company:alphabet inc.

  • I Quit Google Over Its Censored Chinese Search Engine. The Company Needs to Clarify Its Position on Human Rights.
    https://theintercept.com/2018/12/01/google-china-censorship-human-rights

    John Hennessy, the chair of Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., was recently asked whether Google providing a search engine in China that censored results would provide a net benefit for Chinese users. “I don’t know the answer to that. I think it’s — I think it’s a legitimate question,” he responded. “Anybody who does business in China compromises some of their core values. Every single company, because the laws in China are quite a bit different than they are in our own country.” Hennessy’s (...)

    #Alphabet #Google #GoogleSearch #algorithme #Dragonfly #censure #filtrage #web (...)

    ##surveillance

  • Google’s “Smart City of Surveillance” Faces New Resistance in Toronto
    https://theintercept.com/2018/11/13/google-quayside-toronto-smart-city

    The world’s most ambitious “smart city,” known as Quayside, in Toronto, has faced fierce public criticism since last fall, when the plans to build a neighborhood “from the internet up” were first revealed. Quayside represents a joint effort by the Canadian government agency Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs, which is owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc., to develop 12 acres of the valuable waterfront just southeast of downtown Toronto. In keeping with the utopian rhetoric that fuels (...)

    #Alphabet #Google #algorithme #capteur #SmartCity #BigData #domination #urbanisme #domotique (...)

    ##surveillance

  • Google Drops Out of Pentagon’s $10 Billion Cloud Competition
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-10-08/google-drops-out-of-pentagon-s-10-billion-cloud-competition

    Alphabet Inc.’s Google has decided not to compete for the Pentagon’s cloud-computing contract valued at as much as $10 billion, saying the project may conflict with its corporate values. The project, known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud, or JEDI, involves transitioning massive amounts of Defense Department data to a commercially operated cloud system. Companies are due to submit bids for the contract, which could last as long as 10 years, on Oct. 12th. Read more : Why (...)

    #Alphabet #Google #Amazon #algorithme #bénéfices #cloud #profiling #USDepartmentOfDefense

  • Google, Mastercard cut secret ad deal to track retail sales
    http://adage.com/article/digital/google-mastercard-cut-secret-ad-deal-track-retail-sales/314776

    For the past year, select Google advertisers have had access to a potent new tool to track whether the ads they ran online led to a sale at a physical store in the U.S. That insight came thanks in part to a stockpile of Mastercard transactions that Google paid for. But most of the two billion Mastercard holders aren’t aware of this behind-the-scenes tracking. That’s because the companies never told the public about the arrangement. Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Mastercard Inc. brokered a (...)

    #Alphabet #Google #MasterCard #algorithme #prédictif #publicité #marketing #profiling (...)

    ##publicité ##StoreSalesMeasurement

  • Google Emerges as Early Winner From Europe’s New Data Privacy Law
    https://www.wsj.com/articles/eus-strict-new-privacy-law-is-sending-more-ad-money-to-google-1527759001

    Le RGPD est une forme de colbertisme adaptée à l’ère numérique : l’UE définit un nouveau terrain de jeu... mais les euls à apprendre à bien jouer sont les géants du web. Les autres parlent “d’intérêt légitime”, s’appuyant sur l’exception à la règle, alors même que cela ne marchera pas pour la pub. Cette manie de notre vieux continent de miser sur les passe-droit.

    Digital ad giants are gathering individuals’ consent for targeted ads at far higher rates than many competing online-ad services, early data show

    By

    Nick Kostov and

    Sam Schechner

    May 31, 2018 5:30 a.m. ET

    GDPR, the European Union’s new privacy law, is drawing advertising money toward Google’s online-ad services and away from competitors that are straining to show they’re complying with the sweeping regulation.

    The reason: the Alphabet Inc. GOOGL 1.74% ad giant is gathering individuals’ consent for targeted advertising at far higher rates than many competing online-ad services, early data show. That means the new law, the General Data Protection Regulation, is reinforcing—at least initially—the strength of the biggest online-ad players, led by Google and FacebookInc.

    Hundreds of companies along the chain of automated bidding and selling of digital ads—from ad buyers to websites that show ads—have been scrambling to comply with the law while continuing to target people based on the personal information such as web-browsing histories, offline purchases or demographic details.

    Since the law went into effect Friday, Google’s DoubleClick Bid Manager, or DBM, a major tool ad buyers use to purchase targeted online ads, has been directing some advertisers’ money toward Google’s own marketplace where digital-ad inventory can be bought and sold, and away from some smaller such ad exchanges and other vendors. That shift has hurt some smaller firms, where Google says it can’t verify whether people who see ads have given consent.

