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Google Forbids Online Anonymity…While Patenting It

Recently Google stated the importance of using your real (common) name so that people you want to connect with can find you. Google goes on to say that using a secondary online identity or pseudonym on its Google+ service can result in your profile in being suspended if it does not adhere to the Google Names Policy.


At the same time, Google has been awarded a new patent called Social Computing Personas for Protecting Identity in Online Social Interactions.

In the patent application, Google explains to the USPTO (US Patent Office) that when a user reveals their identity on the internet that it, that “it leaves them more vulnerable to stalking, identity theft and harassment.” Google’s patented solution is to provide online anonymity to social networking users using an alter ego, or anonymous identity.

pop art girl image

One can only speculate why one hand of Google is warning about the folly and penalties for not following their Names Policy, while the other hand of Google says that users are at risk if they do not protect their identity with an anonymous identity.

Has Google change its official stance regarding online anonymity? Is this a case where one hand of Google doesn’t know what the other is doing? Or is Google just avoiding putting all its eggs into one basket? And what about Mary-Lou?

SEO news blog post by @ 12:03 pm on September 19, 2012


“the Innocence of Muslims” vs Free Speech

A recent movie published on YouTube, called "the Innocence of Muslims" has sparked outrage and public outcry in several areas of the Middle East and was responsible for the attacking of American embassies in Cairo and Benghazi, the killing of four officials and ongoing anti-US protests in Egypt and Libya.

Because the video does not violate YouTube policies, Google has rejected the notion of removing the video that mocks Islam and depicts the prophet Mohammed as a fraud and philanderer. They have however, decided to temporarily restrict access in these countries.

Similar to the controversy surrounding the Danish political cartoon that depicted the prophet Mohammed in 1995, and the violence that resulted, it should be well established that the Muslim’s regard any depiction of Mohammed blasphemy.

Google said in a statement last Wednesday, "However, given the very difficult situation in Libya and Egypt, we have temporarily restricted access in both countries."

This video – which is widely available on the Web – is clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube, Google said in a statement. "However, given the very difficult situation in Libya and Egypt, we have temporarily restricted access in both countries."

In a new age where social media can have a direct impact on world events, many similar social companies are facing the same struggle between balancing free speech with legal or ethical concerns.

Given Google’s past track record of protecting free speech, some digital free expression groups have criticized YouTube for censoring the video. Eva Galperin of the Electronic Frontier Foundation stated, "It is extremely unusual for YouTube to block a video in any country without it being a violation of their terms of service or in response to a valid legal complaint."

Much like net debates over net neutrality, censorship, privacy and piracy, this is the latest in an ongoing series of growing pains that the adolescent Internet community must pass through.

With an ever increasingly intermingled global community we must face and pass through these tribulations before a truly equitable solution can be found that will strike a balance between free speech and showing respect for other political or belief systems.

On a more personal note: I have included the video since removed for public consumption. Not because I like or agree with it (at all), but to show others of the garbage that was created that sparked the controversy. Personally, I couldn’t make it past 2 minutes as it was just too painful to watch.

SEO news blog post by @ 12:34 pm on September 17, 2012

Categories:Internet Law


Executive Order for Cyber Security

The Obama administration has been circulating a draft for an executive order focused on protecting the country from cyber-attacks. Following a proposed cybersecurity bill from Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) that was blocked last month by Senate Republicans, the new draft proposes to codify standards and suggest best practices for critical infrastructure. The draft proposal has been sent out to relevant federal agencies.

obama cyber-security

After the first senate bill died, the White House counterterrorism advisor, John Brennan recommended that an executive order be issued to ensure power, water and transportation networks are secure.

“An executive order is one of a number of measures we’re considering as we look to implement the president’s direction to do absolutely everything we can to better protect our nation against today’s cyber threats,” said White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden. “We are not going to comment on ongoing internal deliberations.”

The proposed order would use the following system:

• Would setup an inter-agency council led by the Department of Homeland Defense
• Members would include the DOD, Commerce Department and possible other representatives from the Department of Energy, Treasury Department, the attorney general and the director of national intelligence.
• DHS would manage the program.
• Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) would help to craft the framework of the program and work with private sector companies to develop cyber-security best practices and guidelines.
• DHS would receive guidance from NIST and work with ‘sector coordinating councils’ to determine which industry sectors are considered as critical infrastructure as well as determining what standards the industry participants are to follow.
• It would be left up to the companies to decide what actions they would take to meet the standards.

