Earlier this month a court in Australia reversed a lower court’s decision and ruled that the ads Google allows to run on its search engine are “misleading and deceptive”. I wrote more about this in another post – click here.
After this ruling by the Federal Court, Google was caught completely off-guard (typical Google arrogance of course) and they definitely were not expecting it to go in that direction. It also extremely worries Google and could set a threatening precedent to their business model. Google is concerned that the Australian court’s decision could be copied by other courts in different countries and it will hurt their bottom line. Google’s ad revenue is worth hundreds of millions of dollars in Australia alone.
Google will fight the court’s decision tooth and nail to avoid this from spreading and to make sure their money-making machine is protected. The company has less than 14 days to appeal the decision to a High Court. What Google is most concerned about is protecting their money and not making sure that their users are protected. This isn’t the first time that the company has gotten themselves in deep trouble over their ad business. The US government forced Google to pay up half a billion dollars for aiding and abetting a con artist commit his crimes (I will post an update story on this soon ,which I forgot to post).
The point is that Google has repeatedly shown that they are willing to accept money from every advertiser, every company, and even criminals if they can get away with it. They obviously have very little ethics and I sure wouldn’t trust them. Be careful clicking on those ads.
This Australian legal battle against Google is a very interesting one to watch.
ABC News in Australia did a fantastic report on this story. The video is below and if you want to read the transcript, you can go to their website – click here
I have made the claim that the media doesn’t give Google enough scrutiny and that the company often gets underserved favorable press. This is a major reason I started this blog in the first place, so that the average person out there can see what Google is really all about.
I remember seeing articles recently claiming that Google currently has the best reputation among any company in America. This is very disturbing considering all the sordid details I have been posting about Google’s lack of privacy, their pitiful ethics, their lies, the incessant lawsuits, and even criminal investigations. It’s disappointing and saddening that so many Americans put so much trust in this company – it just leaves me shaking my head and I think to myself “if only they knew better”.
I came across three really great articles comparing Google to Microsoft. I want to share these articles with you, but please don’t view this as me trying to sell Microsoft to you. I’m just using the articles to illustrate media bias and to show you how much Google has changed over the years.
The article published by InfoWorld’s J. Peter Bruzzese is excellent and lays out evidence to argue that the media unfairly bashes Microsoft way too often while Google’s errors are conveniently overlooked. He writes,
“I’ve noticed an unfair, ongoing trend: If Microsoft does something a little off, it gets bashed into the ground for it. But if Google… missteps, it generally gets mild reprimands and even support from the media and those drinking the Kool-Aid.”
You can read the rest of his article – titled “Microsoft in the media: Unfair and unbalanced” – by clicking here
Ever since I started this blog earlier this year I have been reading about the comparisons people are making between Microsoft and Google. These comparisons argue that Google has really changed for the worse over the years. As some of you probably already know, Google’s infamous unofficial motto is “don’t be evil”. In the early idealistic days of Google the company didn’t want to be like other established tech giants (i.e. Microsoft) because they perceived them as representing negativity and as being old-fashioned. But now people are starting to notice that little ol’ Google ain’t all that different from Microsoft – actually, some argue, that Google is worse now.
The article published by Forbes gives you 7 similarities between Google and Microsoft – perhaps now the pot should stop calling the kettle black– to read the Forbes article, please click here.
Finally, a very interesting article appeared on The Daily Beast website by Dan Lyons. The author spent 30 days using nothing but Microsoft products to compare it with Google’s products. He wanted to see if Microsoft can win him over and if Google’s products are really worth keeping. To find out what he concluded you gotta read the full article for yourself – click here
Google is currently enjoying much of the general public’s trust– but what is most hopeful is that this is slowly changing. As more people become knowledgeable and fed-up with Google’s antics, their arrogance, their invasion on our privacy, and other wrongdoings we will finally see Google fall off its throne. As any good business person will tell you, the most important thing in business is rightfully earning the trust and admiration of the public – once you lose this you’ve lost everything.
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
It was reported yesterday that the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) fined Google $25,000 for not cooperating with an investigation over Google’s massive invasion of privacy involving its Street View service.
