Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Criticism of Google


Google is a corporation that compiles information and makes it searchable via the Internet. Google's stated mission is "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful," but this mission, and the means used to accomplish it, have raised concerns among the company's critics. The policies and practices for which Google has been criticized include its use of others' intellectual property, concerns that its compilation of data may violate people's privacy, censorship of search results, and the energy consumption of its servers. Much of the criticism of Google pertains to issues that have not yet been addressed by cyber law.

- About Page Rank

* Danger of influencing society through page rank manipulation

It has been argued that if your search is not found on Google it does not exist. Research by group of Austrian researchers claims that they observe a tendency to misuse the Google engine as a "reality interface". Not just ordinary users but even journalists tend to rely on the first pages of Google search, assuming that everything not listed there is either not important or merely does not exist. The referenced source says that "Google has become the main interface for our whole reality. To be precise: With the Google interface the user gets the impression that the search results imply a kind of totality. In fact, one only sees a small part of what one could see if one also integrates other research tools". The mentioned group warns that page rank can be influenced by individual views of the Google staff: "it became clear that not only mathematical algorithms and software, but also human brains in the Google headquarter will edit information processed by Google and decide what will go online and in which form."

* Page ranking related lawsuits

In 2006, the parental advice Internet site Kinderstart.com sued Google for setting its Page rank to zero, claiming that the reset caused the site to lose 70 percent of its audience. In this lawsuit, it was stated, that "Google does not generally inform Web sites that they have been penalized nor does it explain in detail why the Web site was penalized". Kinderstart claimed that they were penalized for being a Google competitor (setting up the search engine). Kinderstart has formally lost the process (while their rank seems no longer zero). Google claims that allowing one to win such process would set a dangerous precedent, encouraging other penalized sites to protest as well.

* Google bombing

The page ranking algorithm of Google can and has been manipulated for political and humorous reasons. To illustrate the view that Google's search engine could be subjected to manipulation, Google Watch implemented a Google bomb by linking the phrase "out-of-touch executives" to Google's own page on its corporate management. The attempt was mistakenly attributed to disgruntled Google employees by The New York Times, which later printed a correction.

- Copyright issues

* Google Print

Google's ambitious plans to scan millions of books and make them readable through its search engine have been criticized for copyright violations. Also, Association for Learned and Professional Society Publishers and the Association of American University Presses have both issued statements strongly opposing Google Print, stating that "Google, an enormously successful company, claims a sweeping right to appropriate the property of others for its own commercial use unless it is told, case by case and instance by instance, not to."

* Cached Data

Kazaa and the Church of Scientology have used the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to demand that Google remove references to allegedly copyrighted material on their sites. While Google potentially faces lawsuits when not removing such links, critics argue that Google has an obligation to direct users to intended content and not censor results based on copyright.

The New York Times has complained that the caching of their content during a web crawl, a feature utilized by search engines including Google Web Search, violates copyright.[12] Google observes Internet standard mechanisms for requesting that caching be disabled via the robots.txt file, which is another mechanism that allows operators of a website to request that part or all of their site not be included in search engine results, or via META tags, which allow a content editor to specify whether a document can be crawled or archived, or whether the links on the document can be followed. The U.S. District Court of Nevada ruled that Google's caches do not constitute copyright infringement under American law in Field v. Google and Parker v. Google.

* Google Library

On September 20, 2005, the Authors Guild, a group that represents 8,000 U.S. authors, filed a class action suit in federal court in Manhattan against Google over its unauthorized scanning and copying of books through its Google Library program. Google states that it is in compliance with all existing and historical applications of copyright laws regarding books. The publicized contract between Google and the University of Michigan makes it clear that Google will provide only excerpts of copyright text in a search. The contract says that it will comply with "fair use", an exemption in copyright law that allows people to reproduce portions of text of copyrighted material.

* YouTube and Viacom

On July 14, 2008, Viacom compromised to protect YouTube users' personal data in their $1 billion copyright lawsuit. Google agreed it will anonymize user information and internet protocol addresses from its YouTube subsidiary before handing the data over to Viacom. The privacy deal also applied to other litigants including the FA Premier League, the Rodgers & Hammerstein organization and the Scottish Premier League. The deal however did not extend the anonymity to employees, because Viacom wishes to prove that Google staff are aware of the uploading of illegal material to the site. The parties therefore will further meet on the matter lest the data be made available to the court.