    Google is applying a relatively strict interpretation of how and where the new law requires consent, both on its own platforms and those of other firms. The stringent interpretation helps Google avoid GDPR’s harsh penalties and pushes the company to buy more ad inventory from its own exchange, where it is sure to have user consent for targeted advertising.

    Havas SA, one of the world’s largest buyers of ads, says it observed a low double-digit percentage increase in advertisers’ spending through DBM on Google’s own ad exchange on the first day the law went into effect, according to Hossein Houssaini, Havas’s global head of programmatic solutions.

    On the selling side, companies that help publishers sell ad inventory have seen declines in bids coming through their platforms from Google. Paris-based Smart says it has seen a roughly 50% drop. Amsterdam-based Improve Digital says it has experienced a similar fall-off for ads that rely on third-party vendors.

    “It’s still early, but we’ve seen an increase in volumes on Google’s platform and a decline overall,” said Luc Vignon of Regie 366, which sells advertising space for 12 groups of French regional newspapers and websites.

    A Google spokesman says it has been working on interim solutions to “minimize disruption.” Google says it is showing nonpersonalized ads on websites that can’t prove they have users’ full consent and will deploy other workarounds until it fully joins a third-party system for websites to transmit consent, run by IAB Europe, an online-ad trade group.

    Over the weekend, some bigger companies, including New York-based ad exchange AppNexus Inc. and French video-ad vendor Teads, said they have struck temporary deals assuring Google they have consent, so ad buyers could use DBM to purchase targeted ads from the companies again. The two companies said demand coming through their platforms from Google was almost back to normal this week after an initial disruption.

    Brian O’Kelley, AppNexus chief executive, said he thinks Google’s conservatism on the issue of consent is justified. “If you’re big, you can’t take privacy risks,” Mr. O’Kelley said, citing the potential for enormous fines under GDPR. “I’m terrified because I have a real business to protect. So I’m not going to take privacy risks here.”

    Google has been offering up about 15% fewer ads for bidding via its own ad exchange, but all of those ads have consent of end-users for targeting based on personal information, according to Dataxu Inc., a company that helps advertisers bid for ads.

    By contrast, Dataxu says competing ad exchanges haven’t seen their ad volume fall significantly, but as of Wednesday two-thirds of their spots weren’t transmitting the consent Google says is necessary for targeting, Dataxu says. That means rival exchanges often can’t sell ads targeted with personal information, which often cost four or five times as much as traditional ads.

    “It’s a huge advantage for Google’s ad exchange if they maintain their very high consent rate and the others don’t improve,” said Bill Simmons, co-founder and chief technology officer for Dataxu, based in Boston.

    Arndt Groth, president of mobile ad-exchange Smaato, said that with a smaller supply of targeted ads, their price is going up significantly. “It’s a pure supply-and-demand thing,” he said.

    Facebook, the second-largest player in the digital-ad ecosystem, doesn’t play the same role as Google, which interfaces with many other ad-tech companies to place and measure ads across the internet. Instead Facebook mostly sells ads directly and places them through its own audience network. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg last week indicated that his company has also had success gathering user consent for ad targeting under GDPR.

    “The vast majority of people choose to opt in,” to see targeted ads on Facebook based on their use of other websites and app, Mr. Zuckerberg said at a tech conference in Paris.

    Google and Facebook do face big legal risks from GDPR. Privacy activists filed lawsuitsagainst the companies in recent days, over issues including how freely given users’ consent actually is.

    Some online-ad companies say they have seen marketers shift ad money away from Google ad-buying tools to some smaller competitors that don’t demand explicit consent. That is possible because some publishers and companies, unlike Google, are relying on an alternate justification under GDPR called “legitimate interest,” which lets companies use personal information without asking for consent so long as they take other strict privacy measures.

    Regulators have said, however, that relying on legitimate interest for online tracking for marketing purposes may not pass legal muster—and Google has avoided it.

    “Others haven’t put as many restrictions on their buyers,” said Sebastiaan Moesman, chief executive at Improve Digital.

    Write to Nick Kostov at Nick.Kostov@wsj.com and Sam Schechner at sam.schechner@wsj.com

  • YouTube’s New Moderators Mistakenly Pull Right-Wing Channels - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-28/youtube-s-new-moderators-mistakenly-pull-right-wing-channels

    The Google division said in December it would assign more than 10,000 people to moderate content after a year of scandals over fake and inappropriate content on the world’s largest video site.

    In the wake of the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, some YouTube moderators mistakenly removed several videos and some channels from right-wing, pro-gun video producers and outlets.

