Yesterday I was involved in some exchanges of data with the Google organisation about our website.
I've installed the latest Google analytic and webmaster software onto the site, as well as the typepad.com anti virus and spyware/malware protections.
Last night I "opened the kimono" for Google and invited it to conduct an audit of the site, in fact we followed all of these steps at Google's behest.
|Technical expertise required
|Watch the overview (completed)
|Contact your hoster and build a support team
|Quarantine your site
|Touch base with Webmaster Tools
|Assess the damage (hacked with spam) or
Assess the damage (hacked with malware)
|Identify the vulnerability
|Clean and maintain your site
|Request a review
Google wrote back to me this morning with this clean bill of health:
We haven't detected any security issues on your site. If you need more information on security issues related to your site, please review our resources for hacked sites.
I have again asked Google to let me know why its Chrome browser is showing a Malware warning in relation to www.michaelsmithnews.com . There is no such problem for Google to warn you about. Google's persistence in displaying its incorrect warning amounts, in my view, to a potential unlawful restraint on my trade, it creates damage to my website's good name and the warning is misleading and deceptive for the purposes of the Trade Practices Act and its successor legislation.
The peremptory and unilateral nature of Google's imposition of the malware block/warning is alarming. I'll let you know how it proposes to make good.
Later that day.
MONDAY, 10 FEBRUARY 2014
Google needs a few very basic lessons in ethics, the law and good corporate citizenship
On Sundays, MichaelSmithNews usually delivers about 35,000 pageviews to our readers.
That figure might double when there's a development in The AWU Scandal. Yesterday, as the Royal Commission into union corruption was announced, I'd have expected to see at least 70,000 pageviews.
But only 6,000 pageviews made their way to our readers. Nothing changed on my website. You did nothing differently in what you typed in. It was a 3rd party, Google Inc, that blocked our readers from connecting with this site - and judging on the email complaints, there were a lot of users that Google interfered with. But Google didn't just block our readers, it substituted a scary, very effective, very defamatory and completely false message about me and our site instead of what I'd posted and what you asked to see.
Google's dominance and market power online is mind-boggling. If you use the Chrome browser, Google is there behind it. Google dominates online search, maps, it's very strong in images, it owns YouTube the video platform and Google+ is aimed squarely at the 1 billion+ users on Facebook. Google's analytics and webmaster platforms dominate the online world in matching customers with sellers who play the Google SEO (search engine optimisation) game - and Telstra has just announced a deal with Google to bring Google's search and content capabilities to the Australian television market.
But it's in pure advertising that Google's global dominance is breathtaking. Google is reputed to bank about 44% of all global online advertising dollars spent. Here is a link to Google's latest quarterly financial reports - some highlights:
Revenues and other information - On a consolidated basis, Google Inc. revenues for the quarter ended December 31, 2013 were $16.86 billion, an increase of 17% compared to the fourth quarter of 2012.
Google Segment Revenues - Google segment revenues were $15.72 billion, or 93% of consolidated revenues, in the fourth quarter of 2013, representing a 22% increase over fourth quarter 2012 Google segment revenues of $12.91 billion.
- Google Sites Revenues - Google-owned sites generated segment revenues of $10.55 billion, or 67% of total Google segment revenues, in the fourth quarter of 2013. This represents a 22% increase over fourth quarter 2012 Google sites segment revenues of $8.64 billion.
- Google Network Revenues - Google's partner sites generated segment revenues of $3.52 billion, or 23% of total Google segment revenues, in the fourth quarter of 2013. This represents a 3% increase over fourth quarter 2012 Google network segment revenues of $3.44 billion.
- Other Google Revenues - Other revenues from the Google segment were $1.65 billion, or 10% of total Google segment revenues, in the fourth quarter of 2013. This represents a 99% increase over fourth quarter 2012 other Google segment revenues of $829 million.
If it travels online, chances are Google is clipping the ticket. Because Google has such power over online activity and because of the potential for that power to be abused, I'd expect Google to operate as a model corporate citizen. I'd have thought the greatest risk to the company's growth trajectory is regulatory oversight and anti-trust actions with forced demergers and sell-offs of business units as a result of coming to the attention of regulators.
Well based on my one experience with the company - it's bound to attract precisely that sort of scrutiny and it deserves it.
About 6AM Sunday morning, Google moved to prevent users of the Chrome browser from connecting with www.michaelsmithnews.com. It listed our website as an "Attack Page" saying, "attack pages try to instal programs that steal private information or use your computer to attack others".
Google did not contact me. The first I heard was from our readers. Other web security services, taking their lead from Google, also black-listed the site.
As the day wore on, the notification put out by Google got scarier. It featured a graphic of a masked bandit with a sack full of stolen data.
The headline was
Danger! Malware Ahead!
Google Chrome has blocked access to this page michaelsmithnews.com
Content from michaelsmithnews.typepad.com, a known malware distributor, has been inserted into this webpage. Visiting this page is very likely to infect your computer with malware.
