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  • E
    Eric
    Australia’s federal court: Google deceived consumers over data collection

    SYDNEY (Reuters) -Australia's federal court found Alphabet Inc's Google misled some consumers about personal location data collected through Android mobile devices, the country's competition regulator said on Friday.
    The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said it is seeking declarations and penalties from Google, though it did not specify an amount.
    "This is an important victory for consumers, especially anyone concerned about their privacy online, as the Court’s decision sends a strong message to Google and others that big businesses must not mislead their customers,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said in a statement.
    The case revolves around specific Google settings related to its location data collection, location history and 'web & app activity'.
    The court found that Google wrongly claimed it could only collect information from the location history setting on user devices between January 2017 and December 2018. (https://bit.ly/3ge5RjX)
    A setting to control web and application activity, when turned on, also enabled Google to collect, store and use the data and was turned on by default on the devices.
    Users were not informed that turning off location history but leaving the "Web & App Activity" setting on would allow Google to continue to collect data, the court found.
    The court will need to decide what it considers a breach and how many occurred but the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) quoted the ACCC chairman Rod Simms as saying that the regulator would seek a penalty in the "many millions".
    A Google spokesman said the company was reviewing its options.
    The Federal Court has found that Google LLC and Google Australia Pty Ltd (together, Google) misled consumers about personal location data collected through Android mobile devices between January 2017 and December 2018, in a world-first enforcement ac
    The Federal Court has found that Google LLC and Google Australia Pty Ltd (together, Google) misled consumers about personal location data collected through Android mobile devices between January 2017 and December 2018, in a world-first enforcement ac
    bit.ly
  • T
    Thomas
    Brave became the latest browser to ban Google's new surveillance system (FLoC)

    Brave, a Chromium-based browser, has removed FLoC, Google's controversial alternative identifier to third-party cookies for tracking users across websites.
    FLoC, or Federated Learning of Cohorts, has just been released by Google for Chrome as its answer to improving privacy while still delivering targeted ads.
    "The worst aspect of FLoC is that it materially harms user privacy, under the guise of being privacy-friendly," says Brave in a blogpost. 

    FLoC has been been widely criticised by privacy advocates, even though it is an improvement to third-party cookies. The Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) calls it a "terrible idea" because now Chrome shares a summary of each user's recent browsing activity with marketers.

    "A browser with FLoC enabled would collect information about its user's browsing habits, then use that information to assign its user to a "cohort" or group," writes Bennett Cyphers, an EFF technologist. 
    "Users with similar browsing habits -- for some definition of "similar" -- would be grouped into the same cohort. Each user's browser will share a cohort ID, indicating which group they belong to, with websites and advertisers."

    Brave, a privacy-focused browser headed up by Mozilla co-founder and key JavaScript designer, Brendan Eich, says it has removed FLoC from the Nightly version of Brave for the desktop and Android. 
    Brave notes the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA) and Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as signs that consumers are demanding privacy on the web.
    "In the face of these trends, it is disappointing to see Google, instead of taking the present opportunity to help design and build a user-first, privacy-first Web, proposing and immediately shipping in Chrome a set of smaller, ad-tech-conserving changes, which explicitly prioritize maintaining the structure of the Web advertising ecosystem as Google sees it," Brave says in a blogpost. 

    Brave argues that because the feature does impact user privacy, it should be something that users need to opt-in to. 
    "Given that FLoC can be harmful for site operators too, we recommend that all sites disable FLoC. In general, any new privacy-risking features on the web should be opt-in," Brave says. 
    "This is a common-sense principle to respect Web users by default. One might wonder why Google isn't making FLoC opt-in. We suspect that Google has made FLoC opt-out (for sites and users) because Google knows that an opt-in, privacy harming system would likely never reach the scale needed to induce advertisers to use it."
  • G
    George
    Judge in Texas lawsuit against Google issues protective order

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The judge hearing the Texas antitrust lawsuit against Alphabet Inc's Google put limits on what the search giant's in-house lawyers can see in an order aimed at ensuring that confidential information used in an upcoming trial remains secure.
    The issue is a key one for companies that have not been identified but that gave information to the Texas attorney general's office for its investigation and fear that their confidential data, like strategic business plans or discussions about negotiations, could be disclosed to Google executives.
    The order issued by Judge Sean Jordan of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas allows Google's in-house counsel to see information deemed "confidential" but they are then limited in advising on some competitive and other decision-making for two years regarding the companies whose data they see.

