Tag Archives: Google

Google Chrome users have to download another essential security update today

To check you’re on the correct version of Chrome and manually update to the latest patch click on the About Google Chrome option.

The latest security update for Google Chrome was detailed in a blog post written by Srinivas Sista, the technical programme manager for the browser.

In it Sista wrote: “Google is aware of reports that an exploit for CVE-2021-30563 exists in the wild.”

While Google hasn’t disclosed how this vulnerability works, it’s believed to take advantage of a bug in Chrome’s JavaScript engine.

This could lead to hackers remotely running arbitrary code which tricks Chrome users into visiting a malicious website.

Once on this nefarious site a confusion error can be triggered in Chrome’s V8 JavaScript engine.

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This post originally posted here Daily Express :: Tech

Chromecast with Google TV gains a game-changing new trick

Google is leveraging its next-generation streaming box, the Chromecast with Google TV, to tempt viewers to subscribe to its video game streaming platform, Google Stadia. Owners of the latest Chromecast have started to see the Netflix-for-games service appear in the For You tab. 

The latter is one of the biggest differences between the Chromecast with Google TV and previous set-top boxes under the Chromecast brand. While earlier iterations were controlled entirely by a smartphone, with users picking an episode or movie on their handset and then beaming the video to the Chromecast, the recently-redesigned model boasts its own menu and streaming apps.

As you watch, Chromecast with Google TV will begin to make suggestions based on your tastes. These recommended films and boxsets appear in the For You tab. It’s unclear whether Google is tailoring its recommendation of Google Stadia to certain viewers based on their interests, or whether it thinks everyone will enjoy its latest subscription service.

If you are subscribed to Google Stadia, any games that you play will be treated like boxsets and films within the Google TV interface. As such, on the homepage, you’ll be able to jump straight back into your latest title under the heading “Recently Played Game”. Stadia can also be added to the “Your Services” page in the Settings menu.

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Google Stadia launched in November 2019, with the free tier following in April 2020. Stadia lets you play blockbuster video games on a range of devices, from smartphones to tablets and Chromecasts. While none of these gadgets enjoy the amount of processing power found inside a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X, Google makes it possible to play top-tier games by handling all of the processing in its server farms.

So, while Google handles all of the complex rendering needed, all your device has to do is stream the resulting footage.

As such, devices only designed to handle a boxset binge on Netflix are capable of playing some of the biggest video game franchises. That’s because all they’re doing is streaming footage – exactly like watching Netflix. Google Stadia supports resolutions up to 4K Ultra HD with 60 frames per second and support for high-dynamic-range (HDR) pictures.

That’s comparable with what we see from the latest generation of games consoles from Sony and Microsoft.

With a deeper integration to Chromecast with Google TV, it’ll be interesting to see whether more people swap their consoles in favour of streaming dongles to play the latest titles. If Stadia is not your cup of tea at all, fingers crossed Google will stop filling the homepage of your Chromecast with recommendations for it soon enough. 

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This post originally posted here Daily Express :: Tech

You now tell Google to forget everything you’ve searched for …but there’s a catch

You will now be able to delete the last 15 minutes of search history from Google on mobile devices, the Californian company confirmed late this week. The new privacy feature, which was first unveiled during Google’s IO Developer Conference, is now rolling out to users worldwide.

The option to remove the last 15 minutes of your search activity will arrive on the iPhone version of the Google app to start, with Android users supposedly getting their hands on the feature later this year. And of course, regardless of whether you’re on Android or iOS, if you’ve waited longer than 16 minutes to enable the feature – some details will be missed. Once your searches are outside of that 15-minute window, you’ll need to wait for the auto-delete setting on your account to kick in.

On a Windows or Mac, there’s no capability to delete the last 15 minutes of searches from Google.co.uk. Instead, you’ll also have to rely on the option to auto-delete searches every three, 18, or 36 months. By default, Google Accounts auto-remove search data after 18 months.

Of course, on any device, you can delete individual websites from your internet history. However, searching on Google.co.uk in the future would continue to surface a helpful (or, in this case – unhelpful) reminder of your previous searches regardless of what has been stripped out of your web history.