    The misstep pulls YouTube, Google and parent Alphabet Inc. deeper into a toxic political fights over gun control, fake and extreme content, and whether internet companies should be responsible for what third parties post on their services. The episode also shows how the huge video site continues to struggle with policing the service and how difficult it is to spot troubling content and decide whether the material should be taken down.

    Gun reform calls since the shooting have sparked a rash of conspiracy theories on the web about the student activists. YouTube was criticized last week after promoting a video with a title that suggested Hogg, the teen survivor of the Florida school shooting, was a paid actor. The clip contained footage from an authoritative news source, leading YouTube’s software-based screening system to misclassify it. After YouTube was alerted to the video, it was pulled.

    In the wake of the Florida shooting, Google and other internet companies are facing external pressure to remove the National Rifle Association’s NRA TV channel from their video streaming services. To date, YouTube and other services haven’t pulled the NRA’s official channel.

    YouTube’s official policy says that “harmful or dangerous” and “hateful” content can violate its guidelines. If video creators break the rules three times within three months, YouTube terminates the account.

    #Fake_news #Modération #Hébergeurs

  • Grâce au « sandwich néerlandais », Google a transféré 16 milliards d’euros aux Bermudes en 2016
    http://www.lemonde.fr/entreprises/article/2018/01/03/grace-au-sandwich-neerlandais-google-a-transfere-16-milliards-d-euros-aux-be

    Selon la Commission européenne, le taux d’imposition effectif sur le bénéfice réalisé par les colosses du numérique dans l’UE est en moyenne de 9 %, contre plus de 20 % pour les entreprises traditionnelles. Alphabet Inc., la maison mère de Google, a transféré en 2016 15,9 milliards d’euros des Pays-Bas vers une société écran aux Bermudes, selon des documents officiels cités par l’agence Bloomberg. Une technique d’optimisation fiscale baptisée « dutch sandwich » (le « sandwich néerlandais »), qui a permis à (...)

    #Alphabet #Google #taxation

  • Google’s ‘Dutch Sandwich’ Shielded 16 Billion Euros From Tax
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-02/google-s-dutch-sandwich-shielded-16-billion-euros-from-tax

    Alphabet Inc.’s Google moved 15.9 billion euros ($19.2 billion) to a Bermuda shell company in 2016, regulatory filings in the Netherlands show — saving the company billions of dollars in taxes that year. Google uses two structures, known as a “Double Irish” and a “Dutch Sandwich,” to shield the majority of its international profits from taxation. The setup involves shifting revenue from one Irish subsidiary to a Dutch company with no employees, and then on to a Bermuda mailbox owned by another (...)

    #Alphabet #Google #taxation

  • Amazon Focuses on Machine Learning to Beat Cloud Rivals - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-29/amazon-shows-new-cloud-services-in-bid-to-stay-ahead-of-rivals

    Amazon.com Inc. unveiled new machine-learning tools, including algorithms that automate decisions and speech recognition, seeking to solidify its dominant position over Microsoft Corp. and Alphabet Inc. in the fast-growing and profitable cloud-computing market.

    While customers are interested in machine learning, many lack the resources and expertise that the cloud companies can provide.

    The products introduced Wednesday further the evolution of AWS from its origins. Cloud-computing began as a way to cheaply gain computing power and data storage, letting customers rent space in data centers accessed via the internet rather than maintaining their own servers. The industry has turned into a race to provide customers tools and functions to use that data in new ways. Those tools are helping speed the transition to the cloud, since companies that don’t have access to them will be at a competitive disadvantage, Jassy said.

    Amazon also showed off AWS DeepLens, a $249 device to help developers understand and experiment with machine learning. In a demonstration, the camera recognized a smile to be a positive reaction to a music album cover and a frown to be a negative reaction, enabling it to fine tune a customized playlist for the user. It can also program a garage door to open when the camera recognizes a license plate number. The device, which is intended to inspire developers to experiment with machine learning, also gives Amazon a look into how image- recognition technology is being used.

    #Cloud #Intelligence_Artificielle #Amazon #Reconnaissance_images

  • Uber Pushed the Limits of the Law. Now Comes the Reckoning - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-10-11/uber-pushed-the-limits-of-the-law-now-comes-the-reckoning

    The ride-hailing company faces at least five U.S. probes, two more than previously reported, and the new CEO will need to dig the company out of trouble.

    Illustration: Maria Nguyen
    By Eric Newcomer
    October 11, 2017, 10:11 AM GMT+2

    Shortly after taking over Uber Technologies Inc. in September, Dara Khosrowshahi told employees to brace for a painful six months. U.S. officials are looking into possible bribes, illicit software, questionable pricing schemes and theft of a competitor’s intellectual property. The very attributes that, for years, set the company on a rocket-ship trajectory—a tendency to ignore rules, to compete with a mix of ferocity and paranoia—have unleashed forces that are now dragging Uber back down to earth.