    In-house counsel for Google is barred from seeing "highly confidential" information under the order unless it is given permission by the court or the affected company.
    The Texas lawsuit accuses Google of violating the law in how it dominates the process of placing ads online. It alleges Google quietly teams with its closest online advertising competitor, Facebook Inc, and that it uses the excuse of protecting users' privacy to act unfairly. Publishers complain that one result has been lower revenues.

    It is one of three big antitrust lawsuits filed against Google last year.
  • N
    Nick
    The Chromium-based Vivaldi browser banned Google’s FLoC

    Google’s new tracking method FLoC continues to see opposition grow, as Vivaldi labels the new tracking system as 'privacy-invasive' and 'nasty'.

    The Chromium-based Vivaldi browser has removed FLoC, Google's controversial alternative identifier to third-party cookies for tracking users across websites.
    FLoC, or Federated Learning of Cohorts, has just been released by Google for Chrome as its answer to improving privacy while still delivering targeted ads.
    But Vivaldi has called it a "dangerous step that harms user privacy".
    "Google's new data harvesting venture is nasty," it declared in a blog post that begins with the header "FLoC off! Vivaldi does not support FLoC".
    "At Vivaldi, we stand up for the privacy rights of our users. We do not approve tracking and profiling, in any disguise. We certainly would not allow our products to build up local tracking profiles.
    "It presents FLoC as part of a set of so-called 'privacy' technologies, but let's remove the pretence here; FLoC is a privacy-invasive tracking technology."
    Vivaldi is based on Chromium. But while it relies on the Chromium engine to render pages correctly, it said this is where Vivaldi's similarities with Chrome and other Chromium-based browsers end.

    It said the FLoC experiment does not work in Vivaldi as it relies on some hidden settings that are not enabled in Vivaldi.
    The FLoC component in Chrome needs to call Google's servers to check if it can function since Google is only enabling it in parts of the world that are not covered by Europe's GDPR. As the blog explained, Vivaldi does not allow such a call to be made to Google.
    "We will not support the FLoC API and plan to disable it, no matter how it is implemented. It does not protect privacy and it certainly is not beneficial to users, to unwittingly give away their privacy for the financial gain of Google," it said. 
    FLoC has been widely criticised by privacy advocates, even though it is an improvement to third-party cookies. The Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) called it a "terrible idea" because now Chrome shares a summary of each user's recent browsing activity with marketers.  
    As Vivaldi explained, an ad company could previously only see the aspects of a user's personality relating to the websites where its ads were used. An ad provider that was only used for 1,000 websites might only have seen each visitor on one or two of their sites, so they could not build up much tracking data about a user.
    "FLoC changes this completely. Its core design involves sharing new information with advertisers," it continued. 
    "Now every website will get to see an ID that was generated from your behaviour on every other website.
    "You might visit a website that relates to a highly personal subject that may or may not use FLoC ads, and now every other site that you visit gets told your FLoC ID, which shows that you have visited that specific kind of site."
    FLoC, Vivaldi said, has very serious implications for people who live in an environment where aspects of their personality are persecuted, such as their sexuality, political viewpoint, or religion.
    "All can become a part of your FLoC ID," it said.
    "This is no longer about privacy but goes beyond. It crosses the line into personal safety.
    "We reject FLoC. You should too."
  • r
    roscoe
    DuckDuckGo warns new Google malware

    DuckDuckGo has warned Chrome users about Google's new tracking method. The company in a blogpost mentioned that many people will be surprised to know that they have automatically entered into Google’s new tracking method called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) without asking for consent. According to the blog, FLoC is targeted at forming a group based on people’s interests and demographics that are easily fetched from browsing history. This allows the company to profile and target unwanted, creepy advertising along with content without third-party cookies.

    To help Chrome users get out of this tracking scheme, DuckDuckGo suggested people to not use Google Chrome. It said as of now, only Google Chrome has enabled FLoC and thus, it is not present in any other browser vendor. Other vendors have not even expressed an intention or interest for implementing such trackers. Since many browsers are free to download, the blog urged people to get some Google alternatives. For iOS or Android users, the company suggested that they use Safari or their own mobile browsers because they have privacy protection by default when searching and browsing.
  • M
    Marcus
    Waymo CEO stepping down as it continues to rack up huge losses

    WASHINGTON, April 2 (Reuters) - The head of Alphabet Inc’s self-driving unit Waymo said on Friday he was stepping down as chief executive and would be replaced by a pair of executives.
    John Krafcik, a long-time auto industry executive who has headed Waymo for more than five years, will stay on as an advisor, the company said. "This is a choice John has made after a long and successful career in the automotive industry," Waymo said in statement.

