Tuesday December 11, 2018
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Google Mum on Chinese Search Engine Reports

China's top internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China, has not commented on the reported plans

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Google to retire smart messaging app Allo after March 2019. Pixabay
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Google declined Wednesday to confirm reports that it plans to launch a censored version of its search engine in China, where its main search platform was previously blocked, along with its YouTube video platform.

“We provide a number of mobile apps in China … [to] help Chinese developers, and have made significant investments in Chinese companies like JD.com. But we don’t comment on speculation about future plans,” a Google spokesperson told VOA in a statement.

The first report on the possible rollout came from The Intercept, and online news publication, which cited internal Google documents and people familiar with the purported plan.

The Intercept said the project, code-named Dragonfly, has been in development since last year. It said the project began to progress more quickly following a December meeting between Google CEO Sundar Pichai and a senior Chinese government official.

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A surveillance camera is seen in front of the Google China headquarters in Beijing. (VOA)

Search terms regarding democracy, human rights and peaceful protests will be among those blacklisted in the new search engine app, the report said. It added the search engine had already been demonstrated to Chinese government officials.

The report said a final version could be introduced within six to nine months, pending approval of Chinese officials.

Also Read: Making it Easier to Discover Data in Search- Google

China’s top internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China, has not commented on the reported plans.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican and former U.S. presidential candidate, posted on Twitter that Google should be given the “benefit of the doubt” but that the reported plans were still “very disturbing.” (VOA)

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Australia Proposes To Strengthen Regulations of Facebook, Google

Facebook has 17 million monthly users in Australia -- 68 per cent of its population -- while Instagram, second most popular site in terms of users - which is owned by Facebook, has 11 million users

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Australia recommends strengthening regulation of Facebook, Google. Pixabay

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on Monday proposed measures to counter the dominant market positions of Google and Facebook and strengthen monitoring on their access to information, advertising and consumers personal data.

The regulatory body, which recommended 11 preliminary measures in the report, was directed to conduct a public inquiry into the impact of digital search engines, social media platforms and other digital content in 2017 by then treasurer and current Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“Acting as an intermediary between consumers and news outlets, platforms are inherently influential in shaping consumers’ choices of digital journalism,” said the report cited by Efe news.

This influential position and filtration of news items could place the consumer in a so-called filter bubble, increasing the risk of consumers being exposed to unreliable news, according to the report.

“The algorithms operated by each of Google and Facebook, as well as other policies, determine which content is surfaced and displayed to consumers in news feed and search results,” it said.

“The ACCC considers that the strong market position of digital platforms like Google and Facebook justifies a greater level of regulatory oversight,” Chair Rod Sims said.

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Facebook, social media. Pixabay

The commission called for the creation of a regulatory authority with powers to monitor these digital platforms and recommended establishing an automatic mechanism to take down content that violates copyright.

The ACCC said consumers should be informed about the manner in which these platforms collect and use their data to create personalized advertising.

This would include a reform of privacy laws to require the user’s express consent to data collection and “enable consumers to require erasure of their personal information where they have withdrawn their consent”.

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ACCC said that it found that “competition may have been distorted in multiple sectors where consumer data is used”.

Facebook has 17 million monthly users in Australia — 68 per cent of its population — while Instagram, second most popular site in terms of users – which is owned by Facebook, has 11 million users.

In 2017, Google registered 90 per cent of search traffic originating from Australian desktops and 98 per cent from mobile phones. (IANS)