Category: Science & Technology

Web 2.0 Summit 2010: Battle Ground for Facebook and Google

Article first published as Web 2.0 Summit 2010: Battle Ground for Facebook and Google on Blogcritics.

Two web titans Google and Facebook must be preparing their rank and file to head on with their rivals. Rivalry seems to be increasing between Google and Facebook for the domination in commercial internet. Amassing millions of users on the internet the two giants are going to present their new plans in Web 2.0 summit 2010, to be held at Palace Hotel in San Francisco for three days from November 15 to 17.

Titans’ Rivalry

Rivalry developed between Goggle’s search engine and social networking service giant Facebook, as they pursued to attract more number of users claiming information monopoly. It is actually a natural development when the market is limited. But, monopolies always prevent competition, making users deprive of new inventions at cheap costs.

Facebook vs GoogleWhile Google is famous for its instant search results, Facebook became famous in social networking handing several tools for users to interact among themselves. Google introduced a new phase to its search engine offering previews of the sites on the search results page itself. It looks crazy when it is known that many users of Facebook are clinging to their PCs even during their sleep in a bid of updating their conservations on Facebook whenever they get up from sleep. Facebook became an obsession to many younger users.

Google introduced “Google Wave” to make available all of its services on a single platform, but failed, as several such services already occupied the internet space. Eventually, Google had to withdraw from promoting Google Wave further. Official announce was made by Google a few months ago to that effect. Now, Google and Facebook are planning to cross their conventional platforms to win more space in commercial internet.

Google intends to enter social networking arena while Facebook plans to start its own email service dubbed as Gmail-killer within Facebook ranks, as reported by the Reuters news agency, quoting Techcrunch blog. Facebook may also provide “” email addresses to existing Facebook users. Last week, Google began blocking a Facebook feature that automatically imports Gmail contacts to Facebook site. Google says Facebook is not allowing its users to import and export of their information.

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Why Google is Left Unpunished?

Article first published as Why Google is Left Unpunished? on Blogcritics.

Google is allowed to simply walk away from the confinement of legal system, though it is repeatedly proved by the European and North American countries that it has infringed upon the privacy laws enacted in their countries. Google’s street view project has come under scrutiny from data protection agencies of several countries since the German data commissioner asked Google last year to audit all the data being collected by Street View cars.

Google’s Revelationstreet-view-car

Google then revealed that it had discovered the Street View cars were collecting data of personal details from unsecured networks along with the location of wi-fi hotspots. Google has made an unnamed engineer a scapegoat while accepting the mistake it has done. It simply said a code written by an engineer was mistakenly incorporated into the software of the Street View cars.

The question remains here that how Google thinks it is legal to collect the data pertaining to locations of wi-fi hotspots. Are people having wi-fi connections, which are unsecured, meant to be exploited for having unsecured connections? If a house owner forgets to lock his house, and if a theft occurs, will it mean the thief is not supposed to face punishment? Google is only supposed to map the streets but not wi-fi hotspots.

Purposeful Violation

British conservative MP Robert Halfon rejected this as a mistake and alleged that the Google had done the mistake purposefully and it had collected the data for commercial use. This was denied by Google, without giving details of why the collected data was redirected to be stored on hard disks. It seems Google has a policy of not talking too much. Nobody wants it to talk much but it has to talk when its actions are proved to be detrimental to the privacy and human rights of the internet users.

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Google in ‘significant breach’ of UK data laws

BBC News | 3 November 2010 | 14:10 GMT

There was a "significant breach" of the Data Protection Act when Google collected personal data via its Street View cars, the UK’s Information Commissioner has ruled. But Google will not face a fine or any punishment, Christopher Graham added. Instead, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) will audit Google’s data protection practices.

Bavaria street viewThe move marks a U-turn for the ICO which originally ruled that no data breach had occurred. Last week the ICO vowed to look again at the evidence, after the Canadian data agency found the search giant in breach of its law. Its decision was welcomed by MP Robert Halfon, who has been critical of the ICO and of Google, which he recently accused of deliberately collecting the data for commercial gain.

However, he said that action had come too late. "The ICO failed to act when it should have done, despite the fact that Google staged a significant infringement of privacy and civil liberties, by harvesting millions of e-mails, wi-fi addresses, and passwords. Furthermore, the ICO has already proved that it lacks the technical expertise to audit Google’s activity. What confidence can we have in their audit now? People feel powerless."

The ICO said it "strongly refutes" Mr Halfon’s suggestion that it did not have "the necessary expertise to audit" Google. "We have a team of experienced and qualified auditors who regularly check organisations compliance with data protection requirements." Mr Graham said Google must delete the data – collected from unsecured wi-fi networks – "as soon as it is legally cleared to do so". Google has apologized for collecting the data, which it said had been done by mistake.

‘Profoundly sorry’

Google has been the subject of scrutiny from data protection agencies around the world, following news that software in its Street View cars collected personal information. This was revealed following a request from the German data commissioner to audit all the data being collected by Street View cars. Google discovered that, along with legitimate data about the location of wi-fi hotspots, the cars were also hovering up personal details from unsecured networks, known as payload data.

