Google workers question police department ties: 'We’re disappointed'

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- More than 1,600 Google workers signed a letter to CEO Sundar Pichai, in a bid to prevent the company from continuing to sell products to police departments, according to a report from TechCrunch on Monday.“We’re disappointed to know that Google is still selling to police forces, and advertises its connection with police forces as somehow progressive, and seeks more expansive sales rather than severing ties with police and joining the millions who want to defang and defund these institutions,” the letter, viewed by the publication, stated.Employees specifically pointed out Google's public recognition of a partnership with the Clarkstown, New York, Police Department, which has been sued over claims it engaged in illegal surveillance practices in 2015, pertaining to Black Lives Matters protestors.A spokesperson for Google said workers have made more than 500 product suggestions throughout recent weeks, which are being reviewed.

Apple, Google release technology for pandemic apps

NEW YORK -- Apple and Google on Wednesday released long-awaited smartphone technology to automatically notify people if they might have been exposed to the coronavirus.The companies said 22 countries and several U.S. states are already planning to build voluntary phone apps using their software.

Google says it will no longer build AI tools for oil, gas drillers

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- Google says it will no longer build custom artificial intelligence tools for speeding up oil and gas extraction, separating itself from cloud computing rivals Microsoft and Amazon.A statement from the company Tuesday followed a Greenpeace report that documents how the three tech giants are using AI and computing power to help oil companies find and access oil and gas deposits in the U.S. and around the world.The environmentalist group says Amazon, Microsoft and Google have been undermining their own climate change pledges by partnering with major oil companies including Shell, BP, Chevron and ExxonMobil that have looked for new technology to get more oil and gas out of the ground.But the group applauded Google on Tuesday for taking a step away from those deals.“While Google still has a few legacy contracts with oil and gas firms, we welcome this indication from Google that it will no longer build custom solutions for upstream oil and gas extraction,” said Elizabeth Jardim, senior corporate campaigner for Greenpeace USA.Google said it will honor all existing contracts with its customers, but didn't specify what companies.

Australia to make Google and Facebook pay for news content

CANBERRA, Australia — Global digital platforms Google and Facebook will be forced to pay for news content in Australia, the government said Monday, as the coronavirus pandemic causes a collapse in advertising revenue.Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission would release in late July draft rules for the platforms to pay fair compensation for the journalistic content siphoned from news media.Frydenberg said he believed that Australia could succeed where other countries, including France and Spain, had failed in making Google and Facebook pay.“We won’t bow to their threats,” Frydenberg told reporters. “We understand the challenge that we face.

Alphabet’s Verily launches coronavirus testing website

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Google’s sister company Verily has launched a website for some people in the Bay Area to determine their eligibility for a coronavirus testing program.Verily, a subsidiary of Alphabet and sister company to Google, said the screening is limited for now to residents in Santa Clara County and San Mateo County.The online tool allows people residing in the two counties to take online screener surveys to see if they should go to testing sites in either county for exams.Verily said it worked with the federal government to build the online tool to perform risk screening and testing of people at high risk of contracting the coronavirus.In a news conference on Sunday afternoon, Governor Gavin Newsom said the tool is meant for people with mild symptoms, as well as those at high risk, including seniors.

US, France reach tax deal averting broader trade war

DAVOS, Switzerland — France will delay its tax on the digital business of big tech firms like Google and Facebook in exchange for the United States' promise to hold off retaliatory sanctions - a deal that could avert a broader trade dispute.Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Wednesday he had agreed on the truce with U.S. Treasury chief Steven Mnuchin, at a meeting on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.Le Maire said France would delay collection of the digital tax until December - through the next U.S. election cycle, potentially easing pressure for President Donald Trump as he seeks reelection.But the French minister said his country would never scrap it entirely until an international accord can be reached.“Digital companies will pay their fair tax in 2020,” Le Maire told reporters in Davos.The U.S., in turn, will hold off imposing retaliatory tariffs that it had threatened to slap tariffs on French wine, cheese and other products.The move appears to dial down the risk of a wider trade war between the United States and the European Union, of which France is part.

Fired Google workers plan federal labor complaint

SAN FRANCISCO — Four workers fired from Google last week are planning to file a federal labor complaint against the company, claiming it unfairly retaliated against them for organizing workers around social causes.The former employees said Tuesday they are preparing to file unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board this week.

Muted launch for Google's game-streaming service Stadia

NEW YORK — Google’s new game-streaming service Stadia demonstrates the possibilities of gaming from the cloud, but experts say it’s hindered by a lack of compelling games and a somewhat convoluted pricing scheme.One analyst calls Tuesday’s launch more of a public beta test than an actual debut.

Google steps into fitness, buys Fitbit for $2.1 billion

NEW YORK -- Google, the company that helped make it fun to just sit around surfing the web, is jumping into the fitness-tracker business with both feet, buying Fitbit for about $2.1 billion.The deal could put Google in direct competition with Apple and Samsung in the highly competitive market for smartwatches and other wearable electronics.

Google claims breakthrough in blazingly fast computing

SAN FRANCISCO — Google announced Wednesday it has achieved a breakthrough in quantum computing, saying it has developed an experimental processor that took just minutes to complete a calculation that would take the world's best supercomputer thousands of years.The feat could open the door someday to machines so blazingly fast that they could revolutionize such tasks as finding new medicines, developing vastly smarter artificial intelligence systems and, most ominously, cracking the encryption that protects some of the world's most closely guarded secrets.Such practical uses are still probably decades away, scientists said.

States led by Texas target Google in new antitrust probe

WASHINGTON — Fifty U.S. states and territories, led by Texas, announced an investigation into Google's "potential monopolistic behavior."The Monday announcement closely followed one from a separate group of states Friday that disclosed an investigation into Facebook's market dominance.

YouTube to pay $170M fine after violating kids' privacy law

WASHINGTON — Google will pay $170 million to settle allegations its YouTube video service collected personal data on children without their parents' consent.The company agreed to work with video creators to label material aimed at kids and said it will limit data collection when users view such videos, regardless of their age.Some lawmakers and children's advocacy groups, however, complained that the settlement terms aren't strong enough to rein in a company whose parent, Alphabet, made a profit of $30.7 billion last year on revenue of $136.8 billion, mostly from targeted ads.Google will pay $136 million to the Federal Trade Commission and $34 million to New York state, which had a similar investigation.

Ex-Google worker charged with stealing secrets sold to Uber

SAN JOSE, Calif. — A former Google engineer was charged Tuesday with stealing closely guarded secrets that he later sold to Uber as the ride-hailing service scrambled to catch up in the high-stakes race to build robotic vehicles.The indictment filed by the U.S. Attorney's office in San Jose, California, is an offshoot of a lawsuit filed in 2017 by Waymo, a self-driving car pioneer spun off from Google.