HUA HIN, Thailand - All guns have
been aimed at Google recently and this week India
added to the arsenal when the Competition
Commission of India (CCI) launched an
investigation into discriminatory practices by the
search giant's AdWords division.
which earned the bulk of Google's US$36.5 billion
worldwide advertising revenues last year, sells
keywords to companies that appear higher in the
site's search engine results, allowing them to
promote their product online.
retailers and travel booking websites take
advantage of this to knock their competitors off
the front page, which is increasingly being
populated by paid-for, non-organic, search
The investigation was ordered
after the CCI found evidence that Google abused
its dominant position by discriminating against
website BharatMatrimony. It filed a complaint
claiming the Google sold keywords relating to
BharatMatrimony.com to its competitors allowing
them preferential positioning as AdWord clients.
A Google spokesman told Agence
France-Presse that it had not received any
communication from the CCI and the company refused
to comment any further on the matter other than
stating that it was confident that its products
were compliant with competition law in India.
The complaints against Google are piling
up. Last year, the US Federal Trade Commission
formally began probing allegations that Google
favored its own search products over those of its
rivals. Similar investigations are being carried
out in Europe.
The business of search is
just that - a business where the top positions go
to the highest bidder, which on Google's search
results pages of today is seldom the most relevant
website being sought.
An ongoing court
battle in California between Google and Oracle
over use of Java on Google's Android software drew
to a preliminary conclusion as the jury could not
decide whether the search company's use of
application programming interfaces (APIs) was
fair. Federal judges therefore agreed that Oracle
could not seek a billion dollars in damages, or
anywhere close to it.
delivered a partial verdict that found Google
guilty of copyright violation for programming
tools and just nine lines of code. This meant that
Oracle would not be able to claim more than
$150,000 in damages for the snippet of code - a
sum that would probably not even cover a day's
costs of this litigation.
Both sides are
claiming victory but this case is far from over,
it is likely to drag on with patent litigation in
the following weeks, months or possibly years.
Security Another Microsoft
"patch Tuesday", when the world's largest software
company sends out its digital band aids to the
masses of Windows and Office users across the
globe, rolled by this week. Among them were fixes
for 23 vulnerabilities, including seven patches
for three critical issues, affecting Microsoft
Windows, Office, Silverlight and the .NET
One specific patch targeted
variants of the Duqu malware (see Duqu
returns to Iran, Asia Times Online, November
19, 2011) that Microsoft originally blocked in
December. Another high priority for the company
was to address an exploit in Word that allows
remote code execution from malware accessed via
e-mail and websites.
Ironically, many of
those toxic e-mails originate from infected
Hotmail accounts so the California-based company
would do well to investigate that issue also.
Nearly all of the vulnerabilities result
in the same thing if exploited; remote access and
code execution. People's computers are becoming
the weapons of the future without their knowledge
Apple dropped the ball this
week when it released security updates for OS X
Lion and inadvertently activated a debug option
that leaves users' passwords accessible. The flaw
is within the FileVault software, which should
encrypt passwords with the debug option turned
off. This means that an attacker could break into
an encrypted partition on a machine for which they
did not have the login password by booting to
firewire disk mode.
The new version,
FileVault 2, addresses this issue by encrypting
the entire hard drive so it only affects those
that are still using the original version.
Social If a company wants to get
ahead online it needs an app store, and the latest
one to jump onto this digital bandwagon is
Facebook. The store, called App Center, is due to
open in the coming weeks and it will allow
Facebook users to download software applications,
games and media, giving the company another stream
of revenue aside from advertising.
following the Apple model by screening apps and
allowing only ones that it deems are of sufficient
quality. This method has been praised at Apple for
keeping out malware and rogue apps, although it
has also been criticized as corporate censorship,
Facebook will have some tough decisions ahead.
The company's initial public offering is
expected next week so a timely app center
announcement came as little surprise.
week, Microsoft announced the biggest revamp of
its search engine, Bing, since its launch in 2009.
The overhaul will steer Bing towards a more social
environment in an effort to leverage the company's
relationship with Facebook. It will include a
number of new features that enable users to share
content and integrate with their social networks.
Martin J Young is an Asia Times
Online correspondent based in Thailand.
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