Google Talk Is Officially Dead, Switch to Hangouts Complete

It was inevitable that Google would one day start cutting down its confusing array of chat-based applications, and the Internet search giant has done just that. The company has finally killed off its Google Talk service and has replaced it with Hangouts, keeping true to the promise made back in March.

Google Talk, aka Gchat or GTalk, which came into existence back in 2005, is among the company’s oldest messaging applications that has been in a state of limbo given the various new messaging apps that the company has introduced including the more recent Google Allo. Killing off GTalk essentially means that anyone who was still using Google Talk rather than Hangouts will now be forced to shift to the latter to continue messaging on Gmail. The transition will go through smoothly and you’ll find all your chat contacts now in Hangouts.

Google Talk Is Officially Dead, Switch to Hangouts Complete
Even though Gchat may be gone now, you’re still left with a number of chat-based services from Google to suit your needs. It’s also perhaps not a bad thing as not only does Hangouts cater to modern sensibilities with chat bubbles and GIF support, but also allows Google to focus more of its resources on its remaining apps. It’s a major step in the company’s effort too streamline its services.

Google in March also announced that it would drop support for carrier SMS on Hangouts and would instead be shifting it to Android Messages. The company in recent months has been trying to rewire Hangouts to serve G Suite and enterprise users, much like Slack or Microsoft Teams, and making it the default chat for Gmail is an effort towards the same. The same month, the company also rolled out Hangouts Meet video conferencing service along with text-based messaging service Hangout Chat for enterprise users.

 

Google Hit by Record EUR 2.42-Billion Fine for Breaching EU Antitrust Rules

The EU hit Google with a record EUR 2.4 billion ($2.72 billion or roughly Rs. 17,541 crores) anti-trust fine Tuesday for favouring its own shopping service, in a fresh assault on a US tech giant that risks the wrath of President Donald Trump.

Hard-charging European Commission competition chief Margrethe Vestager said Google had “abused its market dominance” as the world’s most popular search engine to give illegal advantage to its Google Shopping service.

“What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules. It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate,” Denmark’s Vestager told a news conference.

“And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation.”

Google now has 90 days to “end this conduct” or face further penalty payments, Vestager said.

The fine broke the previous EU record for a monopoly case against US chipmaker Intel of EUR 1.06 billion in 2009.

Google said that it “respectfully” disagreed with the EU decision, which followed a seven-year investigation, and was considering an appeal.

“We respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today. We will review the Commission’s decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case,” Kent Walker, the company’s senior vice president and general counsel, said in a statement.

Google insisted that it “shows shopping ads, connecting our users with thousands of advertisers, large and small, in ways that are useful for both.”

‘Market dominance’
The decision comes less than a year after Vestager shocked Washington and the world with an order that iPhone manufacturer Apple repay EUR 13 billion in back taxes in Ireland.

Google Hit by Record EUR 2.42-Billion Fine for Breaching EU Antitrust Rules
Crucially for Google, Brussels has demanded that the US tech giant change the business model for Google Shopping to meet the EU’s concerns.

While an EU record, the amount is below the maximum possible of more than EUR 8 billion or 10 percent of Google’s total revenue of 90 billion dollars last year.

Brussels accuses Google of giving its own online service, Google Shopping, too much priority in search results to the detriment of other price comparison services, such as TripAdvisor and Expedia.

“Google’s market dominance has given the company power to decide the fate of all but the biggest online service providers – in other words nearly every company,” said Fairsearch, a lobby of complainants, in a statement.

The case, launched in 2010, is one of three against Google and of several against blockbuster US companies including Starbucks, Apple, Amazon and McDonalds.

In the other Google cases, the EU is examining Google’s AdSense advertising service and its Android mobile phone software.

The cases have stoked tensions with Washington and could now face the wrath of Trump, the real estate tycoon who won office on his “America First” slogan.

The decision come after a long negotiation period with many twists and turns in which the two sides tried to settle the case amicably.