One of the main issues still under discussion involves the kinds of incentives the government will offer critical infrastructure operators to entice them into the program as the executive branch is limited in the types of incentives that it can offer companies, and much of this power resides within Congress.

Some opponents of the proposed order are not in favor of a join program led by the DHS and point to their previous track record in leading national security efforts.

SEO news blog post by @ 12:01 pm on September 10, 2012


Litigation vs. Innovation – The Apple Way

I’m really ashamed of my days of being an Apple loyalist, encouraging people to consider Apple solutions, and fighting for the ‘little guy’ computer company.

That ‘little guy‘ I once championed, has since grown up to be a thug making immoral decisions that I no longer agree with.

Apple is causing me deep personal embarrassment as they strut about the digital playground smashing things that compete with their creations.

A scene from the movie The Dictator where he wins by shooting his competition

You know something’s wrong with a company’s decisions when you’re watching a Sacha Baron Cohen movie (The Dictator) and the opening scenes of winning a race by shooting the competition reminds you of Apple’s choices to force litigation/product bans vs. accepting a financial settlement with Samsung.

Samsung will fight the decision and have already announced that they will counter-sue Apple.

Since Samsung successfully defended themselves in many countries (Germany, Korea, Netherlands, and United Kingdom), winning court battles which ruled that they did not copy Apple’s designs, a counter suit and appeal are likely to change the situation drastically.

On top of everything else, jurors in this recent court case are already making headlines stating that they were unable to properly review all the evidence, and ignored the prior art evidence that proved Apple clearly copied others in it’s iPhone design.

The jury actually took a defensive role, putting themselves in the mindset of innovators defending their patents. Velvin Hogan, the 67 year old jury foreman, stated that the jury :

“wanted to send a message to the industry at large that patent infringing is not the right thing to do, not just Samsung.”

With any luck, the same feelings will hold true as Motorola (Google-rola?) continues it’s legal action against Apple’s unpaid patent uses.

Since the patents in the current lawsuit are non-essential, one would assume that Google-rola has the opportunity to give Apple a taste of how it feels to block a company’s products via legal nonsense.

However, the likely result will be that even after (2?) years of trying to get Apple to pay the licensing fees, Google-rola won’t turn-down an offer of fair payment, just to block all product sales, unlike Apple.

Speaking of a ban on products, Samsung is already talking about releasing updated products that are completely free of Apple’s patent bans.

Zero Day Java Vulnerability

According to a few reputable sources online, there’s a new browser-based exploit for Java that is ‘in the wild’ and a patch won’t be coming very soon.

When someone says ‘in the wild’ it means that there’s reports of the exploit being used publicly, which means that there’s a high risk of contact.

In this case the exploit has been used to remote-control Windows based PCs that visit websites with hidden code on certain pages. The hacker in this case picked a Chinese proxy/IP and the ‘control network’ is also believed to be located in Singapore.

Since ‘wise’ hackers usually pick a point of origin outside their own country, this info actually points to someone non-Chinese as the source of the hack.

While that exploit only works on Windows computers, the payload is totally independent of the hack, so the same strategy will work on any computer and any browser.

To avoid getting hit, you may want to disable JavaScript:

In Chrome:
- type “chrome://plugins/” into your address bar
- on the plugins page, scroll down to Javascript and disable it.

In Opera:
- go to “opera:plugins”
- on the plugins page, scroll down to Java(TM) Platform
- click on Disable
- also scroll down to Java Deployment Toolkit
- click on Disable

In Firefox:
- press the Firefox button
- go to Add-ons
- go to Plugins
- click the “Disable” button next to anything named “Java”

Finally if you are using Internet Explorer, you probably don’t care, but here’s some recent instructions stolen from the help desk over at Indiana University:

To enable or disable Java in Internet Explorer:

From the Tools menu (or the Tools drop-down), select Internet options.

  • Click the Programs tab, and then click Manage Add-ons.
  • Highlight Java Plug-in.
  • Click Disable or Enable (located under “Settings” in version 7), as applicable.
  • Click OK twice.

To enable or disable JavaScript:

From the Tools menu (or the Tools drop-down), choose Internet options.

  • Click the Security tab.
  • Click Custom Level…
  • Scroll to the “Scripting” section of the list.
  • For “Active Scripting”, click Disable or Enable.
  • Click OK, and confirm if prompted.
  • Close and restart your browser.

