March 17, 2006 10:00 AM PST

Week in review: Can Google keep a secret?

Google hasn't had much luck keeping secrets lately.

In the past couple weeks, Google has admitted erring when it posted on its Web site internal projections not meant for the public. Around the same time, company documents that were mistakenly released on the Web revealed that Google is preparing to offer online storage to Web users.

Now the Web search giant has partially lost a case it was trying very hard to win. Late Friday, a federal judge granted part of the Department of Justice's request for excerpts from the search giant's massive database.

U.S. District Judge James Ware said Google must hand over a random sampling of 50,000 URLs accessed by its search engine but said users' search terms were off-limits to government prosecutors.

Ware said the government demonstrated a "substantial need" for Google's random URL sample, which it plans to run through filtering software to test the software's antipornography prowess as the government prepares to defend a child-protection law in court. But the DOJ did not meet that standard regarding search queries, Ware said.

The ruling was in line with comments Ware made at a hearing Tuesday. At that time, CNET News.com readers lamented Ware's stance as a threat to constitutional rights, but one reader, David Arbogast, raised an interesting point in CNET's TalkBack forum.

"When you click on a Google link, you give more information to the Web host than the government is requesting from Google right now," he wrote. "Voluntarily."

But it wasn't all bad news for Google in the courtroom. A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by a writer who claimed that the search giant infringed on his copyright by archiving a Usenet posting of his and providing excerpts from his Web site in search results.

The lawsuit was filed by Gordon Roy Parker, also known as Ray Gordon, who publishes his writings under the business name of Snodgrass Publishing Group. Parker also posted a chapter of one of his e-books on the Usenet bulletin board network, a collection of thousands of discussion forums called newsgroups.

In his 2004 lawsuit against Google, Parker alleged that the search giant violated copyright law by automatically archiving a copy of his posting on Usenet and by providing excerpts from his Web site in search results. However, the court ruled that under case law, Google's activities, akin to those of an Internet service provider, do not constitute infringement.

A look at Vista
As Microsoft puts the finishing touches on Vista, information is trickling out on how the next operating system will be sold and what we can expect it to do.

Microsoft is building into the new operating system a tool that will rate a PC based on how well it is running and on how much it can take advantage of Vista's capabilities. The "Windows Performance Rating," which can be seen in the latest test version of the operating system, evaluates components such as the processor, the memory, the hard drive and graphics cards to come up with an overall score.

The rating appears in a large blue circle and can be seen in multiple places in the operating system, though Microsoft has said little about what, exactly, the rating signifies. The main rating is on a scale of 1 to 5, but individual components are also given a "sub rating" on some other, unspecified range.

Microsoft is readying a second tool, currently called the Windows Upgrade Advisor, that will take a look at a PC and recommend performance enhancements that will help run Vista better. The tool is most likely to recommend more memory or an improved graphics card.

The operating system is being designed to shut the door on spyware as it exists today. Vista introduces important changes at the heart of the operating system, as well as to Internet Explorer, and includes Windows Defender, an anti-spyware tool.

Microsoft is taking a multipronged approach to fighting spyware. Unlike Windows XP, Windows Vista will run with fewer user privileges. Users will have to invoke full "administrator" privileges to perform tasks such as installing an application.

Also, Internet Explorer will prevent silent installations of malicious code by stopping the browser from writing data anywhere except in a temporary-files folder without first seeking permission. Lastly, Windows Defender will block and clean up any infections that do make it through.

Vista isn't the only big product coming out this year, and Microsoft is planning to spend $500 million in 2006 to promote upcoming products designed to make business workers more productive, CEO Steve Ballmer said. Software due to arrive over the next year will cater to information workers in corporations, he said.

Microsoft is also releasing a suite of Office 2007 products by the end of the year. In addition, the company is getting ready to launch an expanded communications product line around its Exchange e-mail server software.

Inside Apple
A Macintosh enthusiast has apparently managed to load Windows XP on an Intel Mac, nabbing a prize of almost $14,000. The contest, which has been running since just after Apple Computer announced the first Intel-based Macs, collected donations from individuals and companies to raise the prize money.

