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Discuss Google within the Company Profiles & News !! forums, part of the Mirror View - Ebooks Links & Miscellenous Reading Material category; Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) is a U.S. public corporation, first incorporated as a privately held corporation in September 1998, that ...

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Google - March 6th, 2006

Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) is a U.S. public corporation, first incorporated as a privately held corporation in September 1998, that designs and manages the Internet Google search engine. The company employs approximately 5,700 employees and is based in Mountain View, California. Eric Schmidt, formerly chief executive officer of Novell, was named Google's CEO when co-founder Larry Page stepped down.

The name "Google" is a play on the word "googol," which refers to the number represented by 1 followed by one hundred zeros. As a further play on this, Google's headquarters, located in California, are referred to as "the Googleplex" — a googolplex being 1 followed by a googol of zeros, and the HQ being a complex of buildings (cf. multiplex, cineplex, etc).

Google's services are run on several server farms, each consisting of many thousand low-cost commodity computers running stripped-down versions of Linux. While the company does not provide detailed information about its hardware, it was estimated in 2005 that they were using over 100,000 Linux machines. See Google platform for more details on their technology.

History

Beginning
Google.com front page (using Mac OS X)
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Google.com front page (using Mac OS X)

Google began as a research project in January 1996 [1] by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two Ph.D. students at Stanford. They hypothesized that a search engine that analyzed the relationships between Web sites would produce better results than existing techniques. (Contemporary search engines essentially ranked results according to how many times the search term appeared on a page.) It was originally nicknamed BackRub because the system checked backlinks to estimate a site's importance. (A small search engine called RankDex was already exploring a similar strategy.)

Convinced that the pages with the most links to them from other highly relevant Web pages must be the most relevant pages associated with the search, Page and Brin tested their thesis as part of their studies, and laid the foundation for their search engine. Originally the search engine used the Stanford website with the domain google.stanford.edu. The domain google.com was registered on September 15, 1997. They formally incorporated their company, Google Inc., on September 7, 1998 at a friend's garage in Menlo Park, California.

In March 1999, the company moved into offices at 165 University Avenue in Palo Alto, home to a number of other noted Silicon Valley technology startups. Google received a big break in 1999 when one of the most popular search engines, AltaVista, relaunched itself as a user Web entry point, or portal. This unexpected change alienated part of AltaVista's user base. Google quickly outgrew its University Avenue home. After outgrowing two subsequent sites, the company settled into a complex of buildings in Mountain View at 1600 Amphitheater Parkway, in 2003. Silicon Graphics leased these buildings to Google. The Google search engine attracted a loyal following among the growing number of Internet users. They were attracted to its simple, uncluttered, clean design — a competitive advantage to attract users who did not wish to enter searches on web pages filled with visual distractions. This appearance, while imitating the early AltaVista, had behind it Google's unique search capabilities. In 2000, Google began selling advertisements associated with the search keyword to produce enhanced search results for the user. This strategy was important for increasing advertising revenue, which is based upon the number of "hits" users make upon ads. The ads were text-based in order to maintain an uncluttered page design and to maximize page loading speed. It also only cost a very small amount per click to the websites that advertised this way. The model of selling keyword advertising was originally pioneered by Goto.com (renamed Overture, and now Yahoo! Search Marketing)[2]. While many of its dot-com rivals failed in the new Internet marketplace, Google quietly rose in stature while generating revenue.

U.S. Patent 6,285,999 describing Google's ranking mechanism (PageRank) was granted on September 4, 2001. The patent was officially assigned to Stanford University and lists Lawrence Page as the inventor.

In February 2003, Google acquired Pyra Labs, owner of Blogger, a pioneering and leading weblog hosting Web site. Some analysts considered the acquisition inconsistent with Google's business model. However, the acquisition secured the company's competitive ability to use information gleaned from blog postings to improve the speed and relevance of articles contained in a companion product to the search engine, Google News.

