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Alphabet's cyber unit Jigsaw introduces a new security app to bust censorship (techcrunch.com)
209 points by sharcerer 16 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 136 comments



Good job Google.

I'm a very harsh critique of Google due to the threat they pose for privacy, however here they are doing a good thing, along the lines of the public DNS servers they provide, which I know have helped people [1].

Having your requests go through Google is not ideal, however not many people have the capacity to search for better, but more obscure solutions.

Also this isn't about privacy, but about working around censorship at the DNS level. If you want privacy, you use an anonymous VPN or Tor. And frankly, if you can't trust Google's privacy policy for this service, then you shouldn't use a Google phone.

[1] https://developers.google.com/speed/public-dns/


And yet another part of the company is creating a censored version so that the CCP will let them back into china.


Yes, that irony was not lost on me either. I was thinking that someone should introduce Google's left and right hands to each other.


I mean, China's the one censoring it. Google could link to the censored websites in the results but that would be a terrible user experience. Wouldn't it be better to do what they do with DMCA takedowns in the US, where they tell you how many results have been removed and why?

And Google already censors search results in the EU with the right to be forgotten, where they've received 41,000 requests from EU politicians, so there is precedence in working with local governments


They also tied every search request with a government ID according to some reports and one must assume they’re willing and able to share that with the Chinese state security. As far as I’m aware the EU isn’t targeting minority citizens for increased surveillance like the Chinese state is doing to the Uighurs either.


>They also tied every search request with a government ID according to some reports

Which ones? I wasn't aware it was even live. Are you talking about Bing, which is already operating in China?


I wrote in past tense incorrectly, my grammar isn’t so great.

https://theintercept.com/2018/09/14/google-china-prototype-l...


It’s cool though that they allow you to use cloud flare if you want.


The problem Intra solves is very real. MiTM attack on the DNS are the simplest ways to censor internet access and they are widely used in many countries.

I do despise google's efforts in dismantling any privacy which is left on the internet, but this particular program is very good.

I don't get this attitude of 'don't take a cake from the devil'. A) google is not devil, just another megacorp B) don't be blinded with slogans, evaluate merits of each offer individually. This particular offer is great and helps real people aka 'makes the world a better place', lol.


If Google considers handing off private info to China, which is known to execute people with disliked political beliefs, it's not self-evidently wrong to compare Google and their executives to the devil.

Edit: if you want to downvote, please also reply with your ideas and tell me why you disagree with me.


I've seen no comment here ever praising Google's actions in China here, and I'm very doubtful I will.

That said, this particular product, which has nothing to do Google's business with China, is absolutely crucial for people facing censorship elsewhere, and it is without a doubt a morally good product. You can't even claim that they're doing it solely to gather DNS data (for whatever reason), because if they were making an attempt at that, they would sure as fuck wouldn't allow you to choose Cloudflare.

You can sit here and call that hypocritical because of Google's relationship in China, but that doesn't make their solution any less good to those facing censorship. Nobody else stepped up. Jigsaw did, and they deserve to be thanked for that.

Even if someone's intentions are evil in nature, you're not going to make them less evil by saying "who cares, you're evil" whenever they do something good.


I've been using Intra with my own DoH server for months already. It's stable and updated regulary:

https://github.com/Jigsaw-Code/intra

Also, if you're looking for a DoH server that block adverts, here is mine:

https://dns.aaflalo.me/dns-query


> Also, if you're looking for a DoH server that block adverts, here is mine:

> https://dns.aaflalo.me/dns-query

Great! I've been looking for something like this for a long time. Is the source code open? Not that I don't trust you with my DNS queries but...


I've written the step I used to do the DoH part.

https://www.aaflalo.me/2018/10/tutorial-setup-dns-over-https...

Still need to document the PiHole part.

I've also disable all logging for Nginx and Pihole. The server is also listed on https://dnscrypt.info/public-servers

Also, if you're in the American Continent, you might want to use the proxy I setup on Google Cloud Platform:

https://dns-gcp.aaflalo.me/dns-query


Very cool, thanks a lot I'll be definitely using your guide.


