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Google May Shut Down its Google News Service in EU

Traditional media outlets tend to blame Google for sucking up much of the advertising revenue which used to prop up print newspapers, the Guardian reported

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Google may shut down its Google News service in the European Union (EU) if a proposed “link tax” for using news stories comes into force in member countries, The Guardian reported.

According to the new copyright directive, adopted by the European Parliament on September 12, tech giants must pay for work of artists and journalists which they use.

To put the rule changes into effect, individual member countries would have to draft local laws.

Google is deeply concerned about the current proposals, which are designed to compensate struggling news publishers if snippets of their articles appear in search results, Richard Gingras, the search engine’s Vice President of News told the Guardian.

The future of Google News could depend on whether the EU was willing to alter the phrasing of the legislation, he said.

“We can’t make a decision until we see the final language,” he was quoted as saying.

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This is not the first time an attempt is being made to charge Google for links. In 2014, Spain passed a law requiring aggregation sites to pay for news links.

Google then decided to close down the service for Spanish consumers.

Traditional media outlets tend to blame Google for sucking up much of the advertising revenue which used to prop up print newspapers, the Guardian reported.

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But many news websites also depend on the service to drive traffic to their websites.

Google News is not directly a profit-making business for the company, while it does encourage users to spend more time on the company’s websites, Gingras said, adding that the search giant does not put any advertising in Google News. (IANS)

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Google Shuts Down ‘Censored’ Chinese Search Project

Google had earlier launched a search engine in China in 2006 but pulled the plug in 2010, citing Chinese government efforts to limit free speech and block websites

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A Google logo is displayed at the entrance to the internet based company's offices in Toronto. VOA

Facing widespread criticism over its “censored” Search engine for the Chinese market, Google has reportedly shut down a data collection system that was key to develop the search project code-named “Dragonfly”.

According to a report in The Intercept on Tuesday, the move comes after hundreds of Google employees raised internal complaints that the project had been kept secret from them.

The report found that Google employees, working on the Dragonfly project, “had been using a Beijing-based website to help develop blacklists for the censored search engine”.

The website www.265.com is a Chinese-language web directory service which Google bought in 2008 from a billionaire Chinese entrepreneur.

“265.com provides its Chinese visitors with news updates, information about financial markets, horoscopes, and advertisements for cheap flights and hotels,” said the report.

“As The Intercept reported in August, it appears that Google has used 265.com as a honeypot for market research, storing information about Chinese users’ searches before sending them along to Baidu,” the report added.

Google engineers working on Dragonfly obtained large datasets showing queries that Chinese people were entering into the 265.com search engine.

“Members of Google’s privacy team, however, were kept in the dark about the use of 265.com,” said the report, quoting sources.

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Google shuts down ‘censored’ Chinese Search project: Report. VOA

Now, the teams working on Dragonfly are no longer gathering search queries from mainland China.

“Significantly, several groups of engineers have now been moved off of Dragonfly completely, and told to shift their attention away from China to instead work on projects related to India, Indonesia, Russia, the Middle East and Brazil,” the report claimed.

Google was yet to comment on the report.

Last week, Google CEO Sundar Pichai told a US House Judiciary Committee that the company had “no plans” to launch a search product in China.

In November, Google employees wrote in an open letter to the company that their “opposition to Dragonfly is not about China: we object to technologies that aid the powerful in oppressing the vulnerable, wherever they may be”.

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“Dragonfly in China would establish a dangerous precedent at a volatile political moment, one that would make it harder for Google to deny other countries similar concessions,” they wrote.

Google had earlier launched a search engine in China in 2006 but pulled the plug in 2010, citing Chinese government efforts to limit free speech and block websites. (IANS)