Archive for the ‘google’ Category

Google ends forced arbitration for all employees

February 22nd, 2019
Exterior of Google office building.

Enlarge / Some Googlers held protest signs during the November 2018 walkout. (credit: Cyrus Farivar)

Google is dropping forced arbitration requirements for its employees, the company announced on Thursday. Starting March 21, both existing and new employees will have the option to sue Google in court and to join together in class-action lawsuits.

The news is a victory for a group of activist Google employees who have been pressuring Google to make this change since last fall. Thousands of Googlers walked out last November to protest Google's handling of recent sexual harassment controversies.

Google quickly agreed to drop forced arbitration requirements in certain sexual harassment cases. But critics kept up the pressure, and Google is now exempting all employees and direct contractors from forced arbitration requirements in a broader range of cases.

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Posted in Andy Rubin, forced arbitration, google, Policy | Comments (0)

Google partially backtracks on Chrome changes that would break ad blockers

February 18th, 2019

Google has said that it will revise the proposed changes to Chrome's extension API that would have broken or reduced the functionality of a wide range of ad-blocking extensions, to ensure that the current variety of content-blocking extensions is preserved. The initial plans generated a wide backlash from both the developers and users of those extensions, but Google maintains that "It is not, nor has it ever been, our goal to prevent or break content blocking" [emphasis Google's] and says that it will work to update its proposal to address the capability gaps and pain points.

The advertising company is planning an overhaul of its extension interface to, among other things, increase user privacy, make it harder for extensions to perform malicious actions, and make the browser's performance more consistent. Together, this work is documented as Manifest V3.

One of these changes in particular had grave consequences for ad blockers. Currently, ad blockers make extensive use of an API named webRequest. This API allows extensions to examine every single network request made by a page and either modify it (to, for example, redirect it to a different address or add or remove cookies), block it altogether, or allow it to continue unhindered. This has both a substantial privacy impact (an extension can see and steal your cookies and hence masquerade as you) and, Google said, some performance impact, as every single network request (of which there may be dozens in a single page) has to wait for the extension to perform its analysis.

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Posted in ad blockers, chrome, Chromium, development, google, Open Source, Tech, Web | Comments (0)

Facebook, Google, CDC under pressure to stop anti-vax garbage from spreading

February 15th, 2019
Facebook, Google, CDC under pressure to stop anti-vax garbage from spreading

Enlarge (credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

With five measles outbreaks ongoing in the US, lawmakers are questioning both health officials and tech giants on their efforts to combat the noxious anti-vaccine misinformation fueling the spread of disease.

Last week, Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate health committee, along with ranking member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Health and Human Services. The lawmakers asked what health officials were doing to fight misinformation and help states dealing with outbreaks. “Many factors contribute to vaccine hesitancy, all of which demand attention from CDC and [HHS’ National Vaccine Program Office],” the lawmakers wrote. On Thursday, February 14, the committee announced that it will hold a hearing on the subject on March 5.

Also Thursday, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) sent letters to Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. In them, Schiff expressed concern over the outbreaks as well as the tech companies’ role in enabling the dissemination of medically inaccurate information.

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Posted in antivaccine, CDC, Facebook, google, Infectious disease, measles, outbreak, science, vaccine | Comments (0)

With experimental “Never slow mode,” Chrome tries to stop Web devs making it slow

February 6th, 2019
The word SLOW has been painted on a street for the benefit of drivers.

Enlarge / Google wants less of this. (credit: Vegansoldier / Flickr)

Since Chrome's very first release, performance has been one of Google's top priorities. But Google is against a competing force: Web developers. The Web of today is a more-complex, bandwidth-intensive place than it was when Chrome was first released, which means that—although Internet connections and the browser itself are faster than they've ever been—slow pages remain an everyday occurrence.

Google engineers have been developing "Never Slow Mode" in a bid to counter this. Spotted at Chrome Story (via ZDNet), the new mode places tight limitations on Web content in an effort to make its performance more robust and predictable.

The exact design and rationale of Never Slow Mode aren't public—the changelog for the feature mentions a design document but says it's currently Google-internal. But taken together, that design and rationale will ensure that the browser's main thread never has to do too much work and will never get too delayed. They will also ensure that only limited amounts of data are pulled down over the network. This should make the browser more responsive to user input, lighter on the network, and a bit less of a memory hog than it would otherwise be.

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Posted in browsers, chrome, Chromium, google, HTML, Open Source, Tech, Web | Comments (0)

Apple restores Google’s own internal iPhone apps after privacy brouhaha

February 1st, 2019
Apple restores Google’s own internal iPhone apps after privacy brouhaha

Enlarge (credit: Chesnot/Getty Images)

On Thursday evening, Apple restored Google’s access to its own internal iOS apps, just hours after it made a similar move with Facebook’s private iPhone apps.

