A new lawsuit against Google filed on Thursday of last week raises interesting questions about whether or not the tech giant is “stealing Android users’ cellular data allowances though unapproved, undisclosed transmissions to the web giant’s servers”.
The suit, filed in US federal district court in San Jose by 4 plaintiffs aims to be certified as a class action. It alleges that Google is using Android users’ limited cellular data allowances to transmit information about the users unrelated to the use of Google services. The case surrounds “data sent to Google’s servers that isn’t the result of deliberate interaction with a mobile device”, according to The Register.
In other words, data transfers happening in the background, when the phone isn’t in use. The suit alleges that none of the four agreements accepted to participate in the Google ecosystem say anything about cell data transfers taking place in the background.
The suit states: “Google designed and implemented its Android operating system and apps to extract and transmit large volumes of information between Plaintiffs’ cellular devices and Google using Plaintiffs’ cellular data allowances.”
It continues: “Google’s misappropriation of Plaintiffs’ cellular data allowances through passive transfers occurs in the background, does not result from Plaintiffs’ direct engagement with Google’s apps and properties on their devices, and happens without Plaintiffs’ consent.”
There are few things as revealing as a person’s search history, and police typically need a warrant on a known suspect to demand that sensitive information. But a recently unsealed court document found that investigators can request such data in reverse order by asking Google to disclose everyone who searched a keyword rather than for information on a known suspect.
In August, police arrested Michael Williams, an associate of singer and accused sex offender R. Kelly, for allegedly setting fire to a witness’ car in Florida. Investigators linked Williams to the arson, as well as witness tampering, after sending a search warrant to Google that requested information on “users who had searched the address of the residence close in time to the arson.”
Google Street View offers up a window to the world in all its bizarre, intimate, and often raw glory. That window just so happens to peek into your home, as well. What that peek reveals may be more than you’ve bargained for — think views into bedroom windows, potential fodder for stalkers, and more.
Thankfully, there is something you can do about it. Specifically, you can ask Google to permanently blur your house out — leaving only a smeared suggestion of a building in its place. The entire process is surprisingly easy.
Google will ban ads promoting coronavirus conspiracy theories, remove ads from pages that promote these theories, and demonetize entire sites that frequently violate the policy starting on August 18th. CNBC reported the news earlier today, noting that it supplements an existing ban on monetizing harmful medical misinformation.
A Google spokesperson confirmed that the new policy will cover pages contradicting an “authoritative scientific consensus” on the coronavirus pandemic. While Google already demonetizes false health claims, it will soon do the same for false claims about the virus’s origins, for example. The policy won’t apply to pages debunking or reporting on the existence of these theories, and it doesn’t apply to non-coronavirus-related conspiracy theories.
“We are putting additional safeguards in place by expanding our harmful health claims policies for both publishers and advertisers to include dangerous content about a health crisis that contradicts scientific consensus,” a spokesperson told The Verge.
Google and other large web platforms have struggled with a constantly shifting information (and misinformation) landscape around the pandemic. The company briefly banned all non-governmental coronavirus-related as in March, but it lifted the ban after complaints from Democratic campaign organizations. It has also demonetized YouTube videos about the pandemic, a tack it’s taken with many sensitive topics. And amid product shortages early in the pandemic, it temporarily banned ads for the sale of face masks — a policy Facebook also adopted.
Alphabet Inc’s Google said on Friday it would prohibit websites and apps that use its advertising technology from running ads on “dangerous content” that goes against scientific consensus during the coronavirus pandemic.
The world’s largest search engine updated its policy as the health crisis has continued to rage throughout the United States, and digital advertising giants like Google and Facebook Inc have faced calls to do more to clamp down on misinformation.
Content not allowed to make money from ads include debunked conspiracy theories, such as the notion that the novel coronavirus was created in a Chinese lab as a bioweapon, that it was created by Microsoft Corp founder Bill Gates, or that the virus is a hoax, Google said in a statement.
Google already bars ads with harmful content like “miracle” health cures or which promote the anti-vaccination movement. It also prevents ads from running on publisher content that encourages those topics.
Google’s new policy will also bar advertisers from creating their own ads that promote coronavirus conspiracy theories.
Google is about to take one giant step into directly shaping the prevailing media narrative.
One month after Google made news by banning ads on websites – such as this one – for violating its terms of service when it comes to “derogatory” material (a purposefully amorphous concept), the world’s leading search engine and internet advertising monopoly which controls 70% of online ad spending, will take an even more aggressive step. According to CNBC, starting on August 18, Google will “ban publishers from using its ad platform next to content that promotes conspiracy theories about Covid-19.” Additionally, “in cases where a particular site publishes a certain threshold of material that violates these policies, it will ban the entire site from using its ad platforms.”
In short, anyone who deviates from the conventionally accepted narrative, or as CNBC puts it challenges the “authoritative scientific consensus” on the coronavirus pandemic will be promptly demonetized.