Google’s Transparency Report shows that the search engine removed 909 million URLs due to copyright infringement during the past year, from November 29, 2015 through November 9, 2016. Some 347,000 Web sites were affected by requests to remove content that infringe on copyrights, according to Google.

The British Recording Music Industry (BPI) LTD made the highest number of requests in the past year. For example, on Tuesday, BPI requested the removal of about 10,000 URLs of which Google removed approximately 99.7%. APDIF of Mexico submitted the second-highest number of requests at 106 million, in which about 68.9% of URLs reported were removed.

The majority of removal requests, at least on the first page, are related to entertainment industry. Others such as Microsoft, Adobe, Business Software and more also have made requests for removals.

Apple Records, Apple Music, and Apple corporate are among a handful of companies with some of the lowest request rates, ranging from 508 to 51 to 15, respectively.

Google states that between March 8, 2011 and today about 946,000 Web sites were affected and 1.97 billion URLs removed -- nearly 1 billion in the past year.

Author:  Laurie Sullivan

Source:  http://www.mediapost.com/

Categorized in News & Politics

The age of digital technology, in which we can search and retrieve more information than we could in any previous era, has triggered a debate over whether we have too much information. Is the cure to “unpublish” things we think are wrong or out of date? Ought we have a “right to be forgotten”?

Until recently, this was an argument conducted in Europe and South America and given a powerful push by a decision in 2014 from the European Union’s highest court to provide a legally enforceable right to remove some material from internet searches.

Now the issue has reached American newsrooms. The dilemma is simple to describe and painfully hard to solve. People who have had long-ago brushes with the law or bankruptcy would prefer such information not to be at the top of search results on their name. Foolish pranks immortalised on Facebook may be harming someone’s chances of getting a job.

American editors are now getting so many requests to erase or unlink online material that they’ve been consulting pundits and lawyers for help. American media law, based around the First Amendment guaranteeing press freedom, is very different to European law.

But the development of the EU’s right to be forgotten is a poor precedent for the US or anywhere else. The European version of the right to be forgotten – really a conditional right to be taken out of internet searches – is carelessly written, based on muddled ideas and contains risks for free expression.

The “right to be forgotten” is an emblematic battle at the new frontier between privacy and freedom – both of speech and the right to know. It is a case study of the dilemmas which we will face. Who gets to decide whether free speech or privacy prevails in any given case? And on what criteria?

Gonzales’ gripe

In 2009 a Barcelona resident, Mario Costeja Gonzales, complained to Google that a search for his name produced – at the top of the first page – a newspaper item from 1998 which recorded that some of his property had been sold to pay debts. It was given unfair prominence and was out of date said Sr Gonzales. He asked La Vanguardia, the newspaper, to erase the item. Both search engine and newspaper rejected his complaint.

The case went to court. The court ruled out any action against the paper but referred the question of the search link to the EU’s Court of Justice. In 2014, the court said that Sr Gonzales did indeed have a right to ask Google to de-index items which would be produced by a search on his name – under certain conditions (and there’s a degree of irony that he fought a battle over the right for this small story to be forgotten only to become a global cause célèbre over the issue).

And the conditions are the heart of the matter. Google routinely de-indexes material from search results: copyright infractions (by the million), revenge porn, details of bank accounts or passport numbers. The court said that search results could be incompatible with the EU’s data protection directive and must be removed if:

… that information appears … to be inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes of the processing at issue carried out by the operator of the search engine.

The judges went on to say that, as a rule, the individual’s “data” or privacy rights outrank the search engine’s commercial interest or the public’s right to know. But that would not be the case if the public had a “preponderant interest” in the information – as would be the case if the individual was in public life.


You might say, what could be more natural than this? The internet has unleashed a flood of stuff: we must have some way of protecting ourselves from the obvious harm it can cause. Carefully, transparently and accountably done, it does not have to amount to “censorship” – the claim from many voices when the judgement first appeared.

Google has taken down 1.72 billion URLs after 566,000 requests. Press freedom and free expression were never absolute – we allow some criminal convictions to be forgotten, we have libel and contempt of court laws. All restrain publication.

The problem lies with much data protection law – principally in the EU – which fails to balance the competing rights. The court judgement’s tests for whether something ought to be de-indexed are vague and opaque. How do we test for the relevance of information? Relevant to whom? When does information go out of date?

The case wasn’t about defamation: no one claimed Sr Gonzales has been libelled.It was not about correcting inaccuracy. It wasn’t private: it had been made public quite legally. The court made clear that a successful claim did not have to show that harm or distress has been caused.