* Google Watch

In 2002, the non-profit group Public Information Research launched a website known as Google Watch, which advertised itself as "a look at Google's monopoly, algorithms, and privacy issues." The site raised questions relating to Google's storage of cookies, which in 2007 had a life span of more than 32 years and incorporated a unique ID that enabled creation of a user data log. Google Watch has also criticized Google's PageRank algorithms, saying that they discriminate against new websites and favor established sites, and has made allegations about connections between Google and the NSA and the CIA. Connection with the CIA has been discussed by others as well. In February 2003, Google Watch nominated Google for a Big Brother Award, describing Google as a "privacy time bomb." Google now anonymizes its IP data after 9 months and its cookies after 18 months, according to Google's privacy FAQ.

* Privacy

In December 2009, Google's CEO, Eric Schmidt, declared after privacy concerns: "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place. If you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines—including Google—do retain this information for some time and it's important, for example, that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act and it is possible that all that information could be made available to the authorities."

Privacy International has raised concerns regarding the dangers and privacy implications of having a centrally-located, widely popular data warehouse of millions of Internet users' searches, and how under controversial existing U.S. law, Google can be forced to hand over all such information to the U.S. government.

In its 2007 Consultation Report, Privacy International ranked Google as "Hostile to Privacy", its lowest rating on their report, making Google the only company in the list to receive that ranking.

Carl Hewitt (Emeritus, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT), noted that intimate personal information is a "toxic asset" in Google datacenters because it will lead to government regulation "analogous to medical and legal practioners." Consequently, he recommended that Google should perform semantic integration in equipment controlled by a client so that client information in Google datacenters could be decrypted only by using a client's private key.

* Potential for data disclosure

In early 2005, the United States Department of Justice filed a motion in federal court to force Google to comply with a subpoena for, "the text of each search string entered onto Google's search engine over a two-month period (absent any information identifying the person who entered such query)." Google fought the subpoena, due to concerns about users' privacy. In March 2006, the court ruled partially in Google's favor, recognizing the privacy implications of turning over search terms and refusing to grant access.

* Cookies

Google originally placed a cookie on each registered user's computer, which can be used to track that person's search history, and that cookie was not set to expire until 2038. As of 2007, Google's cookie now expires in two years but renews itself when a Google service is used. There is no evidence that Google turns over information to the FBI or the NSA, though some users remain anxious about the possibility. In response, Google claims cookies are necessary to maintain user preferences between sessions and offer other search features. Other popular search engines, such as Yahoo! Search and Microsoft's Bing, use cookies with distant expiration dates as well; an alternative set up by privacy advocates, Scroogle, does not.

* Gmail

Steve Ballmer (Microsoft's CEO), Liz Figueroa, Mark Rasch, and the editors of Google Watch believe the processing of email message content by Google's Gmail service goes beyond proper use. Google claims that mail sent to or from Gmail is never read by a human being beyond the account holder, and is only used to improve relevance of advertisements. Whether Google is the only email provider that reviews the contents of users' mail, or simply the only one that publicly admits it is unknown. The privacy policies of other popular email services, like Hotmail and Yahoo, allow users' personal information to be collected and utilized for advertising purposes, but do not specify precisely what information and which services.

* Street View

Google's online map service, "Street View" has been accused of taking pictures and coming too close inside people's private homes and/or people who walk down the street not knowing they are being watched on Google's service. Aaron and Christine Boring, a Pittsburgh couple, sued Google for "invasion of privacy". They claimed that Street View made a photo of their home available online, and it diminished the value of their house, which was purchased for its privacy. They lost their case in a Pennsylvania court. "While it is easy to imagine that many whose property appears on Google's virtual maps resent the privacy implications, it is hard to believe that any – other than the most exquisitely sensitive – would suffer shame or humiliation," Judge Hay ruled, the Boring family was paid one dollar by Google for the incident. So far Germany has not allowed Street View but Google has images from Panoramio (which is owned by Google) available in Street View. In the Czech Republic Street View has been disallowed to take pictures of new locations since 2010 by the Czech Office for Personal Data Protection after more than 5 months of unsuccessful negotiation between the Czech Republic and Google. The Office described Google’s program as taking pictures “beyond the extent of the ordinary sight from a street”, and claimed that it “disproportionately invaded citizens’ privacy.”] Google’s Street View cars even faced vandalism on Channel island Guernsey. Google Maps also censor certain international entities such as bodies of waters, usually due to political pressures. One such omission is Google's refusal to name "Persian Gulf" in its maps when one looks at the map of the Asian continent, and its previous attempts to censor or hide this internationally recognized name with other locally unrecognized alternative versions.