Vestager’s predecessor, the Spaniard Joaquin Almunia, made three attempts to resolve the dispute but in each case intense pressure by national governments, rivals and privacy advocates scuppered the effort.

 

US Government Websites Restored After Pro-Islamic State Hack

Ohio officials have restored 11 government websites that were hacked with a message purporting to be supportive of the Islamic State terrorist group.

The Department of Administrative Services says affected websites were restored by Monday. They’d been hacked Sunday with a message that included: “I love the Islamic state.”

The Department of Public Safety says the FBI and US Department of Homeland Security are investigating the hacking.

US Government Websites Restored After Pro-Islamic State Hack
It affected websites for the governor and his wife, the lieutenant governor and the inspector general, as well as Ohio’s Medicaid and prisons agencies. The list also included sites for Ohio’s casino and facilities commissions, the offices of Health Transformation and Workforce Transformation, and the government streamlining effort LeanOhio.

The same message infiltrated government websites in Brookhaven, New York, and Howard County, Maryland.

 

US Government Websites Restored After Pro-Islamic State Hack

Ohio officials have restored 11 government websites that were hacked with a message purporting to be supportive of the Islamic State terrorist group.

The Department of Administrative Services says affected websites were restored by Monday. They’d been hacked Sunday with a message that included: “I love the Islamic state.”

The Department of Public Safety says the FBI and US Department of Homeland Security are investigating the hacking.

US Government Websites Restored After Pro-Islamic State Hack
It affected websites for the governor and his wife, the lieutenant governor and the inspector general, as well as Ohio’s Medicaid and prisons agencies. The list also included sites for Ohio’s casino and facilities commissions, the offices of Health Transformation and Workforce Transformation, and the government streamlining effort LeanOhio.

The same message infiltrated government websites in Brookhaven, New York, and Howard County, Maryland.

 

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Says Excited to Keep Investing in India After Meeting PM Modi

American online retail giant Amazon, which has committed investments to the tune of $5 billion in India, will “keep investing and growing in India”, its chief Jeff Bezos has said.

After his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bezos tweeted: “Terrific meeting with @narendramodi. Always impressed, energized by optimism and invention in India. Excited to keep investing and growing.”

Bezos was among the 20 US business leaders who interacted with Modi as part of a roundtable interaction. Others in the group included Apple CEO Tim Cook, Google’s Sunder Pichai, John Chambers from Cisco, Shantanu Narayen from Adobe and Ajay Banga from MasterCard.

Amazon, which has recently completed four years of operations in India, is locked in an intense battle for leadership with homegrown e-tailer Flipkart.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Says Excited to Keep Investing in India After Meeting PM Modi
The company has been aggressively investing in setting up fulfilment centres across India to ensure speedy delivery to consumers. It has 41 such warehouses across 13 states.

Its seller base in the country has also increased to 2 lakh currently, from 100 in 2013.

Previously, Bezos has said the company will keep investing in the Indian market to strengthen technology and infrastructure.

“Our India team is moving fast and delivering for customers and sellers… It’s still Day 1 for e-commerce in India, and I assure you that we’ll keep investing in technology and infrastructure,” Bezos had said.

 

Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, YouTube Form Global Working Group to Combat Terror Content

Social media giants Facebook, Google’s YouTube, Twitter and Microsoft said on Monday they were forming a global working group to combine their efforts to remove terrorist content from their platforms.

Responding to pressure from governments in Europe and the United States after a spate of militant attacks, the companies said they would share technical solutions for removing terrorist content, commission research to inform their counter-speech efforts and work more with counter-terrorism experts.

The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism “will formalise and structure existing and future areas of collaboration between our companies and foster cooperation with smaller tech companies, civil society groups and academics, governments and supra-national bodies such as the EU and the UN,” the companies said in a statement.

The move comes on the heels of last week’s call from European heads of state for tech firms to establish an industry forum and develop new technology and tools to improve the automatic detection and removal of extremist content.

The political pressure on the companies has raised the prospect of new legislation at EU level, but so far only Germany has proposed a law fining social media networks up to EUR 50 million ($56 million) if they fail to remove hateful postings quickly. The lower house of the German parliament is expected to vote on the law this week.

