Tag Archives: Apple

Huge Fine Against Google For Violating Privacy Is Imminent

Apple Safari icon

The other day the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a strongly worded report condemning Google’s privacy violations and the company’s deliberate obstruction of an investigation into the gathering of sensitive data off personal computers. 

The FCC was deeply disturbed by what Google did but they’re hands were pretty much tied and couldn’t take serious action against Google. The federal agency fined Google $25,000 for impeding their investigation and they said what Google did was technically not illegal. According to PCWorld, this is because the laws are not up-to-date with technology. What Google did was obviously an invasion of privacy and SHOULD be illegal but Google seems to have gotten away scot-free because there aren’t laws that protect Americans from criminals who steal their personal data off unencrypted Wi-Fi networks.

Anyway, I came across an article yesterday by the Mercury News stating that Google is about to be hit hard by another federal agency, this time it’s the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). As you all should already know, the FTC has been in the middle of conducting their investigation on Google’s illegal circumvention of Apple’s Safari Web browser.

The Wall Street Journal exposed Google back in February for deliberately bypassing the privacy and security settings of Safari users. Apple set the default setting on its Safari browser to maximum security to protect their users from tracking companies – Google hated this and used a secret code to bypass this security setting. This exposed millions of Safari users to tracking for months without them every knowing about it. Immediately after the Journal released their story several lawsuits against Google popped up.

Now, according to the Mercury News, the major fine against Google is imminent. The newspaper spoke to a source who says that the FTC will take action against Google within a month. The FTC already has a consent order against Google which was put in place late last year. Google violated the privacy of their users when they launched their failed social networking tool called “Buzz”. After an investigation, Google agreed to a settlement that would require the company to regularly submit a compliance report to the FTC and they agreed to two decades of close monitoring from the FTC.  Google also promised never to violate the privacy of their users or any company’s users – evidently they couldn’t keep their promise.

Google faces a fine of $16,000 per violation per day. There were millions of Apple users affected and victimized by this invasion of privacy so you can imagine that the fine could be colossal. Let’s hope the FTC puts Google in its place and hits them hard – Google definitely deserves it.

For more information:

PCWorld, “Google Says Snooping on Wi-Fi Networks Isn’t Illegal” – click here

Mercury News, “Google target of new federal privacy probe” – click here

Computerworld, “Privacy watchdog, lawmaker push for Google probe” – click here

The Register, “Google faces WHOPPING FTC fine for Safari privacy gaffe” – click here

The Hill, “FTC official: Sharing on social sites ‘can’t be forced’” – click here

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Android Device Makers Are “Mutinying”

Android Robot. Français : le logo d'android 日本...

There is an interesting article that appeared on the MIT Technology Review which claims that manufactures are getting increasingly annoyed with Google’s limitations on what they can do.

Google doesn’t actually make its own smartphones, in the same way Apple does, the company just produces the software and lets handset makers use it for free. Google makes money off its Android operating system from advertising. By producing their own operating system and getting into the market, Google is securing they maintain a presence on mobile devices.

But now, according to the article, manufactures want to break free from Google’s restrictions on them. In order to be considered an official Android phone, device manufactures must satisfy very specific requirements and get permission from Google. They cannot uniquely alter the Android software in any way – if they do Google will not grant them license or consider their device compatible.

Manufactures are complaining that there is nothing that sets them apart from all the other device makers who have Google’s operating system running. They say it’s hurting their business in some areas and are fed-up with being mere vehicles for Google’s Android.

Some of these manufactures are planning to distinguish themselves from everybody else by altering the Android software to make it their own. It will not satisfy Google’s requirements or make them part of the official Android lineup, but it will make them stand out from the rest.

The manufactures seem to be emboldened by success of Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet which has its own custom operating system build on modified Android software.

Uh oh – the manufactures are mad as hell and they’re not gonna take it anymore…

For more information:

Technology Review, “Android Device Makers Are Mutinying, Says Insider” – click here

Fudzilla, “Android makers tell Google to fork off” – click here

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How To Keep Your Personal Data Private On Your Smartphone

Apple iPhone 3GS, Motorola Milestone and LG GW60

Yesterday I published a post on the Consumer Reports survey which found that majority of Internet users are concerned about apps gaining access to their personal information on their smartphones. This is actually a very serious problem and several companies have been caught collecting sensitive data off smartphones without the knowledge of the owners.

You need to take your online safety seriously, especially on those little devices most of us are carrying around everywhere nowadays. Many people say their life is in their smartphones – every little detail about themselves and it’s all so vulnerable.

