Posted on 05-10-2010
Filed Under (Technology) by Rashtrakut

They get sued for patent infringement.  See article for the gory details.  Picture below from the article.

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Posted on 13-02-2010
Filed Under (Technology) by Rashtrakut

One of the problems with choosing a sanctimonious corporate motto like the one above (which may be loosely derived from the Hippocratic Oath) is that it opens you up to charges of hypocrisy when you inevitably fall short.  After years of fudging the oath to comply with the dictates of the Chinese security state Google pulled back to a chorus of applause.  Now in one stroke Google has squandered that goodwill with its disastrous launch of Google Buzz.

The arrogance of the implementation of Google Buzz is breathtaking.  New users of Google Buzz found that Google preselected a list of contacts based on the people with whom they communicated with the most on Google mail and chat.  See link.  Also see here.  Did the testers for the product not see the obvious flaw in the procedure and how Google’s presumptuousness was likely to piss off people?  Privacy concerns with social networking sites are hardly new.  Its only been a couple of months since there was a brouhaha about Facebook’s new options to reset privacy settings.  See link. For suggestions to enhance your privacy on Facebook see here.

An example of the privacy maelstrom Google kicked up see this expletive laden blogpost from a blog dedicated to women’s violence issues (the blog itself appears to be offline).  Also as Evgeny Morozov in Foreign Policy points out Google’s new system could be manna from heaven for authoritarian regimes hunting down dissenters.  See link.

With Google’s Orkut not having a huge following in the United States, Google appears to have tried to jump start its new networking tool to allow it to catch up with Facebook and others.  See link.  Google is right in how tedious it is to populate a new list of friends on a new social network.  The proliferation of these sites makes it very difficult to follow all of them and most users trim the amount of sites they follow.  But Google should still have given people the choice whether they wanted to toss their privacy to the winds (something Facebook in its pursuit of Twitter and a positive revenue stream needs to remember as well).  The brouhaha makes me glad that logistical reasons prevented me from switching my primary email use to my gmail account a few years ago.

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As the hubbub around Google’s abrupt withdrawal from China begins to fade (see previous blog article here) observers have started noting the security threats posed by the rise of the Chinese corporatist state (you simply can’t call the People’s Republic communist any more).  Foreign Policy and The New York Times both explore the close nexus between China and its domestic security firms, the likely source of the cyberattacks and the difficulty for the Obama administration in formulating an adequate response.  Google is not the first American software behemoth to fail in China.  Yahoo essentially abandoned its Chinese operations to a Chinese owned subsidiary.  The situation is made worse by the Chinese lack of respect for intellectual property (a recurring sore point in trade talks) and their continued attempts to appropriate foreign technology for its domestic companies.

The concerns about the Chinese government’s close nexus with its domestic corporations is not new.  Concerns about cybersecurity were raised when IBM sold its personal computer to Lenovo.  But the recent phase of cyberattacks should force muddling Washington bureaucrats to appreciate the real risks to American foreign policy.  They could also take their cues from science fiction, from the Cylon attack and destruction of the 12 colonies, for the impact of a casual disregard of the cyberthreat.

The United States has often been trapped between its desire and tradition to preserve the free flow of information and security concerns.  American software companies grumbled in the Clinton years about the government’s insistence on having an access key to get pass any encryption software sold on the market.

China is not the only corporatist nuclear power that poses a cyber threat.  In the past few years Russia has actively used cyberattacks to bring its former satellites from the Soviet Union like Estonia to heel.  To what extent the Kremlin controls its rabid nationalistic hackers is not clear (though the scale and the timing attacks is suspicious).  To be fair to the Russians, they have approached the United States to have a treaty to prevent an cyberwar arms race on the lines of the chemical weapons treaty.  However as this article notes, both sites have been caught up in a philosophical dispute over whether to address this by a treaty or a law enforcement agreement.  The recent attacks on Google underscore the need to reach an agreement to build co-operation with the Russians and upgrade America’s cyber defenses.

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Posted on 13-01-2010
Filed Under (Technology) by Rashtrakut

This one will be discussed in detail on the business talk shows in the coming days.  Stung by a cyberattacks originating in China and presumably from the Chinese government, Google announced that it may pull out of China and will stop censoring its Chinese search results.  Also see link.  Google has had a troubled relationship with the Chinese government and has received criticism for its willingness to go along with Chinese censorship.  See link.  However, Google has also struggled in China and this is probably more of  a  business decision to cut the cord on a struggling business and gain positive publicity by cloaking it in altruism.  See link.

The public announcement before attempting to work things out with the Chinese government is a slap in the face to the regime and will likely draw some strident denunciations in the coming days.   This public relations black eye for China also highlights the drawbacks of doing business in an authoritarian regime that wants to control the flow of information.   A clear winner in this imbroglio is Chinese search engine leader Baidu which itself was subject to a bizarre cyberattack earlier this week and does not have to worry about Google in its backyard anymore.

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Posted on 10-11-2009
Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut

Rupert Murdoch is continuing to fire away at Google.  So far it is all talk and no action.  The media baron is stymied by the change brought about by the internet that had upended journalism’s traditional revenue model.  It is hard to see him actually take Fox News off search engine sites that drive traffic to his websites.  Others like Mark Cuban think he may be on to something.  The problem is that many newspapers like the New York times have tried and failed to get subscribers to pay for content.  The Wall Street Journal with its unique business following is one of the only “old media” outlets to succeed with this model.  I tend to agree with Matt Ingram, a link to a site that requires subscription or worse payment is likely to send me scurrying in search of alternative news sources.

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Posted on 28-10-2009
Filed Under (Technology) by Rashtrakut

An interesting New York Times article on Google’s latest challenge to Apple.  It will be interesting to see how these technological giants rumble in the future and whether they can recover their previous cooperation.  It is interesting to see how other giants like Microsoft and Nokia (in the interests of disclosure love my Nokia phone and have no desire to switch to the iPhone) respond.  With the PC market maturing rapidly, Microsoft needs to expand beyond its excessive reliance on Windows licensing revenues.

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