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Google executives recently visited Havana, Cuba, in an effort to discuss open Internet in the still restrictive nation. A team that included Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt headed to Havana to meet with officials and dissidents, "to promote the virtues of a free and open Internet."
A report published by Freedom House in 2012 said just five percent of the citizens in Cuba have true access to the Internet, with one-fourth of the population using the state-sponsored "Intranet." The country remains one of the least connected nations in the world, with home connections still virtually non-existent - government officials, doctors, engineers, professors, and approved journalists tend to be the only ones with Internet access while in their offices.
Google has become more proactive approach to getting citizens around the world real access to the Internet. Trying to work with Cuba to open up Internet access will be a difficult process, but it's good to see the company at least trying to make strides.
Almost half of all Brits still read printed newspapers to get their fix of current affairs, according to a new study by the UK regulator Ofcom.
Despite the repeated shouting that print is well and truly on its last legs, 40 percent of British consumers still pick up a paper to find out what's going on. But 41 percent of consumers do get the majority of their news from websites and mobile apps.
According to the report, younger generations are driving the shift towards online media - which itself enjoyed a leap in popularity by nine percent between 2012 and 2013. For younger people the growth was even greater, with 60 percent of 16-24 year olds consuming media online or via apps now, compared to 44 percent in 2013. Young people also find mobile and internet apps as the best way to consume news media. But a touch depressingly, one in ten youth said they do not follow the news at all.
After what has felt like forever, Google has announced that YouTube is adding both 48FPS and 60FPS support. Not only is the Mountain View-based giant adding in higher frame rate support, but there are a slew of new goodies coming. The first 60FPS video on YouTube is in Titanfall, but switch to the 1080p stream to enjoy the 60FPS goodness.
This includes a new iOS app called Creator Studio, the aforementioned 48FPS and 60FPS support, 7500 royalty-free sound effects for content creators to use, and a virtual tip jar so you can support your favorite YouTube channels. We should hear more in the coming weeks, but I'm definitely excited about the 60FPS support, what about you?
Now that the European Court of Justice has ruled people have the "right to be forgotten" online, web powerhouse Google has started removing some search results for users on a case-by-case basis.
Following the ruling, Google opened an online platform that allowed users to request they have their data removed. But Google's Al Verney claimed over 50,000 people across Europe had requested they have their information removed, leading to a a backlog. Verney insisted each request needs to be assessed individually. Of course, Google only has the power to scrub its own results, and not content on third party websites. But as the main gatekeeper to the internet it has a lot of power over what users will see when they enter a request.
Google has no plans to make public the details of removed search results, but has suggested that those which are inadequate, irrelevant, or no longer relevant are likely candidates. If a request is rejected, the company will inform the user and detail exactly why, as well as informing them on how to contact their local data protection agency.
Google I/O 2014 - Google took some time out of its important, and feature-packed Google I/O conference to talk about its cloud storage service: Google Drive.
Google Drive is now the cloud home to over 190 million monthly active users. Google Drive is an incredibly important part of Google, something that I've been using and pushing for quite sometime. Google had some interesting numbers to share, with 67 out of 100 start-ups using Google, versus Microsoft Office. When it comes to the Fortune 500 list, 58% of them are using Google services, and education wise, 72 of the top 100 universities have moved over to Google.
Popular social networking site Twitter isn't actively blocking extremist accounts located in Russia, with reports saying that accounts are being blocked. However, Russian officials are receiving guidance on reporting illegal content so it can be blocked, but Twitter isn't removing accounts.
Russia wants to block access to Ukrainian national groups and insurgency groups that communicate and share information via Twitter. The Iraqi government has blocked Twitter and other social media accounts, but the effort has been rather unsuccessful - which is why the Russian government hopes to work directly with Twitter.
"That claim is inaccurate, as we did not agree to remove the accounts," said Nu Wexler, Twitter spokesman said in a statement.
France is furious that Icann, which governs top level domains, plans to launch the .wine and .vin addresses.
In an official letter of complaint, French minister Axelle Lemaire expressed concerns that a lack of accountability in ICANN. The country fears that in launching these addresses, the identities of region-specific drinks such as champagne, which must be produced in its titular region, could be watered down.
Icann's president Fadi Chehade acknowledged the concerns. "Wine is serious," Chehade said. "We all like wine. There's no issue with the fact that wine is a serious matter, it's also a major industry for France and other parts of the world. I think that their concern about this gTLD is warranted."
Almost half of public and private sector organisations in Europe are actively blocking people's access to their own personal data, which is against European law.
A study, which was part of the IRISS - Increasing Resilience in Surveillance Societies - project examined 184 public and private sector groups across 10 European countries. The requests included paper, digital and CCTV records, according to Engineering and Technology Magazine. Of the requests made, 43 percent were not fulfilled or a legitimate reason was not provided for the lack of disclosure. Over half of all cases - at 56 percent - found no legally compliant response at all over third party data sharing.
"We are selectively marketed to, our locations are tracked by CCTV and automated licence plate recognition systems and our online behavior is monitored, analysed, stored and used," said Professor Clive Norris, of the University of Sheffield. "The challenge for all of us is that our information is often kept from us, despite the law and despite our best efforts to access it."
The World Cup has been great for Facebook, because members are discussing the soccer tournament using the social media website more than the Super Bowl, Sochi Olympics and Academy Awards combined. So far, more than 141 million users have "liked," commented or shared posts/photos about the soccer tournament, Facebook said.
The 2014 Super Bowl had 50 million Facebook users engaged, and the Sochi Olympics saw 45 million people, while the Oscars garnered attention from 11.3 million. However, Facebook wants to keep users engaged with as much content during the World Cup, using its platform to deliver news and real-time conversations among users.
"We always see a large level of conversation on Facebook around big sporting events," said Justin Osofsky, Facebook VP of global operations and media partnerships. "But what we're witnessing around the World Cup has been extraordinary."
The Iraqi government banned social networking sites and YouTube, but it didn't take long before users quickly found ways to circumvent the block. However, the government struggled to clamp down on Internet access in locations that are now under ISIS control, while users have found Wi-Fi security apps to get around the ban.
Typically used to connect to virtual private networks, Iraqi users are largely downloading apps such as HotSpot Shield, which has seen an 11,000 percent increase since last Friday, to get around the ban.
Iraqi government officials wanted to stifle communications among the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) insurgents that have captured key cities in Iraq. Instead, many users are going through the trouble to find ways around the ban, which means ISIS - the initial target of the ban - are still successfully communicating with one another via social media.