For example, while it has long been possible to remove EngagementRings.com from your history in Chrome, the next person who used the family could start typing ‘engage’ only to be prompted that you’d previously used Google to hunt for ‘engagement rings’.

The latest feature means that, if you suddenly realise that you’re hunting for birthday presents without Incognito Mode enabled, you can head to the main Google.co.uk page, click your profile icon in the top right-hand corner, select Manage Your Google Account, and then click “Delete History” from the menu.

Google says it has put this new feature front-and-centre because it believes it will be hugely popular with fans. That suggests this might’ve been something that forgetful Google users have been asking the company to implement for some time now.

Either way, it’s nice that you don’t need to be so precious about jumping into Incognito Mode every time you find yourself shopping for a gift, looking up a career move on a work computer, or, erm, well, come to think of it, we’re pretty sure those are the only two things that Incognito Mode is ever used for.

For those who don’t know, Incognito Mode is the in-built privacy-focused browsing mode in Chrome. While it doesn’t hide your activity from your internet supplier (or the websites you’re visiting) it does stop your activity showing up in the web history or predictive search on Google.

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This post originally posted here Daily Express :: Tech

No, Facebook and Google Are Not Public Utilities

It’s time to retire one of the most half-baked ideas for regulating Big Tech. 

Should Google get treated like your local telephone company? The idea that dominant, front-facing internet platforms should be regulated as common carriers or public utilities has been kicking around for a while. But it got a fresh jolt in April, when Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas issued an opinion suggesting that common-carriage law could allow Congress to regulate social media providers. Ohio attorney general Dave Yost filed a lawsuit in June asking a state court to rule that “Google’s provision of internet search is properly classified as a common carrier and/or public utility under Ohio common law.” Last weekend, Yost published an op-ed in The New York Times touting the strategy as a way to stop Google from favoring its own business over competitors who rely on it to reach customers. “As legal touches go, it’s a lot lighter than what antitrust law would demand,” he wrote. 

Unfortunately, it’s also a bit light on logic. 

“This guy has made such a mess,” said Barbara Cherry, a professor of at the Indiana University Media School who studies common carriage and public utility law. “For a lawyer, it’s particularly sloppy.” 

The first red flag in the Ohio lawsuit is that it doesn’t even try to define what a common carrier or public utility is. The second red flag is that Yost suggests that the two concepts are interchangeable. All he’s seeking, he wrote in the Times op-ed, is “a simple declaration that, under the law, Google is a public utility, or more generally, a common carrier.” In fact, common carriage is not a more general species of public utility.

“There’s a lot of misunderstanding of what common carriage is, what public utility is,” said Cherry, who practiced telecommunications law before going into academia. “They’re totally separate bodies of law, and why an entity would achieve a legal status under either one is for different reasons. It just so happens that some entities can be both common carriers and public utilities, but the reason is because they satisfy both.” 

The concept of a public utility, Cherry explained, refers to a business that has signed an agreement with some level of government to provide a service to the public at large. In exchange, it typically receives some benefit or delegation of power from the state. Think of an electric company that has the power to invoke eminent domain but is subject to price controls. 

“Public utility comes from a contractual relationship between the government and that entity that is supposed to be the public utility,” Cherry said. But Google, to state the very obvious, has no contract with the government to provide a search engine.

OK, but what about calling Google a common carrier? Here, too, Cherry said that Yost is misinterpreting the law. Common carriage, she explained, is a legal concept that dates all the way back to the feudal economy of medieval England. A common carrier was someone who offered to carry something to any member of the public. Anyone who chose to do business that way was subject to certain legal duties, including nondiscrimination. 

Originally “carriage” was meant literally—ferry operators, for instance. Today, it can encompass more metaphorical carrying, as with phone companies. The key overlap is neutrality. “Common carriers, by definition, they’re just a conduit,” explained Cherry. “They’re not controlling the content.” That was the principle underlying the net neutrality rule issued by the Federal Communication Commission in 2015 (and rescinded under the Trump administration), which imposed common carrier status on internet service providers like Comcast and AT&T. Because ISPs are mere conduits for data, it makes sense to prevent them from treating data differently depending on its source or content. 