    Uber faces at least five criminal probes from the Justice Department—two more than previously reported. Bloomberg has learned that authorities are asking questions about whether Uber violated price-transparency laws, and officials are separately looking into the company’s role in the alleged theft of schematics and other documents outlining Alphabet Inc.’s autonomous-driving technology. Uber is also defending itself against dozens of civil suits, including one brought by Alphabet that’s scheduled to go to trial in December.

    “There are real political risks for playing the bad guy”
    Some governments, sensing weakness, are moving toward possible bans of the ride-hailing app. London, one of Uber’s most profitable cities, took steps to outlaw the service, citing “a lack of corporate responsibility” and specifically, company software known as Greyball, which is the subject of yet another U.S. probe. (Uber said it didn’t use the program to target officials in London, as it had elsewhere, and will continue to operate there while it appeals a ban.) Brazil is weighing legislation that could make the service illegal—or at least treat it more like a taxi company, which is nearly as offensive in the eyes of Uber.

    Interviews with more than a dozen current and former employees, including several senior executives, describe a widely held view inside the company of the law as something to be tested. Travis Kalanick, the co-founder and former CEO, set up a legal department with that mandate early in his tenure. The approach created a spirit of rule-breaking that has now swamped the company in litigation and federal inquisition, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing sensitive matters.

    Kalanick took pride in his skills as a micromanager. When he was dissatisfied with performance in one of the hundreds of cities where Uber operates, Kalanick would dive in by texting local managers to up their game, set extraordinary growth targets or attack the competition. His interventions sometimes put the company at greater legal risk, a group of major investors claimed when they ousted him as CEO in June. Khosrowshahi has been on an apology tour on behalf of his predecessor since starting. Spokespeople for Kalanick, Uber and the Justice Department declined to comment.

    Kalanick also defined Uber’s culture by hiring deputies who were, in many instances, either willing to push legal boundaries or look the other way. Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan, who previously held the same title at Facebook, runs a unit where Uber devised some of the most controversial weapons in its arsenal. Uber’s own board is now looking at Sullivan’s team, with the help of an outside law firm.

    Salle Yoo, the longtime legal chief who will soon leave the company, encouraged her staff to embrace Kalanick’s unique corporate temperament. “I tell my team, ‘We’re not here to solve legal problems. We’re here to solve business problems. Legal is our tool,’” Yoo said on a podcast early this year. “I am going to be supportive of innovation.”

    From Uber’s inception, the app drew the ire of officials. After a couple years of constant sparring with authorities, Kalanick recognized he needed help and hired Yoo as the first general counsel in 2012. Yoo, an avid tennis player, had spent 13 years at the corporate law firm Davis Wright Tremaine and rose to become partner. One of her first tasks at Uber, according to colleagues, was to help Kalanick answer a crucial question: Should the company ignore taxi regulations?

    Around that time, a pair of upstarts in San Francisco, Lyft Inc. and Sidecar, had begun allowing regular people to make money by driving strangers in their cars, but Uber was still exclusively for professionally licensed drivers, primarily behind the wheel of black cars. Kalanick railed against the model publicly, arguing that these new hometown rivals were breaking the law. But no one was shutting them down. Kalanick, a fiercely competitive entrepreneur, asked Yoo to help draft a legal framework to get on the road.

    By January 2013, Kalanick’s view of the law changed. “Uber will roll out ridesharing on its existing platform in any market where the regulators have tacitly approved doing so,” Kalanick wrote in a since-deleted blog post outlining the company’s position. Uber faced some regulatory blowback but was able to expand rapidly, armed with the CEO’s permission to operate where rules weren’t being actively enforced. Venture capitalists rewarded Uber with a $17 billion valuation in 2014. Meanwhile, other ride-hailing startups at home and around the world were raising hundreds of millions apiece. Kalanick was determined to clobber them.

    One way to get more drivers working for Uber was to have employees “slog.” This was corporate speak for booking a car on a competitor’s app and trying to convince the driver to switch to Uber. It became common practice all over the world, five people familiar with the process said.

    Staff eventually found a more efficient way to undermine its competitors: software. A breakthrough came in 2015 from Uber’s office in Sydney. A program called Surfcam, two people familiar with the project said, scraped data published online by competitors to figure out how many drivers were on their systems in real-time and where they were. The tool was primarily used on Grab, the main competitor in Southeast Asia. Surfcam, which hasn’t been previously reported, was named after the popular webcams in Australia and elsewhere that are pointed at beaches to help surfers monitor swells and identify the best times to ride them.

