Nosey Google has updated its search engine algorithms in an attempt to restrict piracy web sites appearing high in its search rankings.
The update will mean piracy sites are less likely to appear when people search for music, films and other copyrighted content.
The decision to roll out the search changes was announced in a refreshed version of a How Google Fights Piracy report, which was originally published in September 2013.
However, this year’s updated report features a couple of developments, including changes to ad formats and an improved DMCA demotion search signal.
The move is likely to be a result of criticism received from the entertainment industry, which has argued that illegal sites should be “demoted” in search results because they enable people to find sites to download media illegally.
The biggest change in the Google search update will be new ad formats in search results on queries related to music and movies that help people find legitimate sources of media.
For example, for the relatively small number of queries for movies that include terms like ‘download’, ‘free’, or ‘watch’, Google has instead begun listing legal services such as Spotify and Netflix in a box at the top of the search results.
“We’re also testing other ways of pointing people to legitimate sources of music and movies, including in the right-hand panel on the results page,” Google added.
“These results show in the US only, but we plan to continue investing in this area and to expand it internationally.”
An improved DMCA demotion signal in Google search is also being rolled out as part of the refresh, which down-ranks sites for which Google has received a large number of valid DMCA notices.
“We’ve now refined the signal in ways we expect to visibly affect the rankings of some of the most notorious sites. This update will roll out globally starting next week,” Google said, adding that it will also be removing more terms from autocomplete, based on DMCA removal notices.
The new measures might be welcomed by the entertainment industry, but are likely to encourage more people to use legal alternatives such as Spotify and Netflix, rather than buying more physical media.
Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, who is visiting India to participate in an event to boost Internet usage, refused to say much more, but it does indicate that the company has not worked out a cunning plan yet.
Facebook’s final WhatsApp acquisition price tag has risen an additional $3 billion to roughly $22 billion because of the increased value of Facebook’s stock in recent months. This means that Zuckerberg is under pressure to make a bob or two from the deal.
WhatsApp works across different types of phones, across borders, and without advertising. The app only charges a 99 cent annual subscription fee, which is waived for the first year.
The carrier had announced in July it would extend a practice it calls network optimization to unlimited LTE subscribers starting in October. Network optimization targets the top 5 percent of data users on the network when a cell site is under the heaviest demand, and slows down those users’ network performance. Verizon had already applied the practice to the top users of its 3G network.
“We’ve greatly valued the ongoing dialogue over the past several months concerning network optimization and we’ve decided not to move forward with the planned implementation of network optimization for 4G LTE customers on unlimited plans,” the carrier said in a statement on Wednesday. “Exceptional network service will always be our priority and we remain committed to working closely with industry stakeholders to manage broadband issues so that American consumers get the world-class mobile service they expect and value.”
U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler attacked the plan in a letter to Verizon, suggesting it was a ploy to get customers to switch from their unlimited plans to ones with a cap on monthly data usage. Verizon no longer sells new unlimited plans but allows subscribers with those plans to keep them.
“I know of no past Commission statement that would treat as ‘reasonable network management’ a decision to slow traffic to a user who has paid, after all, for ‘unlimited’ service,” Wheeler wrote in the late July letter to Verizon Wireless President and CEO Dan Mead.
Digital rights group Public Knowledge also attacked so-called data throttling, as well as practices by AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile USA.
The showdown demonstrated the tension over increasing demand for mobile data, which carriers say puts a strain on their networks. Among other things, that demand has led operators to seek ever more spectrum and apply network management techniques they say are necessary to keep serving all subscribers well. Though LTE makes much more efficient use of the airwaves than 3G does, LTE networks are serving a rapidly growing number of subscribers.
Three of the four largest U.S. mobile operators and satellite provider Dish Network Corp plan to bid in the Federal Communications Commission’s November auction of airwaves, according to initial applications released on Wednesday.
As expected, the largest U.S. wireless carrier Verizon Communications Inc, No. 2 AT&T Inc, No. 4 T-Mobile US Inc and Dish appeared to be the largest companies to indicate an interest in bidding in the upcoming auction of frequencies known as AWS-3.
Applications from Northstar Wireless LLC and SNR Wireless LicenseCo LLC reported they had entered bidding agreements with Dish, which had indirect ownership interest in both companies.
Northstar’s disclosures showed direct and indirect ownership interest by Alaska Native corporation Doyon Ltd and indirect ownership interest by financial firm Catalyst Investors. Asset manager BlackRock Inc had membership shares in SNR, according to the documents.
