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German Court Orders Google to Clean Up Autocomplete

A federal court in Germany has told Google that it must remove offensive or defamatory suggestions from its autocomplete function when it receives a complaint.

The case that prompted the ruling started with a German businessman who, upon culling through, found that he was associated with scientology and fraud. (He was apparently neither a scientologist nor a scumbag.)

The court said that a person’s privacy is violated when Google’s autocomplete function, which offers suggestions on not-yet-completed search terms, links said person to something that isn’t true.

The court added, however, that Google is only liable for cleansing its results when specifically notified.

The federal order overrules a pair of previous decisions by two lower German courts.

Google has ruffled feathers with autocomplete in the past. An antidefamation group in France sued for autocomplete’s propensity to link famous people with Judaism; an Australian sued for being linked with “bankrupt”; and a Japanese man sued — and won — for being linked with criminal activity.

Google has defended the function by saying that the suggestions are controlled automatically and predicated solely on search frequency.

[Source: BBC]

Amazon Employees Strike in Germany

Amazon employees in the German cities of Leipzig and Bad Hersfeld launched a one-day strike over pay and benefits from the U.S. online retail giant.

The giant services sector union, Ver.di, is demanding that Amazon increase pay to meet standards laid out in a wage deal with retail and mail-order industries. The head of Amazon in Germany, Ralf Kleber, has countered that Amazon employees should not be classified as retail and mail-order, maintaining they work in the logistics business.

Amazon’s hourly wage is 9.30 euros (about US$12.00) for first-year employees and about $13.00 for others. Ver.di, naturally, wants this bumped up.

Germany is Amazon’s top European market, with 2012 sales eclipsing $8 billion.

The two striking branches employ a total of about 5,000 people.

[Source: The Guardian]

Worldwide Heist Ignites Concern Over Finance Outsourcing

Last week’s news that cyberthieves stole $45 million by exploiting holes in card-processing companies in India has sparked concern about outsourcing financial services.

India has a $108 billion IT service industry and is the world’s top spot for outsourcing. More than 40 percent of the industry’s exports are related to the financial sector, including investment bank functions and processing insurance claims.

An estimated 75 percent of global banks “have a direct or third-party offshore presence in India,” according to Reuters.

The two card-processing outfits targeted in last week’s heist were ElectraCard Services and EnStage. EnStage, incorporated in California but based in Bangalore, handles card payments for Bank of Muscat of Oman, which lost $40 million in a massive heist in February.

[Source: Reuters]

German Publisher Asks if Skype Is Snooping

Heist Online, a German publisher, has accused Skype of snooping on users’ conversations.

Heist experimented with this by sending URLs via Skype and then monitoring the logs of the servers identified in the chat messages. The servers then received visits from a Redmond, Washington, IP address — Redmond being the home of Microsoft, and Microsoft being the owner of Skype.

Ergo, Heist claims, Skype is snooping.

Microsoft responded to the little study, explaining that it scans URLs to ensure that users don’t pass along malware or phishing links, and that it doesn’t review URLs sent over its system.

[Source: The Register]

David Vranicar is a freelance journalist and author ofThe Lost Graduation: Stepping off campus and into a crisis. You can check out hisECT News archive here, and you can email him at david[dot]vranicar[at]newsroom[dot]ectnews[dot]com.

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