There are important things you can do to protect yourself though. I always say that knowledge is power and if you know better you do better. USA Today republished an excellent article by Tecca - it warns you about some of the major threats to your smartphone and provides some useful tips to keep you safe.

If you’re an owner of a smartphone, it’s definitely something you should read – click here

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Apple’s Share Price Finally Overtakes Google

Steve Jobs shows off the white iPhone 4 at the...

It might not really mean much but it’s definitely something the late Steve Jobs would have been proud to see. Yesterday, Thursday April 5th, Apple’s share price finally passed Google’s for the first time in its history. At 12:26 p.m. EST Apple’s share price was at $633.07 overtaking Google’s at $633.

By the end of the day, Apple closed at $633.68 and Google at $632.32. Apple has done very well recently and it seems like it can only get better. Google, however, has been struggling a lot. This year has not been a good year for Google so far. We’ll see how things end up.

 

For more information:

CNNMoney, “Apple overtakes Google” – click here

The Register, “Apple’s stock price swells above stuttering Google” – click here

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Wikipedia Announces That It Will Also Ditch Google Maps For OpenStreetMap

Image representing Wikipedia as depicted in Cr...

Earlier this month, I published a post about Apple and other companies ditching Google Maps for a free open source mapping project called OpenStreetMap – to catch up on that post, please click here.

Today, Wikipedia announced that it too will be ditching Google Maps and replacing it with OpenStreetMap. This is great news for the crowdsourced mapping project which is getting better by the day and gaining more support from major companies.

In updates it released today, Wikipedia says that it is releasing an all new application for the iPhone and it’s removing Google Maps to replace it with OpenStreetMap on the Android – which to me is a perfect match. Wikipedia is a high quality free crowdsourced site and OpenStreetMap functions in the same way but for maps. It’s a match that is meant to be and the Wikimedia Foundation acknowledged this in a statement:

“Previous versions of our application used Google Maps for the nearby view. This has now been replaced with OpenStreetMaps - an open and free source of Map Data that has been referred to as ‘Wikipedia for Maps.’ This closely aligns with our goal of making knowledge available in a free and open manner to everyone. This also means we no longer have to use proprietary Google APIs in our code, which helps it run on the millions of cheap Android handsets that are purely open source and do not have the proprietary Google applications.”

Their motivation for moving away from Google Maps doesn’t seem to be about price though, which was the reason other companies have ditched Google Maps. They say it’s more about reaching a greater number of people and making themselves more accessible.

For more information:

The Next Web, “Wikipedia updates iOS and Android apps, ditches Google Maps…” – click here

TPM, “Wikipedia Drops Google Maps For OpenStreetMap” – click here

TechCrunch, “Wikipedia’s Mobile Apps Drop Google Maps for OpenStreetMap” – click here

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Embarrassing, Apple Is Responsible For The Vast Majority Of Google’s Mobile Revenue

Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

There are new revelations about the health of Google’s mobile business and it looks like Google is in really bad shape. Thanks to documents submitted in the legal battle between Google and Oracle over patents, the public gets a new look at exactly how well Google’s Android is performing.

Google is secretive about letting the public know about how much revenue Android brings in – but now we know that Android actually doesn’t make much money for Google at all. Google’s overall 2011 revenues totaled about $40 billion and much of that is from ads from search results on desktop computers. Very little of Google’s overall revenues is from mobile.

According to The Guardian, Android generated less than $550 million between 2008 and 2011 – pitiful. Google produces the Android software which it then gives away for free to handset makers to sell. Google makes its money from ad revenue on the mobile devices and from applications on Google Play (formerly known as Android Market), which is doing extremely poorly compared to Apple’s App store.

Here is where it gets particularly interesting – Google actually makes more money from Apple’s mobile devices than it does from its own Android powered smartphones! Now isn’t that hilarious, ha-ha, especially considering the recent bad blood between Google and Apple.

Apple is responsible for generating more than four times as much revenue for Google! This is because at least half of all smartphone owners use an Apple device and Google is the default search engine. Apple also extensively used Google Maps – but as recently told Google to get lost and is now using a mixture of its own acquired mapping technology and free crowdsourced mapping.

Who knew that Apple had such a big role in Google’s mobile business?

Majority of Google’s mobile traffic can be credited to Apple. Google should be grateful to Apple for being so helpful, but Google treats Apple like crap. Google expressed its gratitude to Apple by trying to impose itself into Apple’s territory, which infuriated Apple.

What did Apple do as payback?

Apple no longer extensively uses Google Maps, Apple added other search engines as alternative options to Google’s, and Apple appears to be ditching Google altogether in China (a huge and attractive market). And we all know about how Apple set its Safari Web browser default to automatically block third-party tracking cookies  - however, it was exposed last month that Google illegally circumvented this security feature, but is now facing countless lawsuits from Apple users.