SEO news blog post by @ 11:57 am on August 28, 2012


You don’t want the next Penguin update…

Scary Matt Cutts

Is Matt Cutts just goofing around or is he really trying to scare us?

The statement in the title of this article, from Matt Cutts, has the SEO world looking for further information as to just how bad the next Penguin update will be.

During the SES in San Francisco this week Matt Cutts got a chance to speak about updates and how they will effect SEOs. One of the things he was quoted as saying really caught my eye:

You don’t want the next Penguin update, the engineers have been working hard…

Mr.Cutts has recently eaten some words, retracting his statement that too much SEO is a bad thing, and explaining that good SEO is still good.

Even with attendees saying that he spoke the words with no signs of ominous intent, how do you expect the SEO world to take follow up statements like:

The updates are going the be jarring and julting for a while.

That’s just not positive sounding at all and it almost has the tone of admission that the next updates are perhaps going to be ‘too much’ even in Matt’s opinion, and he’s one of Google’s top engineers!

My take is that if you are doing anything even slightly shady, you’re about to see some massive ranking spanking.

Reciprocal links, excessive directories, participating in back-link cliques/neighborhoods, pointless press releases, redundant article syndication, duplicate content without authorship markup, poorly configured CMS parameters, etc.. These are all likely to be things, in my opinion, that will burn overly SEO’d sites in the next update.

The discussion also made it’s way to the issues with Twitter data feeds. Essentially since Google and Twitter no longer have an agreement, Google is effectively ‘blocked’ from crawling Twitter.

Dead twitter bird

On the topic of Twitter crawling Matt Cutts was quoted as saying:

..we can do it relatively well, but if we could crawl Twitter in the full way we can, their infastructure[sic] wouldn’t be able to handle it


Which to me seems odd, since I don’t see any other sites complaining about how much load Google is placing on their infrastructure?

Clearly the issue is still political/strategic and neither side is looking to point fingers.

With Twitter’s social media relevance diminished you’d think +1′s would be a focus point but Matt Cutts also commented on the situation stating that we shouldn’t place much value on +1 stats for now.

A final point was made about Knowledge Graph, the new information panel that’s appearing on certain search terms.

Since the Google Search Quality team is now the Google Knowledge Graph team Matt Cutts had some great answers on the topic of Knowledge Graph, including the data sources and harm to Wikipedia.

There had been a lot of cursing about Google simply abusing Wikipedia’s bandwidth/resources but it was made clear during the session that Wikipedia is not traffic dependent because they don’t use ads for revenue.

Essentially, if Wikipedia’s data is getting better utilized, and they haven’t had to do anything to make it happen, they are happy.

If you wanted to get more details there’s lots of #SESSF hashed posts on Twitter and plenty of articles coming from the attendees.

I’m personally going to go start working on a moat for this Penguin problem..

SEO news blog post by @ 11:56 am on August 16, 2012


New Conceited Search: Gmail in Google Web Search

Simon Cowell

I get plenty of me time doing my hair in the mirror each morning and seeing myself in store windows on the walk to work. I really cannot think of any good examples of a web search that would be better with my emails included in the results?

That isn’t stopping Google from offering this new search service to the first 1 million users that opt-in.

Here’s the link to the Gmail search field trial experiment.

Even the sample image from the Google signup page has a potential gaffe :
Gmail search example
What if I was going to Tahoe for some biking to forget that Jenny broke up with me to date Jeff Teele (my ex-bike buddy) and totally forgot she spent a summer biking in Tahoe?

And that guide from Media temple? That’s one of a few spams, year after year, again and again, that GMail can’t seem to figure out!! Way to remind me at the worst moment Google!

Actually I suppose if I was searching for a solution I’d talked about in email, forgot I’d emailed about the solution, and then did a web search looking for the solution I’d already talked about, then I might appreciate Google showing me some old email in a web search.

Not to over-use HIMYM sayings, but that would be a long walk for a short drink of water.

I tried to come up with some worse examples, like accidentally sending someone a LMGTFY link for something like “fighting” and it loads up a ton of emails you should have deleted?

Nope LMGTFY actually adds the “&pws=0″ search parameter to the Google URL and this would obviously deter Google from including Gmail in the SERPS. At least one would hope they were that wise.

I’m still waiting for my request to be approved so I can offer more than some personal perspective and conjecture.

In the mean time I might want to delete some mail I’ve been trying to forget and reconsider all the keywords I send in my emails? Hmm..