At its peak in early 2004, Google handled upwards of 84.7 percent of all search requests on the World Wide Web through its Web site and through its partnerships with other Internet clients like Yahoo!, AOL, and CNN.[3] In February 2004, Yahoo! dropped its partnership with Google, providing an independent search engine of its own. This cost Google some marketshare, yet Yahoo!'s move highlighted Google's own distinctiveness, and today the verb "to google" has entered a number of languages (first as a slang verb and now as a standard word), meaning "to perform a web search" (a possible indication of "Google" becoming a genericized trademark).

Google's declared code of conduct is "Don't Be Evil", a phrase which they went so far as to include in their prospectus (aka "red herring" or "S-1") for their IPO, noting "We believe strongly that in the long term, we will be better served — as shareholders and in all other ways — by a company that does good things for the world even if we forgo some short term gains."


Some controversy has occurred over Google's decision to adhere to the Internet censorship policy in mainland China, colloquially known as "The Great Firewall of China". Google.cn search results are filtered so as not to bring up any results concerning the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, sites supporting the independence movements of Tibet and Taiwan or the Falun Gong movement, and other information perceived to be harmful to the People's Republic of China. This is interpreted by some activists as against the "Don't Be Evil" spirit.

The Google site includes humorous features such as cartoon modifications [4] of the Google logo to recognize special occasions and anniversaries. Known as "Google Doodles," most have been drawn by Google's international webmaster, Dennis Hwang [5]. Not only may decorative drawings be attached to the logo, but as well the font design may mimic a fictional or humorous language such as the Star Trek Klingon[6] and Leet[7]. The logo is notorious among web users for April Fool's Day tie-ins and jokes about the company.

Analysts speculate that Google's response to its separation from Yahoo! will be to continue to make technical and visual enhancements to personalized searches, using the personal data that is gathering from Orkut, Gmail, and Froogle to produce unique results based on the user. Frequently, new Google enhancements or products appear in its inventory. Google Labs, the experimental section of Google.com, helps Google maximize its relationships with its users by including them in the beta development, design and testing stages of new products and enhancements of already existing ones.


Financing and IPO

The first funding for Google as a company was secured in the form of a $100,000 contribution from Andy Bechtolsheim, co-founder of Sun Microsystems, given to a corporation which didn't yet exist. After a frantic few weeks, this was topped up to give an initial investment of almost $1 million. Around six months later, a much larger round of funding was announced, with the major investors being rival venture capital firms Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia Capital.

In October 2003, while discussing a possible IPO (Initial Public Offering of shares), Microsoft approached the company about a possible partnership or merger; no such deal ever materialized. In January 2004, Google announced the hiring of Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group to arrange an IPO. That IPO (one of the most anticipated in history) was projected to raise as much as $4 billion. According to a banker involved in the transaction, the deal would yield an estimated $12 billion market capitalization for Google.

On April 29, 2004, Google made an S-1 form SEC filing for an IPO to raise as much as USD $2,718,281,828 (with a touch of mathematical humor as e = 2.718281828...). April 29 was the 120th day of 2004, and according to section 12(g) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, "a company must file financial and other information with the SEC 120 days after the close of the year in which the company reaches $10 million in assets and/or 500 shareholders, including people with stock options.[8] Google has stated in its Annual filing for 2004 that every one of its 3,021 employees, "except temporary employees and contractors, are also equity holders, with significant collective employee ownership", so Google would have needed to make its financial information public by filing them with the SEC regardless of whether or not they intended to make a public offering. As Google stated in the filing, their "growth has reduced some of the advantages of private ownership. By law, certain private companies must report as if they were public companies. The deadline imposed by this requirement accelerated our decision." The SEC filing revealed that Google turned a profit every year since 2001 and earned a profit of $105.6 million on revenues of $961.8 million during 2003.

