several advisors and councilors, including the Deputy Director of the NSA.

The executives were updated on the status of changes to the NSA’s spying policies that were first detailed last year and continued to be further expanded upon in recent months. These CEOs were among those who signed an open letter to the federal government comdemning the unwarranted sue of spying tactics to intercept and store communications sent via various online platforms.

Earlier this week Google’s Larry Page also discussed the NSA and issues of privacy during the TED conference.

government Stories February 27, 2014

Following reports last night when the device was spotted going through the FCC, Reuters reports Boeing today officially announced a new Android smartphone with a number of innovative security features. Dubbed “Boeing Black,” the device will be marketed towards government officials and other organizations that highly value keeping their data secure. The tamper-proof device builds in a number of security features for encrypting calls and more and is designed to wipe itself clean of any data if someone attempts to open the physical casing of the phone. Here’s a bit more from Boeing’s website: expand full story

government Stories January 17, 2014

Maryland transitioning 54,000 state employees to Google Apps for Government

Over the last year Google has been signing up a lot of government agencies to make the switch to Google Apps for email and Google’s other cloud-based apps and services. Today Google and the state of Maryland announced in a blog post that all 54,000 state employees will be transitioning to the Google Apps for Government platform as a replacement for old Microsoft Exchange and Novell mail servers:

With Google Apps for Government, all state government data and emails remain in a secure cloud that is compliant with FISMA standards. With over 50 different CIOs working in different agencies, Google Apps allows Maryland to manage security from one central point. Instead of each agency buying and running its own security systems, now Google lets us secure data on a global, enterprise-wide scale. From a central IT point of view, Google Apps lets us execute mobile device management and data leak prevention across all agencies, as well as track every email and document. Previously, each individual IT department had to install appliances to manage these issues on their own.

Deputy CIO and CTO of the State of Maryland Gregory Urban explains that over 2,000 State Police officers have also adopted Google Apps and currently use Google Drive’s Docs, Forms, and Spreadsheets web apps to file reports for arrests and investigations. “A sergeant’s weekly reporting job that used to take 6-7 hours now takes less than an hour, freeing up officers to focus on more mission critical tasks.”

Over the last year and a half Google has signed up other government agencies in Colorado, Boston, Utah, the US Naval Academy, and more.

government Stories December 8, 2013

PRISM-slide

The Wall Street Journal reports that Google has joined Microsoft, Twitter, Apple, Yahoo!, Facebook, and other giants in the tech industry in calling for a reform of the NSA’s surveillance tactics. Earlier this year it was revealed that the National Security Agency was using information from these companies and more to monitor citizens across the nation without warrants.

The companies allegedly involved in the “PRISM” program denied turning over any user data to the government, but a leaked NSA slidedeck (seen above) seemed to imply the opposite.

The new collaborative campaign, called Reform Government Surveillance, cites five driving principles in its drive to curb excessive government spying:

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government Stories June 19, 2013

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. expand full story

government Stories June 17, 2013

SAMSUNG CSC

Earlier this month, we told you about government officials calling on major tech companies to improve anti-theft features of their devices. At WWDC this year, Apple did just that and announced its new Activation Lock feature. Now, all eyes have shifted to the other large smartphone manufacturer, Samsung. According to a report out of Korean site MK, Samsung is set to launch its anti-theft features for smartphones as early as July.

The feature will essentially be a kill switch that will allow carriers, manufacturers, and even the government to remotely wipe, lock, and disable any smartphone that has been stolen. Once this is done, the device would be rendered useless, even when a new SIM card is installed.

A kill switch is exactly what government officials called for earlier this month, and what it and manufacturers likely discussed when they met last week at a “smartphone summit” to talk about mobile security.  expand full story

government Stories May 10, 2013

Google Apps Logo Ring hires

Google has been signing up a lot of Google Apps for Government customers over the last year, including Colorado and the US Naval Academy, and today The Boston Globe reports that Boston is soon making the switch from Microsoft to a Google Apps environment for city employees.

As noted in the report, Boston was previously relying on Microsoft’s Exchange for much of its tasks and making the switch to Google will save the city around $280,000 a year:

It’s not just the gee whiz factor: It’s also a matter of money. It will cost Boston around $800,000 to move over to Gmail, Google Docs for word processing, and Google’s cloud service for storing documents. But by dropping some Microsoft products, the city government will save at least $280,000 a year.

