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Policy / Big Tech

5 Things That Went Wrong for Google This Week

Lambasted by an irate president for alleged algorithmic bias, rejected by the courts in an $8.8 billion copyright battle with Oracle and that’s just for starters.

It’s been a grueling week for the “don’t be evil” team.

Here are 5 Things That Went Wrong for Google This Week.

1) Donald Trump: “A Very Antitrust Situation”

US President Donald Trump’s tweets move markets; there are no two ways about it. Both the automotive and drugs industries have already felt his wrath.

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This week, it was Google’s turn: in two late night tweets, he hit out at alleged algorithmic bias, claiming that Google and others are “suppressing voices of Conservatives” and that “96% of results on ‘Trump News’ are from Left-Wing media.”

The tirade was followed up in an Oval Office interview with Bloomberg on Thursday, during which he said that the power and influence of companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Google are a “very antitrust situation”.

2) Oracle: Supreme Court, Ahoy

US Federal Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday refused to reconsider a March ruling that Google is in violation of Oracle’s copyright.

Now Oracle’s claims that Google breached its copyright by using Java software to create the Android OS are one step closer to the Supreme Court, where – if Google loses – it could be hit with up to $8.8 billion in damages.

The company switched to a fully open source version of Java with the Nougat release of Android in 2016. But it may still be hoping its Fuchsia OS is coming along well…

3) Amnesty International: No Censorship

“We are extremely concerned by reports that Google is developing a new censored search engine app for the Chinese market. The project, codenamed “Dragonfly”, would represent an alarming capitulation by Google on human rights,” wrote Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and others on Tuesday.

Google, which says it will not address “speculation about future plans,” has refused to answer repeated media enquiries on the issue.

Human Rights Watch said “[Google] executives have also refused to answer basic questions about how the company will safeguard the rights of users in China… The Chinese government runs one of the world’s most repressive internet censorship and surveillance regimes. Human rights defenders and journalists are routinely arrested and imprisoned solely for expressing their views online.”

4) Whatsapp: Your Messages in G Drive Aren’t Encrypted… 

It may seem obvious to some, that end-to-end encryption doesn’t cover dropping  encrypted messages out of a chat channel and into Google Drive.

At the start of this month Google and WhatsApp finished negotiations that allow android users to store their WhatsApp data on Google Drive without having it count towards the storage limit on their Google Drive, but it came with a few hiccups.

Whatsapp was forced to clarify in an updated FAQ this week however that: “Important: Media and messages you back up aren’t protected by WhatsApp end-to-end encryption while in Google Drive.”

This is more of an issue, arguably, for WhatsApp, but as the cloud provider that prides itself (unlike AWS) on providing encryption at rest to commercial customers by default, perhaps not the news Google’s team wanted to be reading…

5) Jeremy Hunt: Child Sex Abuse Action, Please?

The British Foreign Secretary, perhaps emboldened by Trump’s outburst (see #1), on Thursday tweeted that Google “won’t cooperate with UK, US and other 5 eyes countries in removing child abuse content.”

The company, which has declined to comment on the accusation, recently refused to attend an international summit to discuss removing content including child abuse images and terrorist beheading videos, according to Sky News.
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CBR Staff Writer

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