The Hot Seat: Microsoft, Google & Craigslist
Moscow Partners with Microsoft
Piracy Enforcement Team in Political Crackdown
A New York Times report revealed that the Russian government was using Microsoft anti-piracy investigatins as a prextext for seizing computers and other materials from political opponents and/or as a means for bribes. Following the report, Microsoft announced that its lawyers would no longer participate in such raids and extended a blanket sof tware license to advocacy groups and media outlets in Russia.
Nonetheless, the NYT noted that Microsoft’s “willingness to lend itself to politically motivated investigations . . . suggests a shocking failure of corporate responsibility.” While Microsoft is a member of the Global Network Initiative under which it pledges to respect and protect the “freedom of expression and privacy rights of their users,” the NYT noted that “declarations are cheap” and that Microsoft could show “it now truly gets it by extending its offer of a blanket license to political and news media groups in China and other repressive countries around the world.”
Google’s Six Degrees of Investigations
This was a trying summer for Internet giant Google that grew worse each month. This month, Texas Attorney General announced the launch of an antitrust investigation into alleged manipulation of search results by Google to thwart competitors and advance its own businesses in violation of “Search Neutrality” principles.
But why limit yourself to just one antitrust investigation (as the Justice Department has announced it was reviewing Google acquisition of ITA Software); or even one Attorney General in this modern age (thirty-eight (38) state Attorneys Generals and a number of countries world wide are investigating Google over collection of unprotected wireless data through its street view program)? Throw in an $8.5 million payment to settle a class-action lawsuit regarding the launch of Google Buzz and widespread condemnation for seeking to cut a dea l with Verizon over Net Neutrality (the move earned Google headlines such as “Why Google Became A Carrier-Humping, Net Neutrality Surrender Monkey”) and you will see why summer 2010 will not be remembered as the “Summer of Love” in Googleville.
M ore Info: Texas opens antitrust investigation of Google, Cnet News; On Google and the Law: The Scrutiny Continues, WSJ Law Blog; Search, Spin and Antitrust, Searchneutrality.org; State AGs Letter to Google; Google coughs up $8.5 million to settle Buzz privacy suit, ArsTechnica; Google, Verizon and the FCC: Inside the War Over the Internet’s Future, Daily Finance; FCC’s Copps Criticizes Google-Verizon Net Neutrali ty Proposal, Online Media Daily; Why Google Became A Carrier-Humping, Net Neutrality Surrender Monkey, Epicenter.
Craigslist to Break Silence on Adult Classifieds at Congressional Hearing
Craigslist, along with its founder net-philanthropist Craig Newmark, were once the darlings of the Internet but are now in the Hot Seat over their adult services advertisements. In August, CNN’s Amber Lyon ambushed Newmark outside his office about the advertisements and child sex trafficking. This was followed by 17 state Attorneys General publishing an open letter demanding that Craigslist stop the ads and a Business Week commentary – “Dear Craigslist: Grow Up.”
Last week, Craigslist dropped the adult services ads by placing the word “Censored” over the link and then testified on Capitol Hill that it will not resume such ads (which have generated $30MM in revenue year to date). Shortly after this announcement, Village Voice Media was sued by a former child-prostitute alleging that VVM’s Backpages.com aided and abetted child prostitution and pornography.