T-Mobile and AT&T did not appear to plan joint bids with other companies, and T-Mobile’s Kathleen Ham, vice president of federal regulatory affairs, said the carrier had no such agreements with any company.
A Verizon spokesman did not respond to inquiries about potential joint bidding and Dish representatives declined comment beyond confirming the submission of its application, citing FCC’s anti-collusion rules.
A total of 80 entities submitted initial applications. Interested parties, which may or may not actually bid for wireless licenses in the auction, included smaller U.S. companies such as Bluegrass Wireless LLC, Guam-based wireless company Docomo Pacific Inc and individual spectrum investors.
Scheduled to begin on Nov. 13, the auction is expected to raise at least $10 billion and will include airwaves previously occupied by multiple federal users, including the Department of Homeland Security.
Dish applied to bid in the auction as American AWS-3 Wireless I LLC and disclosed joint bidding arrangements with SNR and Northstar, which in turn had to disclose ownership and other information.
SNR listed former FCC Wireless Bureau Chief John Muleta, now CEO of consulting firm Atelum LLC, as a contact. Muleta, reached late on Wednesday, declined comment, citing FCC’s restrictions.
Northstar’s disclosures listed Allen Todd, assistant secretary at Doyon, a Fairbanks-based Alaska Native Regional Corporation with numerous affiliates in various fields including oil and gas land drilling. Todd could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
SNR’s and Northstar’s, as well as AT&T’s, initial application appeared to be incomplete, which can be caused by small bureaucratic omissions. Of the 80 applications, 47 were deemed incomplete and have to be properly finished by Oct. 15 to allow the companies to participate.
All initial applications have to put down an upfront payment by Oct. 15 to confirm participation.
RedHat has announced the Fedora 21 Alpha release for Fedora developers and any brave users that want to help test it.
Fedora is the leading edge – some might say bleeding edge – distribution of Linux that is sponsored by Red Hat. That’s where Red Hat and other developers do new development work that eventually appears in Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and other Red Hat based Linux distributions, including Centos, Scientific Linux and Mageia, among others. Therefore, what Fedora does might also appear elsewhere eventually.
The Fedora project said the release of Fedora 21 Alpha is meant for testing in order to help it identify and resolve bugs, adding, “Fedora prides itself on bringing cutting-edge technologies to users of open source software around the world, and this release continues that tradition.”
Specifically, Fedora 21 will produce three software products, all built on the same Fedora 21 base, and these will each be a subset of the entire release.
Fedora 21 Cloud will include images for use in private cloud environments like Openstack, as well as AMIs for use on Amazon, and a new image streamlined for running Docker containers called Fedora Atomic Host.
Fedora 21 Server will offer data centre users “a common base platform that is meant to run featured application stacks” for use as a web server, file server, database server, or as a base for offering infrastructure as a service, including advanced server management features.
Fedora 21 Workstation will be “a reliable, user-friendly, and powerful operating system for laptops and PC hardware” for use by developers and other desktop users, and will feature the latest Gnome 3.14 desktop environment.
Those interested in testing the Fedora 21 Alpha release can visit the Fedora project website.
Google had been mulling HTC as a potential Nexus tablet partner since last year and HTC engineers have been flying to the Googleplex in Mountain View in recent months to work on the project, the report said.
Google’s decision to pick HTC reflects its long-term strategy of building a broad base of partners from device to device to prevent any one manufacturer from gaining a monopoly, the report said.
That may also be one of the reasons why Google chose HTC over bigger rivals Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, maker of the Nexus 10 tablet.
Google and HTC declined to comment on the report.
The Iconia Tab 8 W runs Windows on an Intel Atom Z3735G quad-core processor. It offers 8 hours of battery life, weighs 370 grams and is 9.75 millimeters thick. The 8-inch screen has a resolution of 1280 by 800 pixels.
For the $149 price tag, Acer includes a one-year subscription to the Personal version of Office 365, which includes access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook.
Android fans will prefer the Iconia One 8, running Android 4.4. It has the same Intel processor and screen dimensions as its Windows cousin, but is slightly lighter at 340 grams and only 8.5 millimeters thick.
Buyers can choose between 10 colors, including red, green, blue, purple and pink.
Acer also took the covers off the Iconia 10, an Android-based 10-inch tablet. The device has a quad-core processor from MediaTek. The screen is protected using Gorilla glass and has Full HD resolution. Using Dolby Digital Plus, surround sound is simulated from two-channel stereo audio headphones.
