Google Is Accused of Pressuring Think Tank Into Firing Critic

Today’s topics include claims that Google parent Alphabet used the power of the purse to pressure a think tank to fire a critic; how LinkedIn helped Microsoft pull away from its software-as-a-service rivals; an Instagram software bug that exposed high-profile user information; and how Oracle cloud services is helping enterprises gain more value from data generated by internet of things devices.

The New York Times has reported that Google parent Alphabet's Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt pressured prominent think tank New America into firing an analyst who has written critical reports about the company.

Barry Lynn, former director of Open Markets analysis, claimed in the New York Times article that New America President Anne-Marie Slaughter fired him and disbanded the entire Open Markets group as a result of direct pressure from Google and Schmidt. This was, according to Lynn, after Schmidt had communicated his displeasure over an article Lynn had written praising the EU's decision to fine Google for violating antitrust regulations.

However, Slaughter said that she had fired Lynn because of his repeated refusal to comply with the think tank's standards of "collegiality" and "openness."

Last year, Microsoft embarked on one of the biggest tech acquisitions of the year by snapping up LinkedIn for $26 billion. The software giant was banking on LinkedIn's rich repository of business and employee data to help enrich its own cloud-enabled business software portfolio, which includes Office 365 and Dynamics 365.

Less than a year later, the gamble is already paying off. According to Synergy Research Group in its latest enterprise applications market survey, Microsoft dominated the software-as-a-service (SaaS) market during the second quarter of 2017.

"Helped by the LinkedIn acquisition, Microsoft further distanced itself from the chasing pack of SaaS providers," said John Dinsdale, chief analyst and research director at Synergy Research Group, in email remarks to eWEEK.

Instagram publicly disclosed on Aug. 30 that an attacker was able to gain unauthorized access to a small amount of user information. The social networking service noted that it has already fixed the root cause vulnerability that enabled the attack.

"We recently discovered that one or more individuals obtained unlawful access to a number of high-profile Instagram users' contact information—specifically email address and phone number—by exploiting a bug in an Instagram API," an Instagram spokesperson wrote in an email to eWEEK.

Instagram added that no account passwords were exposed and the software vulnerability was fixed quickly. "At this point we believe this effort was targeted at high-profile users so, out of an abundance of caution, we are notifying our verified account holders of this issue," Instagram stated.

IoT devices collect a lot of data, but companies that deploy them aren’t seeing enough return on their investment in devices and archived data. However, new features to Oracle’s cloud services are specifically designed to help business get more value from all the sensors and IoT devices they have deployed.

The Oracle IoT Cloud now includes built-in artificial intelligence and machine learning features designed to give customers broader visibility into IoT operations to gain predictive insights. The system’s built-in operational analytics help detect anomalies, predict equipment failures and recommend the best course of action.

Oracle also announced several industry applications such as Digital Field Service with intelligent remote monitoring, failure prediction, over-the-air repair and dynamic technician dispatch. This system also makes use of augmented reality to help guide technicians with equipment repair.