Here is where the application of the concept to Google search starts to break down. According to Yost’s lawsuit, Google’s customers aren’t users, who get the product for free; rather, its customers are the businesses who pay to advertise on it and rely on its search algorithm to reach consumers. The problem is that Google does not promise to act as a neutral conduit for those businesses. Quite the contrary. The whole value proposition for Google is that it discriminates between different possible results in order to return what it thinks will be most relevant to the person doing the search. To ask the court to force Google “to carry search result information reliably, neutrally,” as the Ohio lawsuit does, is sort of nonsensical.

“If you’re being nondiscriminatory in an absolute sense, so there’s no prioritization, there’s no special insight—it just goes back to how many times the words appear on a web page, like the early search engines—that’s not what Google offers you,” said Scott Jordan, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at UC Irvine and former chief technologist at the Federal Communications Commission. A search engine that didn’t try to bring the best, most relevant results to the top would be basically worthless. “If you mean nondiscriminatory in a much narrower sense, like does Google’s algorithm include whether the webpage has a conservative or a liberal tint, or is based on anything else—gender, race, what have you—then, yeah, Google might say that they’re nondiscriminatory in these narrower senses. But this doesn’t easily map into the question of common carriage.” 

This doesn’t mean that the objectives of Yost’s lawsuit are totally illegitimate. His main objection to how Google operates is a familiar one: the suit criticizes the company for favoring its own products and services above competitors’, with the result that an ever-growing share of Google searches end without clicking away to another website. But antitrust law already provides ways to punish self-dealing. Indeed, one of the multiple lawsuits filed against the company specifically takes aim at how it allegedly discriminates against specialized search engines like Kayak and Yelp. (In Yost’s defense, he is one of the more than 30 state attorneys general who joined that suit.) And one of the bills recently introduced by the House antitrust subcommittee would prohibit dominant companies from favoring themselves over other companies that use their platforms.

Now, there’s a difference between asking a judge to declare that Google is already a common carrier, as the Ohio lawsuit does, and asking Congress to pass a new law forcing Google to be a common carrier. It’s that second idea that Clarence Thomas seemed to have in mind in his April opinion, in a case that concerned Twitter, not Google. “The similarities between some digital platforms and com­mon carriers or places of public accommodation may give legislators strong arguments for similarly regulating digi­tal platforms,” he wrote, suggesting that government could pass laws limiting the ability of a social media platform to kick off users (cough, Donald Trump, cough).   

According to Thomas, the common carrier principle could help Congress get around the First Amendment problem that arises when you force a private actor, like Twitter or Facebook, to carry speech that they don’t want to carry. But even apart from constitutional questions, the notion of imposing common carriage status on social media platforms raises the same logistical problems as it would with Google’s search engine. 

“These are the places where I’ve heard it raised the most, and these are the places where it makes the least sense,” said Jon Peha, a professor of engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon and another former chief technologist at the FCC. “Part of the core function of Facebook is ranking information that is deemed to be important to the user. Discrimination is what it does. When I hear some politicians complaining about not allowing discrimination in ranking algorithms, when that is what the ranking algorithms do at their core, I get very confused.”

To judge by the Ohio lawsuit, some of the people complaining are confused, too.


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A New Tool Shows How Google Results Vary Around the World

Search Atlas displays three sets of links—or images—from different countries for any search.

Google’s claim to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” has earned it an aura of objectivity. Its dominance in search, and the disappearance of most competitors, make its lists of links appear still more canonical. An experimental new interface for Google Search aims to remove that mantle of neutrality.

Search Atlas makes it easy to see how Google offers different responses to the same query on versions of its search engine offered in different parts of the world. The research project reveals how Google’s service can reflect or amplify cultural differences or government preferences—such as whether Beijing’s Tiananmen Square should be seen first as a sunny tourist attraction or the site of a lethal military crackdown on protesters.

Divergent results like that show how the idea of search engines as neutral is a myth, says Rodrigo Ochigame, a PhD student in science, technology, and society at MIT and cocreator of Search Atlas. “Any attempt to quantify relevance necessarily encodes moral and political priorities,” Ochigame says.

Ochigame built Search Atlas with Katherine Ye, a computer science PhD student at Carnegie Mellon University and a research fellow at the nonprofit Center for Arts, Design, and Social Research.

