Entries in Google (8)


Google's Executive Chairman in North Korea on Private Mission

Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) -- Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt arrived in North Korea on Monday with former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson as part of a private, humanitarian mission.

The two are looking to negotiate the return of an American citizen jailed in the communist country.

While Richardson said the visit was not a "Google trip," North Korea's Internet use is limited and strictly controlled, but its new, young leader, Kim Jong Un, is reportedly interested.  

Schmidt is an advocate of expanding Internet access and technology to people around the world, so there is an assumption that perhaps North Korea is getting ready to open up its country to more Internet access to its people.

The U.S. State Department has criticized the visit, which comes weeks after Pyongyang launched another long range rocket, defying international protests.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Google Creates Virtual Record of Tsunami Wreckage in Japan

Google(TOKYO) -- In the early hours after the tsunami hit northeast Japan last year, Google launched a Person Finder site that helped reconnect families and loved ones in the most devastated regions.

Months later, the web giant dispatched its street view cars -- 15 cameras mounted on each -- to document the disaster zone in a 360-degree view.

Now, nearly two years later, Google is harnessing its technology once again to launch a unique digital archive project that gives users a virtual tour of buildings damaged by the waves.

The “Memories for the Future” site utilizes technology behind Google Business Photos, typically used by restaurants and retail stores to give customers an interactive tour.  This time, it is being used to document more than 30 buildings in the coastal cities of Rikuzentakata, Kamaishi, Ofunato and Namie.  The panoramic images allow users to walk through a gutted city office, where smashed cars still remain, surrounded by scraps of metal and wood.

“We have been trying to find ways using the power of technology to help communities recover and help them tell stories,” said Kei Kawai, product manager at Google.  “Our hope is that we can provide tools to let other people know what it’s like to be in the region now.”

The idea for the project came last month as city leaders debated the fate of their most devastated buildings.  Many residents had called for preservation, arguing the structures should prove as a constant reminder of the tragedy, while others pushed to tear them down, advocating a new start.

Kawai said most buildings documented so far were set to be demolished in a few months, so Google had to act quickly.  With the help of government officials, employees were given access to take photos inside the structures, including those in the restricted nuclear zone.

They captured more than three dozen buildings in a few weeks.

Kawai hopes to add five additional cities to the project by the end of the year and says the site could serve as an example of how Google responds to future disasters.

“We are still creating a template on how to assist in longer term recovery,” he said.  “How to assist in keeping the record, and archiving the memories of the region.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


China Still Spies the Old Fashioned Way, Russia Says

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A day after a top American lawmaker accused China of exercising "an intolerable level" of espionage in the U.S., Russia's spy service announced it has detained a Chinese national for allegedly attempting to steal secrets about a Russian missile system.

While the accusations out of the U.S. primarily refer to cyber intrusions of American corporations, the Russian government is accusing China of an old standby in the tradecraft playbook: outright bribery.

Russia's secretive spy agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB), issued a rare statement Wednesday claiming the state had arrested a Chinese citizen who, posing as a translator for official delegations, was working under the direction of the Chinese government in an attempt to buy state secrets from Russians about Russia's S-300 missile system.

The Chinese national, identified as Tong Shenyun, was reportedly detained last year but the arrest was not made public until earlier this week. Russia has already supplied the Chinese with the relatively dated missile system and Beijing has the license to manufacture it, Russian state news said, but the FSB accused Shenyun of trying to obtain "technical and repair documentation" about the system.

The announcement of Shenyun's arrest came just hours after a top U.S. lawmaker in the House Intelligence Committee issued the strongest yet condemnation of China's alleged widespread cyber campaign against American corporations, which has allegedly reached into "nearly every sector" of U.S. industry.

"I don't believe that there is a precedent in history for such a massive and sustained intelligence effort by a government agency to blatantly steal commercial data and intellectual property," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said in an open committee meeting Tuesday. "Chinese espionage has reached an intolerable level... Beijing is waging a massive trade war on all of us."

Rogers said that cyber intrusions of American and other Western corporations by hackers working behalf of Beijing -- allegedly including attacks on corporate giants like Google and Lockheed Martin -- amounted to "brazen and widespread theft."

In one attack on Google, the company claimed Chinese hackers attempted to breach private emails of senior U.S. government officials, prompting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to say the U.S. government was "very concerned" about the possible connection to China.

In August, a documentary broadcast on Chinese state-run television showed what appeared to be a cyber attack in progress aimed at an I.P. address based at an Alabama university.

The same month the documentary aired, U.S.-based cyber security giant McAfee released a report which it suggested a nation-state was likely behind "relentless" cyber attacks on up to 70 global companies, governments, and non-profit organizations over the last half-decade. Included in the list of victims was a U.S. satellite communication company, several defense contractors, real estate firms, the International Olympic Committee and several Asia-based targets -- but none based in China.

Though China was not named as a suspect in the report, Chinese state-run media blasted its reasoning when responding to suggestions by other experts that China was the most likely culprit.

"McAfee's new report alleges that 'a government' carried out a large-scale Internet espionage hacking action but its analysis of the justification is obviously groundless," China's People's Daily said.

Chinese officials in the U.S. did not return requests for comments on this report, but, like in the case of the McAfee report, officials have repeatedly said the hacking accusations are "groundless."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


China Blocks Name of Outgoing US Ambassador in Web Searches

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SHANGHAI) -- The Obama administration is publicly criticizing China for blocking the name of outgoing U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman on web searches.

