Google back in court arguing against a global ‘right to be forgotten’

Google’s lawyers are in Europe’s top court today arguing against applying the region’s so-called ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling globally domains, rather only geo-limiting delistings to European sub-domains (as it does now). The original rtbf ruling was also a European Court of Justice (ECJ) decision. Back in 2014 the court ruled search engines must respect Europeans’ privacy rights, and — on request — remove erroneous, irrelevant and/or outdated information about a private citizen. Google was not at all happy with the judgement, and kicked off a major lobbying effort against it — enlisting help from free speech champions like Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales. But it also complied with the ruling, after a fashion (after all, it is EU law) — applying delistings on local domains but not across Google.com. Which means there’s a trivial workaround for circumventing EU law. That has displeased European data protection agencies — who say Google
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What you need to know ahead of the EU copyright vote

European Union lawmakers are facing a major vote on digital copyright reform proposals on Wednesday — a process that has set the Internet’s hair fully on fire. Here’s a run down of the issues and what’s at stake…

Article 13

The most controversial component of the proposals concerns user-generated content platforms such as YouTube, and the idea they should be made liable for copyright infringements committed by their users — instead of the current regime of takedowns after the fact (which locks rights holders into having to constantly monitor and report violations — y’know, at the same time as Alphabet’s ad business continues to roll around in dollars and eyeballs). Critics of the proposal argue that shifting the burden of rights liability onto platforms will flip them from champions to chillers of free speech, making them reconfigure their systems to accommodate the new level of business risk. More specifically they suggest
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Google’s Pixel 3 launch event will happen on October 9th

Google’s Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are hardly a secret at this point, having leaked out again and again over the last few weeks. But they’re still not quite official. The phones just took one big step closer to real, with Google sending out invites for a “Made By Google” event that will almost certainly focus on the phones. The invite itself doesn’t say much, besides that it’ll happen at 11 am on October 9th in New York. They also use a “3” (as in Pixel 3) to make a heart in “I <3 NY”, presumably no accident. The rumor mill, meanwhile, has said plenty. Like that the Pixel 3 will likely have a Snapdragon 845 processor, 4GB of ram and a 12.2 megapixel camera behind a 5.5″ display. The beefier Pixel 3 XL, meanwhile, is said to bump things up to a 6.71″ display (complete
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Facebook is opening its first data center in Asia

Facebook is opening its first data center in Asia. The company announced today that it is planning an 11-story building in Singapore that will help its services run faster and more efficiently. The development will cost SG$1.4 billion, or around US$1 billion, the company confirmed. The social networking firm said that it anticipates that the building will be powered 100 percent by renewable energy. It said also that it will utilize a new ‘StatePoint Liquid Cooling’ system technology, which the firm claims minimizes the consumption of water and power. Facebook said that the project will create hundreds of jobs and “form part of our growing presence in Singapore and across Asia.”

A render of what Facebook anticipates that its data center in Singapore will look like

Asia Pacific accounts for 894 million monthly users, that’s 40 percent of the total user base and it makes it the highest
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Nutrigene wants to personalize your vitamins using your genetic code

Vitamins are proving to be a lucrative industry in the United States. Just last year vitamin sales pulled in roughly $37 billion for the U.S. economy. That’s up from $28 billion in 2010. To cash in on this growing market, several startups have popped up in the last few years — including Nutrigene, a startup combining the vitamin business with another lucrative avenue of revenue in consumer DNA analysis. Nutrigene believes your genes may hold the secret to what you might be missing in your diet. The company will send you tailor-made liquid vitamin supplements based on a lifestyle quiz and your DNA. You get your analysis by filling out an assessment on the startup’s website, choosing a recommended package such as “essentials,” “improve performance” or “optimize gut health.” After that you can also choose to upload your DNA profile from 23andMe, then Nutrigene will send you
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Google will struggle if it re-enters China, says its former country head

The odds are stacked against Google if the reports are true and the company is trying to bring its services back to China, according to the former head of Google China. News reports last month uncovered details of internal plans to introduce a search product and a news app in China, moves that would mark a re-entry to the consumer market which Google left in 2010. The plans, which follow a noticeable increase in activity in China from Google, were widely criticized by activists and also raised concern internally from Google employees. Kaifu Lee left the search giant nine years following a four-year stint, and today he’s best-known as one of the world’s leading thinkers on AI and the founding partner of Chinese VC Sinovation Ventures. Speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco this week, he shared his belief that China’s tech ecosystem is rapidly catching the U.S. on
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China is beating the US on AI, says noted investor Kaifu Lee

