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Sunday, 10 July 2016 19:24

Alone among us, Google can do no wrong Featured

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Many people are familiar with the laws of thermodynamics. But they are unaware that there's been an addition to the number recently. The new law states that if a technology company is successfully avoiding paying its fair share of tax, then it can do no wrong.

As exhibit A, I give you Google, now hiding behind the skirts of its parent company Alphabet.

Last week, as iTWire reported, we received a notice from Google asking for changes in an innocuous story published a decade ago, allegedly because it transgressed the conditions of Google's AdSense programme.

The story was straightforward; it was about an adult shop that was using mobile technology. There were no links to any third-party sites.

But the Google email said: "Google ads may not be displayed on adult or mature content. This includes displaying ads on pages that provide links for or drive traffic to adult or mature sites."

Google was contacted for comment on 6 July before the story was published. The response came through two days later. Quite fast for a company that many see as being on the cutting edge of today's tech industry.

There was no admission of anything wrong, or having screwed up because the system monitoring articles that are published on sites which are subscribers to AdSense is defective.

No, here the new law of thermodynamics took effect. When Google acts in a stupid way, it does not consider that an apology is in order. Because big banks are too big to fail and Google is too big to be stupid.

The response from Clare Creegan, communications and public affairs manager for Google Australia and New Zealand, said: "Our team monitors all sites participating in Google's AdSense program and frequently reviews cases where warning messages have been issued.

"After a further review of the content we have decided that we will not be taking any further action on the warning, and ask that you please disregard the warning message."

You just have to love it, don't you? Perhaps Google should consider rewriting some of its code that does the monitoring; if that's a problem, one can always take code from others. Google has expertise in this direction: after all, it stole than 11,000 lines of code from Oracle's Java to build its Android mobile operating system and then escaped with a "fair use" defence.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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