    Dmitri Dolgov, one of the founders of the Google self-driving car project and Tekedra Mawakana, who was Waymo's chief operating officer and has worked at a number of tech firms, will serve as co-CEOs, the company said.
    "We’re committed to working alongside you to build, deploy, and commercialize the Waymo Driver," the co-CEOs said in the statement.
    Waymo, which was formed in 2009 as a project within Alphabet's Google unit, is widely considered the leader in developing self-driving technology. But Waymo is still years away from building large-scale businesses, while their rival Tesla Inc has been selling its semi-automated driving system.
  • K
    Kevin
    Google illegally tracking Android users, according to new complaint

    Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems has filed a complaint against Google in France alleging that the US tech giant is illegally tracking users on Android phones without their consent.
    Android phones generate unique advertising codes, similar to Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), that allow Google and third parties to track users’ browsing behavior in order to better target them with advertising.

    In a complaint filed on Wednesday, Schrems’ campaign group Noyb (None of your business) argued that in creating and storing these codes without first obtaining explicit permission from users, Google was engaging in “illegal operations” that violate EU privacy laws.
    Noyb urged France’s data privacy regulator to launch a probe into Google’s tracking practices and to force the company to comply with privacy rules. It argued that fines should be imposed on the tech giant if the watchdog finds evidence of wrongdoing.
    “Through these hidden identifiers on your phone, Google and third parties can track users without their consent,” said Stefano Rossetti, privacy lawyer at Noyb. “It is like having powder on your hands and feet, leaving a trace of everything you do on your phone—from whether you swiped right or left to the song you downloaded.”

    Google, which has roughly 300 million Android users in Europe, is facing a separate complaint from Noyb to the Austrian data protection authority, which argues specifically that users cannot delete the identifier from their Android devices.
    According to people familiar with the latest complaint, Noyb chose to approach the French data watchdog because its legal system is well suited to handling complaints under the European ePrivacy directive.
    Noyb also had concerns over the effectiveness of the Irish data protection authority—the de facto leader in European data privacy regulation—after a number of member states including Germany accused it of sluggish enforcement.
    Last year, Schrems won a landmark case at Europe’s highest court that ruled a transatlantic agreement on transferring data between the bloc and the US used by thousands of corporations did not protect EU citizens’ privacy.
  • M
    MaxThrust
    80 dollars earnings and coming up with a great dividend plan! $3000 no problem!
  • S
    Sam
    GOOG is part of everyone's life so why not own a piece of it?
  • R
    Ryan
    gonna go over what Alphabet owns:

    google-search, maps, chrome, drive, play, Adsense.

    other companies: Youtube, Android, Waze, Fitbit, Waymo. many more also 1/12 spaceX at 900 mill valuation in 2015.

    Google Ventures has bought Pre-Ipo:

    Uber, StockX, Slack, Stripe, Docusign, Editas medicine, Impossible burger, Desktop Metal, Ripple milk, Lemonade insurance, Firefly, Opendoor, Nextdoor, Robinhood, Cloudera, & literally hundreds more. google GV & peep.

    excellence through experimentation comes to mind with google. when u look something up, that is giving them info to trends. I have 3 companies Im planning to buy forever, and this is the top one.

