European Commission Fines Google €1.49 Billion Over Advertising



The European Commission has fined Google €1.49 billion for abusive practices in online advertising and for breaching EU antitrust rules. According to the European Commission, Google has abused its market dominance by imposing a number of restrictive clauses in contracts with third-party websites which prevented Google’s rivals from placing their search adverts on these websites.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said:

“Today the Commission has fined Google €1.49 billion for illegal misuse of its dominant position in the market for the brokering of online search adverts. Google has cemented its dominance in online search adverts and shielded itself from competitive pressure by imposing anti-competitive contractional restrictions on third-party websites. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules. This misconduct lasted over 10 years and denied other companies the possibility to compete on the merits and to innovate – and consumers the benefits of competition.”

This is the third major penalty that the EU has levied against Google. Last year, Google was fined a record €4.3 billion for abusing its market dominance in mobile. The year before that, Google was fined €2.4 billion for manipulating shopping search results. Google is appealing both cases.

Google posted information about the situation on The Keyword. Google says that, over the past few years, it has made changes Google Shopping, to its mobile apps licenses, and to AdSense for Search in direct response to concerns raised by the European Commission.

Google points out that on Android phones, people have always been able to install any search engine or browser they want. Google has also changed the licensing model for Google apps they build on Android phones, creating new, separate licenses for Google Play, the Google Chrome browser, and Google Search.

Now, Google will “do more to ensure that Android phone owners know about the wide choices of browsers and search engines available to them on their phones.” This will involve asking Android users in Europe which browser and search apps they would like to use.

In short, if you live in the EU, you will benefit from the changes that Google is making. If you live somewhere else – too bad. Google isn’t required to make any changes outside of the EU (in regards to the European Commission’s fines).

It seems clear to me that Google will make changes if it is fined a significant amount of money. I wonder what would happen if the United States government decided to investigate Google (and other big tech companies) to see if they were breaking our antitrust laws. Perhaps it is time for governments to regulate the big tech companies.


YouTube & Facebook Battle Video Takedowns #1353



YouTube & Facebook had their hands full with taking down all the rouge videos from the Christchurch shooting and massacre. With the easy of live streaming these days it’s not an easy thing to have enough technology to halt live streams like this mid progress but even harder to kill all the copies of the video once it has been published. My heart goes out to the Ohana in New Zealand. Had an interesting live viewer today and I provide some commentary from feedback during the show.

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Myspace Lost All Content Uploaded Before 2016



Who knew that Myspace was still a thing? Not me. I deleted my account there a long time ago and never looked back. It turns out that there are people who still use Myspace, and who are probably very upset today. Myspace has somehow lost all content that was uploaded to its site before 2016.

According to The Guardian, MySpace is blaming the mass deletion on a faulty server migration (which happened more than a year ago). MySpace has confirmed that music that had been uploaded to the site has been lost permanently.

More than 50m tracks from 14 million artists have been lost, including songs that led to the rise of the “Myspace Generation” cohort of artists, such as Lily Allen, Arctic Monkeys and Yeasayer. As well as music, the site has also accidentally deleted pictures and videos stored on its servers.

Cory Doctorow, on boingboing, pointed out something we can all learn from this mass deletion of content. He wrote: “Someday, this will happen to Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, etc. Don’t trust the platforms to archive your data.” He recommends the Internet Archive as a good place to archive things.

It appears that the things you uploaded to Myspace are gone forever. This could happen with whatever other social media sites you are using. It might be a good time to make sure you have copies of the photos, videos, music, writing and artwork you posted on social media. Do it before it all mysteriously disappears.


Stanford Medicine Announced Results of Apple Watch Study



Stanford Medicine announced the results of the Apple Heart Study. The study was funded by Apple. There were over 400,000 participants in the study.

The study was launched in November of 2017, and was a first-of-its-kind research study using Apple Watch’s heart rate sensor to collect data on irregular heart rhythms and notify users who may be experiencing atrial fibrillation (AFib). The condition often remains hidden because many people don’t experience symptoms.

Key findings from the study include:

  • Overall, only 0.5 percent of participants received irregular pulse notifications, an important finding given concerns about potential over-notification.
  • Comparisons between irregular pulse-detection on Apple Watch and simultaneous electrocardiography patch recordings showed the pulse detection algorithm (indicating a positive tachogram reading) has a 71 percent positive predictive value. Eighty-four percent of the time, participants who received irregular pulse notifications were found to be in atrial fibrillation at the time of the notification.
  • One-third (34 percent) of the participants who received irregular pulse notifications and followed up by using an ECG patch over a week later were found to have atrial fibrillation. Since atrial fibrillation is an intermittent condition, it’s not surprising for it to go undetected in subsequent ECG patch monitoring.
  • Fifty-seven percent of those who received irregular pulse notifications sought medical attention.

As part of the study, if an irregular heart rhythm was identified, participants received a notification on their Apple Watch and iPhone, a telehealth consultation with a doctor, and an electrocardiogram (ECG) patch for additional monitoring.

In short, it appears that the Apple Watch is able to detect AFib. This is good news, because it means people can take that information to their doctor and start a discussion about what to do next. It does not mean people should rely entirely on the results the Apple Watch gives them and avoid seeing a doctor.