Just want to add: if anyone running iOS, you might want to try DNSCloak[1] which is a small wrapper over dnscrypt-proxy. I've been using it for a while and it has been reliable so far.

I also run my own DoH server in Singapore that block adverts[2] with Ansible script to deploy it to any FreeBSD servers[3] :-)

Edit: looks like mine doesn't supported running with Intra quite yet. Will work on it tonight.

[1]: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dnscloak-dnscrypt-doh-client...

[2]: https://sg.dns.grid.in.th/dns-query

[3]: https://github.com/sirn/gridns-deploy


Does your server allow Google Ads because honestly, I would feel like a hypocrite blocking their ads as those ads basically pay for what Jigsaw does. Just saying.


Unfortunately it's the first one present in all DNS blacklist.

I don't think you'll find a dns server that block ads that have whitelisted Google Ads.


What this appears to be is a DNS-over-HTTPs proxy application, which will route your DNS traffic directly to Google bypassing any substitutions or deletions made by your local ISP or government.

Whether the advantages of that outweigh giving google your DNS traffic (and realistically they already know every site you visit, because almost everyone uses google analytics) depends on your local security situation.

Note that your local security situation may include the good old rubber hose attack: https://security.stackexchange.com/questions/194353/police-f...


It can be configured to use any DNS-over-HTTPs server, and has cloudflare hard-coded as an option. When you first install it, they have a short onboarding that ends with asking you to enable needed permissions and informing you that you can use other providers, so you have a chance to change the settings before enabling the permissions.


This is the same division of Google that came up with an AI to determine if a comment is "toxic": https://jigsaw.google.com/projects/#perspective


Given Google's track record of working with oppressive governments, why would anyone rational trust them with this kind of sensitive information?


I think Jigsaw has a good record of making tools which work for the oppressed sections or in areas of cybersecurity/censorship etc. Good work must be appreciated. I don't think any other Big Co. has a division dedicated to solving such specific problems. Yeah, the China bit is really saddening/irritating. They're gonna crush their own legacy.


Don't forget about the Project Zero team!

Regardless of my privacy concerns regarding Google and other Alphabet-owned businesses, Jigsaw and Project Zero teams deserve to be praised by anyone who gives a shit about privacy/security.


Project Zero is the reason I regard Google's security as one of the best (possibly the best). They haven't had any major/minor leak, IIRC, which is a huge deal. I mean even if 1 data leak occurred in the next 2 years, I wouldn't be that pissed off (T&C Apply). Accomplishments of these 2 teams deserve more mention.


Can someone explain why a government couldn't block the IP of this service? Whether it's a VPN or just dns over https, it seems the servers wouldn't have infinite dynamic ips and could therefore be blocked.


Yes you're right. That app is just dns over HTTPS for older Android phones. With all its caveats.


Yep that's how countries like Egypt block things, lovely reset packets! But activists pretend that doesn't happen sigh


1) What's stopping these countries from blocking the hard-coded Google/Cloudflare IP addresses? Doesn't seem like a great solution technically speaking.

2) I wouldn't use this if I lived in China. Companies operating in China are required to turn over data about their users to the government. And Google is soon going to be partnering with China to release a censored version of their search engine[1]. Now they can provide the government your entire browsing history, not just your searches!

[1] https://theintercept.com/2018/08/01/google-china-search-engi...


I couldn't help but guffaw at this headline, given that Jigsaw's current flagship product is an automated censorship bot [1]. This is another example of the absurd belief that only ISPs can censor the internet, and not trillion dollar platform companies with monopolies or near-monopolies in several areas.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/23/technology/google-jigsaw-...


Firefox 62 has DoH support enabled.

https://blog.nightly.mozilla.org/2018/06/01/improving-dns-pr...

Has been plenty useful getting around court -ordered clampdowns on torrent sites in India.

You can configure it to use any publicly known DoH server: https://github.com/curl/curl/wiki/DNS-over-HTTPS#publicly-av...


Sounds like a cool way to track users wherever they go on the web.


Without looking into the Privacy Policy for details on tracking, it seems like this would be a lesser of two evils situation. Either experience censorship in your country or see everything, with the caveat that Google logs it.


