Will Google’s New Privacy Policy Protect Account Holders Information or Expose Them?

Written by buzz. Posted in Google

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Google Policy Webpage

Written by: Chawonza Nash, February 9, 2011

On January 24 Google announced its new privacy policy and terms of service which ignited worldwide attention with regards to the potential for user private information to become exposed. Effective March 1 under its new policy Google will begin integrating account holders user information across its multiple services platforms into one streamlined platform. On the company blog Alma Whitten Google’s privacy director posted the company will “treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience.” Single user? Intuitive Google experience? What does that mean exactly?

Basically, Google account holders using computers, iPads or cell phones devices will be uniquely identified upon logging into Google services or any of its third party service vendors. While this is not news, as Google has always collected users information, the difference now is that all user data collected will be compiled and integrated across one web service platform verses multiple to distinctly profile the user. This platform integration is as Google views it an opportunity to better tailor services and products for its users.

 

While some users may revel in Google’s intuitive response to know what they are attempting to search for or purchase, others may view this integrated technology as a violation of their privacy bordering on information voyeurism. The implications of Google combining users information across one products and services platform as well as being able to effectively protect users privacy has heightened concerns worldwide particularly among privacy advocate groups considering user may not be able to opt-out of all of Google services.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a lawsuit Feb. 8, 2012 to hinder Google’s plan to merge user data from YouTube, Gmail, Google+ and other profile services, charging such a change would be in violation of an agreement the Federal Trade Commission negotiated last year with Google when it attempted to launch Google Buzz a social tool in 2010. Google countered back, “EPIC is wrong on the facts and the law.”

Friday, The Korea Herald (Seoul) reported Professor Im Jong-in of the Graduate School of Information Security, Korea University to say, “You can choose not to do Facebook but no one is free from Google products. If your Google account is hacked under the new policy, all the information on your Google activities is leaked immediately.”

Professor Ims’ comment targets what many users and privacy advocate groups are up in arms about as to the far reaching implication of Google’s new policy in the wake that it goes into effect in less than three weeks. Until then controversy surrounding its policy will continue to unfold, however Google is a reckoned information technology giant that won’t be easily slain.

In the meantime Google encourages everyone to read their new privacy policy and term of service because as their policy web page reads, “This stuff matters,” and if you’re not familiar where it is, well – Google it!

Google Celebrates 2012 With a New Doodle

Written by buzz. Posted in Google

Written By: Mufsin Mahbub

With a New Year, Google gets into the spirit with a new doodle on their homepage. Their new doodle shows a bunch of tasks that every household does every year – listening to headphones, exercising, playing a guitar, reading a book and cleaning up the house.

Yesterday’s doodle showed the Google letters dancing and confetti everywhere while wearing party hats and the 2012 glasses. With the celebrations done, some of those New Years resolutions people promise to do will be displayed on the Search Engine’s website. Each letter of Google’s name represents doing something beneficial.

In the beginning of the word, the letter G has headphones on with different ways of saying “hello.” This symbolizes learning a new language as a New Year resolution. The two letter Os show some exercising taking place, which is something that a lot of people are trying to do as their goal for the New Year.

The small G, on a guitar, is strumming a tune – because learning music is another goal for 2012. The L shows the power of reading and taking up literature. After New Years celebrations, there is always a mess afterwards, which the E is doing.

For years, the Doodles were simply fixed illustrations. However, in recent times Google has added animation, video, music, and other forms of interactivity – like the playable guitar on the logo for Les Paul’s 96th birthday.

The letters shown aren’t actually animated or interactive like many of Google’s past doodles. However, by clicking on them it will bring you to a Google search results page for “New Year’s Day,” where you can learn about everything New Years, like trivia and today’s news like the annual polar bear plunge that takes place in Boston Harbor.

Users can also compare today’s doodle with others over the previous years All they have to do is check out the recently revamped Google Doodle website, which lets you search for every doodle by year and country and even offers a Doodle store where you can buy posters, t-shirts, coffee mugs, skateboard decks, and other memorabilia featuring your favorite Doodles over the years since the first one surfaced in 1998. Google has created as much as 260 homepage doodles in 2011, some of which appeared in specific countries and worldwide.