Just like Google’s homepage, the main feature of Search Atlas is a blank box. But instead of returning a single column of results, the site displays three lists of links, from different geographic versions of Google Search selected from the more than 100 the company offers. Search Atlas automatically translates a query to the default languages of each localized edition using Google Translate.

Ochigame and Ye say the design reveals “information borders” created by the way Google’s search technology ranks web pages, presenting different slices of reality to people in different locations or using different languages.

When they used their tool to do an image search on “Tiananmen Square,” the UK and Singaporean versions of Google returned images of tanks and soldiers quashing the 1989 student protests. When the same query was sent to a version of Google tuned for searches from China, which can be accessed by circumventing the country’s Great Firewall, the results showed recent, sunny images of the square, smattered with tourists.

Google’s search engine has been blocked in China since 2010, when the company said it would stop censoring topics the government deemed sensitive, such as the Tiananmen massacre. Search Atlas suggests that the China edition of the company’s search engine can reflect the Chinese government’s preferences all the same. That pattern could result in part from how the corpus of web pages from any language or region would reflect cultural priorities and pressures.

Search Atlas graph showing different search results

An experimental interface for Google Search found that it offered very different views of Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to searchers from the UK (left), Singapore (center), and China.

Courtesy of Search Atlas

A Google spokesperson said the differences in results were not caused by censorship and that content about the Tiananmen Square massacre is available via Google Search in any language or locale setting. Touristy images win prominence in some cases, the spokesperson said, when the search engine detects an intent to travel, which is more likely for searchers closer to Beijing or typed in Chinese. Searching for Tiananmen Square from Thailand or the US using Google’s Chinese language setting also prompts recent, clean images of the historic site.

“We localize results to your preferred region and language so you can quickly access the most reliable information,” the spokesperson said. Google users can tune their own results by adjusting their location setting and language.

The Search Atlas collaborators also built maps and visualizations showing how search results can differ around the globe. One shows how searching for images of “God” yields bearded Christian imagery in Europe and the Americas, images of Buddha in some Asian countries, and Arabic script for Allah in the Persian Gulf and northeast Africa. The Google spokesperson said the results reflect how its translation service converts the English term “God” into words with more specific meanings for some languages, such as Allah in Arabic.

Other information borders charted by the researchers don’t map straightforwardly onto national or language boundaries. Results for “how to combat climate change” tend to divide island nations and countries on continents. In European countries such as Germany, the most common words in Google’s results related to policy measures such as energy conservation and international accords; for islands such as Mauritius and the Philippines, results were more likely to cite the enormity and immediacy of the threat of a changing climate, or harms such as sea level rise.

Search Atlas was presented last month at the academic conference Designing Interactive Systems; its creators are testing a private beta of the service and considering how to widen access to it.

Search Atlas can’t reveal why different versions of Google portray the world differently. The company’s lucrative ranking systems are closely held, and the company says little about how it tunes results based on geography, language, or a person’s activity.

Whatever the exact reason Google shows—or doesn’t show—particular results, they have a power too easily overlooked, says Search Atlas cocreator Ye. “People ask search engines things they would never ask a person, and the things they happen to see in Google’s results can change their lives,” Ye says. “It could be ‘How do I get an abortion?’ restaurants near you, or how you vote, or get a vaccine.”

WIRED’s own experiments showed how people in neighboring countries could be steered by Google to very different information on a hot topic. When WIRED queried Search Atlas about the ongoing war in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, Google’s Ethiopia edition pointed to Facebook pages and blogs that criticized Western diplomatic pressure to deescalate the conflict, suggesting that the US and others were trying to weaken Ethiopia. Results for neighboring Kenya, and the US version of Google, more prominently featured explanatory news coverage from sources such as the BBC and The New York Times.

Ochigame and Ye are not the first to point out that search engines aren’t neutral actors. Their project was partly inspired by the work of Safiya Noble, cofounder and codirector of UCLA’s Center for Critical Internet Inquiry. Her 2018 book Algorithms of Oppression explored how Google searches using words such as “Black” or “Hispanic” produced results reflecting and reinforcing societal biases against certain marginalized people.

Noble says the project could provide a way to explain the true nature of search engines to a broader audience. “It’s very difficult to make visible the ways search engines are not democratic,” she says.