* Surveillance of WiFi networks

Google collected about 600 gigabytes of data from users of public WiFi stations (which are not owned by Google) during 2006–2010, including snippets of emails. No disclosures nor privacy policy was given to those affected, nor to the owners of the WiFi stations, in more than 30 countries. A Google representative claimed that they were not aware of their own data collection activities until an inquiry from German regulators was received, and that none of this data was used in Google's search engine or other services. A representative of Consumer Watchdog replied, "Once again, Google has demonstrated a lack of concern for privacy. Its computer engineers run amok, push the envelope and gather whatever data they can until their fingers are caught in the cookie jar." In a sign that legal penalties may result, Google said it will not destroy the data until permitted by regulators.

* Google Buzz

On February 9, 2010 Google launched Google Buzz, Google's microblogging service. Anyone with a Gmail account is automatically added as a contact to pre-existing Gmail contacts, and must opt-out if they do not wish to participate.

The launch of Google Buzz as an "opt-out" social network immediately drew criticism for violating user privacy because it automatically allowed Gmail users' contacts to view their other contacts.

* Privacy and data protection cases and issues by state

** European Union

European Union (EU) data protection officials (the Article 29 working party who advise the EU on privacy policy) have written to Google asking the company to justify its policy of keeping information on individuals' internet searches for up to two years. The letter questioned whether Google has "fulfilled all the necessary requirements" on the EU laws concerning data protection. The probe by the EU into the data protection issue, As of 24 May 2007 is continuing. On June 1 Google agreed that its privacy policy is vague, and that they are constantly working at making it clearer to users. The resulting modifications to its privacy policies have been met with praise.

** Germany

Google refused to comply with a German demand to surrender data illegally collected from unsecured home wireless networks. Google said its cars collected 600 gigabytes of "fragmentary data" including fragments of e-mails, from unsecured wireless networks in 34 countries.
In November 2010, vandals in Germany targeted houses that had opted out of Google's Street View.

** Italy

Google-Vividown: in February 2010, three Google executives were handed six-month suspended sentences for breach of the Italian Personal Data Protection Code.

** Norway

The Data Inspectorate of Norway (Norway is not a member of the EU) has investigated Google (and others) and has stated that the 18- to 24-month period for retaining data proposed by Google was too long.

** USA

A U.S. court ordered Google to hand over two copies of wireless data that the company's Street View program collected as it photographed neighborhoods.

* Censorship

Google has been criticized for various instances of censoring its search results, many times in compliance with the laws of various countries, most notably in China.

* Web search

In the United States, Google commonly censors search results to comply with Digital Millennium Copyright Act-related legal complaints, such as in 2002 when Google censored websites that provided information critical of Scientology. Furthermore, in February 2003, Google stopped showing the advertisements of Oceana, a non-profit organization protesting a major cruise ship operation's sewage treatment practices. Google cited its editorial policy at the time, stating "Google does not accept advertising if the ad or site advocates against other individuals, groups, or organizations." The policy was later changed.

In the United Kingdom, it was reported that Google had 'delisted' Inquisition 21st Century, a website which claims to challenge moral authoritarian and sexually absolutist ideas in the United Kingdom. Google later released a press statement suggesting Inquisition 21 had attempted to manipulate search results. In addition, in April 2008, Google refused to run ads for a UK Christian group opposed to abortion, explaining that "At this time, Google policy does not permit the advertisement of websites that contain 'abortion and religion-related content.'" In Germany and France, a study reported that approximately 113 White Nationalist, Nazi, anti-semitic, radical Islamic and other websites had been removed from the German and French versions of Google. Google has complied with these laws by not including sites containing such material in its search results. However, Google does list the number of excluded results at the bottom of the search result page and links to Chilling Effects for explanation.

