‘Google TV’ unveiled, coming soon
Google is hoping to succeed where Apple and so many others have failed with GoogleTV, its attempt to bring the Internet to your television set.
Google unveiled the software today, at what the Wall Street Journal called a “glitch-plagued demonstration” in San Francisco. The software will allow you to search for a show, and find it either within your regular TV listings or wherever it’s lurking online.
It’ll also have a bunch of nifty features, the LA Times adds; you’ll be able, for example to use picture-within-a-picture to follow the boxscore while you’re watching a sporting event, to follow Twitter posts about what you’re watching, or any number of other functions. Google’s just producing the software, much like it produces Android. Partners, including Sony, Intel, Logitech, and Dish Network will provide the necessary hardware, which should hit stores this fall.
Google convicted of violation of privacy over video of kid’s beating
Three Google executives were today convicted in Milan of “violating privacy” by allowing a video of an autistic Italian schoolboy being physically and verbally abused to be posted online.
The charges were brought by Vivi Down, an advocacy group for people with Down’s syndrome, following the hosting of a video clip in 2006 showing the pupil being beaten and insulted by bullies at a Turin school.
A Google spokesman in Milan said the ruling was “astonishing” and Google would appeal. None of the executives was present in court.
The judge hearing the case in Milan, Oscar Magi, gave the three Google staff members — David Drummond, Google’s senior vice president and chief legal officer, George Reyes, its former chief financial officer, and Peter Fleischer, its global privacy counsel — a six-month suspended sentence each, but absolved them of defamation charges.
A fourth defendant, Arvind Desikan, Google’s senior product marketing manager, was acquitted. None was involved in either production of the video or its uploading, but prosecutors argued that it should have been taken down immediately after it shot to the top of the “most-viewed” list.
Google said the trial posed a threat to internet freedom since it was impractical for providers to screen the thousands of hours of footage uploaded every day. However, prosecutors told the court that what was at stake was the balance between freedom of expression and the rights of the individual.
Google Italy took down the offending video, but the prosecution alleged it had been too slow in responding to complaints. Google said it removed the footage “as soon as it was notified” and had helped Italian police to identify those responsible. The four bullies were sentenced by a juvenile court to community service.
The trial was closed to the media at Google’s request. Alfredo Robledo, the prosecutor, said he was “very satisfied” with the verdict, adding: “Protection of human beings must prevail over business logic.” Defence lawyers declined to comment.
The video, taken in May 2006, was posted on September 8 and remained online until November 7, listed as one of the “most entertaining” clips.
Marco Pancini, a spokesman for Google Italy, said the Milan verdict was “an attack on the fundamental principles of freedom on which the Internet was built”. The three executives had been punished for a video which they had “not made, uploaded or even seen”.
Drummond said he was “outraged by the decision of the court of Milan today finding that I am criminally responsible for violating the privacy rights of an autistic school boy who was harassed and bullied by several of his classmates”.
Fleischer said the ruling set “a dangerous precedent”.
He said: “I knew nothing about the video until after it was removed by Google in compliance with European and Italian law.”
“Don’t just shorten your URL, make it suspicious and frightening
Most of us wouldn’t hesitate to visit a shortened URL link on Twitter or Google these days–but how about http://5z8.info/add-worm_u0m8n_killgays? Come on, click it. It’s safe, we promise. It’s just the latest creation of ShadyURL, or as we like to call it http://5z8.info/killgays_w7u7x_murdervids, a site that’s a lot like TinyURL, only pointless and silly. Its motto: “Don’t just shorten your URL, make it suspicious and frightening.”
The site turns innocuous addresses into ones that no one in their right mind would click on. Don’t worry, they’re still totally safe, they just look creepy, which should be useful if you ever want to convince your friends you have a virus. Yeah, we can’t think of a reason to do that either.
Google Buzz not friends with privacy
Following an outpouring of ire concerning the privacy features—or lack thereof—of its new Buzz social networking client, Google issued an apology and announced it will soon add new settings.
“We quickly realized that we didn’t get everything quite right,” an exec writes on the search giant’s blog,” and “we’re very sorry for the concern we’ve caused.” This is the second major change to the new application.
At issue this time, PCWorld reports, was a feature called “auto-follow” that decided for you which other Buzz users would be connected to you based on email contacts. Now it will be called “auto-suggest,” and give users a chance to cull names before contact is established. Gee, thanks. In addition, users will be able to turn off Buzz completely, and hide their following info from their profile.
Google ‘optimistic’ it won’t pull out of China
Google co-founder Sergey Brin on Friday said he’s optimistic that his search engine will not have to pull out of China over hacking and censorship issues.
“I’m an optimist. I want to find a way to work within the Chinese system and provide more and better information,” he said. “I think a lot of people think I’m naive, and that may be true.”
The remarks came at the annual TED Conference of thought leaders in Long Beach, California.