Web search can feel like vintage technology, but Noble says spotlighting its intricacies is as important as ever because of Google’s dominance and the way attention to social media’s skews can make search look benign by comparison.

Google is unlikely to lose its grip on the search market any time soon, but Noble sees reasons for optimism. The growing user base of the privacy-centric search company DuckDuckGo suggests that some netizens are open to alternatives. Noble sees growing interest from policymakers and the public in regulating tech platforms more tightly, and in finding ways to support alternatives that better serve the public interest. “We have a community of scholars calling for that, in dialog with foundations and governments,” she says.


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South Dakota joins coalition of states in lawsuit against Google

PIERRE, S.D. — South Dakota has joined a number of states in an antitrust lawsuit against Google for illegal, anti-competitive, and unfair business practices.

Co-led by Attorneys General in Utah, New York, Tennessee, and North Carolina, Utah v. Google focuses on exclusionary conduct that results in consumers paying up to 30% more for in-app purchases on apps in the Google Play Store.

It also alleges that Google didn’t keep its promise of remaining an “open source” platform – something it used to entice device manufacturers and service providers – and used contractual restraints to discourage and restrict competition.

“Most consumers have no idea that for years Google has imposed unnecessary fees far beyond the market rates for in-app transactions, unlawfully inflating costs for many services, upgrades and other purchases made through apps downloaded on the Google Play Store,” said Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes. “As a result, a typical American consumer may have paid hundreds if not thousands of dollars more than needed over many years.”

The effort is led by Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes, New York Attorney General Letitia James, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein and Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery III. The other states joining the lawsuit include Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.

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Read more here >>> usnews

Google bans another 25 Android apps! You must delete them NOW or pay a heavy price

Having just blocked nine dangerous apps that were trying to steal Facebook passwords, Google has now banned yet another bunch of popular Android applications from its Play Store with this latest batch targeting those trying to make money via the latest crypto-mining craze. This new type of online currency has boomed in recent years with vast amounts of people trying to join the revolution and make a quick buck. Cryptocurrency mining (AKA – crypto mining) uses the processing power of computers to solve complex mathematical problems that verify cryptocurrency transactions, and the miners are then rewarded with a small amount of cryptocurrency.

The apps that were recently blocked by Google, claimed to offer these money-making mining services in return for a monthly fee.

Once logged in, the user was even presented with an activity dashboard that displayed how well the app was performing and the money being made.

However, it was part of an elaborate scam with the security team at Lookout Threat Lab discovering that – after users paid the subscription – no actual cloud crypto mining ever took place.

A total of 25 applications were removed from Google’s official online marketplace with Lookout warning that more than 100 apps are still available via third-party stores that allow applications to be side-loaded onto devices.

READ MORE: Do NOT buy a new Android phone! Something even better is launching soon

Based on Lookout’s analysis, it’s thought the criminals have scammed more than 93,000 people and stolen at least $ 350,000.

That money is split between users paying for apps and buying additional fake upgrades and services. Lookout has now classified these apps into two distinct families that have been named BitScam and CloudScam.

Once told about the issue, Google promptly removed these apps from Google Play.

Top Coins • Mr Bitcoin • Star BTC • Bitcoin Burn • Moon BAT • Bito Holic • Bito Hash • BitHash • Multi Coins • BitcoinCash Miner

Airdrop • Bright Miner • Pink BTC • XMR Miner • COIN Master • ETHMINER PRO • crypto cloud mining pro • Btc Miner pro • Bito Miner • Mining Machine • BTC CLOUD • BTC Cash • Black Crypto • Cloud Mining • Crypto Pro-Miner

“These apps were able to fly under the radar because they don’t actually do anything malicious,” said Ioannis Gasparis, a mobile application security researcher at Lookout. “They are simply shells set up to attract users caught up in the cryptocurrency craze and collect money for services that don’t exist. Purchasing goods or services online always requires a certain degree of trust — these scams prove that cryptocurrency is no exception.”

This latest warning comes after nine more apps were recently removed from the Play Store after they were found to be tricking users into handing over Facebook login details.

Thinking about using cryptocurrency apps? Here’s some advice from Lookout

• Know the developers behind the app. What certificates or credentials do they have, what other apps have they built, does the company have a website and are you able to contact them?