In May 2004, Google officially cut Goldman Sachs from the IPO, leaving Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse First Boston as the joint underwriters. They chose the unconventional way of allocating the initial offering through an auction (specifically, a "Dutch auction"), so that "anyone" would be able to participate in the offering. The smallest required account balances at most authorized online brokers that are allowed to participate in an IPO, however, are around $100,000. In the run-up to the IPO the company was forced to slash the price and size of the offering, but the process did not run into any technical difficulties or result in any significant legal challenges. The initial offering of shares was sold for $85 a piece. The public valued it at $100.34 at the close of the first day of trading which saw 22,351,900 shares change hands.

Before Google initiated its initial public offering, Larry Page & Sergey Brin faced legal action for giving Playboy an interview about themselves and Google. The SEC (Security & Exchange Commission) forbids giving out information pertaining to a company's specifications before an IPO is launched.

After some initial stumbles, Google's initial public offering took place on August 19, 2004. 19,605,052 shares were offered at a price of $85 per share. Of that, 14,142,135 (another mathematical reference as √2 = 1.4142135...) were floated by Google and 5,462,917 by selling stockholders. The sale raised $1.67 billion, of which approximately $1.2 billion went to Google. The vast majority of Google's 271 million shares remained under Google's control. The IPO gave Google a market capitalization of more than $23 billion. Many of Google's employees became instant paper millionaires. Yahoo!, a competitor of Google, also benefited from the IPO because it owns 2.7 million shares of Google. The company was listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange under the ticker symbol GOOG.

On August 18, 2005 (one year after the initial IPO), Google announced that it would sell 14,159,265 (another mathematical reference as π = 3.14159265...) more shares of its stock to raise money. The move would double Google's cash stockpile to $7 billion. Google said it would use the money for "acquisitions of complementary businesses, technologies or other assets". [9]


Today

Since the IPO, Google's stock market capitalization has risen greatly and the stock price has more than quadrupled. On August 19, 2004 the number of shares outstanding was 172.85 million while the "free float" was 19.60 million (which makes 89% held by insiders). In January 2005 the shares outstanding was up 100 million to 273.42 million, 53% of that was held by insiders which made the float 127.70 million (up 110 million shares from the first trading day). The two founders are said to hold almost 30% of the outstanding shares. The actual voting power of the insiders is much higher, however, as Google has a dual class stock structure in which each Class B share gets ten votes compared to each Class A share getting one. Page says in the prospectus that Google has "a dual class structure that is biased toward stability and independence and that requires investors to bet on the team, especially Sergey and me." The company has not reported any treasury stock holdings as of the Q3 2004 report.

Click fraud is a growing problem for Google's business strategy. Google's CFO George Reyes said in a December 2004 investor conference that "something has to be done about this really, really quickly, because I think, potentially, it threatens our business model."[10] Some have suggested that Google is not doing enough to combat click fraud. Jessie Stricchiola, president of Alchemist Media, called Google "the most stubborn and the least willing to cooperate with advertisers" when it comes to click fraud.

On June 1, 2005, Google shares gained nearly 4 percent after Credit Suisse First Boston raised its price target on the stock to $350. On the same day, rumors circulated in the financial community that Google would soon be included in the S&P 500. (Source: Google Shares Rise on New Price Target. L.A.Times. URL accessed on June 1, 2005.) When companies are first listed on the S&P 500 they typically experience a bump in share price due to the rapid accumulation of the stock within index funds that track the S&P. On June 7, 2005, Google was valued at nearly $52 billion, making it one of the world's biggest media companies by stock market value.