Google Inc. last month threatened to pull out of China after the Gmail accounts of human rights activists were targeted and hacked, the company said.
There has been speculation that China was behind the attacks. China denies those claims, and Brin said it doesn’t particularly matter whether the government was behind the attacks or not.
“Even if there were a Chinese government agent behind this, it might represent a fragment of policy, as it were,” he said. “I think there are many people there and they have different views. If you look at when we entered China, in 2006, I actually feel like things really improved in subsequent years.
“We had to self-censor a fair amount, but we were actually able to censor less and less, and our competitors were able to censor less and less.”
But that ended with the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, he said.
“There’s been a lot more blocking going on since then,” he said.
Brin maintained that his Mountain View, California, company never entered China to make money. He said Google wanted to spread information.
“Perhaps people don’t believe this, but throughout all of the discussions of entering China our focus has really been what’s best for the Chinese people,” he said. “It’s not been about our revenue or profit or whatnot.”
Google takes next step in world domination: Google Buzz
Meet Google’s new thing: Google Buzz
TechCrunch is calling this FriendFeed reborn. The difference, of course, being that all your friends are already on it.
So be afraid Facebook… be very afraid
Google book scanning: Cultural theft or freedom of information?
A proposed partnership between the French government and Google is stoking fears in France that the country’s literary treasures will fall under commercial control of a U.S. technology company.
Frederic Mitterand, the French minister of culture, has said that Google came to France with “the attitude of a conqueror” signing “unacceptable” and “one-sided” deals.
He told Le Monde newspaper that the deals involved “excessive confidentiality, impossible exclusivity and casual –even leonine –clauses on copyright.”
For some, however, Mitterand’s reaction is puzzling — including one of the libraries concerned. Believing that access to their archives can promote French culture, the city of Lyon’s library has signed an agreement with Google, hoping to scan as many as 500,000 books in 10 years.
The first text uploaded online was a rare 16th century collection of doomsday predictions from the French philosopher Nostradamus.Under the Lyon Library contract, Google will scan its books and manuscripts for free. In exchange, the library gives Google the right to use the scanned documents commercially for the next 25 years.
“I find it normal and good that that book is scanned in Lyon where it was written. So I don’t see the problem between using a method developed in the U.S. to promote heritage and culture in France or Europe. I don’t understand the problem,” Patrick Bazin, Director of the Lyon Library, told CNN.
The library’s collection includes national literary treasures and collectibles, such as a 16th century bible, in 12 languages.
That means security is a top concern and Google is therefore keeping the location of its scanning secret.
“By putting them on the Internet, much larger circles of society, including non-specialists, can read these works and enjoy them and find them useful,” Bazin added.
“They are works that touch upon all sorts of subjects of life, of the universe,” he continued.
“They concern everyone and so they matter to everyone, and so they have to be made available to everyone by scanning them.”
At the national level, officials like Mitterand have expressed a strong preference to keep the digitizing an internal affair, and even develop a rival to Google. So far the government has earmarked $1 billion dollars to boost its own online database, known as Gallica.
However, in January, an independent review for the French culture ministry criticized the lack of progress made by Gallica, and recommended a public-private partnership with Google.
Since starting in 1997, Gallica has scanned less than one million documents and about 145,000 books, according to the UK’s Financial Times newspaper.
At the same time, the report concluded that deals between Google and libraries around Europe were disproportionately favorable for Google, and a better distribution would need to be brokered without the exclusivity clauses for France.
Philippe Colombet, the head of Google Books in France, has said in the past that exclusivity was needed to guarantee a return on the investment of scanning, but that he welcomes a partnership with the state.
In a statement emailed to CNN, Colombet reiterated “Google’s commitment to work more than ever in partnership with publishers and other actors in the book industry to help create a virtuous ecosystem for books in the digital era.”
Currently Google has seven library partners in Europe, including Lyon. It is only scanning out-of-copyright works in Europe.
While the final details remain to be hammered out, the pace of Google’s process makes it hard to eschew.
Google has already scanned more than 12 million books into its global index since the Google Books project launched at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2004.
Katy Perry: Google spoiled my surprise proposal
Katy Perry and Russell Brand have been inseparable since they started dating in September, but the “I Kissed a Girl” singer had no clue he was about to pop the question — until she looked on Google.
Katy, 25, confessed to Ryan Seacrest on the Grammy red carpet on Sunday, exactly how she new the British comedian planned to propose.
“Unfortunately I still Google myself sometimes and I saw it on Google alerts,” she said, “I’m going to be honest!”
Ryan asked the couple if they’ve set a date to which Russell, 34, replied, “yes”, before a laughing Katy responded, “No, no! I haven’t been told this date yet.”
Ryan offered to host the event and Russell — who called himself a “changed man” — suggested the American Idol host marry them. “I’m ordained as well, so I’m available for you,” joked Ryan, “I can take a day off.”