    Surfcam raised alarms with at least one member of Uber’s legal team, who questioned whether it could be legally operated in Singapore because it may run afoul of Grab’s terms of service or the country’s strict computer-crime laws, a person familiar with the matter said. Its creator, who had been working out of Singapore after leaving Sydney, eventually moved to Uber’s European headquarters in Amsterdam. He’s still employed by the company.

    “This is the first time as a lawyer that I’ve been asked to be innovative.”
    Staff at home base in San Francisco had created a similar piece of software called Hell. It was a tongue-in-cheek reference to the Heaven program, which allows employees to see where Uber drivers are in a city at a given moment. With Hell, Uber scraped Lyft data for a view of where its rival’s drivers were. The legal team decided the law was unclear on such tactics and approved Hell in the U.S., a program first reported by technology website the Information.

    Now as federal authorities investigate the program, they may need to get creative in how to prosecute the company. “You look at what categories of law you can work with,” said Yochai Benkler, co-director of Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. “None of this fits comfortably into any explicit prohibitions.”

    Uber’s lawyers had a hard time keeping track of all the programs in use around the world that, in hindsight, carried significant risks. They signed off on Greyball, a tool that could tag select customers and show them a different version of the app. Workers used Greyball to obscure the actual locations of Uber drivers from customers who might inflict harm on them. They also aimed the software at Lyft employees to thwart any slog attempts.

    The company realized it could apply the same approach with law enforcement to help Uber drivers avoid tickets. Greyball, which was first covered by the New York Times, was deployed widely in and outside the U.S. without much legal oversight. Katherine Tassi, a former attorney at Uber, was listed as Greyball supervisor on an internal document early this year, months after decamping for Snap Inc. in 2016. Greyball is under review by the Justice Department. In another case, Uber settled with the Federal Trade Commission in August over privacy concerns with a tool called God View.

    Uber is the world’s most valuable technology startup, but it hardly fits the conventional definition of a tech company. Thousands of employees are scattered around the world helping tailor Uber’s service for each city. The company tries to apply a Silicon Valley touch to the old-fashioned business of taxis and black cars, while inserting itself firmly into gray areas of the law, said Benkler.

    “There are real political risks for playing the bad guy, and it looks like they overplayed their hand in ways that were stupid or ultimately counterproductive,” he said. “Maybe they’ll bounce back and survive it, but they’ve given competitors an opening.”

    Kalanick indicated from the beginning that what he wanted to achieve with Yoo was legally ambitious. In her first performance review, Kalanick told her that she needed to be more “innovative.” She stewed over the feedback and unloaded on her husband that night over a game of tennis, she recalled in the podcast on Legal Talk Network. “I was fuming. I said to my husband, who is also a lawyer: ‘Look, I have such a myriad of legal issues that have not been dealt with. I have constant regulatory pressures, and I’m trying to grow a team at the rate of growth of this company.’”

    By the end of the match, Yoo said she felt liberated. “This is the first time as a lawyer that I’ve been asked to be innovative. What I’m hearing from this is I actually don’t have to do things like any other legal department. I don’t have to go to best practices. I have to go to what is best for my company, what is best for my legal department. And I should view this as, actually, freedom to do things the way I think things should be done, rather than the way other people do it.”

    Prosecutors may not agree with Yoo’s assumptions about how things should be done. Even when Yoo had differences of opinion with Kalanick, she at times failed to challenge him or his deputies, or to raise objections to the board.

    After a woman in Delhi was raped by an Uber driver, the woman sued the company. Yoo was doing her best to try to manage the fallout by asking law firm Khaitan & Co. to help assess a settlement. Meanwhile, Kalanick stepped in to help craft the company’s response, privately entertaining bizarre conspiracy theories that the incident had been staged by Indian rival Ola, people familiar with the interactions have said. Eric Alexander, an Uber executive in Asia, somehow got a copy of the victim’s medical report in 2015. Kalanick and Yoo were aware but didn’t take action against him, the people said. Yoo didn’t respond to requests for comment.

    The mishandling of the medical document led to a second lawsuit from the woman this year. The Justice Department is now carrying out a criminal bribery probe at Uber, which includes questions about how Alexander obtained the report, two people said. Alexander declined to comment through a spokesman.

    In 2015, Kalanick hired Sullivan, the former chief security officer at Facebook. Sullivan started his career as a federal prosecutor in computer hacking and intellectual property law. He’s been a quiet fixture of Silicon Valley for more than a decade, with stints at PayPal and EBay Inc. before joining Facebook in 2008.

