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The East African : March 24th 2014
The EastAfrican 34 OUTLOOK MARCH 22-28,2014 e -AF R ICAN Google wants e-mail scan details blocked from public September or October 2010 moved Content Onebox, which previously scanned stored e-mails, to “the delivery pipeline,” to extract data before users received the messages. Live or unopened communications are more protected under the federal Wiretap Act than stored ones. Rommel told Koh that Google made the change after determining that Content Onebox couldn’t extract information from e-mails that hadn’t been opened or deleted, or that were opened on an iPhone or sent through an email provider other than Google. After the switch to scanning unopened emails, Google began creating profiles of people “from which they could extrapolate additional advertisements,” Rommel said, without giving details of how Content Onebox works. It’s secret “Google itself has admitted and Internet search firm Google wants to block details of how it mines data from e-mails in a case where it is accused of wiretapping. Picture: AFP Fi≥m has asked a cou≥t to ≥edact confidential info≥mation f≥om the t≥ansc≥ipt in a case it is accused of illegally inte≥cepting e-mails By JOEL ROSENBLATT Special Correspondent G oogle is seeking to black out portions of a transcript from a public court hearing that includes information on how it mines data from personal emails. The world’s largest Internet- search provider, fighting a lawsuit claiming its interception of e-mails amounts to illegal wiretapping, has asked the US court to redact “confidential” information from the transcript, without being more specific. The main revelation at the February 27 hearing was the existence of “Content Onebox,” used by Google to intercept e-mails for targeted advertising and to build user profiles, Sean Rommel, a lawyer for plaintiffs, told the judge at the time. Google’s latest move to keep records in the case out of public view comes as Judge Lucy Koh is weighing a request by companies including National Public Radio, New York Times Co and Washington Post Co to unseal other key documents filed earlier that the company contended were too sensitive to be revealed. The hearing was to determine whether the lawsuit will proceed THE CASE The consolidated case before Koh stems from lawsuits brought by users of Gmail and other e-mail services from states including Texas, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Florida. Koh in September denied Google’s bid to dismiss the case. The judge rejected Google’s argument — which it continues to make — that Gmail users agreed to let their messages be scanned when they accepted subscription service terms and privacy policies. as a group suit, or class action. Koh’s ruling will have implications for other e-mail privacy cases assigned to her that were filed last year against Yahoo Inc and LinkedIn Corp. According to Rommel, Google in declared that the location and the timing of Content Onebox’s existence is proprietary, it’s secret, it’s unknown,” Rommel said at the February 27 hearing. “There’s not a single disclosure in the record which identifies that there’s a content extraction feature occurring in the delivery process, which would be the interception.” Google’s attempt to black out portions of the transcript that haven not been publicly reported in press accounts is at odds with statements from Michael Rhodes, the Mountain View, Californiabased company’s lawyer. “We came here today and we un- burdened the court of any sealing effort,” Rhodes told Koh at the February 27 hearing. “We agreed that all of the material that had been previously designated confidential could be aired in the public courtroom so that those folks back there in the media could see that Google has nothing to hide here.” Google officials did not immedi- ately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on Thursday’s filing. Washington Post-Bloomberg Consume≥ benefits double, thanks to the web A JOINT REPORT Special Correspondent WHEN CONSUMERS tweet, exchange photos, or search for information on the web, they have expect that it will be free. In economic terms, this panoply of services by web providers amounts to a vast consumer surplus. Three years ago, McKinsey took the measure of these consumer benefits in the United States and Europe. Using survey data and statistical analysis, we estimated how much consumers would be willing to pay for each of a range of services and then aggregated the benefits, which we found totalled €130 billion ($216.5 billion). A 2013 update suggests that the consumer sur- plus has nearly doubled, to €250 billion ($416.3 billion). Three-quarters of the incremental surplus results from the explosion in consumer use of the wireless web through smartphones and tablets — propelled by the migration of web services, communications channels, social media, and entertainment to these wireless devices. Broadband usage has grown in the countries analysed, rising to 65 per cent of all households, from a little more than 50 per cent. Aman holds a tablet and a smartphone showing a news website and a Twitter news thread. Pic: File While web services are free to consumers, many companies providing them generate income from their extensive platforms and user networks, through advertising or access charges for valuable information about consumers and their preferences. In our analysis, we identify those two activities as a cost to users and set a price we think they would pay to avoid disruption of their web experiences or to limit the risks associated with sharing personal information. Since 2010, these costs have risen to €80 bil- lion ($133.2 billion), from €30 billion ($50 billion), reflecting growing consumer sensitivity to web clutter and privacy issues. While that is a sizeable increase, it is less than the rise in the web’s total surplus for consumers, suggesting that the net effect on them remains strongly positive. Interestingly, in a sign of maturing usage, the net surplus for the wired web has remained close to flat since 2010, as a large increase in privacy and clutter risk balances the increased surplus. Mobile usage drives almost the entire increase in the overall net consumer surplus. As an extension of our core surplus analysis, we estimated the value of the trust users have in the web brands they use to interact with others, seek information, and consume entertainment. This trust generates a €50 billion ($83 billion) surplus across both wired and wireless use. Leading web-service providers such as Google (including YouTube), Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and Twitter capture nearly half of the trust surplus. By Jacques Bughin and James Manyika, McKinsey Global Institute BRIEFS Mobile giants partner to connect rural areas Mobile operators in Africa and the Middle East plan to partner in network infrastructure to enable them provide Internet and mobile broadband services in rural areas in the two regions. Senior officials from seven major mobile operators serving 506 million customers said they are coming together to find solutions that will drive down the cost of mobile and Internet services. The group includes Bharti Airtel, Etisalat Group, MTN Group and Vodafone Group. MTN, Ecobank to offer mobile financial services Mobile phone firm MTN and Ecobank have partnered to offer mobile financial services to 12 African countries, including Uganda and Rwanda. MTN Mobile Money users, who are also Ecobank customers, will be able to withdraw cash from Ecobank ATMs and transfer money between their Mobile Money and Ecobank accounts. The firms said the service, which was piloted in Ghana last month, will soon be launched in South Sudan, Benin, Cameroon and Ivory Coast. An MTN Mobile Money agent serves a customer. Picture: File New telco enters Uganda market with low rates Smart Telecom has launched services in Uganda, heightening competition in the telecoms market. The company is said to offer the cheapest call rates at Ush74 ($0.03) per minute, almost four times less the average call rate at Ush300 ($0.12) Smart Telecom, is part of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED). Smart Telecom has entered the Ugandan market after buying the licence of Sure Telecom, which was struggling to attract subscribers since its launch in December 2012. Kenya inches closer to launching 4G network Kenya’s has inched closer to launching a fourth generation long-term evolution (LTE) network. The ministry of Information, Communication and Technology announced it had completed the process of developing a new spectrum policy. Cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i said the process will soon be available for public debate. The 4G network is expected to provide fast data transmission for mobile phones, computers and other terminals.
March 17th 2014
March 31st 2014