The companies will seek to improve technical work such as a database created in December to share unique digital fingerprints they automatically assign to videos or photos of extremist content.

They will also exchange best practices on content detection techniques using machine learning as well as define “standard transparency reporting methods for terrorist content removals.”

Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, YouTube Form Global Working Group to Combat Terror Content
Earlier this month Facebook opened up about its efforts to remove terrorism content in response to criticism from politicians that tech giants are not doing enough to stop militant groups using their platforms for propaganda and recruiting.

Google announced additional measures to identify and remove terrorist or violent extremist content on its video-sharing platform YouTube shortly thereafter.

Twitter suspended 376,890 accounts for violations related to the promotion of terrorism in the second half of 2016 and will share further updates on its efforts to combat violent extremism on its platform in its next Transparency Report.

The social media firms said they would work with smaller companies to help them tackle extremist content and organisations such as the Center for Strategic and International Studies to work on ways to counter online extremism and hate.

All four companies have initiatives to counter online hate speech and will use the forum to improve their efforts and train civil society organisations engaged in similar work.

Apple, Cisco Push for Cyber-Security Insurance Discounts, Unveil ‘Security Connector’ App

Apple is working with Cisco Systems to help businesses that primarily use gear from both companies to get a discount on cyber-security insurance premiums, Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said on Monday.

Sharing a stage with Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins at a Cisco event in Las Vegas, Cook said the combination of gear from the two companies was more secure than the use of competing technology, such as the Android mobile operating system made by Alphabet’s Google.

“The thinking we share here is that if your enterprise or company is using Cisco and Apple, the combination of these should make that (cyber-security) insurance cost significantly less,” Cook said. “This is something we’re going to spend some energy on. You should reap that benefit.”

Cisco gave few details about the effort, saying in a company blog post the two companies were “collaborating with insurance industry heavyweights … to offer more robust policies to our customers.”

Cisco said it will create systems that allow for continuous security monitoring and for insurers to double-check that the systems are set up as intended.

Apple, Cisco Push for Cyber-Security Insurance Discounts, Unveil 'Security Connector' App
Cisco, a networking company that has increasingly moved into cyber-security in recent years, highlighted several other joint efforts with Apple. It rolled out a new security app for iPhone and iPad – the Cisco Security Connector – meant to protect against so-called phishing attacks, an email with a malicious link sent under the guise of being legitimate.

Cook also said the “fast lane” that Cisco had created in 2015 to speed up Internet connections for iPhones on Cisco routers and switches has been expanded to Mac computers.

Long known for its consumer devices, Apple has embraced business users in recent years, adding additional security features to its iPhones and iPads. In 2015, Cook said Apple was generating at least $25 billion a year in revenue selling to businesses.

Apple has also undertaken joint efforts with enterprise software firms IBM and SAP to encourage developers to write business apps for its mobile devices.

 

Windows 10 Source Code Leak Confirmed by Microsoft; Data Removed by Beta Archive

Microsoft has found itself in an embarrassing position once again with reports that a massive trove of Windows 10 source code has been leaked online this week. Some system builds related to Microsoft’s USB, storage and Wi-Fi drives were posted to Beta Archive’s FTP site, and the Redmond giant has confirmed that the code, which is part of its Shared Source Kit, is authentic.

According to The Register’s initial report, the data uploaded to the Beta Archive was 32TB in size. However, a counter-report by The Verge suggested that the leak was smaller in size and that much of the data had been made available. The Register also updated its report with a statement provided by Beta Archive, saying that the source code has been removed. The site added it was not pressured by Microsoft to remove the code. However, it’s unclear how many have already downloaded the data.

According to a Beta Archive statement received by The Verge, the source code leaked was in fact only 1.2GB in size and was voluntarily removed by the site. In a statement to The Verge, a Microsoft spokesperson says the entire source code was not stolen, “Our review confirms that these files are actually a portion of the source code from the Shared Source Initiative and is used by OEMs and partners.”