Muddling through

The intellectual origins of data protection law lie in the traumas of 20th-century Europe. The Dutch government in the 1930s recorded with characteristic thoroughness the details of every one of their citizens: name, age, address and so forth. So when Nazi Germany occupied the Netherlands all they had to do to locate the Jewish and gypsy populations was open the filing cabinets. The secret police of communist states in the second half of the century and their carefully filed surveillance reinforced the lesson that secretly stored data can inflict damage.

The “right to be forgotten” is a muddled solution and fails to clarify a specific remedy for a particular problem. Here are a few of the issues which we are going to have to deal with:

Although the Gonzalez case made the compromise of leaving the online newspaper archive untouched while stopping search engines finding it, we have now have two cases – in Italy and Belgium – where courts have ordered news media archives to be altered.

Google’s chief privacy counsel once said that his company is creating new jurisprudence about privacy and free speech. What he didn’t say is that Google is doing all this virtually in secret. Its decisions can be challenged in court by a litigant with money and patience, but should a private corporation be doing this at all?

There is a major unsolved problem about how far the right to be forgotten reaches. The French government thinks that it should be global, which is disproportionate as well as unfeasible.

What’s to be done?

The market isn’t providing ways to protect privacy – and individuals often part with their information barely knowing that they have surrendered some privacy. But the history of free expression has surely taught us that we should be very cautious about restrictions. If you want an alternative to the sweeping tests in EU law, have a look at the stiff tests laid out by the free speech organisation Article 19. Judges in several EU countries – notably the Netherlands – have tightened the tests for allowing material to be delinked.

EU law needs to recognise that privacy and free expression are matters of colliding rights which can’t be wished away by pretending that there’s no conflict. Collisions of basic rights can’t be abolished – they can only be managed.

The Gonzales judgement didn’t start the right to be forgotten but it did bring it to the attention of the world. It did some good by correcting thousands of small harms. But because it addressed the rights involved in such a muddled and careless way, it opened up risks to freedom of speech. The judges of the future need to do better.

Author:  George Brock

Source:  http://www.econotimes.com/

Categorized in Internet Privacy

What does Edward Snowden think the future will look like with a President Donald Trump at the helm of the US National Security Agency?

"This is a dark moment in our nation's history, but it is not the end of history," said Snowden, the former NSA contractor who revealed widespread government surveillance, including the bulk collection of internet user information and phone records.

Speaking remotely from Russia to an event hosted by search engine company StartPage in Amsterdam, Snowden urged the audience to get involved in protecting online privacy. Snowden appears regularly at events via video conference. His lawyers recently launched a campaign asking President Barack Obama to pardon him of espionage and other criminal charges Snowden faces for taking and leaking NSA secrets.


"We have to be political," Snowden said. "You have to talk about these things."

Snowden pointed to 2008, when many believed President-elect Obama would pump the brakes on surveillance programs developed by the administration of President George W. Bush. Obama's efforts fell short, Snowden said, as he urged the crowd not to count on politicians to rein in government overreach.

"This will never be the work of politicians. This will only be the work of the people," he said. "We cannot hope for an Obama and we should not fear a Donald Trump -- rather, we should build it ourselves."

Snowden went on to encourage the young people watching to start working on technology that could "guarantee human rights," and not leave it up to governments check their own power.

Before noting that he enjoys his own role as an advocate for freedom from government surveillance, Snowden urged others to respond to the US election by getting involved in pro-privacy causes.

"A vote is a start," he said, "but it will never be enough."

Source:  cnet.com

Categorized in Others

The FCC’s privacy regulations will be ineffective.

Letter to the editor:

Consumers are growing increasingly concerned about online tracking and privacy protection. In response, the Federal Communications Commission has proposed sweeping new privacy rules specifically on Internet service providers. But, as USA TODAY’s story “They really are watching you: Web tracking surges with online ads” makes clear, it is the huge advertising networks of social and search companies that are really tracking us everywhere we go.

Strangely, the FCC has refused to get involved in privacy matters of Pokémon Go or any other phone application, search engine, social network or streaming video provider. The new privacy proposal is a half measure that only regulates the Internet provider but not the content we visit every day. That’s where the big bucks are made from harvested personal information — location, email, browsing and buying habits and more.

The FCC’s privacy regulations will be ineffective and, by promising protections that aren’t really there, dangerous.

Drew Johnson, Protect Internet Freedom; Las Vegas



We asked our followers if they would stop using their favorite websites or phone apps if they were collecting personal information. Tweets edited for clarity and grammar:

Let them have it! The more they know about me, the less crappy ads I’ll see.

— @_ONeill_

They’re welcome to collect whatever info they want. However, I deserve the right to block and collect theirs as well.

— @johnx1doe

Depends on the info. I expect most websites are collecting, and I would push for more stringent privacy and data sharing legislation.

— @JJGolding0

Stop using these sites.