The FCC said that Google “deliberately impeded and delayed” its investigation. Google made it very difficult for investigators to gain access to employees and hid important evidence. Google did not answer emails and the company even tried to hide the identities of the employees involved in the privacy violations from two years ago.
In 2010, Google’s Street View cars collected very private information from unencrypted home computers. When Google was caught doing this it apologized and said that it didn’t deliberately try to capture private data. Soon after the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigated and sided with Google’s explanation that it was a mistake. Although the US didn’t take the massive privacy violation seriously, European countries were more concerned.
The $25,000 Google is now forced to pay will do nothing to the company’s bottom line. Google raked in about $40 billion last year. Over 90% of Google’s revenues come from advertising – this means that Google makes money by selling your personal data to advertisers. This is the reason Google consolidated their privacy policies into a singular policy – it makes it easier for the company to figure you out and it’s more profitable. A Google spokesman said that the company is on a mission to combat against “the faceless Web”.
Google paying a $25,000 fine is like an average person paying a one cent fine – but don’t get too hung up on the amount of that fine. The biggest hit Google received from this new report by the FCC is its reputation. Most people think way too highly of this company and if more reports like this come out to expose Google’s dirt then the better it will be for the general public.
I love what Christina DesMarais, PCWorld, wrote in her article:
“…if Google’s uncooperative behavior is true as the FCC maintains, the obvious question is, ‘What is Google hiding?’ Consumers and advocacy groups have often criticized Google’s seemingly insatiable appetite for personal information, such as its recent consolidation of its privacy policies so as to have a better view into user behaviors and preferences. Because of the amount of attention those privacy concerns have garnered, you’d think a policy of transparency on Google’s part would bode well with those who have doubts about whether or not the company can be trusted with increasing amounts of personal data.”
Things that make you go hmmm…
For more information:
The New York Times, “Google Is Faulted for Impeding U.S. Inquiry on Data Collection” – click here
PCWorld, “Google Hit With $25K Fine, But FCC Finds Street View Data Collection Not Illegal” – click here
CNET, “FCC nails Google with $25K fine for dragging heels in StreetView probe” – click here
Last month I published an article titled “Victim of Brutal Beating Says She’s ‘Afraid’ of Google Executive’s Family”. It was one of the most read and commented on posts I’ve published on my blog. I received great feedback and the vast majority of readers appreciate knowing about this disturbing story involving a major Google executive’s family. If you haven’t already read that article please do so before reading this one – click here
After I posted my article I received an email from a person who said they wanted to set the record straight about what happened to Mason Mayer’s alleged victim, Kelli Trent. This person told me that they were troubled by false information being spread around and asked for my assistance in having Kelli’s side of the story told.
This person told me lots of information about the Mayer family and the dysfunctional relationship between Mason Mayer and Kelli Trent. This person has politely asked that I not reveal their identity and so I have decided to respect their privacy. I will simply refer to this person as my “source” from this point on.
The information my source revealed to me is disturbing, to say the least. It will give you a greater sense of what happened before the night of the alleged abuse and what took place after that night.
Kelli Trent is an intelligent and hardworking young woman. She moved to San Francisco back in 2005 after completing college and has been consistently employed ever since. Her friends describe her as being very generous and she always tries to help out any way she could. My source wanted to point out that Kelli comes from “a decent amount of wealth herself” and that she often pays for the needs of loved ones without hesitation. She has held some jobs in banking and she even recently tried her hand in a startup company.
Kelli and Mason met back in early February 2011 on his birthday and they started dating immediately after that. Their relationship was very brief but even in that short time it was plagued with serious problems. My source alleges that Mason had been controlling and abusive toward Kelli on numerous occasions.
Mason had not lived in San Francisco for that long. He moved from Minneapolis in the fall of 2010 after his famous sister, Google executive Marissa Mayer, allowed him to live in her penthouse condo. My source alleges that the reason behind Mason’s move is due to him getting in legal trouble in Minneapolis after abusing a “rebound” girlfriend. Marissa apparently wanted to keep him away from “psycho girls” and moved him close to her. Mason and his ex-wife, Kara Mayer, divorced in July 2010.