America may have created AI, but China is taking the ball and running when it comes to one of the world’s most pivotal technology innovations. That’s according to Kaifu Lee, a world-renowned AI expert who founded Sinovation, a China-U.S. fund that raised its fourth fund worth $1 billion earlier this year. Speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco, Lee — who led Google in China before it left the country — said any lead America’s tech industry may have enjoyed is rapidly being eroded by hungry Chinese entrepreneurs who have oodles more data at their disposal to build, train and deploy AI systems. “People assume that because the U.S. is so strong in AI research, that the U.S. should dominate,” Lee said. “But actually, China is catching up really first.” Sinovation already has five AI companies in its portfolio that are valued at over $1 billion
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Highlights from the Senate Intelligence hearing with Facebook and Twitter

Another day, another political grilling for social media platform giants. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s fourth hearing took place this morning, with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey present to take questions as U.S. lawmakers continue to probe how foreign influence operations are playing out on Internet platforms — and eye up potential future policy interventions.  During the session US lawmakers voiced concerns about “who owns” data they couched as “rapidly becoming me”. An uncomfortable conflation for platforms whose business is human surveillance. They also flagged the risk of more episodes of data manipulation intended to incite violence, such as has been seen in Myanmar — and Facebook especially was pressed to commit to having both a legal and moral obligation towards its users. The value of consumer data was also raised, with committee vice chair, Sen. Mark Warner, suggesting platforms should actively convey that value
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Google adds a bunch of rugged devices to its Android Enterprise Recommended program

Rugged smartphones, the kind of devices that business can give to their employees who work in harsh environments, are a bit of a specialty market. Few consumers, after all, choose their smartphones based on how well they survive six-foot drops. But there is definitely a market there, and IDC currently expects that the market for Android -based rugged devices will grow at 23 percent annually over the next five years. It’s maybe no surprise that Google is now expanding its Android Enterprise Recommended program to include rugged devices, too. Chances are you’ve never heard of many of the manufacturers in this first batch (or thought of them as smartphone manufacturers): Zebra, Honeywell, Sonim, Point Mobile, Datalogic. Panasonic, which has a long history of building rugged devices, will also soon become part of this program. The minimum requirements for these devices are pretty straightforward: they have to support Android 7+, offer
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Google announces ‘Dataset Search’ to help scientists and journalists tell stories

Google announced Wednesday the launch of its new “Dataset Search” to help scientists and data journalists alike sift through the data-drenched web easier and quickly find stories between the numbers. Traditionally, datasets are spread far and wide across individual research websites, institutions like NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — and even data-driven publications like ProPublica. With Dataset Search, Google is aiming to adapt its Google Scholar search scheme to help data geeks and researchers sift through this data in a single search bar. Google outlined guidelines for dataset providers that will help the search giant and others more easily identify its content and smoothly redirect that information to researchers searching for it. The approach is based on an open-source standard laid out by the collaborative data community Schema and asks data providers to include information on who created the dataset, how it was collected, when it
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Google’s Launchpad Studio accelerator welcomes a cohort of blockchain and finance startups

Google has inducted a new class of startups into the Launchpad Studio accelerator it inaugurated last year; the first group was focused on gleaning new insights from medical data, and this one is about shaking up established financial markets and systems. Some of the companies are well-known, established businesses — but this isn’t the usual type of accelerator that aims to take a fledgling business and bring it to market. Instead, Google supports the selected companies in the development of a project, generally involving applying machine learning to the space in which they operate. They call Studio a “product acceleration program.” (There are regular accelerators under the Launchpad brand, as well.)

This year the companies are all more or less in the financial space, offering banking, identity verification and retail services in locales around

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Google rebuked by Senate Intelligence Committee for not sending Page or Pichai to testify

Alphabet’s decision to decline to send its CEO Larry Page to today’s Senate Intelligence Committee hearing — to answer questions about what social media platforms are doing to thwart foreign influence operations intended to sow political division in the U.S. — has earned it a stinging rebuke from the committee’s vice chair, Sen. Mark Warner. “I’m deeply disappointed that Google – one of the most influential digital platforms in the world – chose not to send its own top corporate leadership to engage this committee,” said Warner in his opening remarks, after praising Facebook and Twitter for agreeing to send their COO and CEO respectively. Alphabet offered its SVP of global affairs and chief legal officer, Kent Walker, to testify in front of lawmakers but declined to send CEO Page or Google CEO Sundar Pichai . Committee chairman, Richard Burr, was slightly less stinging in his opening remarks but also professed himself
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Facebook, Twitter: US intelligence could help us more in fighting election interference

Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg has admitted that the social networking giant could have done more to prevent foreign interference on its platforms, but said that the government also needs to step up its intelligence sharing efforts. The remarks are ahead of an open hearing at the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, where Sandberg and Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey will testify on foreign interference and election meddling on social media platforms. Google’s Larry Page was invited, but declined to attend. “We were too slow to spot this and too slow to act,” said Sandberg in prepared remarks. “That’s on us.” The hearing comes in the aftermath of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Social media companies have been increasingly under the spotlight after foreign actors, believed to be working for or closely to the Russian government, used disinformation spreading tactics to try to influence the outcome of
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Instead of Larry Page, Google sends written testimony to tech’s Senate hearing

Silicon Valley is about to have another big moment before Congress. On Wednesday, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg will go before the Senate Intelligence Committee to follow-up on their work investigating (and hopefully thwarting) Russian government-linked campaigns to sow political division in the US. The hearing is titled “Foreign Influence Operations and Their Use of Social Media Platforms” and begins tomorrow morning at 9:30 AM ET. It will be both Dorsey and Sandberg’s first time appearing before Congress on the high-stakes topic, but they’re not the only invitees. Alphabet CEO Larry Page was also called before the committee, though he is the only one of the three to decline to appear on Wednesday. Google also declined to send Sundar Pichai. “Our SVP of Global Affairs and Chief Legal Officer, who reports directly to our CEO and is responsible for our work in this area, will be in Washington,
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Chrome gets a new look for its 10th birthday

It’s been ten years since Google first launched Chrome. At the time, Google’s browser was a revelation. Firefox had gotten slow, Internet Explorer was Internet Explorer and none of the smaller challengers, maybe with the exception of Opera, every got any significant traction. But here was Google, with a fast browser that was built for the modern web. Now, ten years later, Google is the incumbent and Chrome is getting challenged both from a technical perspective, thanks to a resurgent Firefox, and by a wave of anti-Google sentiment. But Google isn’t letting that get in the way of celebrating Chrome’s anniversary. To mark the day, the company today officially launched its new look for Chrome and previewed what it has in stock for the future of its browser. And it’s not just a new look. Chrome’s Omnibox and other parts of the browser are getting updates, too. If you’ve followed
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For Labor Day, work harder

Labor Day is a holiday that just doesn’t fit Silicon Valley. It’s purported purpose is to celebrate working men and women and their — our — progress toward better working conditions and fairer workplaces. Yet, few regions in recent times have supposedly done more to “destroy” quality working conditions than the Valley, from the entire creation of the precarious 1099 economy to automation of labor itself. My colleague John Chen offered the received wisdom on this discrepancy this weekend, arguing that Valley entrepreneurs should take the traditional message of Labor Day to heart, encouraging them to create more equitable, fair, and secure workplaces not just for their own employees, but also for all the workers that power the platforms we create and operate every day. It’s a nice sentiment that I agree with, but I think he misses the mark. What Silicon Valley needs — now more than ever
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Payday startups are increasing access to wages, but is “make any day payday” the right choice?

Imagine you get a monthly paycheck on the 15th of the month but your bills come in on the 1st of the month.  Between the 15th and 1st you must set a portion of your check aside to pay bills.  This becomes a complicated budgeting equation. How much can I spend today vs how much do I need to set

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Apple is late to a self driving milestone — it’s first test car accident

Apple’s secretive self-driving vehicle program has disclosed its first accident, according to a report filed with the California Department of Motor Vehicles. The low speed accident, which occurred August 24, is a milestone of sorts for the company, albeit not one that is being celebrated. These days, as more companies head out onto public streets to test their autonomous vehicle systems, accidents have become more common. The vast majority are minor, low-speed incidents. There was just one accident involving a self-driving vehicle (that one was owned by Delphi) reported to the DMV in 2014. So far this year, there have been more than 40 accidents involving self-driving cars reported to CA DMV. The first fatal autonomous vehicle accident, which involved an Uber self-driving vehicle striking a pedestrian, occurred in March in Arizona. The Apple test car was attempting to merge onto an expressway near its headquarters in Cupertino, California,
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Google and AISense will talk voice at Disrupt SF 2018

Only a few years ago, talking to your phone or computer felt really weird. These days, thanks to Alexa, the Google Assistant and (for its three users) Cortana and Bixby, it’s becoming the norm. At this year’s Disrupt SF 2018, we’ll sit down with AISense founder and CEO Sam Liang and Google’s Cathy Pearl to discuss the past, present and future of voice — both for interacting with computers but also as a way to help us capture and organize information. It’s probably a fair guess that you’ve heard of Google, and Cathy Pearl has literally written the book on designing voice user interfaces. You’re probably also quite familiar with the Google Assistant. AISense, on the other hand, may not be a household name yet, but its flagship product, Otter.ai, is quickly gaining a following. Otter.ai is a mobile and web app that automatically transcribes phone calls, lectures, interviews
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