Malware is malicious software that causes identity theft, financial loss and permanent file deletion.
I was in a state of shock. Almost 2 years of work in this website, assiduous fact-checking and opening up every assertion to scrutiny and critique - and one Sunday morning I discovered that Google had grounds to block our site. Worse still, it referred to me by name and my website as a "known malware distributor".
But even on Sunday morning it didn't quite ring true. The front message with the masked bandit graphic was scary, but click on the "advanced" tab and you'd find our site was listed as "suspicious", based on one suspicious activity over the past 90 days. Not confirmed as a malware distributor, rather the website was suspected of involvement in one suspicious activity.
The details page included this data;
Has this site acted as an intermediary resulting in further distribution of malware?
Over the past 90 days, michaelsmithnews.typepad.com did not appear to function as an intermediary for the infection of any sites.
Has this site hosted malware?
No, this site has not hosted malicious software over the past 90 days
As the day wore on I engaged a number of people to help get to the bottom of the troubles. There was no alternative to installing Google's analytics program and Google's webmaster software into my website.
Only after I'd included some Google computer code in my website to allow Google to see what was going on - in my property - did Google send me a file that included the "suspicious" pieces of software on my website.
I've had two sources of advertising on this website - Google Ads and Mad Ads, or www.madadsmedia.com
The Google spreadsheet listed only one line of computer code as the reason it blocked us. Its competitor MadAds.
And in order for me to have the Google "machine" review its arbitrary decision to black-list our site, I had to show Google what I'd done to remedy the "problem". That meant addressing the "issue" put forward by Google, or getting rid of MadAds.
So, out went Google's competitor MadAds and out went Google's own ad software from the site as well. By late last night we had complied with everything Google had asked for - and I progressed with the request for a review. Our website was then operating as a stock-standard typepad blog - like millions of others hosted by typepad around the world.
By early this morning we had passed the test and Google sent me this message:
We haven't detected any security issues on your site. If you need more information on security issues related to your site, please review our resources for hacked sites.
End of problem? No way. As at 4PM today Google is still sending this screen message to users of the Google Chrome browser who type in www.michaelsmithnews.com
I am not a malware distributor, let alone a "known malware distributor". Google's own systems tell it that, yet it continues to carelessly publish this horribly damaging and false statement about me and this site. Google has published that message to tens of thousands of page viewers now and it continues to publish it.
Google is restraining my ability to trade with you. It holds the cards and it's played them in an unconscionable way, no correspondence, no warning, no opportunity to correct what it viewed as a problem. Just the word of one company and bang - your shop is shut down. And it will stay that way until you install that company's products and services, install their computer code into your property and adopt their preferences for your own website.
Google's claims about my website are false. They are misleading and deceptive and they certainly fall within the coverage of the Trade Practices legislation in Australia. Google needs to watch itself with 3rd line forcing too - where you can have online ads as long as they're Google, and the diagnostics is Google and the webmaster package is Google. And Google can block you if you have other ads that it doesn't like, and then to get unblocked the only way is with Google diagnostic software.
Got the idea? Think Coles and Woollies have a case to answer?
There comes a time when an innovative company with a great can-do and customer-centric culture loses the things that made it great. When it starts to do what it likes because it can. Too much money, margins too high, cash flow that seems endless. The warning bells should be ringing loudly at Google, it's showing all the pride and arrogance that precede a major fall.
Google's management in Australia should be right on the front foot on this issue, adopting the model corporate citizen rule. The consequences of its actions are very serious and the company should treat the issues accordingly. An apology would be a nice start.
Julia Gillard is under police investigation for fraud. The Chief Magistrate ruled her legal work was to further that fraud. Tony Abbott must object to her World Bank Education Fund position.
The entity is responsible for a multi-billion dollar fund of money donated by countries like Australia.
It is a unit of the World Bank with a 19 person Board of Directors, each representing the interests of a particular constituency. In that sense the Directors are not fiduciaries, rather each brings to the table the interests of his or her constituency.
Australia has a $300M financial interest in this organisation. For that contribution, we have a shared directorship with Spain (as Donor Two director), that is one director represents the combined Spanish/Australian "interest". Genius. The Board (committee is more accurate) must by its nature be riven and subject to the loudest voice wins protocol.
The entity was assessed by Australia's DFAT and its report is here. The entity scored "Weak" for the effectiveness of its aid. That should be no surprise. It doesn't have a board of fiduciaries, rather it's a committee of beneficiaries who want more money and donors who have to account for where it's spent. Good luck.
Our report said:
GPE was established as a ‘global compact’ between low income countries and donor partners. This compact includes that donors harmonise their aid delivery to the sector, help mobilise resources and make them more predictable, while beneficiaries need to demonstrate their commitment through adequate and sustainable domestic financing for education.
The role of the Chairman is as a fiduciary responsible for the entity. The Chairmanship is separate from the directors of the Board/Committee. The Chairman's appointment is not a rotational selection from directors, rather the appointment seems to be made in its own right.