With Google's increased size comes more competition from large mainstream technology companies. One such example is the rivalry between Microsoft and Google [11]. Microsoft has been touting its MSN Search engine to counter Google's competitive position. Furthermore, the two companies are increasingly offering overlapping services, such as webmail (Gmail vs. Hotmail), search (both online and local desktop searching), and other applications (for example, Microsoft's Windows Live Local competes with Google Earth). Some have even suggested that in addition to an Internet Explorer replacement Google is designing its own Linux based operating system called Google OS to directly compete with Microsoft Windows. Rumors of a Google browser are fueled by the fact that Google is the owner of the domain name "gbrowser.com". This corporate feud is most directly expressed in hiring offers and defections. Many Microsoft employees who worked on Internet Explorer have left to work for Google. This feud boiled over into the courts when Kai-Fu Lee, a former vice-president of Microsoft, quit Microsoft to work for Google. Microsoft sued to stop his move by citing Lee's non-compete contract (he had access to much sensitive information regarding Microsoft's plans in China). [12] Google and Microsoft reached a settlement out of court on 22 December 2005, the terms of which are confidential.

During the third quarter 2005 Google Conference Call, Eric Schmidt said, "We don't do the same thing as everyone else does. And so if you try to predict our product strategy by simply saying well so and so has this and Google will do the same thing, it's almost always the wrong answer. We look at markets as they exist and we assume they are pretty well served by their existing players. We try to see new problems and new markets using the technology that others use and we build."


Salaries

Originally, typical salaries at Google were considered to be quite low by industry standards. For example, some system administrators earned no more than $33,000 — while $40,000 at that time was considered to be low for the Bay Area job market. Nevertheless, Google's excellent stock performance following the IPO has enabled these early employees to be competitively compensated by participation in the corporation's remarkable equity growth. In 2005, Google has implemented other employee incentives such as the Google Founders' Award, in addition to offering higher salaries to new employees. Google's workplace amenities, culture, global popularity, and strong brand recognition have also attracted potential applicants.

After the company's IPO in August 2004, it was reported that Founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, as well as CEO Eric Schmidt, have accepted a base salary of $1.00. They have all declined recent offers of bonuses and increases in compensation by Google's board of directors. As of 2005, the combined net worth of Page and Brin was $22 Billion.


Corporate culture

Google is known for its relaxed corporate culture, reminiscent of the Dot-com boom. Google's corporate philosophy is based on many casual principles including: "You can make money without doing evil", "You can be serious without a suit" and "Work should be challenging and the challenge should be fun." A complete list of corporate fundamentals is available on Google's Web site [16]. The company encourages equality within corporate levels. Twice a week there is a roller hockey game in the company parking lot. Google's relaxed corporate culture can also be seen externally through their holiday variations of the Google logo.


"Twenty percent" time

Every Google engineer is encouraged to spend 20 percent (20%) of their work time on projects that interest them. The time can be allocated to one day a week, or pooled into a month. Some of Google's newer services, such as Gmail, Google News and Orkut, are said to originate from these independent endeavors.


Googleplex

Google's headquarters is called the Googleplex. The lobby is decorated with a piano, lava lamps, and a real-time projection of current search queries. The hallways are full of exercise balls and bicycles. Each employee has access to the corporate recreation center. Recreational amenities are scattered throughout the campus, and include a workout room with weights and rowing machines, locker rooms, washers and dryers, a massage room, assorted video games, Foosball, a baby grand piano, a pool table, and ping pong. In addition to the rec room, there are snack rooms stocked with various cereals, gummy bears, toffee, licorice, cashews, yogurt, carrots, fresh fruit, and dozens of different drinks including fresh juice, soda, and make your own cappuccino. The building also offers state-of-the-art bathroom facilities featuring digitally controlled toilets [17] which are similar to Japanese toilets.


April Fool's Day jokes

Main article: Google's hoaxes

Google has a tradition of creating April Fool's Day jokes such as Google MentalPlex which featured the use of mental power to search the Web. In 2002 they claimed that pigeons were the secret behind their growing search engine. In 2004 it featured Google Lunar which featured jobs on the moon and in 2005 a fictitious, brain-boosting drink termed Google Gulp was announced. One can find other pranks hidden between Google's pages. In the languages list one can find the Bork! Bork! Bork! version. Bork! is the mock Swedish of the Muppet Show's Swedish Chef. They also offer versions in Pig Latin, Elmer Fudd, and Klingon. Some people thought the announcement of Gmail in 2004 around April Fools Day (as well as the doubling of Gmail's storage space to two gigabytes in 2005) was a joke.


