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Inside Google & Alphabet

Inside Google & Alphabet (Feb 11th, 2019)

1. Google is rolling out Adiantum, a new form of encryption designed to bring the technology to lower-end Android devices, smartwatches and televisions without impacting performance. These types of devices typically fall below Google’s performance requirements for encryption, but the change represents a possibility that every Android device can be encrypted, offering increased privacy and security for users. It will be rolled out with Android Q. — THE VERGE

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2. Google is making progress on rolling out an augmented reality-powered Google Maps guidance feature, using a smartphone’s camera. The feature was teased out at Google’s I/O developer’s conference last year and uses a combination of the technology, along with artificial intelligence, to help pedestrians move around easier by overlaying visual cues. The Wall Street Journal’s David Pierce was able to use the feature in San Francisco. — WSJ (Paywall)

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3. Android and Chrome bugs represented about half of Google’s $3.4 million vulnerability rewards in 2018, paid out to 317 security researchers globally. The single biggest reward was $41,000, while $181,000 in total were donated to charity over 1,319 individual reward payouts. Google’s Vulnerability Reward Program has paid out $15 million since its launch in 2010. — 9TO5GOOGLE

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4. Google Play allegedly hosted a malicious, cryptocurrency-stealing “clipper” malware that masqueraded as a legitimate app, MetaMask. The findings were made by a researcher at Eset, which says the address wallet intercepted crypto wallet addresses and then copied them into the clipboard of a hacker. After the illegitimate app was discovered on the Play Store, Google removed the app. — WE LIVE SECURITY

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Behind the Headline: Google’s censorship in Russia 

Last week, we shared about Google complying with an order from the Russian government to remove search results from a variety of websites. The government's blacklist largely comprised of morally explicit pornography, drug usage and suicide, but also scrubbed results related to an ongoing corruption investigation into Oleg Deripaska.

Does this mean Google will continue to cave to government requests to censor or blacklist websites from its search results? 

In a way, it already does. For example, in 2012, Google received more than 1,000 requests from government agencies to take down content throughout its networks and complied more than half the time. It also started building a censored Chinese search engine, although those plans have been reportedly scrapped. 

It is likely Google will continue to comply and work with government agencies in order to diffuse any potential shutdowns, especially in markets that are crucial to the company’s bottom line. 

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5. In the latest beta version of Chrome 73, Google is testing a “night theme” for Android, along with a new download experience and manager. The version is now available in the browser’s beta channel. — 9TO5GOOGLE 

6. Karan Bhatia, Google’s VP of global public policy and government relations, said he would welcome some convergence of global regulation. While he does not believe government officials would be able to come to a “one size fits all” agreement, he does see a way for some coordination. — CNBC

7. Google rolled out a new commercial, promoting its Childish Gambino “Playmoji,” which is available for Pixel smartphones. — YOUTUBE

8. Google, along with Apple, has been accused of hosting Absher, an app that allows Saudi men to track and control where women travel. Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have been concerned about Google’s role in allowing the app to exist on its Play Store. — INSIDER

9. Google's head of security and privacy Heather Adkins said businesses should try to avoid “scary” headlines and pitch decks on cybersecurity and focus on their own history of “insecurity.” — CNBC

10. President Trump is expected to sign an executive order that would ban Chinese network equipment, which would include products from Huawei and other Chinese companies that largely use Android. — ANDROID POLICE

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This newsletter was written and curated by Johan Moreno. Johan is based out of Los Angeles, CA and has covered technology and automotive extensively for a variety of publications, including The Orange County Register. Follow him on Twitter @dudejohan

Editing team: Lon Harris (editor-in-chief at Inside.com, game-master at Screen Junkies) and Susmita Baral (editor at Inside, recent bylines in NatGeo, Teen Vogue, and Quartz. Runs the biggest mac and cheese account on Instagram).

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