S.Korea fines Google $177 mln for blocking Android customisation

South Korea’s antitrust regulator has fined Alphabet Inc’s Google $176.64 million for blocking customised versions of its Android operating system (OS), in the U.S. technology giant’s second setback in the country in less than a month. The Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) said on Tuesday Google’s contract terms with device makers amounted to an abuse of its dominant market position that restricted competition in the mobile OS market. The bill was passed in late August and it bans app store operators such as Google from requiring software developers to use their payment systems. The requirement had effectively stopped developers from charging commission on in-app purchases.

— source reuters.com | Sep 15, 2021

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Google illegally underpaid thousands of workers across dozens of countries

Google has been illegally underpaying thousands of temporary workers in dozens of countries and delayed correcting the pay rates for more than two years as it attempted to cover up the problem, the Guardian can reveal. Google executives have been aware since at least May 2019 that the company was failing to comply with local laws in the UK, Europe and Asia that mandate temporary workers be paid equal rates to full-time employees performing similar work, internal Google documents and emails reviewed by the Guardian show. Google maintains a workforce of more than 100,000 temps, vendors and contractors who are not directly employed by the company.

— source theguardian.com | 10 Sep 2021

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Google’s Dominance of Online Ads is a Big Deal

Here’s How to Fix It.

Most people know that Google dominates the online search market, but did you know that the company has become the biggest player in the digital ad market? That’s a problem not only for consumers, but potentially for society as a whole, argues former digital advertising executive Dina Srinivasan.

Last year, Srinivasan gained attention for her paper “The Antitrust Case Against Facebook,” which explained how the tech giant’s market dominance can harm the public, even though the product is ostensibly free. Now she focuses on Google and the enormous advertising empire that has grown into the company’s biggest money-maker. In her new paper, “Why Google Dominates Advertising Markets,” Srinivasan analyses the digital ad market and argues that Google’s monopolization and the giant regulatory gaps on matters like transparency and conflicts of interest have created an anti-competitive environment that can be harmful to newspapers, consumers, and, ultimately, democracy itself. She proposes that fairness can be restored by using principles applied to financial market regulation.

Lynn Parramore: After years of inaction, we’re seeing lots of headlines on antitrust actions against Big Tech. The Federal Trade Commission and the attorneys general of 48 states and territories have filed antitrust cases against Facebook, charging that it is able to abuse users’ data and violate their privacy. There are also several parallel suits against Google’s search dominance and chokehold on the advertising market. A good deal of the impetus to these suits comes from

— source ineteconomics.org | Lynn Parramore | Feb 22, 2021

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De-Googling: Chrome

Moving away from Google Chrome was probably the easiest migration in my de-Googling efforts. I’m not a huge user of bookmarks, history, or extensions, so those weren’t tying me down. On the desktop, I just switched to a combination of Ephemeral (as my defaut) with Epiphany/GNOME Web as my main “real browser.”

Ephemeral is a lightweight privacy browser that I develop for elementary OS, so of course I dogfood it and have it set as the default. A key feature is that you can pop sites open in your “real” browser with one click, so I usually have that set to Epiphany—the native GTK browser that comes with elementary OS, so it’s an obvious choice.

However, some sites don’t perform well in Ephemeral or Epiphany (usually due to unnecessary user agent sniffing), so I do keep Firefox around for that. And Firefox on the desktop has gotten really good. Since Epiphany supports Firefox Sync, it’s actually pretty easy to jump between the two as needed. I also occasionally install Chromium for testing web development in a Chrome-based engine, but I don’t use it for any real browsing.

On Mobile

For a long time, Chrome was the only browser I liked on Android; others either felt non-native due to scrolling physics (like Firefox used to), had questionable monetization incentives, or had too many features I didn’t care about.

— source cassidyjames.com | Aug 14, 2020

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Google is making another attempt at personal health records

Google is making another attempt at personal health records

Google is recruiting people to give feedback for a new consumer-facing medical records tool, Stat News reported on Friday. The company wants to know how people want to interact with information pulled from their medical records.

This is Google’s second attempt at creating a way for people to access their medical records. In 2008, it launched Google Health, which aimed to give people a way to see their health information online. It didn’t take off, and Google shut it down in 2012.

A decade later, we’re in a very different digital health landscape. Apple launched a health records section in its Health app in 2018, which lets people pull their records from hospitals and clinics directly onto their iPhone. Health apps have proliferated, wearables are adopting wellness features, and people are more and more accustomed to handling their health information through smartphones and other devices.

Google is also working on the doctor-facing side of health records; its Care Studio program gives clinicians a way to search through patient records more easily. Other health efforts include a research app that lets Android users participate in medical studies and a Nest Hub feature that tracks sleep.

— source theverge.com | Apr 12, 2021

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Google is now tracking your private, personally identifiable information from all sources possible

Since this summer, new users are now being tracked to Google’s fullest potential unless they opt-out. Google has bought many tech companies over the last few decades. DoubleClick is an extensive ad network that is used on half of the Internet’s top 1 million most popular sites. Now, Now that DoubleClick’s data is available to Google, Google can easily build a complete profile of you, the customer. This profile could include name, search history, and keywords used in email, all of which will expressly be used to target you for advertising or handed over to the government at the drop of a rubber stamp.

How to protect yourself from Google tracking

Consider leaving Google’s centralized services entirely and only connecting to the Internet via a VPN and with the proper tools in place on your browser. Check out PrivacyBadger by the EFF.

— source privateinternetaccess.com | 2016/10

Better not to use any Google services.

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Google, Facebook and many others are coming for your health data

Last week, Google announced that it would be buying Fitbit, valuing the 12-year-old company at $2.1 billion. Many have seen this as an attempt to boost Google’s position in the wearables sector. So far, the company’s Wear OS platform has made relatively little impact. The acquisition certainly improves Google’s position, but it is only part of a much larger strategy to scoop up the huge amounts of data that are now being generated in the health sector.

Back in 2017, the UK’s Information Commissioner ruled on a collaboration between Google’s DeepMind AI division and a UK National Health Service (NHS) hospital. The Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust provided personal data of around 1.6 million patients as part of a trial to test an alert, diagnosis and detection system for acute kidney injury.

— source privateinternetaccess.com | Nov 7, 2019

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Google workers in the US and Canada have formed a union

More than 200 staff at Google’s parent company Alphabet have formed the Alphabet Workers Union, which is open to all employees across the US and Canada. The Alphabet Workers Union (AWU) announced its formation on Monday after a year of running off-radar. The union says it aims to promote inclusivity, push for more transparency for employees, and ensure Alphabet acts ethically. Google has come under fire from both workers and ethicists over workplace sexual harassment, targeted drone strike technology, and the recent firing of AI researcher Dr. Timnit Gebru.

— source businessinsider.in | Jan 4, 2021

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