Adafruit Industries has been stripped of revenues from its Youtube channel after Rumblefish -- a notorious music-rights agency -- claimed to own the copyright on a public domain, taxpayer-funded rendition of "America the Beautiful." Read the rest
Under a crazy, ineffectual EU court ruling, people can petition Google and its rivals to de-index news articles from their European search-results. Read the rest
The default behavior of hotword, a new, black-box module in Chrome (and its free/open cousin, Chromium) causes it to silently switch on your computer's microphone and send whatever it hears to Google. Read the rest
In "Inceptionism," scientists at Google Research describe their work training neural nets with sets of images, then tweaking the "layers" of neural net nodes to produce weird outcomes. Read the rest
Google analyzed the "secret questions" used by its vast userbase and was not surprised to learn that they are mostly terrible.
In a blog post at the company's Online Security Blog, Elie Bursztein said that "secret questions are neither secure nor reliable enough to be used as a standalone account recovery mechanism."
"That’s because they suffer from a fundamental flaw," Bursztein wrote. "Their answers are either somewhat secure or easy to remember—but rarely both."
Here are some specific insights:
With a single guess, an attacker would have a 19.7% chance of guessing English-speaking users’ answers to the question
• "What is your favorite food?" (it was ‘pizza’, by the way) With ten guesses, an attacker would have a nearly 24% chance of guessing Arabic-speaking users’ answer to the question
• "What’s your first teacher’s name?" With ten guesses, an attacker would have a 21% chance of guessing Spanish-speaking users’ answers to the question,
• "What is your father’s middle name?" With ten guesses, an attacker would have a 39% chance of guessing Korean-speaking users’ answers to the question "What is your city of birth?" and a 43% chance of guessing their favorite food.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt, famous for weirdly off-kilter mockery of the privacy his company exploits for its billions, has been immortalized in shit.
Artist Katsu selected "Eric Shit" as the second in his series of portraits created using his own excrement. The first was of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Techcrunch's Kim-Mai Cutler interviewed Katsu, who explained that his process is born in a fascination with the artistic possibilities of human-produced materials…
… But it’s really about bio-data. These titans of the cloud, are like, basically in competition to control every bit of granular data about individuals. That’s what makes their companies so powerful. They understand that human data has this immense value and they’re shielding and hiding that from the public. Maybe feces is the last thing that they could possibly control.
Struck by a succession of abusive scrawlings going live on its popular maps service, Google has apologized and promised to retool the service to prevent it from happening in future.
"This week, we had some problems with Google Maps, which was displaying results for certain offensive search queries," wrote Jen Fitzpatrick, a Vice President of Engineering and Product Development, explaining how Google's system slurped up the offensive terms because of how it incorporates "online discussions" of particular places. "… This surfaced inappropriate results that users likely weren’t looking for."
Earlier this week, it was found that when given offensive search terms, Google would return inappropriate locations. Queried with "nigga house," for example, Google would offer the White House.
Howard University, reported one internet user, "shows up as ‘N***er University’ on Google Maps."
The benefits of algorithmic changes will be seen soon, Fitzpatrick promised, and Google will continue to refine its software over time: "Simply put, you shouldn’t see these kinds of results in Google Maps, and we’re taking steps to make sure you don't."
Maps, like much in the Googleverse, is comprised significantly of information added by users or algorithmically incorporated into its dataset—unvetted and often dependent on community reporting when something goes awry.
Google recently shuttered another crowdsourced component of Google Maps due to repeated addition of naughty and offensive landscape features that were not, in fact, there. Read the rest
Tone is an experimental Chrome plugin from Google Research that lets computers share small amounts of information (like URLs) with ultrasonic chirps. Read the rest
The FBI wants backdoors in all your crypto, and UK Prime Minister David Cameron made backdoors an election promise, but as Stanford lawyer/computer scientist Jonathan Mayer writes, there's no way to effectively backdoor modern platforms without abolishing the whole idea of computers as we know them, replacing them with an imaginary and totalitarian computing ecosystem that does not exist and probably never will. Read the rest
Youtube's stilted, one-sided dispute resolution system allows game companies like Nintendo to confiscate the earnings of gamers who produce hugely popular "Let's Play" videos. Read the rest
Hugh writes, "YouTube's automated takedown tool is known for its flaws, but this week it crossed a line by attacking a purring cat. According to YouTube's Content-ID system both EMI Publishing and PRS own the rights to a 12 second purring loop. The cat in question, Phantom, has filed a dispute and hopes to reclaim his rights." (Thanks, Hugh!) Read the rest
The company says that it fought the warrants and their gag orders, and the reason they weren't able to follow Twitter's suit by disclosing the warrants' existence was that prosecutors were furious over the public backlash when Twitter got to disclose. Read the rest
Google is launching a new, Youtube-branded streaming music service, with the cooperation of the Big Four labels, who got to negotiate the terms of their participation -- unlike the indie musicians, who have been told that they will be exiled from Youtube altogether unless they make it their most-favored-nation distribution service, without the possibility of holding back tracks for backers on services like Kickstarter or Patreon. Read the rest