— @NRG_64

Source : http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/08/23/phone-giving-away-information-tellusatoday/89220888/

Categorized in Internet Technology

ONE OF THE most important laws protecting online speech is also one of the worst. You’ve probably heard of it. In 1998, President Bill Clinton passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA. It’s the law that, for example, makes it all too easy for companies to have embarrassing content removed from sites like YouTube by issuing bogus takedown requests, claiming that the content violates their copyright—no presumption of innocence required. But the DMCA also contains one incredibly important section: the so-called safe harbor provision. Thanks to safe harbor, companies can’t be held liable for copyright violations committed by their users, so long as the companies take reasonable steps to ensure that repeat offenders are banned from their services. Post a pirated copy of Ghostbusters to YouTube via your Comcast Internet connection? That’s on you, the DMCA says, not on YouTube or Comcast.

Companies fearing they’ll lose their safe harbor might start policing the content posted by their users.

But after a recent court decision, that safe harbor doesn’t look so safe anymore.

Last week a federal judge ruled that cable Internet provider Cox Communications must pay $25 million in damages to BMG Rights Management, which controls the rights to the music of some of the world’s most popular artists. The court found that Cox was liable for the alleged copyright infringement carried out by its customers, safe harbor or not. The decision might not rattle the giants of the Internet business, like Comcast, Verizon, Google and Facebook–at least not yet. But it could be bad news for smaller companies that can’t afford such costly legal battles. And if companies start fearing they’ll lose their safe harbor, they might have to start more carefully policing the content posted by their users.

Turning Off Notifications

It’s hard to overstate the importance of the DMCA’s safe harbor provision to the growth of the early Internet. Had providers and platforms faced liability for what users published, far fewer social networks and web hosts would have existed because of the legal risk. Those that did exist would have had to carefully screen what users posted to ensure no copyright violations were taking place. In short, the DMCA, for all its problems, enabled the explosion of online speech over the past two decades.


But that explosion has not been kind to some businesses, such as the music industry, which has seen its margins erode since the 1990s due to peer-to-peer file sharing. To fight back, BMG in 2011 hired a company called Rightscorp to monitor file sharing networks and catch people illegally sharing music that belonged to BMG. Whenever Rightscorp believed it had detected a copyright violation, it would forward notifications to the offending user’s Internet provider. The twist was that Rightscorp added a bit of language to its letters offering to settle the copyright dispute if the user was willing to pay a fee of around $20 to $30 per infraction. Cox refused to forward these letters on to its users because it believed the settlement offers were misleading, arguing the notifications of infringement were not in and of themselves proof that a user had actually broken the law.

Rightscorp refused to alter the language of the letters, so Cox refused to process any further notifications from the company. In 2014, BMG sued Cox.

Last year, US District Court Judge Liam O’Grady judge found that by refusing to process Rightscorp’s requests, Cox had failed to live up to its responsibilities under the safe harbor provision, and therefore was not eligible for its protections. A jury found Cox liable for $25 million in damages. Cox filed for a new trial but O’Grady denied the request last week, allowing the previous decision to stand.

Just a Pipe

While the decision does not set a binding precedent, some open Internet advocates worry the decision could embolden copyright holders to sue smaller companies. A company like Google can afford expensive lawyers. It can invest in multi-million-dollar digital rights management software to keep offending content off its sites. But smaller ISPs or web sites can’t. “If safe harbor is for anyone, it’s for Internet service providers that do nothing but carry information from sites to specific homes,” says Charles Duan, staff attorney at Public Knowledge.

Safe harbor issues aside, BMG’s argument also depends on the idea that users should be denied Internet access because of the mere accusation of copyright infringement, even if the accuser has never proven in court that those users had actually broken the law.

“It doesn’t take into account all the things people use the Internet for,” says Mitch Stolz, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “People use it for their jobs, to interact with government. The circumstances in which it’s reasonable to cut someone off are narrower now than 20 years ago.”

However flawed it is, the DMCA enables online speech to flourish. But if the BMG case does become a precedent, online service providers of all types will have to crack down on their users—even if no one has proven in court that those users committed a crime. If you don’t like what someone has to say, you could accuse them of copyright violations and not only have a video banned from YouTube, but have that person kicked off the Internet entirely. That’s not a future in which the Internet flourishes.

Source : http://www.wired.com/2016/08/internets-safe-harbor-just-got-little-less-safe/

Categorized in Internet Privacy

As far as the most users are concerned, privacy on the web is an important consideration. Iridium is a free Chromium-based web browser which focuses more on the privacy and identity protection of the user and also provides all the features of Google Chrome. The modifications made here make sure that you always are protected and secure and there is no loop holes to your privacy while you browse the web.