• Install from an official app store . While scams are hard to spot, downloading from an official store reduces your risk of downloading malware.

• Read the terms and conditions. Most of the scam apps either have fake information or don’t have any terms available.

• Use other users’ reviews of the app for your benefit. Reading other users’ experience with the app can be eye-opening when it comes to identifying scams.

• Understand the app’s permissions and activities . Look for red flags in the app’s activities. Is the app asking for permissions that it doesn’t need to function? Does the app crash or reset abruptly, does the cryptocurrency balance get reset abruptly, do the displayed numbers make sense?

Author: David Snelling
Read more here >>> Daily Express :: Tech

SOUTH DAKOTA ATTORNEY GENERAL JOINS SUIT AGAINST GOOGLE FOR ANTITRUST LAW VIOLATIONS OVER APP STORE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, July 8, 2021

PIERRE, S.D. – Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg has joined a coalition of 37 attorneys general to file a lawsuit against Google in California. Utah v. Google alleges exclusionary conduct relating to the Google Play Store for Android mobile devices and Google Billing. This antitrust lawsuit is the newest legal action against the tech giant, claiming illegal, anticompetitive, and unfair business practices. The States accuse Google of using its dominance to unfairly restrict competition with the Google Play Store, harming consumers by limiting choice and driving up app prices. The lawsuit is co-led by AGs in Utah, New York, Tennessee, and North Carolina.

“Google’s monopoly is a menace to the marketplace. Google Play is not fair play. Google must be held accountable for harming small businesses and consumers,” said Utah Attorney General Reyes. “Most consumers have no idea that for years Google has imposed unnecessary fees far beyond the market rates for in-app transactions, unlawfully inflating costs for many services, upgrades and other purchases made through apps downloaded on the Google Play Store. As a result, a typical American consumer may have paid hundreds if not thousands of dollars more than needed over many years.” 

According to the lawsuit, the heart of the case centers on Google’s exclusionary conduct, which substantially shuts out competing app distribution channels. Google also requires that app developers that offer their apps through the Google Play Store use Google Billing as a middleman. This arrangement, which ties a payment processing system to an app distribution channel forces app consumers to pay Google’s commission—up to 30%—on in-app purchases of digital content made by consumers through apps that are distributed via the Google Play Store. This commission is much higher than the commission that consumers would pay if they had the ability to choose one of Google’s competitors instead. The lawsuit alleges that Google works to discourage or prevent competition, violating federal and state antitrust laws.  Google had earlier promised app developers and device manufacturers that it would keep Android “open source,” allowing developers to create compatible apps and distribute them without unnecessary restrictions. The lawsuit says Google did not keep that promise.  

When Google launched its Android OS, it originally marketed it as an “open source” platform. By promising to keep Android open, Google successfully enticed “OEMs”—mobile device manufacturers such as Samsung—and “MNOs”—mobile network operators such as Verizon—to adopt Android, and more importantly, to forgo competing with Google’s Play Store at that time. Once Google had obtained the “critical mass” of Android OS adoption, Google moved to    close the Android OS ecosystem—and the relevant Android App Distribution Market—to any effective competition by, among other things, requiring OEMs and MNOs to enter into various contractual and other restraints. These contractual restraints disincentivize and restrict OEMs and MNOs from competing (or fostering competition) in the relevant market. The lawsuit alleges that Google’s conduct constitutes unlawful monopoly maintenance, among other claims. 

The AGs further allege that Google also engaged in the following conduct, all aimed at enhancing and protecting Google’s monopoly position over Android app distribution:

Google imposes technical barriers that strongly discourage or effectively prevent third-party app developers from       distributing apps outside the Google Play Store. Google builds into Android a series of security warnings (regardless of actual security risk) and other barriers that discourage users from downloading apps from any source outside Google’s Play Store, effectively foreclosing app developers and app stores from direct distribution to consumers. 

 

Google has not allowed Android to be “open source” for many years, effectively cutting off potential competition. Google forces OEMs that wish to sell devices that run Android to enter into agreements called “Android Compatibility Commitments” or ACCs. Under these “take it or leave it” agreements, OEMs must promise not to create or implement any variants or versions of Android that deviate from the Google-certified version of Android. 