Google has simply found a great way to ring in the New Year and hope to see many more of their ingenious designs in the future.

Google Aims To Improve Searches With Freeweb

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Search results could soon improve with Google's recent purchase of Metaweb, Inc.

In a recent purchase of Metaweb, Inc. for around $57 million, Google has plans to make its search engine that much smarter.  Search terms like celebrities, companies, books, movies and more will become more specific and easier to identify with the five year-old technology called Freeweb.

Danny Hillis is the brains behind the keyword service.  He developed Freeweb as an entrepreneur living in Silicon Valley.  The way it works is that a large database siphons through search results and helps distinguish which terms belong to what subject.  For example, if you search for the city of Boston you may come up with a variety of subjects like Boston cream pie or the city of Boston.  Freeweb helps separate words into distinguishable search results that can be easily chosen.

Google is looking forward to improving its search engine results with the new acquisition, and will allow Freeweb to continue as a free service on the Internet while at the same time making it even better.  Google also hope that developers will contribute their input and ideas as they incorporate Freeweb into their own database structure.

It’s A Bird. It’s A Plane. It’s Super Google!

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Everyone wants to get in on Google's ultra high-speed broadband experiment

Shouts of joy and elation are ringing from a list of hand picked communities around the United States as Google opens up its first test run of a brand new ultra high speed fiber optic Internet connection, Google Fiber.

This could be the future of Internet connection, which would catapult speeds faster than Captain Kirk can say, “beam me up, Scottie.”  At 1-gigabye per second download rates would increased over 100 times faster than what they are today.  This means a full-length feature film could be downloaded in around five minutes.

A Google Fiber for Communities website has been officially let loose so that we can keep tabs on this exciting new project, which is being coordinated with the help of the FCC.  The ultra high speed broadband network will be in an experimental phase, with thousands of communities beating on Google’s doors to get in on the action.

Recently Don Ness, mayor of Duluth, Minnesota, swam in Lake Superior in order to garner attention for his community.  Google has put in place a request form for communities who are interested in participating in the project, but only a small number are expected to be chosen.

Google’s YouTube Connects To Facebook With Leanback

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YouTube Leanback will soon offers its videos to television

YouTube, which is a part of the Google Empire, has just released an exciting new service called Leanback. Viewers will be able to live stream programs on YouTube right to their television sets and connect and share watch they are watching with their Facebook friends.

Leanback is still in its infancy as a beta version and only functions with a computer right now. Google has high hopes that the new service will be as prolific as Facebook. This is just one more way the company is breaking into social media, in addition to Google Buzz and rumored Google Me.

In order to get started, you need to be registered with YouTube and login.  Unlike a computer, you will not need a mouse to navigate the channels.  All of this is done through the arrows on a standard keyboard and the enter or return key.  Similar to a dvr, you can pause and play the video that is being viewed.

YouTube will also be offering a paid rental service that can be customized. Videos that are on the website already will remain free. Leanback not only gives people a greater choice of programming, but also allows full control of what to watch.  The connection to Facebook should also give this new service a big boost in popularity.

Google Me Could Take On Facebook

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Google Me is rumored to be the a direct competitor of Facebook

The rumors could be true.  Google Me is supposedly the latest project being hammered out by a large staff of tech elves soon to be in direct competition with Facebook, the largest and most popular social media website today.

Lately Google has been pumping up Google Buzz, adding new apps and allowing users to be more easily connected.  Google Me, however; could take their venture into the social media world a lot further.

There will be a few things for Google to overcome if it wants to be a large competitor of Facebook, which currently has 450 million users and growing.  It is thriving far more than MySpace, and the interface is user friendly and well connected to other social network sites like Twitter and Digg.

The new information about Google Me originated from Adam D’Angelo, a former Facebook CTO and owner of the website, Quora.  D’Angelo seems confident in his predictions, but Google is still keeping it under wraps for the most part.

Google Me, if it is true, would add healthy competition to the social media landscape, which has been so saturated that only a few remain on top like Facebook and Twitter.  Google has had great success with its other online ventures that it will be interesting to watch as the company ventures further out into the social media arena.