Apple Addressed Spotify’s Claims



Recently, Spotify filed a complaint against Apple with the European Commission. Yesterday, Apple posted a statement titled “Addressing Spotify’s claims”. I suspect this will not be the end of the argument between Spotify and Apple.

Apple started by giving a brief history of the iTunes Store and the App Store. After that, Apple begins making a case against Spotify. To be clear, I am personally not on the side of either one of these companies.

What Spotify is demanding is something different. After using the App Store for years to dramatically grow their business, Spotify seeks to keep all the benefits of the App Store ecosystem – including the substantial revenue that they draw from the App Store’s customers – without making any contributions to that marketplace. At the same time, they distribute the music you love while making ever-smaller contributions to the artists, musicians, and songwriters who create it – even going so far as to take these creators to court.

Here are a few key points from Apple’s post:

  • We’ve approved and distributed nearly 200 app updates on Spotify’s behalf, resulting in over 300 million downloaded copies of the Spotify app. The only time we have requested adjustments is when Spotify has tried to sidestep the same rules that every other app follows.
  • When we reached out to Spotify about Siri and AirPlay 2 support on several occasions, they’ve told us they’re working on it, and we stand ready to help them where we can.
  • Spotify is deeply integrated into platforms like CarPlay, and they have access to the same app development tools and resources that any other developer has.
  • We found Spotify’s claims about Apple Watch especially surprising. When Spotify submitted their Apple Watch app in September 2018, we reviewed and approved it with the same process and speed with which we would any other app. In fact, Spotify Watch app is currently the No. 1 app in the Watch Music category.
  • Apple claims that Spotify wants all the benefits of a free app without being free.
  • The only contribution that Apple requires is for digital goods and services that are purchased inside the app using our secure in-app purchase system. As Spotify points out, that revenue share is 30 percent for the first year of an annual subscription – but they left out that it drops to 15 percent in the years after.
  • “The majority of customers use their ad-supported product, which makes no contributions to the Apple Store.”
  • “A significant portion of Spotify’s customers come through partnerships with mobile carries. This generates no App store contribution but requires Spotify to pay a similar distribution fee to retails and carriers.”
  • “Even now, only a tiny fraction of their subscriptions fall under Apple’s revenue-sharing model. Spotify is asking for that number to be zero.”

Personally, it seems to me that Apple and Spotify are having a disagreement that does not appear to be something that will end soon. I would not be surprised if the result of this spat causes Spotify and Apple to part ways.


Facebook Had and Outage and No one Cared #1352



Facebook had the biggest outage of its history and no one seemed to care. In my opinion, everyone’s mental health probably improved during the outage. More worrisome is the new cell phone location data proposal of the FCC that will pinpoint your location to within 3 feet in buildings and everything that does not come with any additional privacy rights. I talk about my household shipping concerns and what I have been up to in investigating the shipment of my gear and personal effects out of Hawaii.

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Spotify Filed Complaint Against Apple with European Commission



Founder and CEO of Spotify, Daniel Ek, posted “Consumers and Innovators Win on a Level Playing Field” on the Spotify Newsroom. In it, he announces that Spotify has filed a complaint against Apple with the European Commission (EC).

Daniel Ek starts by pointing out that his goal for Spotify is to reimagine the audio experience by giving consumers the best creativity and innovation they have to offer. For that to be a reality, his belief is that companies like Spotify must operate in an ecosystem in which fair competition is not only encouraged, but guaranteed.

It’s why, after careful consideration, Spotify has filed a complaint against Apple with the European Commission (EC), the regulatory body responsible for keeping competition fair and nondiscriminatory. In recent years, Apple has introduced rules to the App Store that purposely limit choice and stifle innovation at the expense of the user experience – essentially acting as both a player and referee to deliberately disadvantage other app developers. After trying unsuccessfully to resolve the issues directly with Apple, we’re now requesting that the EC take action to ensure fair competition.

Here are some key points from Daniel Ek’s post:

Apple requires that Spotify and other digital services pay a 30% tax on purchases made through Apple’s payment system, including upgrading from our Free to Premium service. If we pay this tax, it would force us to artificially inflate the price of our Premium membership well above the price of Apple Music.

If we choose not to use Apple’s payment system, forgoing the charge, Apple then applies a series of technical and experience-limiting restrictions on Spotify. For example, they limit our communication with our customers – including our outreach beyond the app. In some cases we aren’t even allowed to send email to our customers who use Apple. Apple also routinely blocks our experience-enhancing upgrades.

Here is what Spotify is asking for:

  • Apps should be able to compete fairly on the merits, and not based on who owns the App Store. We should all be subject to the same fair set of rules and restrictions – including Apple Music.
  • Consumers should have a real choice of payment systems, and not be “locked in” or forced to use systems with discriminatory tariffs such as Apple’s.
  • App stores should not be allowed to control the communications between services and users, including placing unfair restrictions on marketing and promotions that benefit customers.

It will be interesting to see what the European Commission decides. If Spotify wins, it could open up the opportunity for other app makers, who are not pleased with Apple, to file their own complaints.