Google’s required contracts foreclose competition by forcing Google’s proprietary apps to be “pre-loaded” on essentially all devices designed to run on the Android OS, and requires that Google’s apps be given the most prominent placement on device home screens. 

Google “buys off” its potential competition in the market for app distribution. Google has successfully persuaded OEMs and MNOs not to compete with Google’s Play Store by entering into arrangements that reward OEMs and MNOs with a share of Google’s monopoly profits. 

Google forces app developers and app users alike to use Google’s payment processing service, Google Play Billing, to process payments for in-app purchases of content consumed within the app. Thus, Google is unlawfully tying the use of Google’s payment processor, which is a separate service within a separate market for payment processing within apps, to distribution through the Google Play Store. By forcing this tie, Google is able to extract an exorbitant processing fee as high as 30% for each transaction and which is more than ten times as high as the fee charged by Google’s competitors.  

This effort is led by Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes, New York Attorney General Letitia James, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein and Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery III.  The other states joining the lawsuit include Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.

                                                                                -30-

The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal officer for the State of South Dakota and provides legal advice to agencies, boards, and commissions of the State as well as representing the State in state and federal court.  The Office of Attorney General also handles prosecutions, felony criminal appeals, civil matters, consumer protection issues, and issues formal opinions interpreting statutes for agencies of the state.  Visit www.atg.sd.gov to learn more. 

Connect with us on Facebook or on Twitter at @SDAttorneyGen

CONTACT: Tim Bormann, Chief of Staff, (605) 773-3215

 

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North Carolina, more than 30 states launch suit against Google over app store

Dozens of states – including North Carolina – are taking aim at Google in an escalating legal offensive on Big Tech.

This time, attorneys general for 36 states and the District of Columbia have filed a lawsuit targeting Google’s Play store, where consumers download apps designed for the Android software that powers most of the world’s smartphones.

“No matter how big a company is, it has to play by the rules,” said Attorney General Josh Stein in a statement. “Google isn’t. It is using its monopoly power to cut off competition and increase its power and profits at the expense of North Carolina consumers by forcing Google Play Store customers to overpay for apps. I will continue to fight on behalf of millions of North Carolina consumers for a marketplace that encourages competition and innovation at a fair price.”

The 144-page complaint filed late Wednesday in a Northern California federal court represents the fourth major antitrust lawsuit filed against Google by government agencies across the U.S. since last October.

The lawsuit also comes against a backdrop of proposed laws in Congress tailored to either break up or undermine the power amassed by Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon. The four have built trillion-dollar empires fueled by the immense popularity of services that people have become increasingly dependent upon.

“Epic Games to amend complaint in lawsuit against Google”

Much of the latest lawsuit echoes similar allegations that mobile game maker Epic Games made against both Google and Apple, which runs a separate app store exclusively for iPhones, in cases brought last August.

Just as Epic did, the states’ lawsuit focuses primarily on the control Google exerts on its app store so it can collect commissions of up to 30% on digital transactions within apps installed on smartphones running on Android. Those devices represent more than 80% of the worldwide smartphone market.


Major points in suit

The lawsuit alleges that Google:

  • Broke its promise to app developers and device manufacturers that it would keep Android “open source,” allowing developers to create compatible apps and distribute them without unnecessary restrictions, but did not keep that promise. Google has not allowed Android to be “open source” for many years, effectively cutting off potential competition.
  • Imposes technical barriers that strongly discourage or effectively prevent third-party app developers from distributing apps outside the Google Play Store.
  • Forces Google’s proprietary apps to be “pre-loaded” on essentially all devices designed to run on the Android OS, which cuts off potential competition.
  • Forces app developers and app users alike to use Google’s payment processing service, Google Play Billing, to process payments for in-app purchases of content consumed within the app. By requiring this, Google is able to extract an exorbitant processing fee as high as 30 percent for each transaction, which is more than 10 times as high as the fee charged by Google’s competitors.

Source: NC AG office


A high-profile trial pitting Epic — the maker of the widely played Fortnite video game — against Apple concluded in late May. A decision from the federal judge who presided over the month-long proceedings is expected later this summer. Epic’s lawsuit against Google is still awaiting trial.

Although its app commissions are similar to Apple’s, Google has tried to distinguish itself by allowing consumers to download apps from other places than its Play store. Apple, in contrast, doesn’t allow iPhone users to install apps from any other outlet than its store.