Iridium browser for Windows PC


If you go deep down to settings, you will notice a CryptoTokenExtension. The details about that extension are not really specified but it seems to be something concerned with encrypting the information sent through the browser. You can view the permissions granted to this extension under the settings tab.

All the basic functionalities and support system remains the same as that of Google Chrome browser. You can sign in with your Google account and sync bookmarks and other settings easily over other instances of Google Chrome or Iridium.

There are several other policy changes and modifications that are privacy and security based. To view them all you need to access the Git repository.



Iridium changes the default search engine from Google to Qwant, which is again a privacy based search engine that lets you search the web without leaving out on privacy.

In short, Iridium is Google Chrome with privacy features. The entire project is open sourced and the public Git repository lets you view all the changes made to the code over time. If you are a geek and an enthusiast, you can check out the entire code of the project to clearly understand how the modifications have been made and how this alternative browser really works.

Source : http://www.thewindowsclub.com/iridium-browser-windows 

Categorized in Search Engine

Swiss-based semantic search company Hulbee, which launched a consumer search engine in the U.S. this August, has closed a $9 million angel funding.

The investors are not being disclosed beyond the firm saying one is a serial entrepreneur from Switzerland and the other is a business person from Canada.

Hulbee is positioning its consumer search offering as a pro-privacy alternative to mainstream search engines like Google, with a pledge that unlike those guys it does not track users. So it’s competing with other search players in the pro-privacy space, such as DuckDuckGo.

Although, unlike DDG, it has its own (semantic) search tech too — which it’s touting as another differentiator, along with a “clean interface”, and search results supplemented by a word cloud of related themes/content that allow users to narrow their search with a few considered clicks. Hulbee

It also has its own ad system, rather than bolting on a third party ad network. And again here it’s taking a non-tracking approach. Ads on Hulbee are targeted based on the search query, according to CEO Andreas Wiebe, so there’s no geotargeting or cumulative tracking. (Although users can specify their region in order to ensure more relevant search results, so it may have basic country data. And once you step off Hulbee and onto whatever website you were trying to find chances are their ad networks will start tracking you, unless you’re running an ad blocker…)

“Unlike Google’s offering, Hulbee doesn’t fall back on surveillance, so there’s no geotargeting. For Hulbee, the user is completely invisible,” says Wiebe. “Hulbee only focuses on the search query, and definitely doesn’t know where it’s from or who entered it.”

“The fundamental idea… is to win over consumers who prioritize ownership of their data. We recognize that most consumers do not want to be tracked,” he adds.

Such a partial view of the user does not lend itself to highly targeted ‘interest-based advertising’ — so Hulbee is also focusing on touting a brand-building proposition to advertisers (hence the Coca-Cola graphic in the word cloud, above right).

“Unlike traditional search engines, we don’t focus on highly focused targeting, but instead specialize in ‘mass informing’ of our visitors, including image, brand name, event advertising. Thus, we obviously will be interested, for example, in global companies launching a new brand or product, such as the film industry promoting the new movies or an event tie-in,” says Wiebe.

“We’re dealing with fairly sophisticated visitors. Although we do not track and don’t ‘know’ our visitors, we can say with certainty that our user is a person following modern trends in such areas as information security, privacy, etc. That user is concerned about their own privacy, weighing the aspects of their web activity and understanding the consequences and risks of certain actions.”

As well as aiming to appeal to individuals with concerns about their privacy, the search engine is being targeted at parents with concerns about the kind of content their kids might be exposed to online — given it has a built-in filter for violent and pornographic content.

Hulbee is not a startup, having spent 15 years working on semantic search for the b2b space, and selling enterprise-grade search and data analytics to European companies. But it is relatively new to the consumer space — launching a Swiss search engine, called Swisscows.ch, in June 2014 as a first step.

In these post-Snowden tech times, it reckons there’s a fresh opportunity to differentiate on privacy and security grounds vs dominant consumer search players (Google has a circa 90 per cent share of the search market in Europe). And notes, for instance, that its servers are located in Switzerland, so away from the prying eyes of the NSA — or indeed the European Union.

The angel funding will specifically be used to expand its consumer search engine, according to Wiebe. “We have a big mountain to climb with a lot of competitors,” he admits. “[We’ll use the] money to continue to building and develop our search engine for consumers.”

After launching its consumer search engine in the U.S. this summer it added 30 more markets in September, and is now available in 60 countries. It’s not breaking out user data at this stage but says Swisscows.ch is processing more than five million queries per month, while Hulbee.com is processing more than eight million search queries monthly.


The company is also planning to step up its enterprise search activity, with the launch of an enterprise search product specifically targeted at medium and small companies planned for this later month, and an enterprise search engine that aims to compete with Microsoft, Google and HP slated for November.


Categorized in Search Engine
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