"We can confirm our internal corporate apps have been restored," Anaik von der Weid, a Google spokeswoman, emailed Ars just after 8pm Pacific Time.

For less than a day, Apple had briefly revoked Google’s iOS certificate that enabled those private apps to conduct various internal business such as company shuttles, food menus, as well as pre-release beta testing, and more.

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Posted in apple, Biz & IT, Facebook, google | Comments (0)

Apple revokes Facebook’s developer certificate over data-snooping app—Google could be next

January 30th, 2019
Google and Facebook circumvented the App Store to distribute VPN apps that collected user data against Apple's policies.

Enlarge / Google and Facebook circumvented the App Store to distribute VPN apps that collected user data against Apple's policies. (credit: Aurich / Getty)

Both Facebook and Google have used Apple's Enterprise Developer Program—which is intended for exclusive use by companies to give system administrators the ability to distribute apps to employees' devices internally—to circumvent Apple's app store and distribute to users applications that closely monitor users' app, messaging, and network activity.

News of Facebook's application was published on TechCrunch yesterday, leading Apple to revoke Facebook's enterprise certificate. This same certificate had been used internally by Facebook for distributing beta builds of Facebook's apps and for other needs, so the revocation poses a serious challenge for the company.

News of Google's similar program also broke on TechCrunch, but that happened more recently, and Apple has not yet indicated whether it intends to take similar action with Google. We'll start by unpacking the Facebook side.

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Posted in apple, Enterprise Certificates, Enterprise Developer Program, Facebook, Facebook Research, google, onavo, Policy, Privacy, Tech, user data | Comments (0)

Hands-on with the new Gmail for Android (and iOS)

January 30th, 2019

Google is pushing a big redesign to the mobile Gmail app on Android and iOS. The update was announced yesterday, and after spending some time with the new app, we're going to comb through the finer details and see what has changed between New Gmail and Old Gmail.

For now the release is only out on Android, but like the old Gmail design, it should look identical on iOS. If you're on Android, you want Gmail version 9.x (the old design is Gmail 8). If the Play Store isn't serving you the update and you're into sideloading, APKMirror has a safe download. The iOS version is still wending its way through the App Store approval process, and should be out sometime this week.

The new design is a good match for the new desktop Gmail design that came out in April, along with all the other apps using the "Google Material Theme" design language. Everything is really white—an homage to the Google homepage—and everything uses rounded corners. The horizontal line dividers are gone, leaving nothing but white space to separate your messages. Control iconography is changed to Google's new outline style, and while message text remains in the Roboto font, everything else now uses Product Sans (the same typeface as the Google logo).

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Posted in Alphabet, Android, apps, gmail, google, iOS, Mobile, Tech | Comments (0)

Google asks Supreme Court to overrule disastrous ruling on API copyrights

January 25th, 2019
Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai. (credit: Sam Churchill)

An application programming interface is the glue that holds complex software systems together. Until 2014, it was widely assumed that no one could use copyright law to restrict APIs' use—a view that promoted software interoperability.

Then, in 2014, a court known as the Federal Circuit Appeals Court issued a bombshell ruling taking the opposite view. Oracle had sued Google, arguing that Google had violated Oracle's copyright by re-implementing APIs from the Java programming language. The case has been working its way through the courts ever since, with the Federal Circuit issuing a second controversial ruling in 2018. On Thursday, Google asked the Supreme Court to overturn the Federal Circuit's controversial ruling.

"The Federal Circuit’s approach will upend the longstanding expectation of software developers that they are free to use existing software interfaces to build new computer programs," Google wrote in its Thursday petition to the Supreme Court.

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Posted in API copyrights, API trolls, google, oracle, Oracle v. Google, Policy, Supreme Court | Comments (0)

Google doesn’t want employees to use work email to organize, per report

January 24th, 2019
Exterior of Google office building.

Enlarge / Some Googlers held protest signs during the November 2018 walkout. (credit: Cyrus Farivar)

Newly revealed filings to the National Labor Relations Board show that attorneys for Google have been lobbying the agency to undo an earlier decision that required companies to let employees organize on the company's own email systems.

According to a Thursday report by Bloomberg, Google has urged the NLRB in both May 2017 and as recently as November 2018 to overturn a 2014 decision known as Purple Communications.

In that case, the majority found that workers at Purple Communications, an American Sign Language interpreting company, could not be barred from using their work email for organizing purposes. The three Democratic-appointed members found that the workers' own work email was a "natural gathering place," particularly when those workers—like ASL interpreters—were distributed across a wide geographic area.

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Posted in email, google, Policy | Comments (0)