    It appears Sullivan was the keeper of some of Uber’s darkest secrets. He oversees a team formerly known as Competitive Intelligence. COIN, as it was referred to internally, was the caretaker of Hell and other opposition research, a sort of corporate spy agency. A few months after joining Uber, Sullivan shut down Hell, though other data-scraping programs continued. Another Sullivan division was called the Strategic Services Group. The SSG has hired contractors to surveil competitors and conducts extensive vetting on potential hires, two people said.

    Last year, Uber hired private investigators to monitor at least one employee, three people said. They watched China strategy chief Liu Zhen, whose cousin Jean Liu is president of local ride-hailing startup Didi Chuxing, as the companies were negotiating a sale. Liu Zhen couldn’t be reached for comment.

    Sullivan wasn’t just security chief at Uber. Unknown to the outside world, he also took the title of deputy general counsel, four people said. The designation could allow him to assert attorney-client privilege on his communications with colleagues and make his e-mails more difficult for a prosecutor to subpoena.

    Sullivan’s work is largely a mystery to the company’s board. Bloomberg learned the board recently hired a law firm to question security staff and investigate activities under Sullivan’s watch, including COIN. Sullivan declined to comment. COIN now goes by a different but similarly obscure name: Marketplace Analytics.

    As Uber became a global powerhouse, the balance between innovation and compliance took on more importance. An Uber attorney asked Kalanick during a company-wide meeting in late 2015 whether employees always needed to follow local ride-hailing laws, according to three people who attended the meeting. Kalanick repeated an old mantra, saying it depended on whether the law was being enforced.

    A few hours later, Yoo sent Kalanick an email recommending “a stronger, clearer message of compliance,” according to two people who saw the message. The company needed to adhere to the law no matter what, because Uber would need to demonstrate a culture of legal compliance if it ever had to defend itself in a criminal investigation, she argued in the email.

    Kalanick continued to encourage experimentation. In June 2016, Uber changed the way it calculated fares. It told customers it would estimate prices before booking but provided few details.

    Using one tool, called Cascade, the company set fares for drivers using a longstanding formula of mileage, time and demand. Another tool called Firehouse let Uber charge passengers a fixed, upfront rate, relying partly on computer-generated assumptions of what people traveling on a particular route would be willing to pay.

    Drivers began to notice a discrepancy, and Uber was slow to fully explain what was going on. In the background, employees were using Firehouse to run large-scale experiments offering discounts to some passengers but not to others.

    “Lawyers don’t realize that once they let the client cross that line, they are prisoners of each other from that point on”
    While Uber’s lawyers eventually looked at the pricing software, many of the early experiments were run without direct supervision. As with Greyball and other programs, attorneys failed to ensure Firehouse was used within the parameters approved in legal review. Some cities require commercial fares to be calculated based on time and distance, and federal law prohibits price discrimination. Uber was sued in New York over pricing inconsistencies in May, and the case is seeking class-action status. The Justice Department has also opened a criminal probe into questions about pricing, two people familiar with the inquiry said.

    As the summer of 2016 dragged on, Yoo became more critical of Kalanick, said three former employees. Kalanick wanted to purchase a startup called Otto to accelerate the company’s ambitions in self-driving cars. In the process, Otto co-founder Anthony Levandowski told the company he had files from his former employer, Alphabet, the people said. Yoo expressed reservations about the deal, although accounts vary on whether those were conveyed to Kalanick. He wanted to move forward anyway. Yoo and her team then determined that Uber should hire cyber-forensics firm Stroz Friedberg in an attempt to wall off any potentially misbegotten information.

    Alphabet’s Waymo sued Uber this February, claiming it benefited from stolen trade secrets. Uber’s board wasn’t aware of the Stroz report’s findings or that Levandowski allegedly had Alphabet files before the acquisition, according to testimony from Bill Gurley, a venture capitalist and former board member, as part of the Waymo litigation. The judge in that case referred the matter to U.S. Attorneys. The Justice Department is now looking into Uber’s role as part of a criminal probe, two people said.

    As scandal swirled, Kalanick started preaching the virtues of following the law. Uber distributed a video to employees on March 31 in which Kalanick discussed the importance of compliance. A few weeks later, Kalanick spoke about the same topic at an all-hands meeting.

    Despite their quarrels and mounting legal pressure, Kalanick told employees in May that he was promoting Yoo to chief legal officer. Kalanick’s true intention was to sideline her from daily decisions overseen by a general counsel, two employees who worked closely with them said. Kalanick wrote in a staff email that he planned to bring in Yoo’s replacement to “lead day to day direction and operation of the legal and regulatory teams.” This would leave Yoo to focus on equal-pay, workforce-diversity and culture initiatives, he wrote.