I've included the Chairman's job description at the end of this piece.
Hedley Thomas reports
It is understood Ms Gillard has confirmed her availability and that the Abbott government will not object. However, the drive to lower costs and expenditures is expected to determine whether Australia should continue to make significant contributions.
The Abbott Government is duty-bound to object. It must object. It has no choice, it has no latitude, no room for a judgement call or the granting of some benefit arising from doubts about Ms Gillard's integrity. There is no doubt as to her suitability to act in a role with responsibility for stewardship over some billions of dollars of other people's money. She carries a finding of having acted (as a lawyer) in the furtherance of fraud. She cannot escape it, it is simply a fact of her life. And her troubles extend beyond that.
Julia Eileen GILLARD is a suspect currently under investigation for offences of Fraud, Conspiracy to Cheat and Defraud and Making and Using False Instruments (forgery). She further faces an investigation by the Legal Services Board of Victoria for certain of her conduct as a lawyer in the 1990s.
Tony Abbott is no doubt well advised about the contemporary zeitgeist and its received wisdom which holds that Ms Gillard is somehow cocooned from and free of guilty connections with her actions as a lawyer in The AWU Scandal. That notion is pure wishful thinking on Gillard's part. For others, like Mr Abbott whose first duty is to the nation, not to his "niceness" ranking, the zeitgeist could better be described as bullshit. Irrelevant, misleading bullshit and unworthy of being considered as a legitimate factor in an assessment of what's right for Australia.
The Chief Magistrate of Victoria has ruled on the matter of Gillard's involvement in The AWU Scandal. Every piece of legal advice, every document created, every bit of work done by Ms Gillard in the AWU WRA Inc was done in the furtherance of fraud. The standard of proof used in the Chief Magistrate's deliberations was lower than the "beyond reasonable doubt" threshold for the proof of criminal conduct, and his findings were made "on the papers" and ex-parte so far as Ms Gillard's right to a defence were concerned - but the Chief Magistrate's assessment of her conduct as a lawyer was scathing and it is a finding of law and fact.
Gillard is being actively investigated for fraud by a dedicated group of detectives from Victoria Police's Major Fraud Squad. She is named as a person of interest in a Search Warrant issued by the Magistrates Court and executed by police on her former law offices. I am in the unique position of being the complainant in the matter after lodging an official complaint to Victoria Police naming her and describing her conduct which I say was criminal and which is being investigated by police. I am advised as to the progress of my complaint. She is a suspect. She is being actively investigated for fraud.
Tony Abbott and his advisers might think that it would be churlish, or it would make Tony look mean-spirited to knock back Gillard in the Global Partnership Role. Her PR team, aided by a complicit and barracking media has been resolute in its risible claim that she did nothing wrong. But that cover-all statement is untrue and at odds with the Chief Magistrate's findings. She did things to further her de-facto's frauds. She is being investigated by Victoria Police for serious fraud offences. By failing to speak up and to object to her appointment in the World Bank Education chairmanship, the Abbott Government is putting its "nice guy" reputational interests firsts and Australia's interests second.
Julia Gillard is an offender, a named and known reputed thief who has a finding that she "furthered a fraud" against her. The ruling sets out the potential charges (conspiracy to defraud, fraud and making and using false instruments) in which she is a suspect in the current investigation by Victoria Police.
Tony, put Australia first. Knock her back. Send a message that we don't do business with crooks any more.
My lawyers have today served a Concerns Notice pursuant to section 14 of the Defamation Act 2005 (NSW) on the Chief Legal Officer of Google Inc, 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway Mountain View, CA 94043 in the United States.
I'll let the legal processes run their course - but I want you to know that my lawyers and I take my reputation and my relationship with you very, very seriously.
Here are a couple of paragraphs:
Much of the Website’s popularity can no doubt be attributed to our client’s reputation as one of the leading investigators into and commentators on union scandals in Australia. That our client’s reputation is profoundly invested in the Website is clear both from the nature of the Website and its URL.
....Google's assertions, and the illustration accompanying them, are seriously damaging to our client’s reputation as well as hurtful and productive of great embarrassment to him. Furthermore, they are utterly false and indefensible, thereby exposing you to the possibility of legal proceedings by Mr Smith....
I'll keep you posted on Google's response.
Here is the latest update from Google's diagnostic systems for www.michaelsmithnews.com updated at 5.19PM 11 February 2014.
We haven't detected any security issues on your site.
That went on for the entire week. 7 days of that Banner in front of my webpage. I lost about 80% of our reader and income.
At the time I thought it as some massive stuff up.
Now I know better. I know it was Google itself behind it and I know it was set up by Hillary Clinton.
If they could do that to me they could do anything to anyone.
That's why I'm doing the work I'm doing now.
Click on this link to follow the rest of that week as it happened.
just keep clicking on the next article and you'll relive it!