Google

Australia rebukes Google for blocking local content

After media reports said Australian news websites were not showing up in searches, Google confirmed it was blocking the sites for a small number of users.

The search engine said it was conducting experiments to determine the value of its service to Australian news outlets.

Google, Facebook and other tech companies are fighting the Australian government over plans to make them pay for news content.

Google said the tests affect about 1% of Australian users, and will be finished by February.

EU reveals plan to regulate Big Tech

Fresh restrictions are also planned to govern their use of customers' data, and to prevent the firms ranking their own services above competitors' in search results and app stores.

The measures are intended to overhaul how the EU regulates digital markets.

Large fines and break-ups are threatened for non-compliance.

It is proposed that if companies refuse to obey, they could be forced to hand over up to 10% of their European turnover.

Facebook, Twitter and Google face questions from US senators

At present, the companies cannot be sued over what their users post online, or the decisions they make over what to leave up and take down.

Some politicians have raised concerns this "sweeping immunity" encourages bad behaviour.

But the chief executives say they need the law to be able to moderate content.

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter's Jack Dorsey and Google's Sundar Pichai were summoned before the Senate after both Democrats and Republicans agreed to call them in for questioning.

'A loophole'

Apple and Google team up to contact trace Covid-19

They hope to initially help third-party contact-tracing apps run efficiently.

But ultimately, they aim to do away with the need to download dedicated apps, to encourage the practice.

The two companies believe their approach - designed to keep users, whose participation would be voluntary, anonymous - addresses privacy concerns.

Their contact-tracing method would work by using a smartphone's Bluetooth signals to determine to whom the owner had recently been in proximity for long enough to have established contagion a risk.

Google reveals travel habits during the pandemic

The tech firm will publish details of the different types of places people are going to on a county-by-county basis in the UK, as well as similar data for 130 other countries.

The plan is to issue a regular updates with the figures referring back to activity from two or three days prior.

The company has promised that individuals' privacy will be preserved.

The readings are based on location data gathered via the Google Maps app or one of the firm's other mobile services.

Google 'tracking iPhone users' case goes ahead

The case had previously been blocked by the High Court.

It was brought by Richard Lloyd, former director of the consumer rights group Which?

Google said in response: "The case relates to events that took place nearly a decade ago and that we addressed at the time."

"We believe it has no merit and should be dismissed," it added.

Google reveals lower-cost Pixel 3a phones and Nest Hub Max

In addition, the company has shown off its first voice-controlled smart screen for the home to feature a camera.

This allows it to offer more personalised features than a previous model, but also risks provoking a privacy backlash.

Other announcements at its annual developers conference included enhancements to its search tool.

The Pixel 3a and larger Pixel 3a XL will cost £399 and £469 respectively, making them roughly half the price of the seven-month-old Pixel 3 originals.

Google's ethics board shut down

The Advanced Technology External Advisory Council (ATEAC) was due to look at the ethics around AI, machine learning and facial recognition.

One member resigned and there were calls for another to be removed.

The debacle raises questions about whether firms should set up such bodies.

Google told the BBC: "It's become clear that in the current environment, ATEAC can't function as we wanted.

Google unveils Stadia, a gaming competitor to PlayStation, Xbox and PC

The tech giant says users will need just a Wi-Fi connection to stream games onto devices like TVs, laptops and phones, using a controller of their choice.

Stadia was announced at an event in San Francisco during the Game Developers Conference hosted by former Sony and Xbox executive and current Google gaming boss Phil Harrison.

"To build Stadia, we've thought deeply about what it means to be a gamer and worked to converge two distinct worlds: people who play video games and people who love watching them," says Harrison.

Emma Haruka Iwao smashes pi world record with Google help

Emma Haruka Iwao, a Google employee from Japan, found the new digits with the help of the company's cloud computing service.

Pi is the number you get when you divide a circle's circumference by its diameter.

The first digits, 3.14, are well known but the number is infinitely long.

Extending the known sequence of digits in pi is very difficult because the number follows no set pattern.

Pi is used in engineering, physics, supercomputing and space exploration - because its value can be used in calculations for waves, circles and cylinders.