But the lawsuit filed Wednesday alleges Google’s claims that its Android software is an open operating system that allows consumers more choices is a sham.

The complaint contends Google has deployed various tactics and set up anticompetitive barriers to ensure it distributes more than 90% of the apps on Android devices — a market share that the attorneys general argue represents an illegal monopoly. What’s more, the lawsuit alleges Google has been abusing that power to reap billions of dollars in profit at the expense of consumers who wind up paying higher prices to subsidize the commissions, and the makers of apps who have less money and incentive to innovate.

“Google’s monopoly is a menace to the marketplace,” said Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, who is leading the lawsuit along with his peers in New York, Tennessee and North Carolina. “Google Play is not fair play. Google must be held accountable for harming small businesses and consumers.”

Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for a lawsuit, but it has adamantly defended the way it runs its Play store in its response to the Epic lawsuit and in other instances.

The Mountain View, California, company also is fighting the three other lawsuits that were filed against it last year, including a landmark case brought by the U.S. Justice Department. Those cases are focused on alleged abuses of Google’s dominant search engine and its digital ad network that generates more than $ 100 billion in annual revenue for its corporate parent, Alphabet Inc.

As the scrutiny on their app stores has intensified, both Apple and Google have been taking conciliatory steps. Most notably, both have lowered their commissions to 15% on the first $ 1 million in revenue collected by app makers — a reduction that covers most apps in their respective stores.

But those measures haven’t lessened the heat on any of the major tech companies, nor should they, said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, who chairs a subcommittee that oversees antitrust issues.

“This is exactly the type of aggressive antitrust enforcement that we need to rein in the power of big tech and address America’s monopoly problem,” she said in a statement.

But fighting Big Tech won’t be easy. Besides being able to spend heavily to lobby for their positions, the companies also contend they have the law on their side. Facebook, for instance, scored a major victory last week when a federal judge dismissed an antitrust lawsuit against the social media company by the Federal Trade Commission and a coalition of states on the grounds that they hadn’t submitted enough evidence to back their monopoly allegations.

Other states participating in the suit are: New York, Tennessee, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.

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Donald Trump to sue Facebook, Twitter and Google – Former US President claiming ‘bias’

The former US President claimed the three companies silence conservative thought. Speaking today at his New Jersey golf course, Mr Trump revealed he had filed the lawsuits at a federal court in Florida. He also claimed he has been wrongfully censured by the three companies. 

Mr Trump said: “We’re demanding an end to the shadow-banning, a stop to the silencing and a stop to the blacklisting, banishing and cancelling that you know so well.

“Our case will prove this censorship is unlawful, unconstitutional and un-American.”

He also revealed the lawsuit will call for a prompt restitution of his social media accounts on the platform. 

He added: “We are asking the court to impose punitive damages on these social media giants. 

“We are going told Big Tech accountable and this is the first of numerous lawsuits which will soon follow.”

The former President also claimed he is confident he will achieve a victory and said the move was integral in defending the First Amendment. 

Mr Trump was removed from Twitter and Facebook following the Capitol Hill riot. 

Both companies cited their concern he would incite further violence following the incident on January 6. 

JUST IN: Brexit LIVE: SNP stuns Boris with sensational bid to change UK rules

On January 9, Twitter permanently suspended Mr Trump’s account. 

The social media platform locked Mr Trump out of his account for 12 hours after he called rioters “patriots” as they stormed the Capitol. 

After returning to the platform, Mr Trump posted two further tweets which the company claimed violated its regulations. 

In one tweet, Mr Trump wrote: “The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, America first, and make America great again will have a giant voice long into the future.

“They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!”

Commenting on Mr Trump’s ban at the time, Twitter said: “After close review of recent Tweets from the account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence. 

“In the context of horrific events this week, we made it clear on Wednesday that additional violations of the Twitter Rules would potentially result in this very course of action. 

“Our public interest framework exists to enable the public to hear from elected officials and world leaders directly.

“It is built on a principle that the people have a right to hold power to account in the open.”

None of the tech companies have responded to Mr Trump today. 

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Author: Bill McLoughlin
Read more here >>> Daily Express :: World Feed