Although both Macs and Windows PCs now use Intel chips, the task of loading Windows on the Intel Macs has proved more complicated,

See more CNET content tagged:
excerpt, Usenet, secret, Week in review, federal judge

9 comments

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The Dark Side
So here's the dark side of a company that, in all good faith, aims to collect all the world's information -- both public and private:

They end up being coopted by authoritarian governments. Free market? Those who make the laws rule the world.

What's the old saying: the road to Hell is paved with Good Intentions.

What would Orwell say about all this?
Posted by Betty Roper (121 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Web Neutrality?
Just as an ISP can limit the amount of Google traffic to their network unless Google pays, Google can limit the amount of traffic (and response time, etc.) to those same ISPs "to keep it costs down". And it can suggest that the ISP's customers who want better web experience switch to a connectivity provider that doesn't block parts of the net!
Posted by hadaso (468 comments )
Reply Link Flag
How the heck can you say this?
"Google's activities, akin to those of an Internet service provider,
do not constitute infringement."

Google is not an Internet Service Provider (ISP)! Google provides
a search engine service that uses robots to pilfer the copy-
written information that we as web developers put on web pages
for there respected owners.

So with that said; how can Google be covered like that of an ISP
let alone covered period under "Fair Use"?

Google seems to think they work above the law to which time
will prove otherwise.

~Justin
Posted by OneWithTech (196 comments )
Reply Link Flag
NetAlter is developing an alternative Internet OS
I have been following up on a small company based in India which has been silently but actively developing an alternative to the current Internet System.

NetAlter Software Limited which is proposing such this alternative system will start development of the Service Browser and the Beta version of which would be available within 9 months.

What NetAlter is doing is converging various proven technologies such as P2P, Grid Supercomputing, Semantic Web, Rich/Smart Applications, etc into a single browser interface which will be platform independent.

NetAlter offers virtually virus and spam free operations and also provides complete protection against Piracy.

As NetAlter Software Limited is going ahead with the development of the core browser, it also plans approaching other developers and service providers for licensing out their technology to develop NetAlter native application software.

The one thing unique about NetAlter is that it aims to provide a pay per use system which means users will no longer have to pay for software they do not intend to use. Likewise, Developers will require to pay NetAlter for using their license only once they are ready to make available applications commercially.

This should cut down piracy and also protect the intellectual property rights of developers.

End users get a free Internet OS with various inbuilt features with the option to avail of other free or paid applications and services.
Posted by guyfrom2006 (33 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sorry
The dual posting happened by mistake.
Posted by guyfrom2006 (33 comments )
Link Flag
NetAlter is developing an alternative Internet OS
I have been following up on a small company based in India which has been silently but actively developing an alternative to the current Internet System.

NetAlter Software Limited which is proposing such this alternative system will start development of the Service Browser and the Beta version of which would be available within 9 months.

What NetAlter is doing is converging various proven technologies such as P2P, Grid Supercomputing, Semantic Web, Rich/Smart Applications, etc into a single browser interface which will be platform independent.

NetAlter offers virtually virus and spam free operations and also provides complete protection against Piracy.

As NetAlter Software Limited is going ahead with the development of the core browser, it also plans approaching other developers and service providers for licensing out their technology to develop NetAlter native application software.

The one thing unique about NetAlter is that it aims to provide a pay per use system which means users will no longer have to pay for software they do not intend to use. Likewise, Developers will require to pay NetAlter for using their license only once they are ready to make available applications commercially.

This should cut down piracy and also protect the intellectual property rights of developers.

End users get a free Internet OS with various inbuilt features with the option to avail of other free or paid applications and services.
Posted by guyfrom2006 (33 comments )
Reply Link Flag
So far ......
NetAlter is all smoke and mirrors, with nebulous promises and
nothing to deliver. Maybe it will be of some significance, but right
now, it's not ever vaporware.

In a year or two, maybe worth a second look.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
pay per use isn't the end all answer
Pay per use stifles productivity. How many of you have used a Microsoft Office product simply because you already had a copy of it on your machine? I know I have and likewise with many of my peers. Pay per use will have the opposite effect in that I (and am guessing others) would avoid using a product that would better fit the need just to avoid added cost.
Posted by BengalTigger (36 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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