Microsoft responded to the decision in a statement to the Boston Globe, claiming, “Google’s investments in these areas are inadequate, and they lack the proper protections most organizations require.” expand full story

government Stories December 3, 2012

FreeandOpenWeb

Father of the Internet and Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf took to the company’s Public Policy Blog today to urge people to join the freeandopenweb.com petition hours before a closed-door meeting with governments and the International Telecommunication Union in Dubai. Google launched the Free and Open Web campaign in response to what it called the ITU and governments attempts to “further regulate the internet.” As noted by Cerf in the post, the ITU is holding a conference in Dubai from Dec. 3 to Dec. 14 that would “revise a decades-old treaty, in which only governments have a vote.” Late last week, Cerf outlined some of the topics rumored to be discussed at the meetings:

Some of these governments are trying to use a closed-door meeting of The International Telecommunication Union that opens on December 3 in Dubai to further their repressive agendas. Accustomed to media control, these governments fear losing it to the open internet. They worry about the spread of unwanted ideas. They are angry that people might use the internet to criticize their governments. expand full story

government Stories November 6, 2012

Late last night, Google’s Sergey Brin took to his Google+ account to post his thoughts on the eve of the U.S. elections and offer a plea to the winner. Brin explained he is “dreading today’s elections,” while describing government as “a giant bonfire of partisanship”:

I must confess, I am dreading today’s elections…Not because of who might win or lose…Not because as a Californian, my vote for President will count 1/3 as much as an Alaskan (actually it won’t matter at all — I’m not in a swing state)…Not because my vote for Senate will count 1/50 as much as an Alaskan…But because no matter what the outcome, our government will still be a giant bonfire of partisanship

His request for the winner? Withdraw from any political party and govern independently:  expand full story

government Stories February 3, 2012

The United States government traditionally prefers BlackBerries for their security features and it is known for barring its employees from sending classified messages using smartphones that do not meet security certifications. That is changing, though, as Uncle Sam is putting forth a test program that will see some U.S. officials, including troops, use smartphones running a modified version of Google’s Android software rather than a commercial one.

This modified Android version will be installed on commercially available phones sporting hardware that meets certain security criteria. According to “people involved in the project” who spoke to CNN, the forked Android version with added security features will let U.S. troops and government workers handle classified government documents over cellular networks. These secure devices will be first deployed to U.S. Army that has been testing touchscreen smartphones and tablets for nearly two years. Later, secure Android phones will arrive to certain federal agencies that will use them to send and receive government cables, the report noted.

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government Stories November 29, 2011

According to a report from Politico earlier this month, Google was considering quitting the U.S. Chamber of Commerce due to their support of the Stop Online Piracy Act. Now, a new project known as GoogleQuitTheChamber.org is urging everyone to petition Google and vote for the best reason they should quit the Chamber. The project’s tagline– “The Chamber’s policies are evil, Google– Don’t be evil”.

Together, we will work to hold the world’s corporations accountable to the public interest and move our global economic system towards social equity, democratic principles, and long-term sustainability. By signing our petition to Google, you’ll join SumOfUs’s email list. We’ll send you opportunities to fight corporate power and build a better, safer, more democratic world about once a week.

When visiting the site’s homepage (which looks suspiciously like a Google site), you’ll be greeted with the petition, and you’ll also be able to +1 the most important reasons Google should quit the chamber. Currently the leading reasons to quit include “The Financial Crisis” with 16.83% of votes, and “Corporate Greed” with 14.85%. Other reasons range from intellectual property to climate change, invasion of privacy, and healthcare reform, but the site allows you to submit your own as well. While highlighting some of Google’s work to protect the environment and advance open internet policies, the “Where Google Stands” page notes Chamber of Commerce’s views are in “direct conflict with Google’s mission”.

The project was started by SumOfUs.org, a “global movement of consumers, investors, and workers” who say they stand for “Governments that answer to citizens – not corporations”. They correctly point out that in 2009 Apple quit the Chamber over environmental concerns, while Nike quit the board of the Chamber shortly after, and Yahoo recently quit over internet censorship legislation. So what’s so bad about the chamber? SumOfUs explains their stance: expand full story

government Stories October 10, 2011

Over the past 60 hours, Chinese officials have begun blocking Gmail and the Android Market running on Android devices reports Penn Olson. In the report, Penn Olson says that Gmail can’t send a single email and the Market is incredibly slow, making it utterly useless. The ban is currently taking place across many ISPs and mobile carriers around the country.

As the report mentions, this ban won’t affect that many Android users in China. Many use other email providers and other app markets that have been made available. But at any rate, why would China begin to make this move? Now there’s no confirming this.. but what if it was a possibility:

Come to think of it, it might be related to how Google+ this weekend enabled the Dalai Lama to chat with the Archbishop Desmond Tutu – a virtual equivalent of the planned face-to-face birthday meeting in South Africa that Chinese authorities were so utterly desperate to stop.

..just a little something to think about.

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