"It is remarkable that even before our colleague Ambassador #JonHuntsman departs #Beijing, #China has made him disappear on the #Internet," U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley tweeted Saturday morning.

It has been widely speculated that the former Utah governor is preparing a possible run for the presidency in 2012.

At a press conference in January, President Obama was asked about what were then rumors of Huntsman's departure from the administration.

"I couldn’t be happier with the ambassador’s service, and I’m sure he will be very successful in whatever endeavors he chooses in the future," the president said.

With a mischievous smile, the president added, "And I’m sure that him having worked so well with me will be a great asset in any Republican primary."

Huntsman's resignation is set to take effect in April.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Egypt: Google Manager and Activist Released By Government

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(CAIRO) -- A Google executive believed to be a key person in rallying demonstrations that have nearly toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, was released Monday after nearly two weeks in detention.

Wael Ghonim, a marketing manager at Google who disappeared more than a week ago, was freed Monday by the Egyptian government.  The longtime activist, who organized protests through social media, was captured by security forces on Jan. 28.

In one of his last tweets on Jan. 27, Ghonim expressed his strong passion against the current regime.  "Pray for #Egypt.  Very worried as it seems that government is planning a war crime tomorrow against people.  We are all ready to die," he wrote.

Dissenters who were taken into custody in recent days have emerged to describe scary details.  Al Jazeera English correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin, who was detained for a day, told ABC News that he was bound, blindfolded and threatened.  While he was in custody, he heard people being tortured in neighboring rooms.

"People who were sitting next to us who were in the crowd -- not journalists -- they were slapped, they were kicked, they were beaten," Mohyeldin said.  "I saw them use a great deal of violence against the people who were there."

New York Times reporter Nick Kulish, who was also detained, told ABC News he also heard people being tortured in neighboring rooms while he was in jail.

"We spoke to hundreds of people and they all said the same thing, which was you know, that police abuse, violence by the police was one of the things that they were fighting against," Kulish said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Amid Protests, Egypt Shuts Down the Web

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CAIRO) -- No Google. No Facebook. No Twitter. No Skype. Since about 5:20 a.m. ET Thursday, virtually all of Egypt has been living in a Web-less world. In an effort to silence protesters, the Egyptian government took the unprecedented step of shutting down nearly all Internet and mobile phone access, effectively turning off the Web for most of the country.

Vodafone, second largest telecommunications carrier in Egypt, released a statement Friday saying all telecom companies were ordered by the Egyptian government to shut off service earlier in the day.

"The Egyptian government's actions...have essentially wiped their country from the global map," wrote Jim Cowie, chief technology officer and co-founder of Internet monitoring firm Renesys, on his company's blog.

Egyptian banks, websites, schools, government offices, Internet cafes, homes or businesses that relied one of four major Egyptian Internet service providers are now disconnected from the world, he said, adding that four major mobile phone companies and their customers are also without wireless service.

Cowie said that cutting off a country's Web access to deal with a cyber threat is like cutting off the entire lower half of a person's body after a snake bite to the ankle.

"It's such a blunt attack on yourself," he said. "I'm already stunned that Egypt would dare do this to themselves. ...Imagine how much business with Egypt is done on the Internet every day. If there's no Internet when everything opens up after the weekend, what happens to the trade? What happens to their credit rating on their sovereign debt?"

Craig Labovitz, chief scientist for network security and monitoring firm Arbor Networks, said his company observed a sharp drop off in Internet traffic in Egypt Thursday.

Still, Egyptians could possibly connect to the Web if they have satellite phones or dishes. Those on the borders could also potentially get cell coverage.

"Radio waves don't obey borders," Labovitz said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Investigation Launched into Google’s European Operations

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(BRUSSELLS, Belgium) – Google will face a probe from Belgian authorities into whether or not the search giant violated European competition rules, reports the Financial Times.

The investigation follows allegations that Google discriminated against its competition by ranking its services higher on search results.  It will also probe whether or not the company violated advertising contracts by forcing advertisers to work exclusively on their platform.
The European Commission received complaints from three other Internet services –- one owned by Microsoft.

If found in violation of European competition rules, Google could face hefty fines and would be required to change how it operates.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Google Nearly Starts a War

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(MOUNTAINVIEW, Calif.) -- Errors by Google Maps have in the past week reignited a territorial dispute in North Africa and nearly caused a war in Central America.

In the latter instance, Nicaraguan forces crossed a disputed border last week and raised their flag in territory that was long considered part of Costa Rica after the military commander on the scene looked up the area on Google Maps to determine how far he could deploy his troops.

Costa Rica has responded with heavily armed police (the country abolished its army decades ago), and its president has called the move an invasion. Nicaragua so far has refused to withdraw its soldiers.

The Organization of American States has been called in to mediate, and the regional body will consider a proposed solution whereby Nicaragua removes its forces and the two sides sit down to map out the border. Both sides have so far rejected the plan.

In a separate incident this week, Google Maps mistakenly attributed to Morocco a tiny island (more of a large rock) a few hundred yards off its coast and then changed it, again erroneously, to Spain. The problem is the uninhabited island (save for a few goats), which Spain calls Isla de Perejil (“Parsley Island”) and Morocco calls Leila (“Night”), has been a disputed territory for years and the two countries nearly fought over it in 2002.

Google has acknowledged its errors and promised to fix them, pledging to remain neutral in the Morocco/Spain dispute and fix the border line in the Nicaragua/Costa Rica one.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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