IPO and culture

Many people have suggested that after Google's IPO the corporate culture will not be able to stay so "fun" and focused on the future.[18] [19] The company may be required to answer to its new shareholders who may press the company to reduce employee benefits and to focus on short term advances. Also, it may be more challenging for the company to maintain a collegial atmosphere when approximately 1,000 (30%) of the employees are paper-millionaires. In a report given to potential investors, co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page promised that the IPO would not change the company's culture. Later Mr. Page said, "We think a lot about how to maintain our culture and the fun elements."

In 2005, articles in The New York Times and other news sources [20] began suggesting that Google had lost its anti-corporate, no evil philosophy. The New York Times article was headlined, "Relax, Bill Gates; It's Google's Turn as the Villain"


Google partnerships

Time Warner's AOL unit and Google unveiled an expanded partnership on Dec. 21, including an enhanced global advertising partnership and a $1 billion investment by Google for a 5% stake in AOL. [22] As part of the collaboration, Google plans to work with AOL on video search and offer AOL's premium-video service within Google Video. This will allow users of Google Video to search for AOL's premium-video services. Display advertising throughout the Google network will also increase.

On Sept 28, 2005, Google announced a long-term research partnership with NASA which would involve Google building a 1-million square foot R&D center at NASA's Ames Research Center. As reported by SearchEnginejournal.com, NASA and Google were said to be planning to work together on a variety of areas, including large-scale data management, massively distributed computing, bio-info-nano convergence, and encouragement of the entrepreneurial space industry. The new building would also include labs, offices, and housing for Google engineers.

Google also has a partnership with Sun Microsystems to help share and distribute each other's technologies [24]. As part of the partnership Google will hire employees to help the open source office program OpenOffice.org.

Google has an unknown partnership with the Mozilla Foundation. Google is looking for software engineers to join them in collaborative development on the Firefox browser. This is confirmed by a job listing posted on Google. They also offer a download of Firefox with the Google Toolbar pre-installed.


Criticism and controversy

Copyright issues

A number of organizations have used the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to demand that Google remove references to allegedly copyrighted material on other sites. Google typically handles this by removing the link as requested and including a link to the complaint in the search results.

There have also been complaints that Google's Web cache feature violates copyright. However, Google provides mechanisms for requesting that caching be disabled (which Google respects; it also honors the robots.txt file which is another mechanism that allows operators of a website to request that part or all of their site not be included in search engine results).

On June 2005, Google Watch revealed the details of a contract between the University of Michigan and Google to create digitized copies of the copyrighted materials stored at the University's library. This contract is part of Google Print's effort to digitize millions of books and make the full text searchable. There are claims that it is a violation of copyright laws to use copyrighted material for profit by placing search ads beside the search results of these digitized books. Also, Google is setting a new precedent by making digital copies of copyrighted material on a wide scale without explicit permission from copyright holders. Meanwhile, Google claims that it is in compliance with all existing and historical applications of copyright laws regarding books. The contract between Google and the U. of Michigan does make it clear that Google will provide only excerpts of copyright text in a search. The contract says that it will comply with "fair use", an exemption in copyright law that allows people to reproduce portions of text of copyrighted material for research purposes.


Dispute with Agence France-Presse

In March 2005, Agence France-Presse (AFP) sued Google for $17.5 million, alleging that Google News infringed on its copyright because "Google includes AFP's photos, stories and news headlines on Google News without permission from Agence France-Presse." [25] It was also alleged that Google ignored a cease and desist order, though Google counters that it has opt-out procedures which AFP could have followed but did not.