Psst…hey Google…don’t bite that hand that feeds you.

For more information:

The Guardian, “Google’s Android has generated just $550m since 2008, figures suggest” – click here

AppleInsider, “Google earns 80% of its mobile revenue from iOS, just 20% from Android” – click here

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Apple Makes Business More Difficult For Google In China

Apple Inc.

Apple Inc. (Photo credit: marcopako )

It is being reported that Apple will be ditching Google in China and replacing it with Baidu as the default search engine. Baidu is the dominant search engine provider in China with a market share estimated at 78%, while Google doesn’t even come close to that number.

Apple’s new operating system will integrate various popular Chinese Internet services – this will make it more attractive for consumers. This will further weaken Google in China, which is a huge loss for the company because the Chinese market is a very attractive one. Apple is making it even more difficult for Google to get its foot in the door. Apple also plans to ditch Google as the default search engine on mobile devices in China.

Recently, it was also reported that Apple ditched Google Maps and is now using a free crowdsourcing mapping service for its mobile devices. It looks like the battle between Apple and Google is getting even more intense and Google is losing.

For more information:

ITProPortal, “Apple To Replace Google With Baidu For The Chinese Market” – click here

DailyFinance, “Are Apple and Baidu About to Team Up on Google?” – click here

googleexposed, “Apple Tells Google Maps To Take A Hike” – click here

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The FTC Has A Strong Case Against Google

Federal Trade Commission

The Stanford privacy researcher who first uncovered Google evading the default privacy settings for all users of Apple’s Safari web browser believes that the Federal Trade Commission has a “slam dunk” case that Google violated its privacy agreement with the government.

The facts in this case are unusually clear cut,” Jonathan Mayer, a grad student in computer science and law and a researcher at the Stanford Law Center for Internet and Society, in a phone interview with TPM.

Read more – click here

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Is It Legally Impossible To Go After Google Over Privacy Violations?

English: Gavel

Yesterday, I informed you that Google is facing a lot of legal trouble. When Google deliberately bypassed browser security of Apple Safari users, the company has been hit with countless lawsuits. Many Apple users are furious with Google for exposing them to spying and collecting their personal data without their permission. You can’t blame them for wanting to get some legal assistance to send a Google a clear message that privacy is a fundamental right you just can’t violate.

However, it seems like these people have an uphill battle. What Google did is wrong and despicable, but it will be extremely difficult to go after them legally. First of all, Google is a massive company with deep pockets and it’s heavily surrounded by lawyers. In addition, past legal cases have shown that courts often don’t do anything about breaches of online privacy. There have been people who sued Internet companies before and majority of them end up losing. The law isn’t currently on the side of the average user because the law doesn’t recognize online privacy as it should! Americans are completely vulnerable to these Internet companies and they can’t even seek protection from their courts of justice!

I read an excellent and informative article by Gerry Silver, a lawyer who specializes in IT litigation. In his article, titled “’Do Not Track’ – Online Privacy Litigation Now and in the Future”, Mr. Silver admits that people who seek court relief to tackle online privacy concerns are pretty much wasting their time. The courts do nothing about Internet companies, like Google, harvesting our personal data and using it for their own purposes – whatever it may be.

People have tried various ways to seek out some sort of justice from the courts to protect their online privacy – but it has all resulted in limited to no success.  Lawsuits have been filed claiming that Internet companies violated various laws, most commonly including:     

  • The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act
  • The Wiretap Act
  • Stored Communication Act
  • Deceptive Act or Practice/ Unfair Competition Statutes
  • Trespass to Chattels
  • Contract-Based Claims
  • Right of Publicity Claims

 Many of these claims against the Internet companies fail because the courts force victims to prove their personal data has significant monetary value. They can’t claim damage on personal data because it doesn’t have real value apparently. Often times these third-parties that track you all over the Internet are not considered uninvited intruders – even though they steal your personal data without your full consent, they are off the hook if a website’s terms of service give them permission.

Many people don’t even know that there are hundreds of tracking companies that steal their personal data all the time. This collection of data is done completely without the permission of users and the vast majority of people are in the dark about tracking on the Internet to even voice their concerns against it.

It’s a real shame that the courts can’t really do anything about online privacy because the laws don’t go far enough. People have nowhere to turn but to pressure their representatives in government to pass comprehensive legislation that gives Americans more rights over their personal data. Mr. Silver writes that the new consumer online Privacy Bill of Rights (unveiled by the White House last month) is a good first step in getting Americans the desperately needed help to fight back against Internet companies – but it doesn’t go far enough.