On Google Maps, Google removed street view and 360 degree images of military bases per the Pentagon's request. It also removed reference to the Persian Gulf over controversy suggesting whether it should be called the Persian Gulf or Arabian Gulf. However, Google Earth used both terms.

As of January 26, 2011, Google's Auto Complete feature will not complete certain words such as "bittorrent", "torrent", "utorrent" and "rapidshare", as they were often searched piratically.[75] In addition, swears and pornographic words are not completed. However, they are not censored from actual search results.

* China

Until March 2010, Google adhered to the Internet censorship policies of China, enforced by filters colloquially known as "The Great Firewall of China". Google.cn search results were filtered so as not to bring up any results concerning the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, sites supporting the independence movements of Tibet and Taiwan, the Falun Gong movement, and other information perceived to be harmful to the People's Republic of China (PRC). Google claimed that some censorship is necessary in order to keep the Chinese government from blocking Google entirely, as occurred in 2002. The company claims it did not plan to give the government information about users who search for blocked content, and will inform users that content has been restricted if they attempt to search for it. As of 2009, Google was the only major China-based search engine to explicitly inform the user when search results are blocked or hidden.

Some Chinese Internet users have been critical of Google for assisting the Chinese government in repressing its own citizens, particularly those dissenting against the government and advocating for human rights . Furthermore, Google has been denounced and called hypocritical by Free Media Movement for agreeing to China's demands while simultaneously fighting the United States government's requests for similar information. Google China has also been condemned by Reporters Without Borders, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

In 2009, China Central Television, Xinhua News Agency, People's Daily reported Google's "dissemination of obscene information", People's Daily claimed that "Google's 'don't be evil' motto becomes a fig leaf". Chinese government imposed administrative penalties to Google China, and demanded for a reinforcement of the censorship.

However, on January 12, 2010, in response to an apparent hacking of Google's servers in an attempt to access information about Chinese dissidents, Google announced that “we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all.” On March 22, 2010, after talks with Chinese authorities failed to reach an agreement, the company redirected its censor-complying Google China service to its Google Hong Kong service, which is outside the jurisdiction of Chinese censorship laws. However, at least as of March 23, 2010, "The Great Firewall" continues to censor search results from the Hong Kong portal, www.google.com.hk (as it does with the US portal, www.google.com) for controversial terms such as "Falun gong" and "the June 4 incident" (Tiananmen Square incident). ”

* YouTube

YouTube—a video sharing website and subsidiary of Google—in its Terms of Service prohibits the posting of videos which violate copyrights or depict pornography, illegal acts, gratuitous violence, or hate speech . User-posted videos that violate such terms may be removed and replaced with a message stating: "This video has been removed due to terms of use violation".

YouTube has been criticized by national governments for failing to police content. In 2006, Thailand blocked access to YouTube for users with Thai IP addresses. Thai authorities identified 20 offensive videos and demanded that YouTube remove them before it would unblock any YouTube content. In 2007 a Turkish judge ordered access to YouTube blocked because of content that insulted Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, a crime under Turkish law. On February 22, 2008, Pakistan Telecommunications attempted to block regional access to YouTube following a government order. The attempt subsequently caused a worldwide YouTube blackout that took 2 hours to correct. Four days later, Pakistan Telecom lifted the ban after YouTube removed controversial religious comments made by a Dutch government official concerning Islam.

YouTube has also been criticized by its users for attempting to police content. In November 2007, the account of Wael Abbas, an Egyptian activist who posted videos of police brutality, voting irregularities and anti-government demonstrations, was blocked for three days.

In February 2008, a video produced by the American Life League that accused a Planned Parenthood television commercial of promoting recreational sex was removed, then reinstated two days later. In October, a video by stand-up comic Pat Condell criticizing the British government for officially sanctioning sharia law courts in Britain was removed, then reinstated two days later. In response, his fans uploaded copies of the video themselves, and the National Secular Society wrote to YouTube in protest. During the December 2008 Gaza Strip airstrikes, YouTube removed videos of air strikes against Hamas that were posted by the IDF.

In September 2009, the account of artist Suzannah B. Troy, who posted videos critical of New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and of a change in term limits which permitted him to run for a third term, was suspended for 28 hours.

