Google to bans apps containing “misleading health claims that contradict existing medical consensus”

The Android app store, Google Play, has introduced sweeping new rules that ban apps containing what the tech giant deems to be “misleading health claims that contradict existing medical consensus, or can cause harm to users.”

The new rules are part of a Google Play “health misinformation” policy that came into force on August 31. Some of the examples of in-app content that’s banned under this new policy include “misleading claims about vaccines, such as that vaccines can alter one’s DNA,” “advocacy of harmful, unapproved treatments,” and “advocacy of other harmful health practices, such as conversion therapy.”

Google’s new policy comes at a time when the medical consensus has changed multiple times over the last few years. In 2020 Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said that Pfizer’s reported 90% COVID-19 vaccine efficacy rate was “extraordinary.” In 2021, Fauci said the vaccine will “protect you against the surging of the delta variant.” But this year, former White House COVID response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx admitted that she “knew” COVID vaccines would not prevent infection.

Keep reading

Google triggers criminal probe after dad takes photos of his toddler, naked, for doctor

Google triggered a criminal investigation and locked a man out of his accounts after flagging photos he sent to his son’s pediatrician as potential child pornography, according to the New York Times.

The tech company initially flagged the images when they were automatically uploaded to Google servers from the father’s phone, according to the NYT. After a nearly year-long investigation of everything in his Google account, including search history, location history, messages and photos, police determined he hadn’t committed a crime.

The father, referred to only as Mark by the NYT, had taken photos of his young son, naked, at the request of a doctor over concerns about his infected penis, according to the NYT. Google quickly locked him out of his account after scanning the photos, and he lost emails, contacts and personal photos and had to get a new phone number after losing access to his Google Fi account.

Keep reading

Google hands over home security camera footage to police without a warrant

Google and Amazon are letting the police access data from smart home cameras without a warrant, if they are told this footage is needed because of an “emergency.”

Meanwhile others who sell similar devices and services, like Arlo, Apple, Wyze, Eufy, claim their policy is the opposite, CNET writes.

It was first reported that Amazon was cooperating with law enforcement in this way, and it has now emerged that Google is treating its customers’ privacy the same way.

In the US, Amazon and Google say that “in most cases” the police have to provide some kind of legal justification to access video from their devices installed in people’s homes, be it a warrant or subpoena. Any other policy, such as making exceptions like the “emergencies” one, is not something a company can be forced to do, reports say, suggesting that Amazon and Google have chosen to adopt such an approach to users’ privacy.

Keep reading

Google Researchers: ‘Democratic AI’ Would Be Better at Governing America than Humans

Researchers at Google’s DeepMind AI division reportedly ran a number of experiments where a deep neural network was ordered to distribute resources in a more equitable way that humans preferred. The researchers claim their data shows that AI would do a better job governing America than humans.

Vice reports that AI researchers at Google recently posed a new question — could machine learning be better equipped than humans to create a society that equally divides resources in a more fair and equal way? According to a recent paper published in Nature by researchers at Google’s DeepMind, the answer may be yes — as least as far as the study’s participants were concerned.

Keep reading

How to scrub yourself from the internet, the best that you can

You can’t fully scrub yourself from the internet. A little bit of you will always linger, whether it’s in data-broker databases, on old social media you forgot about or in the back of someone else’s vacation photos on Flickr.

That’s no reason to give up! You can absolutely take steps to protect your privacy by cleaning up things like your Google results. For the best results you’ll need time, money, patience, and to live in a country or state with strong privacy laws.

This week’s Ask Help Desk question is all about the data brokers: “How do I get my information deleted from data aggregators?” asks Jennifer Swindell, from Sagle, Idaho. But first, we’re going to take a step back and start with something a little more public.

Keep reading

Google Worker Fired For Blowing The Whistle on ‘Spiritual Organization’ Within Company That’s Been Accused of Sex Trafficking

Google fired one of its employees for blowing the whistle on a “doomsday” cult-like “spiritual organization” within the company.

The employee, Kevin Lloyd, a video producer who worked in the Google Developer Studio, is now suing the tech giant, claiming he was unfairly fired in retaliation after he raised alarm about the religious group.

Lloyd warns the group called the Fellowship of Friends has increasingly gained power at the company by hiring members of its cult-like organization to fill key positions.

Members of the Fellowship of Friends believe they are called to create a new civilization following a doomsday event and implores its followers to attain enlightenment to transcend a state of “waking sleep” state.  The group, which has approximately 1,500 members internationally,  also believes enlightenment is attained by embracing arts including ballet, painting, opera and wine. Friends of Fellowship

The alleged cult-like organization, which collects 10 percent of its’ members’ income, was founded in the 1970s by Robert Earl Burton, who has been sued for sexually assaulting male members of the group.

“Once you become aware of this, you become responsible,” Kevin Lloyd told the New York Times while recounting his decision to sound the alarm on the group’s infiltration of Google. “You can’t look away.”