SEO news blog post by @ 10:45 am on August 9, 2012


SOPA and PIPA Failures & the Sneaker Net Resurgence

Why RIAA Supported SOPA and PIPA & the Sneaker Net Resurgence
We have written extensively about the move by the RIAA to curb the illegal downloading though SOPA and PIPA bills introduced last year. A leaked report shows that the RIAA never really had much faith in the SOPA/PIPA bills and even stated that it thought it was an "ineffective tool" against combating online privacy.

riaa chart illegal music sharing

In a leaked presentation given by RIAA Deputy General Counsel Vicky Sheckler last April, she states that they "never actually believed that either piece of legislation would have put a dent in music piracy." Sheckler goes on to state that the intention of the SOPA and PIPA bills were "intended to defer [copyright] infringements [by] foreign sites by obligating/encouraging intermediaries to take action," and they were "not likely to have been an effective tool for music."

The report also shows that shipments from the US music industry declined from $12.3 billion in 2005 t approximately $7 billion in 2011. What is most interesting about the report is that is shows that only 1 in 6 music files are shared over a peer to peer network and that most pirating occurs over a physical sneaker-net; via ripped music CDs or transfer from a physical hard drive to others. File sharing networks only account for barely 4% of the total downloads.

Speculation is that this increase in "sneaker-net" pirating can be attributed to the low cost and availability or large storage mediums rather than a botched attempt by the RIAA to regulate or reduce piracy. Although one can speculate that the actions by the RIAA may have encouraged rekindling of the antiquated sneaker net in the first place.

Previous SOPA/PIPA Blog Posts

SEO news blog post by @ 9:00 am on August 2, 2012


SOPA Friends: Internet League of America

The recording industry, agents, and vendors of music aren’t the only ones spending way too much of their profits on lobbying the government. Major internet companies that see the harm of bills like SOPA/PIPA are spending the time and money to fight back against this lobbying.

[jwplayer config="SmallThumb" mediaid="4737"]

Not to be confused with SuperFriends..

This organization is less about crime and more about reasonable expenses for making sure government is making informed decisions.

Google alone spent $3.9million in the second quarter of 2012, and $5.4million in 2012 total so far trying to help government see the internet as more than just a ‘series of tubes’.

Google isn’t alone in fighting for your rights, Amazon’s spending between Jan 2012 and June 2012 was pegged at $1.34million, EBay spent nearly as much at $827k, and Facebook also jumped into the fight for $650k of lobbying.

It stands to reason then that if they all had the same message a lot of time and money could be saved by joining forces, and this is how the Internet Association has come to be.

With Google, Amazon, EBay and Facebook already signed into the Internet Association it’s already huge and it’s still in the ‘coming soon’ phase of setting up.

This new group should not be confused with existing organizations like The Internet Defense League which are seeking other solutions to keeping people informed as to threats to online access/freedom.

A few sites (RIAA partners?) are panning this as ‘evil‘ and un-Google for companies to work together to support a shared message to the government, but I think anyone who knows the extent of SOPA/PIPA and other bills will see that spin for what it really is, fear and loathing of anything that stands in the way of an easy profit.

Google Fiber

Google Fiber Appliances
Remember us writing about Kansas City dark fiber, Google’s plans to light it up, and the various media/recording industry fears/objections?

While I was composing this article on the new Internet Association I managed to eavesdrop on the details coming from the live broadcast at the launch of Google Fiber in Kansas this morning.

Google Fiber Announcement Center

Here’s what I caught (again this was just details I overheard and not officially published):

  • Google Fiber is run right to your house
  • A fiber-conversion firewall appliance converts the optical signal
  • The Google fiber-wall has built in WiFi and 4 gigabit RJ45 ports
  • The WiFi radio is very fast (no specs given) and features a guest portal system
  • Google Fiber offers TV boxes that act as WiFi boosters
  • The TV boxes stream Netflix/Youtube in HD quality with more options to follow
  • Google’s TV boxes work with Bluetooth headphones and can be controlled by Bluetooth devices
  • Currently purchasing a TV box will including a free Nexus 7 Tablet that acts as a remote control for the TV box.
  • $300 is mentioned as the ‘construction fee’ to send a Google rep to your home to install the fiber cable.
  • $120/mth for the TV and Gigabit Internet package (on 2 year contracts the $300 fee is waived)
  • $70/mth for just Gigabit fibre internet (no install fee for 1yr contracts)
  • $Free/mth 5mbps down, 1mbps up, of capped fiber access to anyone who wants to pay the $300 install fee
  • The free service option is guaranteed for anyone in the service area for 7 years
  • You can pay the $300 fee off over time if you wish as an incentive to connect everyone regardless of income levels
  • 1TB of Google Drive storage (directly linked to the Fibre) comes with the $70/mth and up packages
  • No mention of monthly data use caps, but they would need to be fairly generous

