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Google Takes Street View to the Bottom of the World

Google Takes Street View to the Bottom of the World

Google offers Street View-esque images of Antarctica; a man wearing computer-assisted glasses is assaulted at a Paris McDonald's; the WTO rules on China's e-commerce market; a French court decision could mean Google has to censor file-sharing-related results from autocomplete; Microsoft apologizes to the EC, though it could still face huge fines.

By David Vranicar
07/18/12 9:12 AM PT

Google unveiled a new Google Maps feature that will allow people to see Street View-style images from Antarctica.

The new feature, part of Google's World Wonders project, is designed to give users a glimpse of Antarctica and explain some of the history of Antarctic exploration. In addition, users can see 360-degree panoramas of historic sites such as the South Pole Telescope and small wooden huts used by explorers.

Google released this video about the new Antarctica feature:

Fracas in France

Steve Mann, an academic at the University of Toronto, was assaulted by staff at a McDonald's in Paris, according to a blog post by Mann that was subsequently picked up by various media outlets, including the Register.

Mann, who wears computer-assisted glasses somewhat akin to Google Glasses, was apparently thrown out of the McDonald's after staff tried to yank off his glasses. Mann has worn the glasses, dubbed the "EyeTap Digital Eye Glass," for the past 13 years.

Mann went to McDonald's on July 1, he said. After ordering food -- Mann got the Ranch Wrap -- someone with a McDonald's name tag "physically assaulted" him and tried to take off his glasses. The glasses, alas, are attached to Mann's head and can only be removed with tools.

McDonalds said it is investigating the claims.

Microsoft In Hot Water With EU

Microsoft has apologized to the European Commission for failing to follow an order to actively offer users a choice of Web browsers, according to The Guardian.

EC competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia, who has also appeared prominently in ongoing negotiations with Google , said Tuesday that Microsoft had failed to abide by a 2009 antitrust commitment to actively offer users a wide assortment of Web browsers, such as Google Chrome or Firefox, when setting up Windows. That commitment allowed Microsoft to avoid a fine at the time.

Microsoft followed up Almunia's statement with a prompt apology, stating that it deeply regrets the mistake. The statement went on to cite a "technical error" -- not insubordination -- as the reason for the snafu.

The New York Times also ran an article about the EC/Microsoft issue, reporting that the company could face a steep fine from the EU because it defied terms of a settlement. The Times also speculates that Microsoft's compliance issues could harden the EC's position against Google.

The EU recently upheld a $1 billion fine against Microsoft.

You Money IS Good Here

A Tuesday ruling by the World Trade Organization (WTO) could open up China's e-commerce sites to more consumers around the world, according to Tech In Asia.

The WTO ruling specifically addresses e-payment services and asserts that China discriminates against foreign suppliers. PayPal, for instance, works in China but does not function with most Chinese e-commerce sites; Visa, MasterCard and other international payment options are usually not accepted, according to Tech In Asia.

Tech In Asia goes on to report, however, that foreign payment options will be swimming upstream. Most Chinese online shoppers use Chinese equivalents to PayPal such as AliPay, meaning the market might already be cornered.

France Turns to Google to Thwart Piracy

A French Supreme Court move could force Google to censor search results to prevent piracy, according to Giga OM.

The case in question primarily concerns Google's Autocomplete feature, which provides suggestions for searches when users begin typing.

French music royalties society SNEP has been trying to force Google to stop including the term "torrent" with searches associated with music, according to Giga OM. SNEP also wants Google to disable autocomplete suggestions that include file-sharing sites such as RapidShare or The Pirate Bay.

The French court dismissed SNEP's case in 2010 and 2011, but a recent move to "set aside" the case might give SNEP's campaign a chance.


Tech Trek is a blog that looks at tech news from around the world. David Vranicar is a freelance journalist currently living in the Netherlands. His ECT News Network archive, with links to articles and podcasts, is available here. You can email him at david.vranicar@newsroom.ectnews.com



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