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OPLIN 4cast #417: Battling giants

Posted in 4cast

Rock'em Sock'em RobotsHere’s something a little different for you. We’ve noticed quite a few stories lately about big tech companies getting into disputes with big countries and organizations – and we’re not talking about Sony and North Korea, which was more of a sneak attack than a confrontation. Taking these disputes as the theme of this week’s 4cast, we’re highlighting four different stories from one source (Ars Technica) about some big battles currently going on. Depending on how these disputes are resolved, it’s possible that one or both of the parties involved will change their ways, which might also affect us small folk. For now, though, it’s just interesting to watch from the sidelines.

  • Hollywood v. Goliath: Inside the aggressive studio effort to bring Google to heel (Ars Technica | Joe Mullin)  “Attorneys at Sony were on a short list of top Hollywood lawyers frequently updated about the MPAA’s ‘Attorney General Project,’ along with those at Disney, Warner Brothers, 21st Century Fox, NBC Universal, and Paramount. The e-mails show a staggering level of access to, and influence over, elected officials. The MPAA’s single-minded obsession: altering search results and other products (such as ‘autocompleted’ search queries) from Google, a company the movie studios began referring to as ‘Goliath’ in around February 2014. The studios’ goal was to quickly get pirated content off the Web; unhappy about the state of Google’s voluntary compliance with their demands and frustrated in their efforts at passing new federal law such as SOPA and PIPA, the MPAA has turned instead to state law enforcement.”
  • Microsoft tells US: The world’s servers are not yours for the taking (Ars Technica | David Kravets)  “The appeal is of a July court decision demanding that Microsoft hand over e-mail stored on an overseas server as part of a US drug trafficking investigation. Microsoft, which often stores e-mail on servers closest to the account holder, said the e-mail is protected by ‘Irish and European privacy laws.’ But a US judge didn’t agree. ‘It is a question of control, not a question of the location of that information,’ US District Judge Loretta Preska ruled. The order from the New York judge was stayed pending appeal.”
  • In wake of restrictive data law in Russia, Google pulls its engineers (Ars Technica | Cyrus Farivar)  “The move comes a few months after Russia passed a new law, taking effect in September 2016, that will require data held on Russian citizens to be kept in-country. The Kremlin and the Russian data protection authority known by its local acronym Roskomnadzor have used the law as a way to exert more pressure on Russian companies and foreign companies doing business in Russia, like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and others. Many Russia observers note that this law is likely to drive tech companies out of the country.”
  • The predictable result of Spain’s “Google tax”: No more Google News (Ars Technica | Joe Mullin)  “The Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sport published a response (Spanish) calling the Google News closure a ‘business decision’ and emphasizing that the newspapers’ websites were still available directly, as well as through Google’s regular search. The Spanish ‘Google tax’ effort followed shortly after German publishers gave up their effort to get an 11 percent cut of gross revenue from Google News. Technically, there’s still a ‘Google tax’ in effect in Germany, but it was up to individual publishers to try to collect, and they have generally given up on such efforts.”

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