Google Tightens Shackles on Pirate Bay Search Results
Today in international tech news: Google further alienates The Pirate Bay from its search results. The former first lady of Germany -- who is rumored to also be a former escort -- has filed a lawsuit involving Google's autocomplete suggestions, which for her aren't so flattering. Also: China launches a social media TV show and China's Huawei invests big in the UK as it prepares for court in the US.
In a nod to the increasing pressure to root out online piracy, Google has expanded its list of censored phrases related to searches for the file-sharing site The Pirate Bay, according to Torrent Freak.
Google has not entirely removed The Pirate Bay from its search results index, but it has nixed alternate Pirate Bay domains from appearing in autocomplete. The blacklist now includes searches for "thepiratebay.org" and "thepiratebay.se," an alternate URL launched to circumvent ISP blocks.
Google had already implemented certain safeguards against piracy-related search results, such as disabling autocomplete for terms like "BitTorrent" and "utorrent," a program that can turn pirated files into movies, music, TV shows and so on. In addition, Google had been punishing piracy sites in its search results.
Google's singling out of The Pirate Bay meshes with other moves taken by ISPs and national governments. The Netherlands, the UK and Italy are among the nations to have ordered its ISPs to block users from accessing The Pirate Bay. The Pirate Bay has thus far skirted the blocks, but getting snubbed by Google could make things that much more difficult.
In a related story, the Pirate Bay co-founder who was recently arrested in Cambodia has arrived in Sweden. He faces old charges stemming from The Pirate Bay, and according to a report from The Next Web he could now face hacking charges.
German Ex-First Lady Sues Google
Bettina Wulff, the wife of former German president Christian Wulff, has filed a lawsuit against Google because of unsavory autocomplete results, according to Deutsche Welle.
There have long been rumors that Wulff, 38, used to work as an escort. Those rumors, which found a loving home on the Web, have fueled autocomplete results that link Wulff to, well, being an escort. Hence the lawsuit, aimed at forcing Google to remove results such as "prostitute" and "escort," which are currently what users get when they search for her name.
Wulff is set to release a memoir later this month, and there is speculation that the lawsuit is a publicity stunt for the book.
Wullf's husband left office early after a scandal involving manipulation of the press.
This is far from the first time people have complained about Google's autocomplete. A Jewish group in France (upset about the celebrities Google linked with the word "jew") and a Japanese man (upset he lost his job) are among those to take aim at autocomplete.
China Launches Social Media TV Show
A television show called "Micro-blog Master," which chronicles the fictitious story of two competing social media companies, has launched in China, according to Tech In Asia.
The show pits starry-eyed youngsters against older businessmen. It is set circa 2010, which coincides with the social media boom in China.
While the show may be short on artistic merits -- Tech In Asia suggests as much -- it nonetheless speaks to the entrenchment of social media in the country -- censorship, Great Firewall and government paranoia be damned.
Huawei Ups Investment in UK
As it prepares for an investigation in the US, Chinese telecommunications and computer network company Huawei will invest more than US$2 billion to expand its UK operations, according to the BBC.
Huawei's investment in the UK comes as it deals with a Congressional probe in the U.S. The company has quadrupled the amount of money it spends on Washington lobbyists, and is reportedly hashing out the particulars of its appearance before a House Intelligence Committee investigation into whether or not the company poses a risk to United States security.
The Sinica Podcast, an English podcast about news in China, recently had a lengthy discussion about "The Huawei enigma," available here .