    Before Kalanick could find a new general counsel, he resigned under pressure from investors. Yoo told colleagues last month that she would leave, too, after helping Khosrowshahi find her replacement. He’s currently interviewing candidates. Yoo said she welcomed a break from the constant pressures of the job. “The idea of having dinner without my phone on the table or a day that stays unplugged certainly sounded appealing,” she wrote in an email to her team.

    The next legal chief won’t be able to easily shed the weight of Uber’s past. “Lawyers don’t realize that once they let the client cross that line, they are prisoners of each other from that point on,” said Marianne Jennings, professor of legal and ethical studies in business at Arizona State University. “It’s like chalk. There’s a chalk line: It’s white; it’s bright; you can see it. But once you cross over it a few times, it gets dusted up and spread around. So it’s not clear anymore, and it just keeps moving. By the time you realize what’s happening, if you say anything, you’re complicit. So the questions start coming to you: ‘How did you let this go?’”

    #Uber #USA #Recht

  • An open letter to Google: Stop the censorship of the Internet! Stop the political blacklisting of the World Socialist Web Site! - World Socialist Web Site
    http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/08/25/pers-a25.html

    Gentlemen:

    Google’s mission statement from the outset was “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Its official code of conduct was proclaimed in Google’s famous motto: “Don’t be evil.” In recent years, you have seriously lost your way. You are now engaged in hiding the world’s information, and, in the process, are doing a great deal of evil.

    Google, and by implication, its parent company Alphabet, Inc., are now engaged in political censorship of the Internet. You are doing what you have previously publicly denounced.

    Google is manipulating its Internet searches to restrict public awareness of and access to socialist, anti-war and left-wing websites. The World Socialist Web Site (www.wsws.org) has been massively targeted and is the most affected by your censorship protocols. Referrals to the WSWS from Google have fallen by nearly 70 percent since April of this year.

    Censorship on this scale is political blacklisting. The obvious intent of Google’s censorship algorithm is to block news that your company does not want reported and to suppress opinions with which you do not agree.

    Ben Gomes, Google’s vice president for search engineering, attempted to justify the imposition of political censorship with a blog post on April 25, claiming that the changes to the algorithm were a response to “the phenomenon of ‘fake news,’ where content on the web has contributed to the spread of blatantly misleading, low quality, offensive or downright false information.”

    Google, according to Gomes, has recruited some 10,000 “evaluators” to judge the “quality” of websites. These evaluators are trained to “flag” websites that are deemed to “include misleading information” and “unsupported conspiracy theories.” Gomes explained that the blacklists created by these evaluators will be used, in combination with the latest developments in technology, to develop an algorithm that will impose censorship automatically, in real time, across future search results.

    Whatever the technical changes Google has made to the search algorithm, the anti-left bias of the results is undeniable. The most striking outcome of Google’s censorship procedures is that users whose search queries indicate an interest in socialism, Marxism or Trotskyism are no longer directed to the World Socialist Web Site. Google is “disappearing” the WSWS from the results of search requests. For example, Google searches for “Leon Trotsky” yielded 5,893 impressions (appearances of the WSWS in search results) in May of this year. In July, the same search yielded exactly zero impressions for the WSWS, which is the Internet publication of the international movement founded by Leon Trotsky in 1938.

    As stated above, since April, other left-wing publications that present themselves as progressive, socialist or anti-war also have suffered significant reductions in their Google search results:

    alternet.org fell by 63 percent
    globalresearch.ca fell by 62 percent
    consortiumnews.com fell by 47 percent
    mediamatters.org fell by 42 percent
    commondreams.org fell by 37 percent
    internationalviewpoint.org fell by 36 percent
    democracynow.org fell by 36 percent
    wikileaks.org fell by 30 percent
    truth-out.org fell by 25 percent
    counterpunch.org fell by 21 percent
    * theintercept.com fell by 19 percent

    Google justifies the imposition of political censorship by using a loaded term like “fake news.” This term, properly used, signifies the manufacturing of news based on an artificially constructed event that either never occurred or has been grossly exaggerated. The present-day furor over “fake news” is itself an example of an invented event and artificially constructed narrative. It is a “fake” term that is used to discredit factual information and well-grounded analyses that challenge and discredit government policies and corporate interests. Any invocation of the phrase “fake news,” as it pertains to the WSWS, is devoid of any substance or credibility. In fact, our efforts to combat historical falsification have been recognized, including by the scholarly journal American Historical Review.