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Privacy body to re-examine Google

BBC | 24 October 2010 | 19:42 GMT

Britain’s privacy watchdog is to look again, at what personal information internet giant Google gathered from private wi-fi networks. The Information Commissioner’s Office had investigated a sample earlier this year after it was revealed that Google had collected personal data during its Street View project. At the time, it said no “significant” personal details were collected.

Google street viewBut Google has since admitted that e-mails and passwords were copied. On its official Google blog, senior vice president Alan Eustace wrote that the company was “mortified” to discover, after the initial investigation in May, that personal information had been collected.

Privacy watchdogs in numerous countries, including France, Germany and Canada, had also investigated the information. “It’s clear from those [external] inspections that while most of the data is fragmentary, in some instances entire e-mails and URLs were captured, as well as passwords,” Mr Eustace wrote.

“We want to delete this data as soon as possible and I would like to apologize again for the fact that we collected it in the first place. We are mortified by what happened, but confident that… changes to our processes and structure will significantly improve our internal privacy and security practices for the benefit of all our users.”

A spokesperson for the Information Commissioner’s Office said it had kept an eye on international investigations since its own one concluded in July. That investigation said that the information “did not include meaningful personal details that could be linked to an identifiable person”.

Enforcement powers

However, Google’s admission of more detailed data has prompted further action by the ICO. “We will be making enquires to see whether this information relates to the data inadvertently captured in the UK, before deciding on the necessary course of action, including a consideration of the need to use our enforcement powers,” a spokesman said.

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Google tests cars that drive themselves

BBC | 10 October 2010 | 09:53 GMT

Engineers at Google have tested a self-driving car on the streets of California, the company has announced. The cars use video cameras mounted on the roof, radar sensors and a laser range finder to "see" other traffic, software engineer Sebastian Thrun said. They remain manned at all times by a trained driver ready to take control as well as by a software expert.

Google manless car Google hopes the cars can eventually help reduce road traffic and cut the number of accidents. In a posting on the company’s official blog, Mr Thrun said the self-driven cars had so far covered 140,000 miles on the road. They have crossed San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge, negotiated the city’s famous sloping streets, driven between Google offices, and made it around Lake Tahoe in one piece.

‘Exciting future’

Engineers told the New York Times that the forays onto the highways have been largely incident-free, apart from one bump when the car was reportedly hit from behind at a traffic light. In his Google blog post, Mr Thrun – professor of computer science and electrical engineering at Stanford University – insisted that safety was the "first priority" in the project.

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Male infertility gene discovered

BBC News | 30 September 2010 | 16:01 GMT

A faulty gene could help explain some cases of unexplained male infertility, according to research. Mutations of the NR5A1 gene were found in a small percentage of infertile men, reports the American Journal of Human Genetics. Scientists from the Pasteur Institute in France and University College London said it could help doctors investigating men with the condition. A UK expert said he hoped that further gene defects could be found.

Sperm In the majority of cases, doctors can find no cause for male infertility, despite its accounting for up to half of cases in which couples have difficulty conceiving. Male infertility appears to be more common within certain families, and this leads scientists to believe that there may be a genetic root for some cases, but only a handful of gene mutations, which might be responsible, have actually been found.

The latest research looks at a gene already known to be involved in sexual development in both men and women – defects in NR5A1 have been linked to physical defects in the development of the testicles or ovaries. Their findings suggest that, even where there is no physical evidence of a problem, defects in the gene may be hampering the ability to make sperm.

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Technology for the Sake of Technology and Money

Article first published as Technology for the Sake of Technology and Money on Blogcritics.

Innovation of technology has to be in favor of every citizen of a country and the world. It has to provide more tools for the humankind to be innovative in securing fundamental rights of the citizens. The fundamental rights include right to live, right to express, right for equality and right to peace from violence of any kind. Contrary to it, today’s technology is helping widen gap between haves and havenots. The Technology is helping Wall Street people to gain more wealth per day, but not at all caring about making lives of the common masses easier.

Technology for People

Technology can innovate ways to bring everything before the footsteps of thehiroshima_nagasaki masses. Instead, it is developing ways to make things more costly so that only wealthy can own them. Technology is helping pull everything away from the common masses.

Technology should help improve the cultural levels of the humankind. It should also help equate the levels of every culture. It has to introduce sensible human values to every nook and corner. It has to develop the culture of politics and economics to the next highest level. Instead, it is interested only in developing next generation technology leaving aside the lagging generations of the masses. The technology is working for the sake of technology and money.

Human Disaster

Technology keeps calm or mostly keeps a warning button, when the people are becoming insensible to the human values of family, children, daughters, parents, friends and neighbors.

Porn industry is the biggest human disaster for the civilized world, augmented if not invented by the information technology. A natural human affection between opposite sexes has become now a public affair for enjoyment, irrespective of viewers being children, adolescents, youth, lovers, married, respected families and elders.

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