Thursday, September 27, 2012

Google celebrates 14th birthday

Google has been under target from censors and is also facing legal action in several countries around the world in what has become a difficult month for the search giant. But as the company celebrates its 14th birthday with a special doodle, it has also received praise for its green initiatives.

Anger over YouTube video

Over the last month Google has been pressured to remove a video from YouTube which has inflamed parts of the Muslim world. The film clip which many Muslims say insults the prophet Mohammed was posted in June this year but after recently appearing with an Arabic translation there have been widespread demonstrations.

Google has refused to remove the film from YouTube, despite pressure from the White House and others to take it down, though the company has blocked the trailer in Egypt, Libya and other Muslim countries.

Now one of the actresses who appeared in the film is attempting to use the courts to force a take-down. Cindy Lee Garcia names YouTube and its parent company Google Inc. as defendants in her lawsuit, along with the Egyptian-American Coptic Christian from California believed to be behind the making of the film [Reuters].

It is the second time Garcia has tried to use the law to obtain an order against Google. Last week a Los Angeles Superior Court judge denied her request for a temporary restraining order that would have required YouTube to stop posting the crudely made 13-minute video, finding the actress was unlikely to prevail on the merits of her case in state court [BBC].

Google's Brazil boss arrested

Meanwhile a Brazilian court on Tuesday banned the anti-Islam movie and gave YouTube 10 days to pull the film's trailer from its website [Reuters]. It wasn't the only Brazilian court ruling against Google on Tuesday. Earlier, an elections court ordered the arrest of Google's most senior executive in Brazil after the company failed to take down YouTube videos attacking a local mayoral candidate [BBC].

Iran blocks Google

Google is facing problems elsewhere too with Iran now blocking the search engine and its email service Gmail. The block seemed to be in response to the hosting of the anti-Islamic film, despite the fact YouTube has been blocked in the country since 2009 [BBC].

IP issues and privacy

Accusations of invasion of privacy over its Street View mapping project and the collection of WiFi data still continues and Google may face more court cases in the future. The company is also facing accusations of blocking the launch of a smartphone powered by the Chinese firm Alibaba's operating system [BBC]. Google and companies which make devices which use its mobile operating system Android remain in an almost continuous battle with Apple with accusations of copyright infringement.

In the latest ruling Motorola is facing a ban of selling its latest Android based devices in Germany after losing a patent lawsuit against Apple [BBC].

News Corp back down

It hasn't all been bad news for Google however. News Corp this week backed down in its war with the search giant over listings of its publications in Google's search engine rankings. The move came amid fears that the newspapers' exclusion was limiting their influence and driving down advertising revenues.

In the past, Rupert Murdoch, who owns The Times and Sunday Times, had lambasted Google as a "parasite" and a "content kleptomaniac" because it only allows companies to feature in search rankings if users are able to click through to at least one page without paying [Telegraph / TechCrunch].

Rising stocks

On Thursday Google, which was celebrating its 14th birthday, also saw its shares soar to an all time high topping $761 on Wednesday though it dropped a little to around $753 by the closing bell [CNN / Globe & Mail].

Google was also celebrating a milestone as its Android market topped a massive 25 billion downloads [PC Advisor].

Maps and apps

The search giant has yet to launch a mapping app for Apple's iOS following complaints that Apple's own maps were less than satisfactory. Google will release a Maps app for iOS 6, but it's may be some time before it is released, according to sources quoted by The Verge. Although the company has been coy about its mapping plans in the wake of mass criticism of the latest navigation tools in iOS 6, Google sources say the company is rushing to make app available.

Google users on other operating systems can further explore the world as panoramic images of several coral reefs have been added to Street View [BBC / Daily Mail].

Greening Google

And in an effort to increase its green credentials Google has signed a contract to obtain 48 megawatts of wind energy from the Canadian Hills Wind Project in Oklahoma to power its data centre. The company has received praise before from environmental groups such as Greenpeace [Register]. However, Google's latest initiative has been particularly applauded. "As Google powers more of its data center fleet with clean energy, it sends a signal to other IT companies and electric utilities around the world that renewable energy is not only possible but is simply smart business in the 21st century economy," said Gary Cook, senior IT analyst for Greenpeace International [Google / Register / SFGate].

tvnewswatch, London, UK

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