    btw bullish from waymo tech, can be licensed or sold. Robinhood & spaceX for eventual IPO's, google always top ticks the sell. & youtube, as The revenues gonna grow.
  • A
    Andersonjj
    Amazon.com, Inc.
    $AMZN $WIMI $GOOG The easiest thing in the world to make money is to invest in stocks. The hardest thing in the world to make money is to invest in stocks.
  • V
    Vincent
    I bought Alphabet shares between 2014-2018. I felt it was a monopoly (90% of search traffic outside China) that could be leveraged into all kinds of cash flows and the closest thing to a sure thing that has ever existed in the stock market, in spite of big tech's vicious left wing bias. The valuation was around 27-29x forward earnings every time I bought. The valuation to this day is about the same. Hold your nose and buy a few shares.
  • r
    robert
    GOOGL's financials are truly breathtaking. Let's teach these shorts a lesson on why it is suicide to short this shall we? PE of only 38 and this is a growth stock...not an unreasonable valuation at all. Beta of exactly 1...so rising rates are not going to affect this company at all. Let's dive into the financial ratios....gross margin 54 percent, EBITDA margin 30 percent, operating margin 22.5 percent, net margin a whopping 22.1 percent, leverage nonexistent. Let's move into growth rates....current quarter revenue growth rate 24.7 percent, earnings growth rate over the next 5 years 16.95 percent, market implied 5 year compound annual growth rate 21 percent as of yesterday. inventory turnover more than 3 times the industry median, the list goes on and on. Netlist longs will get pocket change assuming this lawsuit actually is victorious which is very questionable, people like me that have been long since 2013 will barely feel a pinch from the decline, as will GOOGL. So I expect tons of thumbs down but why you would short a company with the kind of revenue growth and earnings growth and free cash flow growth GOOGL has is beyond me. And those who think GOOGL won't recover should they lose all these lawsuits don't realize that the company has zero competition and excellent management to boost. From a money making standpoint this company is a no brainer over the long haul.
  • T
    The DK Finance Show
    Google (Alphabet) is an amazing stock to buy, in my opinion, for these reasons:
    1. Strong revenue growth with an expected growth of 23.9% for 2021
    2. Low forward P/E ratio of 26, considering it continues to have double digit revenue growth
    3. The market for Google search, YouTube and Google Cloud will continue to have strong growth, in my opinion, as Google search seems to be essential in almost every aspect of life. YouTube also continues to produce top quality content for every niche category you can think of and will help eliminate cable in conjunction with Netflix, in my opinion.
    4. Alphabet’s financial statements are incredible with strong revenue growth 12.77% in 2020 even when it was in a worst-case scenario with lockdowns and reduced advertising budgets. Google’s paid clicks for advertising was up 19% in and impressions were up 15% in 2020.
    5. The company is highly profitable and has an incredible balance sheet with $136.7 billion of cash and marketable securities.
    6. Alphabet stock seems like such a safe investment, in my opinion, compared to many other high flying tech stocks trading at 50+ forward P/E ratios. I sleep very well at night holding Alphabet in my stock portfolio.

    As with every company, Google stock also has some risks. There is a risk of government intervention on how Google collects and uses its customers data and there is a risk the government may try to break up the company which I believe is unlikely to happen.

    Check out my full analysis here: https://youtu.be/jQ6s85ZRJSQ
  • M
    Mark
    Wedbush raised its price target on Alphabet to $2953 and added the stock to its 'best ideas list'.
  • E
    Eric
    US privacy, consumer, competition and civil rights groups urge ban on ‘surveillance advertising’

    A coalition of organizations across the privacy, antitrust, consumer protection and civil rights spaces has called for a ban on “surveillance advertising”, further amplifying the argument that “big tech’s toxic business model is undermining democracy”.

    The close to 40-strong coalition behind this latest call to ban “creepy ads” which rely on the mass tracking and profiling of web users in order to target them with behavioral ads.
    “As leaders across a broad range of issues and industries, we are united in our concern for the safety of our communities and the health of democracy,” they write in the open letter. “Social media giants are eroding our consensus reality and threatening public safety in service of a toxic, extractive business model. That’s why we’re joining forces in an effort to ban surveillance advertising.”

    The coalition is keen to point out that less toxic non-tracking alternatives (like contextual ads) exist, while arguing that greater transparency and oversight of adtech infrastructure could help clean up a range of linked problems, from junk content and rising conspiracism to ad fraud and denuded digital innovation.
    “There is no silver bullet to remedy this crisis — and the members of this coalition will continue to pursue a range of different policy approaches, from comprehensive privacy legislation to reforming our antitrust laws and liability standards,” they write. “But here’s one thing we all agree on: It’s time to ban surveillance advertising.”

    “Big Tech platforms amplify hate, illegal activities, and conspiracism — and feed users increasingly extreme content — because that’s what generates the most engagement and profit,” they warn.
    “Their own algorithmic tools have boosted everything from white supremacist groups and Holocaust denialism to COVID-19 hoaxes, counterfeit opioids and fake cancer cures. Echo chambers, radicalization, and viral lies are features of these platforms, not bugs — central to the business model.”
    The coalition also warns over surveillance advertising’s impact on the traditional news business, noting that shrinking revenues for professional journalism is raining more harm down upon the (genuine) information ecosystem democracies need to thrive.