* AdSense/AdWords

In August 2008, Google closed the AdSense account of a site that carried a negative view of Scientology and this was the second closing of such a site within 3 months. It is not certain if the account revocations actually were on the grounds of anti-religious content, however the cases have raised questions about Google's terms in regards to AdSense/AdWords. The Adsense policy defines that "Sites displaying Google ads may not include advocacy against any individual, group, or organization", which allows Google to revoke the above mentioned AdSense accounts.

In May 2011, Google cancelled the AdWord purchased by a Dublin sex worker rights group named "Turn Off the Blue Light", claiming that it represented an "egregious violation" of company ad policy by "selling adult sexual services", despite the fact that the site advertises a nonprofit campaign for human rights, not an escort service. Furthermore, it allowed the anti-prostitution campaign to which the "Blue Light" group is opposed purchase an AdWord, despite the fact that such a sale clearly violates Google policy by "includ[ing]...advocacy against individual, group, or organization", namely sex workers.

* Search within search

For some search results, Google provides a secondary search box within search page that enables the user to find what they are looking for within a particular website. This idea originated from the way users were searching. According to software engineer Ben Lee and Product Manager Jack Menzel, "teleporting" on the web is what helps Google users to complete their search. Google took this concept a step further and instead of just "teleporting", which means users need only to type part of the name of a website into Google (no need to remember the entire URL) in order to find the correct site, users could type in keywords to search within the website of their choice. It appeared that users were often not finding exactly what they needed while trying to explore within a company site.

Although this is an innovative search tool for users, it sparked some controversy among some online publishers and retailers. When performing a search within a search for a specific company, advertisements from competing and rival companies often showed up along with those results, drawing users away from the site they were originally searching. "While the service could help increase traffic, some users could be siphoned away as Google uses the prominence of the brands to sell ads, typically to competing companies." In order to combat this controversy, Google has offered to turn off this feature for companies who request to have it removed.

* Digital rights management

Announced on January 6, 2006 at the CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, the Google Video store began selling copyrighted content at the Google Video website. Initially, this service was restricted to the United States and certain other countries. To protect copyright of some video programming, Google created a Google DRM (Digital Rights Management) lock for certain paid content.

On 2007-08-15 Google discontinued its DTO/DTR (download-to-own/rent) program. Videos which had been previously purchased under that program, as a result of the embedded DRM licenses being revoked, are no longer viewable despite being purchased for ownership. Google chose to refund all its customers by issuing "gift certificates" (or "bonuses") to their "Google Checkout Account" accounting for the full amount spent on videos. After public uproar against the chosen method of refund, Google issued full refunds to credit cards of the Google Video users without revoking the gift certificates.

* Other

** Energy consumption

Google has been criticized for the high amount of energy used to maintain its servers. Google has pledged to spend millions of dollars to investigate cheap, clean, renewable energy, and has installed solar panels on the roofs at its Mountain View facilities. In 2010, Google also invested $39 million in wind power.

** Doodles

Google was criticized in 2007 for not featuring versions of the Google logo (known as "Doodles") for American patriotic holidays such as Memorial Day and Veterans Day. That year, Google featured a logo commemorating Veterans Day.

** Naming of Go programming language

Google is criticized for naming their programming language "Go" while there is already an existing programming language called "Go!".

** Potential security threats

Google has been criticised for providing information that could potentially be useful to terrorists. In March 2010, British MPs and military officers criticised Google for including detailed pictures of the headquarters of the SAS, stating that terrorists might use this information to stage attacks. Google responded that there was no appreciable security risk and that it had no intention of removing the pictures.

** Tax avoidance

Google has been criticized for using legal, but aggressive tax avoidance strategies to minimize its corporate tax bill. Google cut its taxes by $3.1 billion in the period of 2007 to 2009 using a technique that moves most of its foreign profits through Ireland and The Netherlands to Bermuda. Google’s income shifting — involving strategies known to lawyers as the “Double Irish” and the “Dutch Sandwich” – helped reduce its overseas tax rate to 2.4 percent, the lowest of the top five U.S. technology companies by market capitalization, according to regulatory filings in six countries.

Suggestion :

I thing that Google was still good until now and i suggest that Google can be better to last, although i didnt get money from him [Google] ...xixixi .. :P

So,,Google,,, make more future at yours and give me much money..hahaa..

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