It is possible that AFP will make additional arguments in court that it has not yet made in public, but currently, many pundits are confused by the decision to sue [26][27][28] because Google does not display the full article on its site, provides a link to one of AFP's 600 online clients such as Singapore's Channel NewsAsia (which presumably benefits AFP because more people view the article and advertising), and because the articles are available via the providers' websites regardless of Google's actions. It was argued that had AFP wanted to prevent free use of its articles, it should have asked its providers to require subscriptions rather than suing Google. Additionally, "in 2002, a federal appeals court ruled that Web sites may reproduce and post 'thumbnail' or downsized versions of copyrighted photographs," so Google News' thumbnails are likely legal. [29] Still, AFP argues that the headline and first sentence of an article constitutes the "heart" of the work and that reproducing it is copyright infringement.

According to the Canada Free Press, "Google Inc. is now attempting to remove all postings of Agence France-Presse material from its site, although AFP spokesmen say that even if this is done, the lawsuit will continue... It seems that the basis of the lawsuit is just the abstract notion of copyright without any real damages to justify the action." The article concluded "It would be a sad day for those who look to the Internet for news if AFP is successful in limiting what Google can display... AFP's lawsuit, if successful, is bound to have a major impact on how news is delivered on the Internet."

The lawsuit's outcome will likely depend on whether Google can successfully argue that its use of AFP's material constitutes "fair use" under copyright law. Google could even argue that it "adds value" to AFP's news without harming the French news wholesaler.


Lawsuit by Authors Guild

On September 20, 2005, the Authors Guild, a group that represents 8,000 U.S. authors, including a former Poet Laureate of the United States, filed a class action suit in federal court in Manhattan against Google over its unauthorized scanning and copying of books through its Google Library program. The lawsuit seeks damages and an injunction that will prevent the company from continuing their very ambitious digitization project. Arguments in the case will hinge around the interpretation of the four factors of Fair Use.

Many commentators in the world of copyright law and technology were not surprised by this development as the Authors Guild has also been involved in attempting to make online publishers pay royalties to writers whose stories appear in any number of online databases without their express consent. In a concession to general concerns about the nature of their project, Google had announced plans back in August that they would respect the wishes of copyright holders who contacted the company to inform them that they did not want their works included in this digitization project.

* Scout Report "Authors’ group files lawsuit against Google" Sept, 2005
* The Google Print Library Project: A Copyright Analysis - .pdf
* Washington Post 20 September 2005 "Google library push faces lawsuit by US authors"


Multinational corporation

Google is a multinational corporation, having offices in over a dozen countries. In order to comply with the varying laws of these countries, several versions of Google restrict very specific keyword searches. According to American law, any copyright owner can require material to be removed via the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, whereas under French and German law, for example, hate speech and Holocaust denial are illegal. Google complies with these laws by banning keyword searches related to these terms. Google's Terms of Service allow it to comply with the laws of any one country, providing information that was originated (or that Google stores) in another country. Any data stored on Google is therefore subject to being turned over to any country, including China.


Censorship in Germany and France

On October 22, 2002, Jonathan Zittrain and Benjamin Edelman from the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at the Harvard Law School published a study reporting the internet sites that had been quietly censored by the German and French sections of Google. [31] The censorship mainly affects White Nationalistic, Nazi, anti-semitic, and radical Islamic websites.


Censorship in mainland China
Comparing Image Search results of "Tiananmen" on Google France and Google China (February 15, 2006)
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Comparing Image Search results of "Tiananmen" on Google France and Google China (February 15, 2006)
Two "sensitive" images slip through the net on Page 5 of the Image Search results of "Tiananmen" on Google China (February 15, 2006)
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Two "sensitive" images slip through the net on Page 5 of the Image Search results of "Tiananmen" on Google China (February 15, 2006)

The People's Republic of China (PRC), whose human rights record has been widely criticized by the international community, has in the past restricted citizen access to popular search engines such as Altavista, Yahoo!, and Google. The mirror search site elgooG has been used by users in mainland China to get around blocked content. This complete ban is currently lifted. However, the government remains active in filtering Internet content. In October 2005, Blogger and access to the Google Cache were made available in mainland China; however, in December 2005, some mainland Chinese users of Blogger reported that their access to the site was once again restricted.