Available in black or white and with a price of $199, the Iconia Tab 10 includes a micro HDMI port and Wireless Display support for showing photos and videos on a bigger TV.
The first of the new tablets to start shipping will be the Iconia 10, available this month in the Americas and Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).
The Iconia Tab 8 W will go on sale in October in EMEA and in November in the Americas.
The storage of user data in China represents a departure from the policies of some technology companies, notably Google Inc, which has long refused to build data centers in China due to censorship and privacy concerns.
Apple said the move was part of an effort to improve the speed and reliability of its iCloud service, which lets users store pictures, e-mail and other data. Positioning data centers as close to customers as possible means faster service.
The data will be kept on servers provided by China Telecom Corp Ltd, the country’s third-largest wireless carrier, Apple said in a statement.
“Apple takes user security and privacy very seriously,” it said. “We have added China Telecom to our list of data center providers to increase bandwidth and improve performance for our customers in mainland china. All data stored with our providers is encrypted. China Telecom does not have access to the content.”
A source with knowledge of the situation said the encryption keys for Apple’s data on China Telecom servers would be stored offshore and not made available to China Telecom.
Apple has said it has devised encryption systems for services such as iMessage that even Apple itself cannot unlock. But some experts expressed scepticism that Apple would be able to withhold user data in the event of a government request.
“If they’re making out that the data is protected and secure that’s a little disingenuous because if they want to operate a business here, that’d have to comply with demands from the authorities,” said Jeremy Goldkorn, director of Danwei.com, a research firm focused on Chinese media, internet and consumers.
“On the other hand if they don’t store Chinese user data on a Chinese server they’re basically risking a crackdown from the authorities.”
Goldkorn added that data stored in the United States is subject to similar U.S. regulations where the government can use court orders to demand private data.
A spokesman for China Telecom declined to comment.
U.S. Federal Communications Commission has said it would accept public comments on its proposed new “net neutrality” rules through Sept. 15, giving the American public extra time to voice their opinions and concerns on how they think Internet traffic should be regulated.
The FCC has received more than 1 million comments already on new rules for how Internet services providers should be allowed to manage web traffic on their networks.
The FCC had set a deadline of July 15 for the initial comments and then September 10 for replies to those initial comments. However, the surge in submissions overwhelmed the FCC’s website and the agency had delayed the first deadline by three business days.
“To ensure that members of the public have as much time as was initially anticipated to reply to initial comments in these proceedings, the Bureau today is extending the reply comment deadline by three business days,” the FCC said on Friday, delaying the final deadline for comments to September 15.
The Internet Engineering Task Force is putting the final touches on HTTP/2, the second version of the Hypertext Transport Protocol (HTTP). The working group has issued a last call draft, urging interested parties to voice concerns before it becomes a full Internet specification.
Not everyone is completely satisfied with the protocol however.
“There is a lot of good in this proposed standard, but I have some deep reservations about some bad and ugly aspects of the protocol,” wrote Greg Wilkins, lead developer of the open source Jetty server software, noting his concerns in a blog item posted Monday.
Others, however, praise HTTP/2 and say it is long overdue.
“A lot of our users are experimenting with the protocol,” said Owen Garrett, head of products for server software provider NGINX. “The feedback is that generally, they have seen big performance benefits.”
First created by Web originator Tim Berners-Lee and associates, HTTP quite literally powers today’s Web, providing the language for a browser to request a Web page from a server.
Version 2.0 of HTTP, based largely on the SPDY protocol developed by Google, promises to be a better fit for how people use the Web.
“The challenge with HTTP is that it is a fairly simple protocol, and it can be quite laborious to download all the resources required to render a Web page. SPDY addresses this issue,” Garrett said.
While the first generation of Web sites were largely simple and relatively small, static documents, the Web today is used as a platform for delivering applications and bandwidth intensive real-time multimedia content.
HTTP/2 speeds basic HTTP in a number of ways. HTTP/2 allows servers to send all the different elements of a requested Web page at once, eliminating the serial sets of messages that have to be sent back and forth under plain HTTP.
HTTP/2 also allows the server and the browser to compress HTTP, which cuts the amount of data that needs to be communicated between the two.
As a result, HTTP/2 “is really useful for organization with sophisticated Web sites, particularly when its users are distributed globally or using slower networks — mobile users for instance,” Garrett said.