Government Requests for Google User Data Continue to Rise

Today's topics include the increase in government demands that Google provide access to user data, Google's "charm offensive" to retain European customers' favor despite antitrust charges, the unveiling of a new Samsung Notebook 7 Spin and the latest Apple security updates for OS X and iOS.

The United States government and law enforcement agencies continue to lead their counterparts in other countries in requesting user data from Google.

The company's latest Transparency Report shows that between July and December 2015, Google received a total of 12,523 requests for user data from U.S. authorities. The data involved a total of 27,157 user accounts.

Google responded with at least some of the requested data in 79 percent of the cases. The number of requests for user data from U.S. authorities in the second half of 2015 was about 40 percent higher than the 7,491 requests from Germany, the second highest requesting country, during the same period.

Google is running a "charm offensive" to woo the Internet-using public in Europe as it fights a growing list of antitrust complaints from regulators there, the New York Times reported July 19.

The Times estimates that Google will spend as much as $450 million for "soft lobbying" between 2015 and 2017. Such heart-and-minds campaigns include free digital training courses for Irish schoolteachers and a high-tech interactive art exhibition at Google's Cultural Institute in Paris.

By year's end, The Times added, Google will spend another $75 million to help approximately 2 million Europeans to learn "digital skills like e-commerce and online marketing (often based on the company's own advertising products).

Acquiring these digital skills is an important goal for European policy makers, who are trying to create a digital single market to jump-start economic growth."

Samsung has released two Notebook 7 Spin two-in-one convertible notebooks models in 13.3-inch and 15.6-inch screen sizes, featuring 360-degree hinges that allow the machines to be positioned for use in almost any angle and configuration for business users on the go.

The new enterprise-focused notebooks, which run on Microsoft Windows 10 Pro and feature non-detachable keyboards, debuted on July 18 and can be used as notebooks or as a tablet.

The 360-degree hinges allow the devices to be positioned as a notebook, as a tablet or as a presentation device for small groups or for a variety of other applications.

Apple released security updates for iOS and OS X on July 18, ahead of major news releases this fall for Apple's desktop and mobile operating systems.

The OS X 10.11.6 update patches 60 security vulnerabilities while iOS 9.3.3 fixes 43 security issues. The new updates follow the OS X 10.11.5 and iOS 9.3.2 release in May.

Among the most prolific sources of vulnerability reports for the two Apple updates is security vendor Trend Micro, which reported 10 vulnerabilities in OS X. The next major OS updates, iOS 10 and the newly rebranded MacOS Sierra, are currently in beta.

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