In January 2006 Google affirmed its intent to filter certain keywords given to it by the government of the PRC. The restrictions will apply to thousands of terms and websites.[32] The censored content will appear on a website called google.cn. Google was heavily criticized for the move, yet it claims it is necessary to keep the PRC government from blocking Google entirely. The company does not plan to give the government information about the users who search for blocked content, and will inform users of restricted categories. [33] Google states on its help pages that it does not censor content, but it does block pages as demanded for in certain jurisdictions, such as DMCA requests in the United States.

Most Chinese Internet users did not express much concern about Google's choice, with one blogger saying that censorship is a fact of life in China and Google could not have done any better.[34] Also, Google offers to Chinese internet users a choice that protects their privacy better than existing search engines available in China, since Google keeps confidential records of its users outside China, unlike domestic search engines that could be compelled by the government to hand over information at any time. [35] The following message appears at the bottom of the Google search result page whenever results are blocked: 据当地法律法规和政策,部分搜索结果未予显示。 (In accordance with local laws and policies, some of the results have not been displayed.) Currently, Google is the only major China-based search engine to explicitly inform the user when search results are blocked or hidden.

On February 5, 2006, google.com was banned by China Telecom in an attempt to force googlers toward the google.cn domain, however the ban was lifted shortly thereafter.

On February 14, 2006, some users on the internet participated in a "mass breakup with google" whereby users agreed to boycott Google on Valentine's day to show their disapproval of the Google Chinese policy.[36],[37]

A simple test can be performed to quantify the number of pages which google.cn censors as compared to those listed in google.com. Search using this string to compare the approximate dot-com index differential: site:.com Other top level domains can be compared similarly (.org, .cn, etc.). Searches for essential html tags, such as returns the difference for all domains.

Past legal issues

Google's efforts to refine its database have led to some legal controversy, notably a lawsuit in October 2002 from the company SearchKing which sought to sell advertisements on pages with inflated Google rankings. In its defense, Google stated that its rankings are its constitutionally protected opinions of the web sites that it indexes. A judge subsequently threw out SearchKing's lawsuit in mid-2003 on precisely these grounds.

In May 2004, the Baltimore Sun interviewed Peri Fleisher, a great-niece of Edward Kasner, the mathematician whose nephew coined the word googol, who said Kasner's descendants were "exploring" legal action against Google due to its name.

Google recently settled a patent infringement lawsuit with Yahoo! by issuing 2.7 million shares. Yahoo! had earlier alleged that Google's AdSense program violated a patent held by Yahoo!'s Overture unit. The settlement cost Google around $275 million which resulted in the company posting a net loss in the third quarter of 2004.


Current legal issue

On Wednesday, January 18, 2006, the U.S. Justice Department filed a motion to compel in U.S. District Court in San Jose seeking a court order that would compel search engine company Google Inc. to turn over "a multi-stage random sample of one million URL’s" from Google’s database, and a computer file with "the text of each search string entered onto Google’s search engine over a one-week period (absent any information identifying the person who entered such query)." Google maintains that their policy has always been to assure its users privacy and anonymity, and has challenged the subpoena. Noticeably, on January 20, when both the DOW and NYSE fell around a percent, Google stock fell close to 10%. It has since bounced back somewhat.