“The institution of the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights and legislation arising therefrom may provide users with more control over what personal data companies collect and how they use it… However, Internet companies will still be able to use the information as part of their own market research and product development. Also, future compliance with the “Do Not Track” button appears to be voluntary at this point, meaning advertisers or other Internet companies may decide to attempt to override it.”

The White House proposal is still in its early stages, but if this proposed consumer Privacy Bill of Rights amounts to nothing meaningful for Americans then it won’t change the lack of support shown to victimized Americans and the dismal situation in the courts. More Americans will still go through lengthy and expensive legal tug-of-war with these Internet companies and Americans will always end up losing. Currently, Internet companies have everything in their favor and Americans simply don’t have enough protections.

English: Author: Irish Tug of War Source: (OWN)

Put the pressure on government representatives to act in favor of the average Internet user. Let them know that you’re serious about your online safety and that your personal data is yours alone. Privacy is not a privilege, it’s a right! The Internet companies and Google are ripping us off. They are taking, stealing, and milking us dry of our personal data! Say NO!  People need to care enough to make changes in government, then the government will make necessary legal changes, this will result in a safer Internet for all!

The Apple users suing Google have a strong case against Google – and their case differs from the typical Internet privacy related cases. Google actually used code to deliberately trick their browser into accepting tracking cookies, this code allowed Google to bypass the security setting of their browser which was set to prevent third-party tracking. Apple users had no idea this had happened to them until it was exposed by The Wall Street Journal’s report last month. This is an obvious violation of privacy and it has gone too far! Hopefully, these Apple users suing Google can ultimately triumph! It’s a difficult thing to do, but you gotta keep fighting from all angles until we finally breakthrough.

For more information:

Gerry Silver, “Do Not Track – Online Privacy Litigation Now and in the Future” – click here

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Google Faces More Privacy Scrutiny And Legal Trouble

Good news, folks!

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Google is now facing new investigations over privacy violations. One month ago, Google was caught red-handed stealing personal data from the computers of Apple Safari users. Google used a code to trick Apple’s web browser into accepting tracking cookies, which would then track users on the Internet. Of course, Apple users had no idea this had happened to them and Google knew exactly what it was doing. The code Google used to bypass Apple’s web browser security had been known about for a number of years – Google made the unethical decision to exploit the security vulnerability very deliberately.   

Google was caught by a Stanford University researcher named Jonathan Mayer. He exposed Google by explaining in detail how the company was able to circumvent the Safari browser security to the Wall Street Journal. After being exposed, Google tried to play all innocent and stupid – “oh I’m sorry, I swear I had no idea my little code would do such a thing. Oops, oh well. Get over it”.

People didn’t get over it, immediately after the story was published by the Journal several lawsuits were filed against Google. The lawsuits have seemingly never stopped piling up! I have lost count how many times Google has been sued by their victims.

Anyway, there is word now that the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – OMG, yes, FTC finally! – is seriously looking into whether Google violated privacy agreements.  The FTC has been in a deep sleep for a while now and hasn’t really said anything against Google. This is the first time we are hearing the FTC is actually taking real steps to correct transgression and triumph over ‘evil’.  The FTC can levy fines of $16,000 per violation, per day. This might not seem like very much punishment, especially for a company like Google, but Google victimized millions of people. There are millions of people who use Apple’s Safari web browser. If calculated appropriately and comprehensively, it can add up against Google very quickly.

But - Google was forced to pay up half a billion dollars before by the US Department of Justice for aiding and abetting a con artist to commit his crimes. That hasn’t stopped them from taking part in unethical behavior. Perhaps Google needs heavier legal penalties to prevent them from victimizing innocent people in the future. Google just doesn’t get it.

Google can sometimes be handled with kid gloves, but European regulators don’t play nice with Google. European Union data protection authorities are already investigating Google for its new intrusive privacy policy which took effect on March 1st. Their investigation now also includes the bypassing of Apple’s web browser security. It will be very interesting to see what they officially conclude!

We’ll just have to wait and see what develops. Stay tuned – to be continued!

For more information:

Wall Street Journal, “Google in New Privacy Probes” – click here

MercuryNews, “Google faces scrutiny from states” – click here

paidContent, “Lawsuits Mushroom Over Google Browser Tracking” – click here

MarketWatch (Press release), “Consumer Watchdog Applauds FTC, EU…” – click here

googleexposed, “Google Tricked And Lied To Apple Users...” – click here

googleexposed, “A Breakdown Of Google’s Statement…” – click here

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