Google Seeks To Change Telephony With Google Voice

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Google Voice is now available to all Google users in the U.S.

In 2007 Google snatched up the company GrandCentral, and turned it into what is now Google Voice, a free service to all Google users in the United States.  The company hopes to make telephone calling and messaging easy and free with the service.

Google Voice offers free features that can be used with any cell phone or telephone carrier including voice mail, a new telephone number to connect everything to, voice mail transcription, call blocking and more.  The idea is to streamline telephone services into one, easy to use web based application.  Right now Google has one million subscribers, who have all had to be invited to use the service.  But now it is available to anyone in the U.S.

Any computer user can access Google Voice right from their Google account.  You can choose to use one telephone number or not and just continue to access each individual one.

The aim of Google creating this new application is to enhance its already growing online services like Google Buzz, Google Docs and Google Wave.  Small businesses can benefit greatly from these free services and be able to operate on a shoestring budget without compromising productivity.  As more users are added to the Google Voice network, be on the lookout for more improvements and features.

Has Google Gone Too Far With WiFi Data?

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Google is stopping the use of its Street View cars for a while

Google maps is famous for its map images and reliable directions on the web, but how they have been gathering information may just surprise you and has spurred some civil legal action and debate in the United States and abroad recently.

The issue has to do with Google’s interception of unsecured wireless networks.  If you have ever sat in your car or even in your own home and jumped on someone else’s broadband connection wirelessly, then apparently you are not breaking the law since the connection is not encrypted or made secure.  Google has done this extensively since 2007 with the aim to improve its map data.  The problem is that is has also picked up and collected private, personal information along the way and United States senators have been challenging the company on this issue.

Recently authorities in Germany, France and Spain have ordered Google to hand over the private data it has collected.  In the United States there are pending civil litigations against the company regarding this security breach.  Google claims that the data, once picked up wirelessly, is fragmented.  They have, however; decided to stop using Street View cars in collecting information until these issues can be resolved.

Google Buzz Just Became That Much Cooler With Maps

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Google Buzz users can now enable Google Maps

If you are a fan of Google Maps then you are going to love this.  Google just announced on Monday, June 7, that it has added the maps feature to its popular Google Buzz service, which gives users instant access and easy sharing capabilities.

The new addition is a feature that is optional and needs to be enabled within a user’s Google account under the service settings then by clicking on the Labs tab.  Google Maps has become a competitive tool in the online world, and now it can be added directly to a Google Buzz e-mail.  Once it is enabled, the map will automatically be generated based on any U.S. address information and is fully interactive.  In the future Google plans to expand this new capability to worldwide addresses.

More than ever Google Maps is become the most popular because of it’s easy to use format, satellite images, and accuracy.  For example, GM just announced that it will be utilizing Google Maps now in its OnStar service beginning with the Chevy Volt, which is an electric high-tech vehicle.  And of course iPhone, Android, and Blackberry customers already have easy access to the application.

What does this all mean for Google Buzz users? It brings easy of use, quicker directions and maps and faster communication.  This is just one more enhancement that Google will continue to bring to Buzz fans.

Google’s Search Page Gets Up Close And Personal

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Google users will soon be able to personalize their search with photos

Say goodbye to the minimalist look of Google’s clean, white browser page and hello to a new photo look created by none other than you.  Internet users will soon be able to drag and drop their own collection straight from their desktop or programs like Picasa right into the Google browser page to create a personalized page.

Social networks like Myspace already have customizing features that users are accustomed to, and so this is a natural move for Google to stay current with the latest Web 2.0 trends.  Currently Microsoft’s Bing does not have a drag and drop feature, but does contain some great images on its newly re-made site.

The new feature will be available to Internet surfers within the next couple of days.  A link on the bottom left hand corner of the Google browser page will soon be available and make the search engine more fun and interactive.

There are several Picasa sample images found on the Google blog page, googleblog.  The pictures fill up the entire screen and create a whole new dimension to the once blank screen.  And if you still enjoy the minimalist view you can choose to not have any photos plugged into your Google browser page.

Already Google is the top search engine over Yahoo and Bing.  Now that users can customize their page this will surely help keep it in top place.

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