    #Google #Censure #Fake_news #Appétit_géants

  • Google to Remove Private Medical Records From Search Results
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-06-23/google-now-scrubbing-private-medical-records-from-search-results

    Alphabet Inc.’s Google has quietly started removing a new category of online content — personal medical records — from its search results, a departure from its typically hands-off approach to policing the web. Google lists the information it removes from its search results on its policy page. On Thursday, the website added the line : “confidential, personal medical records of private people.” A Google spokeswoman on Friday said that such information is only pulled when the company gets specific (...)

    #Alphabet #Google #GoogleSearch #données #profiling #santé

    ##santé

  • Shell Will Test Energy-Generating Kites This Summer - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-26/energy-generating-kites-backed-by-shell-set-for-test-in-scotland


    Kite Power Systems (KPS) Source: KPS

    Power-generating kites backed by Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Schlumberger Ltd. and EON SE will start tests in the U.K. this summer, with the aim of developing a technology that could eventually replace offshore wind turbines.

    Kite Power Systems, known as #KPS, is working on a 17-meter device that flies on air currents high above the ground and generates power by pulling at a cable. It raised 5 million pounds ($6.4 million) from the three energy giants last December.

    The reason we are interested in something like this is that it has potential to reduce the cost of offshore wind in the future,” said Geert van de Wouw, managing director of Shell Technology Ventures BV. “Fundamentally, looking at the science, flying the kite at high altitudes so there’s lots of wind, and the cost of materials is quite a lot lower than a normal offshore wind turbine.

    Alternatives to traditional wind turbines are in the works at multiple start-ups, some backed by corporations in energy and tech such as Alphabet Inc. German utility EON has also invested in a test site in Ireland for drones that are designed to fly at high altitudes and generate energy.

    #cerf-volant

  • #Google Parts With Podesta Lobbying Firm as Trump Enters Washington
    https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-01-25/google-parts-with-lobbyist-amid-trump-led-shift-in-washington

    Les rats quittent le navire

    After at least 12 years together, Alphabet Inc., the parent of Google, won’t be represented by one of Washington’s most prominent lobbying groups, a firm with long-standing ties to the Democratic party and Hillary Clinton.

  • Google investit dans une startup qui prédit la date de décès du patient - Express [FR]
    https://fr.express.live/2016/12/07/google-investit-startup-capable-de-predire-date-deces-patient

    Le fonds d’investissement GV (ancien Google Ventures) vient d’injecter 32 millions de dollars dans #Aspire_Health, une startup qui a développé un algorithme qui peut prédire exactement lorsqu’un malade va décéder dans les douze mois qui suivent. Ces prédictions concernent les personnes qui sont dans leur dernière année de vie.

    Aspire Health a calculé qu’un quart des frais d’assurance maladie aux Etats-Unis (au total 150 milliards de dollars) est dépensé pour les personnes qui vont mourir en l’espace d’un an. En prévoyant la date exacte du décès d’un malade, la société veut limiter les traitements onéreux (et les désagréments physiques qui y sont liés) et se concentrer sur les soins palliatifs à domicile et le confort du patient.

    « Nous pouvons dire quels patients vont mourir dans une semaine, six semaines ou un an », explique le co-fondateur et chirurgien William Frist. « Nous pouvons dire aux assureurs : Combien vous coûtent ces patients ? Nous pouvons prendre en charge leurs soins pour moins de frais et le malade en sera également plus heureux ».

  • Google devient Alphabet
    http://siliconvalley.blog.lemonde.fr/2015/08/10/google-devient-alphabet

    Google Inc. devient Alphabet Inc. ! Lundi 10 août, la société de Mountain View a annoncé un changement majeur de sa structure d’entreprise. Le moteur de recherche va devenir une filiale d’une nouvelle entité, baptisée Alphabet.

    [...]

    « Alphabet est une collection d’entreprises, explique M. Page dans un message publié sur le blog officiel de Google. Google est la plus importante. Mais ce nouveau Google va être allégé : les entreprises éloignées de nos principaux produits Internet seront désormais regroupées dans Alphabet ». Concrètement, cela signifie une séparation claire entre le cœur de métier de Google et tous ses projets annexes. Il s’agit de Google X (projets futuristes), de Calico, de Sidewalk Labs (logistique urbaine), de Nest (objets connectés), de Fiber (fibre optique) et de Google Ventures et Google Capital (investissements).

    https://abc.xyz

    https://investor.google.com/releases/2015/0810.html

    #Alphabet_Inc. #Bourse #Conglomérat_(économie) #Google #Larry_Page #Sergei_Brin #Sundar_Pichai #Économie