    “Facebook and Google’s monopoly power and data harvesting practices have given them an unfair advantage, allowing them to dominate the digital advertising market, siphoning up revenue that once kept local newspapers afloat. So while Big Tech CEOs get richer, journalists get laid off,” the coalition warns, adding: “Big Tech will continue to stoke discrimination, division, and delusion — even if it fuels targeted violence or lays the groundwork for an insurrection — so long as it’s in their financial interest.”

    Among a laundry list of harms the coalition is linking to the dominant ad-based online business models of tech giants Facebook and Google is the funding of what they describe as “insidious misinformation sites that promote medical hoaxes, conspiracy theories, extremist content, and foreign propaganda”.
    “Banning surveillance advertising would restore transparency and accountability to digital ad placements, and substantially defund junk sites that serve as critical infrastructure in the disinformation pipeline,” they argue, adding: “These sites produce an endless drumbeat of made-to-go-viral conspiracy theories that are then boosted by bad-faith social media influencers and the platforms’ engagement-hungry algorithms — a toxic feedback loop fueled and financed by surveillance advertising.”

    Other harms they point to are the risks posed to public health by platforms’ amplification of junk/bogus content such as COVID-19 conspiracy theories and vaccine misinformation; the risk of discrimination through unfairly selective and/or biased ad targeting, such as job ads that illegally exclude women or ethnic minorities; and the perverse economic incentives for ad platforms to amplify extremist/outrageous content in order to boost user engagement with content and ads, thereby fuelling societal division and driving partisanship as a byproduct of the fact platforms benefit financially from more content being spread.
    The coalition also argues that the surveillance advertising system is “rigging the game against small businesses” because it embeds platform monopolies — which is a neat counterpoint to tech giants’ defensive claim that creepy ads somehow level the playing field for SMEs versus larger brands.

    “While Facebook and Google portray themselves as lifelines for small businesses, the truth is they’re simply charging monopoly rents for access to the digital economy,” they write, arguing that the duopoly’s “surveillance-driven stranglehold over the ad market leaves the little guys with no leverage or choice” — opening them up to exploitation by big tech.
  • R
    R
    What do you guys think, hold during earnings?
  • M
    Mark
    Alphabet is the best FAANG for the reopening economy
  • L
    Larry
    Advocacy groups urge FTC to be tougher on surveillance giant Google with protecting kids privacy on apps

    Two advocacy groups want the Federal Trade Commission to take a tougher stance against Google, accusing its app store of recommending apps that transmit kids' personal information such as location without their parents' consent in violation of a 1998 law that protects children online. 
    The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) and the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) said they plan to file a complaint with the FTC Wednesday asking regulators
    to investigate how the Google Play Store promotes apps for kids.

    The groups say three recent studies, including one conducted by the American Medical Association last year, found that more than two-thirds of apps – 67% – used by kids age 5 and under were transmitting information to third-party advertisers.
    "If you’re under 13, your data is not supposed to be shared with advertisers, but that’s happening routinely, and at scale on the apps on Google Play," Josh Golin, the CCFC's executive director, told USA TODAY. 

    Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, a Democrat who authored the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, known as COPPA, said in a statement that while he's both "disturbed, but not surprised" that it remains a problem.
    "Children are spending an unprecedented amount of time on their devices right now, and they shouldn’t be tracked at every turn," Markey said. "That has to stop. It’s time for Big Tech to be held accountable for prioritizing profits over privacy, particularly when it comes to our children.”

    Parents have become increasingly concerned about how to keep kids safe on the internet during the pandemic when screens are in such heavy use. 
    In 2019, Google's YouTube agreed to provide new protections for children and paid a $170 million fine to settle a year-long investigation by the FTC and the New York state attorney general into complaints from consumer groups that it illegally collected data from children under the age of 13 children to target advertising.

    The new complaint comes amid increased government scrutiny of the tech giants. Google faces antitrust lawsuits from the Justice Department and separate coalitions of states. 
    Concern over Big Tech's effect on children's well-being has also become a rare bipartisan issue on Capitol Hill.
  • M
    Mark
    Alphabet (GOOGL) is now the largest holding in my portfolio. 👍