The text of the Justice Department's motion is accessible at FindLaw A court date of February 27th has been set, where a federal court in San Jose, California will hear the case. [38]


Personnel issues

On August 18, 2005, former Google sales executive Christina Elwell, promoted to national sales director at Google in late 2003, accused her supervisor of discrimination against her when he terminated her employment after she informed him of her pregnancy [39]. After the loss of 3 of her quadruplets, which she claimed was due to the stressful circumstances created by Google, Elwell sued the company. She also refused an offer from Shona Brown, Google Vice President of Business Operations, to reinstate her to a "low-level operations position".


Partiality

In February 2003, Google banned the ads of Oceana, a two-and-a-half-year-old non-profit organization, which was protesting the environmental effects of a major cruise ship operation's sewage treatment practices. Google claimed that their editorial policy states, "that Google does not accept advertising if the ad or site advocates against other individuals, groups, or organizations." In 2004 this ban was partially lifted, allowing more positive ads from Oceana to be displayed, however there remains some confusion concerning banning criteria. Google Somewhat Lifts Oceana Ad Ban


Privacy

Main article: Google and privacy issues

Some have pointed out the dangers and privacy implications of having a centrally located, widely popular data warehouse of millions of Internet users' searches, and how under controversial existing U.S. law, Google can be forced to hand over all such information to the U.S. government, or any other government of a country which Google serves.

It has been claimed that Google infringes the privacy of visitors by uniquely identifying them using cookies which are used to track Web users' search history. The cookies possess notably distant expiration dates and it is claimed users' searches are recorded without permission for advertising purposes. In response Google claims cookies are necessary to maintain user preferences between sessions and offer other search features. The use of cookies with such distant expiration dates is common.

Some users believe the processing of email message content by Google's Gmail service goes beyond proper use. The point is often made that people without Gmail accounts, who have not agreed to the Gmail terms of service, but send email to Gmail users have their correspondence analyzed without permission. Google claims that mail sent to or from Gmail is never read by a human being beyond the account holder, and is only used to improve relevance of advertisements. Other popular email services such as Hotmail also scan incoming email to try to determine whether it is unsolicited spam email (which Gmail also does). Chris Hoofnagle, associate director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, DC warned that "As courts become more frequent integrators of electronic records, there is a greater risk of Google ... becoming a serious privacy threat."


The PageRank system

Google's central PageRank system has been criticized. Some, such as Daniel Brandt, call it "undemocratic". Common arguments are that the system is unfairly biased towards large web sites, and that the criteria for a page's importance are not subject to peer review. It must be stated in Google's defense that PageRank is a fully automated system which is impartial insofar as it knows no personal bias. However, it must also be stated that Google's system relies on human oversight, and use of company names on Adwords, or deletion of critical sites from Google results (for example, sites critical of Scientology), is decided by individual human beings according to company policy. It remains unclear whether any process could assert the importance of a page in a way that would draw less criticism than the current PageRank system.

The system is also susceptible to manipulation and fraud through the use of dummy sites, an issue which does, however, plague all search engines. See Google bomb and Spamdexing.


Digital rights management

Announced on January 6, 2006 at the CES in Las Vegas, the Google Video Store sells copyrighted content at the Google Video website. Initially this service is restricted to the United States and certain other countries. To protect the copyright of these popular shows such as MacGyver and The Twilight Zone, Google created a Google DRM (Digital Rights Management) lock for certain paid content. The fact by itself that Google was using DRM was enough to cause criticism by some bloggers, even before Google Video was launched. The design of the system also has minor privacy implications that Google does not make explicit on their Video site; namely, Google learns who purchases each movie and what computers they watch it on

source: www.wikipedia.org
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Re: Google - October 28th, 2006

Now that was some exhaustive and informative research on Google....very very interesting...
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oh god nilesh have u urself read that coz 1st it tooked my breath at looking
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Re: Google - October 29th, 2006

Quote:
Originally Posted by 6.vinay
oh god nilesh have u urself read that coz 1st it tooked my breath at looking
lol...havent read fulll
will read it in Free Time ...........


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