In his lawsuit, which was filed in a Californian Superior Court in Silicon Valley, Lloyd claims Peter Lubbersthe, director of the Google Developer Studio and a member of Fellowship of Friends, is funneling money from Google to enrich the religious organization and that he was wrongfully terminated for informing his supervisors about the issue.

Keep reading

Google Accused of Manipulating UK News Results With ‘Anti-Conservative Bias’: Whistleblower

A Google whistleblower told The Epoch Times that the Internet giant has an “anti-conservative bias” and search results are “reconfigured to what the establishment thinks.”

He added that “we have to use whatever democracy we have left to stop this.”

It follows allegations from a Daily Mail study that articles from mostly left-wing outlets were returned among the most searched terms on Google about UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, prompting the country’s culture secretary to say that it “tells us what many have suspected all along.”

On June 10, the Daily Mail showed that searching for Johnson on Google presented far more results from news sites hostile to him. The Guardian came up 38 times, The Independent was cited 14 times, and BBC News came up 24 times. More conservative-leaning outlets such as The Daily Telegraph came up four times, the Daily Express three times, and MailOnline twice.

The response was noted by UK Culture Secretary Nadine Dorres, who is setting up the Digital Markets Unit (DMU) that will oversee a new regulatory regime, and who is currently looking at various platforms to understand how algorithms can impact users’ online experiences.

“I have raised the issue of bias and algorithms distorting democratic content and opinion with Google,” Dorres told the Daily Mail. “They have promised to revert to me with evidence that this is not the case which I have yet to receive.”

“This evidence published by the Mail is fairly conclusive and tells us what many have suspected all along. We are looking at how we can address unfair bias and distortion in the forthcoming Digital Competition Bill,” she told the publication.

Keep reading

Google Whistleblower: Search Engine ‘Rewrote Algorithms to Go After Trump’

Google whistleblower Zach Vorhies, co-author with Kent Heckenlively of the new book Google Leaks: A Whistleblower’s Exposé of Big Tech Censorshipexplained how Google “re-wrote their news algorithms to specifically go after Trump” in an interview with the Epoch Times.

Vorhies passed hundreds of internal documents to Project Veritas in 2019, including items from the company’s YouTube search blacklist showing direct interference in democratic votes.

In his interview with the Epoch Times, Vorhies displayed internal files showing how Google ranks news stories. “This is called realtime, hive-mind scoring,” said Vorhies.  “They literally built it, they re-wrote it according to the fight that Trump was having with [James] Comey.”

Asked by Epoch Times interviewer Joshua Phillipp whether this was just a way for Google to surface top news stories, Vorhies pointed out that the quality of search results has declined, with users looking to competing search engines.

“It’s not for increasing market share in the United States… their competitors are having exponential growth.”

“The way that they allowed the mainstream media to structure their stories so they could remain at the top of their search index, their news index.”

Keep reading

Google plots to curb the effectiveness of ad-blockers

It’s common for corporations to take actions that ultimately are to the detriment of most consumers and Google is one of the world’s biggest. The tech giant is making changes to its Chrome Web Store, specifically an end to supporting Manifest v2 (Mv2) extensions, which will make it more difficult for adblockers to operate.

Currently, Mv2 supports all extensions on the Chrome Web Store, including ad-blocker extensions such as uBlock Origin, Privacy Badger, etc. Ad-blockers are extremely popular features of the Chrome Web Store with millions of currently active users due to their functionality in blocking ads and maintaining privacy. However, starting in January 2023, Google will shift from Mv2 to Mv3, making most of these popular features obsolete.

The shift wouldn’t make it entirely impossible to adapt existing extensions; however, Mv3 would certainly reduce the functionality of ad-blockers and limit innovation in the ad blocking space.

Keep reading

A Google employee warns that the company’s AI has become sentient

A senior artificial intelligence (AI) software engineer at Google has claimed that the company’s AI robotics system has become sentient and has thoughts and feelings.

Google’s AI system, known as the Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA), allegedly took part in a series of complex conversations with Blake Lemoine, the 41-year-old software specialist, the Daily Mail reported.

Lemoine claimed that he and LaMDA had discussions that covered religious themes and whether the AI system could be goaded into using discriminatory language or other forms of distasteful rhetoric.

The software engineer came away with the belief that LaMDA was indeed sentient and was filled with sensations and original thoughts of its own design.

In a recent interview, Lemoine said, “If I didn’t know exactly what it was, which is this computer program we built recently, I’d think it was a 7-year-old, 8-year-old kid that happens to know physics.”

In order to present the evidence he had collected that detailed LaMDA’s sentience, Lemoine worked with a collaborator and presented the findings to the company. Reportedly, Google’s vice president Blaise Aguera y Arcas and the company’s head of Responsible Innovation, Jen Gennai, dismissed the claims and concerns.

Keep reading