Google Fiber Building in Kansas
Apparently they are deciding which homes get fiber first by running a lobbying contest where they reward the communities that lobby other communities the most. The speaker tried to sell this as ‘doing it for Kansas’ and ‘spreading the word about what fiber really means’, but of all the announcements, there was no applause for

Clearly most of Kansas is tired of waiting for Google Fiber and would like to start actually using it vs. running around ‘competing’ with other communities for the first chance to get hooked up.

It’s an odd move for Google but you have to respect that they had to find a fair way to select the first communities to get connected.

UPDATE: They have published the official Google Fiber data plans and yes, there’s NO DATA CAPS. Wow.

SEO news blog post by @ 11:25 am on July 26, 2012


Skynet Police – The Infringement Wars

While the copyright infringement debate continues heating up in Canada and the United States, the "Skynet" copyright act has been in place for two months now which was passed by Parliament in an effort to combat piracy over peer-to-peer files sharing networks. Rights-holders estimate that the act has halved the number of instances of copyright infringements within the first month.


Telecom has received copyright infringement notices from the Recording Industry of New Zealand asking to notices to 42 customers accused of internet piracy and are in the process if validating them. Spokesperson Gary Bowering of TelstraClear stated that:

If they are found to meet the criteria of the new file sharing regulations then we will pass on these allegations to the relevant customers in accordance with the obligations set out in the Copyright Amendment Act."

terminator cop

Regardless of the relative success with its implementation, holders are still concerned that over 40% of New Zealanders are continuing to download, pirate and otherwise infringe online.
Rights-holders are clamoring to change the infringement notice processing fee payable to ISPs to be dropped from the current $25 to just a few dollars or cents, enabling them to send out thousands of notices every month.

The ISPs want the fee to be increased to over four times the current amount. The submissions for the review of government notice fees are withheld by the government and are not made public.
It will be interesting to see how the online piracy debate plays out elsewhere and if other countries will adopt the New Zealand process as an example of how to implement similar measures in their own countries.

SEO news blog post by @ 11:22 am on July 25, 2012


Google Earth Engine and 40 years of Landsat data

As Apple and other companies continue to sue Google to slow/halt their growth into certain markets, Google is still finding ways to help the entire planet by sharing their technical infrastructure.

NASA started collecting images of Earth using the Landsat satellite system in 1972, and in the last 40 years the amount of data that has been accumulated is quite enormous.

The Landsat system is capable of mapping the entire planet surface every 16 days which means that there are 912 complete 1.7-terapixel images of our planet at a 30-meter resolution that not only need to be built/combined but the completed data maps also need to be compared over time.

Google’s infrastructure makes it possible to not only process the data much faster, but they can also make the information accessible to the public web where discovery and analysis can be crowd-sourced for free.

So far there’s been some very interesting work derived from the Landsat data using Google’s Earth Engine, and here’s three examples of human impacts on the planet that have been visualized by Landsat data analysis:

This time-lapse, built from Landsat captured satellite imagery from 1999 to 2011, shows the amazingly rapid growth of Las Vegas, Nevada. After watching the video it’s easy to see how Vegas is the fastest growing city in the United States for the past two decades.

Due to water diversion for irrigation and farming needs, the inland Aral Sea is shrinking at an amazing pace. Large portions were completely absent of water by as early as 2009 and these dry areas continue to grow today.

Providing land for farming, and clearing land for raising cattle, has caused the Amazon rainforest to shrink at a very shocking rate as you can see in this video.

For more time-line based Landsat data analysis you can go right to the Google Earth Engine page.

Sadly there’s zero examples of human activity improving the planet, which isn’t startling, but rather depressing. Perhaps someone wants to go take a look for something positive, like a rebuild of coral reef or something beneficial to the planet that humans have undertaken? I know I’d make a link to that.

UPDATE: Ahh speaking of 40 years of data, Greenland just hit a melt cycle that occurs roughly every ~150 years. The cycle this year will be the first time we’ve had satellite observation of the melt; all previous information is based on ice core samples.

SEO news blog post by @ 11:04 am on July 24, 2012


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