Windows 10 Source Code Leak Confirmed by Microsoft; Data Removed by Beta Archive
The Shared Source Kit is shared with Microsoft’s partners, enterprises and licensees through the Shared Source initiative.

Apart from this, Microsoft’s Windows 10 Mobile Adaption Kit, Windows 10 Creators Update builds, and some ARM-based versions of Windows 10, were also reportedly included in the leak. Furthermore, the leak comes ahead of reports that two men in the UK were arrested over unauthorised access to Microsoft’s network. According the the report, the two men collected confidential Windows 10 builds, but it is unknown as to whether the two cases are linked.

While the leak is now deemed as minor, it is still substantial in that the source code could provide information for security vulnerabilities, which could be used to hack Windows systems around the world. This is something Microsoft would want to avoid post the recent WannaCry ransomware attacks.

EU Said to Fine Google With Record Fine This Week

The EU’s powerful antitrust regulator will slap Google with a record fine as early as Tuesday in another European blow against a US tech giant, sources said.

Led by hard-charging European Commission competition chief Margrethe Vestager, the EU will impose a massive penalty against Google that would break the previous record of EUR 1.06 billion set in 2009 against Intel, the US chipmaker.

More importantly for Google, Brussels will demand that the US tech giant change its business practices to meet the EU’s concerns.

The decision, expected Tuesday or Wednesday, comes a year after Vestager shocked the world and angered the Obama administration with an order that Apple repay EUR 13 billion in back taxes in Ireland.

Sources close to the matter said Google’s fine would range EUR 1.1-2.0 billion. While an EU record, this is well below the maximum possible of about EUR 8.0 billion or 10 percent of Google’s total revenue last year.

Brussels accuses Google of giving its own online shopping services top priority in search results to the detriment of other price comparison services.

The case is one of three against Google and of several against blockbuster US companies including Starbucks, Apple, Amazon and McDonalds.

In the other Google cases, the EU is examining Google’s AdSense advertising service and its Android mobile phone software.

EU Said to Fine Google With Record Fine This Week
If confirmed, the fine would come after a long period in which the two sides tried to settle the case amicably.

The cases have stoked tensions with Washington and could now face the wrath of US President Donald Trump, who won office on his “America First” slogan.

“We continue to engage constructively with the European Commission and we believe strongly that our innovations in online shopping have been good for shoppers, retailers and competition,” said Mark Jansen, a spokesman for Google.

The European Commission refused to comment.

The Commission, which polices EU competition policy, launched an initial investigation into Google in 2010 following complaints from rivals such as Microsoft and Trip Advisor that it favoured its own shopping services when customers ran searches.

Claims that practices by Google Shopping harm competition “are wrong as a matter of fact, law, and economics,” Google’s general counsel Kent Walker wrote in response to the EU last year.

Vestager’s predecessor, Joaquin Almunia, made three attempts to resolve the dispute but in each case intense pressure by national governments, rivals and privacy advocates scuppered the effort.

 

Google to Remove Private Medical Records From Search Results

Alphabet Inc.’s Google has quietly started removing a new category of online content – personal medical records – from its search results, a departure from its typically hands-off approach to policing the web.

Google lists the information it removes from its search results on its policy page. On Thursday, the website added the line: “confidential, personal medical records of private people.” A Google spokeswoman on Friday said that such information is only pulled when the company gets specific requests from individuals.

Previously, Google had only removed webpages with identifying financial information, such as credit card numbers, and with content that violates copyright laws. In 2015, Google bent its longstanding laissez-faire policy by adding “revenge porn” to its removal list – sexually explicit images uploaded without consent. The same approach applies with all these categories: Google will remove information after considering specific requests.

Google to Remove Private Medical Records From Search Results
Health records can also appear online without consent. In December, a pathology lab in India mistakenly uploaded the records of over 43,000 patients containing sensitive information, including names and blood tests for HIV. The records were indexed in Google’s search results.

Google has also recently adjusted its tightly-held search ranking system to filter misleading articles, or fake news, following criticism for hosting and promoting the content in results.