After he moved to San Francisco and started dating Kelli everything was fine for the first few months. My source alleges that the abuse on Kelli actually began in May after she wanted to leave the relationship. The source showed me a photo of Kelli taken in May with a badly bruised inner arm. The source also alleges that a few days before the night of September 24th Kelli and Mason were at a gym and he didn’t like the way she was interacting with men. He allegedly threw her belongings around and got physically aggressive with her.
Finally the abuse escalated to what took place on night of September 24th. Kelli not only suffered physical injuries but she also sustained a concussion, was disoriented, and had fainting spells. After this incident, she took photographs of her injuries and sent them to Mason’s parents and Marissa was soon notified. My source claims that Kelli was shown little respect by the Mayer family and that they never asked if she was okay. Kelli demanded that Mason get help and the Mayer family came up with Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and therapy sessions – which Mason began two days after the family was notified.
The source claims that Kelli was never offered any financial assistance for her medical needs or for her therapy sessions, which she was badly in need of. Kelli pretty much had to suffer alone and isolated herself in the apartment she shared with a roommate. She didn’t go out much since the beating and only confided in a few close friends.
The source says that soon after, in early October, the Mayer family booked Mason a trip on a European holiday for two weeks, which Kelli took as being insensitive and an insult to her. The source says that the Mayer family neglected to understand the magnitude of the problems between Kelli and Mason. The family also didn’t hold Mason accountable for anything. This is when Kelli was starting to realize that she wanted out of the relationship and was pretty much done protecting the Mayer family.
Sadly, while the Mayer family was off on their European holiday, Kelli’s grandmother passed away. After hearing about her loss, she left to go to Tennessee to be with her family. While with her family, the source claims that Mason phone called Kelli and told her that she was not invited to the Mayer family pumpkin carving party. Marissa allegedly did not want Kelli at the party, which Kelli took as a slap in the face. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back and Kelli finally knew she was done with the relationship with Mason and done with the Mayer family.
Kelli came back to San Francisco on October 30th and Mason was at the airport to pick her up. This is when Kelli broke up with him. The source alleges that Mason was infuriated by this and showed up later in the day to Kelli’s apartment threatening to release nude photos of her and allegedly vowed to smear her reputation. Mason then took the witness of the September 24th beating to the family party.
On November 11th Kelli went to the police to report everything that happened to her. Keep in mind that Kelli and Mason were not together often since the night of September 24th and up until the day she finally reported the alleged abuse to the police. My source says that it took Kelli awhile to come to the realization that she desperately needed to leave the relationship for good. This is consistent with many victims of domestic abuse who feel like they can change their partner’s ways if they just stay in long enough and are often too afraid to leave.
Soon after a warrant was issued while Mason and the rest of the Mayer family were on their annual Thanksgiving holiday in Hawaii.
The source claims that this is when the campaign to discredit Kelli began and her reputation was torn to pieces. Kelli had her life investigated as Mason’s legal team started subpoenaing texts messages, called her former employers, contacted her ex-boyfriends, etc. The source claims that Kelli depends on a good reputation to secure jobs but obtaining employment in her field has become nearly impossible and that her life is in shatters.
The source described to me one incident in January when Kelli was asked to interview at a company event hosted at Founders Den – this is the workplace of Marissa Mayer’s husband, Zack Bogue. Kelli was in the middle of an interview at the event when suddenly Zack allegedly tapped Kelli on the shoulder and loudly told her to get out. Needless to say, Kelli was thoroughly shaken and embarrassed. She promptly left without finishing her interview. My source points out that Kelli had a stay-away order at the time which specified that any third parties related to Mason are not allowed to directly contact Kelli in any way, “so Zack had no right to speak to her that night”.
Kelli has now left San Francisco. This is a woman who depended on her networking capabilities to get jobs but life is harder for her now. The source says that Kelli never wanted to have all this trouble surrounding her – Kelli fell into a brief and tumultuous relationship with Mason which is a mistake she thoroughly regrets.
While Kelli has been suffering for the past 6 months – Mason has gone on holidays and he’s attended several San Francisco society events (thanks to his sister Marissa) such as the opening of a ballet and a Midwinter Gala. The source claims that Mason owns shares in Google, gifted to him by Marissa, and was invited to an exclusive Google company event featuring Lady Gaga back in March 2011. My source finds it revolting that Mason was being “flaunted” around by his family even after they knew what he did to Kelli.
Kelli has not retained a lawyer and is being represented by a District Attorney. The pretrial conference had been postponed three times since January and is now scheduled for April 18th – if found guilty Mason faces a maximum of four years and eight months in state prison.
Disclaimer: Everything in this post should not be taken as fact. They’re allegations described to me by the source and it’s from their point of view of what occurred. There are many sides to everything and this is just one. If there are any issues you have with anything written in this post please email me.
I found this useful mini slideshow on the DailyFinance website titled “5 Signs Google is Selling You Out”. I’ve discussed everything in their slideshow on this blog in other posts but it’s a nice summary and review of some of the things Google is up to.
To see the slideshow head on over to their site – click here
Yesterday I published a post informing you about the latest legal trouble for Google. An Australian court found that Google’s ads are “misleading and deceptive”. You can catch up on that post by clicking here.
Today, a reporter for MyNorthwest.com published an article warning Google users about the potential scams they can fall victim to if they are not careful. The article titled “Scam Alert: Why you shouldn’t blindly trust Google” focuses on a woman who was taken advantage of by an unethical towing company.
The woman, Christina Youk, got a flat tire on a dark and rainy evening. She was really frustrated and desperately wanted to get home. She got out her smartphone and Google searched the terms “tow truck”. Google returned search results to her which included their “sponsored ads”. The top ad Google gave her was for a company calling itself West Coast Towing. The company’s ad claims it offers 24/7 service and a speedy 15 minutes response. It also included a toll-free number, which Ms. Youk dialed.
Over two hours later, two men and a woman finally show up to help Ms. Youk. They present her with a handwritten invoice with all sorts of ridiculous exorbitant charges. Ms. Youk was shocked by it because it totaled $580 and she never paid anything like that before to tow her car. But she was desperate and cold so she reluctantly agreed to pay. The good thing is that she later called her credit card company and had the charges canceled.
Think twice before clicking on one of Google’s ads – it might lead you to get scammed or worse.
Read more – click here
An Australian court said that Google engages in “misleading and deceptive” conduct because of the ads it chooses to display. Google was sued last year for misleading its users but a lower court didn’t think Google was liable for what its advertisers do and ruled in favor of Google.
But The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) appealed this decision in the Federal Court and won. This is a major defeat for Google who thought it could get away scot-free but now has to comply with this new ruling.
The issue involves advertisers buying keywords and placing ads using the name of a major competitor. So when a Google search engine user clicked on an ad thinking they were going to be directed to the website of a particular travel agency, they would actually be redirected to its competitor’s website. Google’s AdWords program permitted all sorts of companies to engage in this deceptive act to trick users. These companies bought search terms that returned Google’s sponsored results and redirected users to websites of rival companies.
For example, a company called CarSales bought search terms and ad space from Google. The company’s ad included this headline in their advertisement: “Honda.com.au”. When Google users clicked on that ad they thought they were going to Honda’s website but they were actually redirected to CarSales’ website.
The ACCC’s Chairman, Rod Sims, said in a statement:
“The ACCC brought this appeal because it raises very important issues as to the role of search engine providers as publishers of paid content in the online age,” Sims said. “This is an important outcome because it makes it clear that Google and other search engine providers which use similar technology to Google will be directly accountable for misleading or deceptive paid search results”
Google is upset and “disappointed” by the court’s decision. Obviously, it believes that it’s completely innocent *yawn*. Google is throwing its advertisers under the bus by claiming that it is totally their fault for misleading customers – Google claims that it just gives these advertisers the platform to show their ads and isn’t involved any further.
The Federal Court is forcing Google to pay the ACCC’s court costs and Google must implement a compliance program.
For more information:
The Register, “Google ads ‘misleading and deceptive’” – click here
The Australian, “Google ads ruling hands win to watchdog” – click here
CNET, “Google charged with ‘deceptive’ conduct in search ads” – click here