A country that censors content will be very interested in obtaining these logs from Google. Since they seem to be willing to cooperate with state actors, users might set themselves up for reprecussions later on.


No kidding. That was my next thought among other issues with the plan, but I'm trying not to be too cynical about what will happen to the data. I won't be using this any time soon, personally.


It's basically a DNS-over-HTTPS client for Android, acting as a VPN client to route DNS traffic only.

You can use your own DNS-over-HTTPS server if you want to.


So choose another DNS server. It's configurable.



So it's just a way to backport support for DNS-over-TLS to older Android versions? Neat, but not as big a deal as the article headline might lead you to believe.


> That makes it easy for oppressive governments — like Turkey, which has used this technique before — to intercept web addresses requests and either kill them in their tracks to stop sites from loading, or redirect to a fake site.

Or "non-oppressive" governments like the UK.


Sounds like a good idea. Most users have so far very little control over android dns and using TLS sounds like a good idea in any case. Makes you wonder why this is not more widespread given that there are a lot of nasty attacks that involve dns hacks.


I've been using Jigsaw's VPN Outline, it seems to work pretty good on digital ocean


In other DNS-over-HTTPS news, dnscrypt-proxy 2.0.17 has been released: https://github.com/jedisct1/dnscrypt-proxy



anyone using this on LineageOS 15.1? Seems to connect okay, but chrome gives "err_network_changed" when I go to any site and I'm not sure how to debug...


The app itself fails a DNS leak test, is this app trustworthy?


How is this different than simply setting Google's DNS servers on your router or wifi settings ?


Near as I can tell, can't be used with things like Blokada that create a VPN.


Security apps from the Alphabet agency's cyber unit, nice. At least they're not mandatory here yet...


These dual standards for censorship annoy me.

Google on Venezuelan censoring: bad, fight it

Google on Chinese censoring: complicit, support it


Just a few things:

1) This tool is made by an Alphabet owned company (Jigsaw), not Google, another Alphabet owned company. The companies will have different missions, even if profits flow the same direction.

2) Venezuela doesn't have a huge market where Google is blocked by a nation-wide firewall.

3) China has a nation-wide firewall blocking any Google service, thereby forcing Google to negotiate how their service works if they want to make money there.

Note: Oversimplifying the situation for the sake of pitchforking a company you might not like does no one any good. Venezuela and China are very different companies, in very different environments. Google as a company (and Alphabet, probably more so) is almost certainly anti-censorship, philosophically; they just don't operate in a vacuum.


>Google as a company (and Alphabet, probably more so) is almost certainly anti-censorship, philosophically; they just don't operate in a vacuum.

Since when was being motivated to do wrong a mitigating condition for having done wrong? "Sorry officer, I wasn't going to steal it at first, but then I started wanting it."


This isn't like theft. It's more like the law says you can't read certain things, so a printing company adjusts the books they print for the people of that country. Obviously they don't want to censor things, but they also want to profit.

They can either be totally censored or partially censored and still make money. Are you asking for them to give up and accept total censorship and forfeit money? If not, what would you like Google to do?


> Obviously they don't want to censor things, but they also want to profit.

I'm not seeing the moral difference between this and the grandparent post. "We don't want to be evil, but they offered us a lot of money, so what could we do?"


Is google existing in China with censorship an "evil" thing? Any alternative in China will need the same censorship, so why is Google evil? I think we can all agree that people (and companies) being censored are not evil just because they must censor themselves - rather, the heads of the country that require censorship are the evil ones.

If you're a police officer and you have to arrest people for some stupid law you disagree with, are you evil, or are the people requiring you to perform that arrest evil?


This argument boils down to "What I'm doing is evil, but someone else would do it if I refused, so I might as well get paid for it." It's basically the Nuremberg Defense, but without even the threat of punishment, only desire for profit.

To answer your question: the police officer may not be evil, but she's certainly doing evil. It may be possible to make a coherent argument that the harm done is outweighed by the good the cop can do in her community if she toes the line and keeps her job. I don't think you can make that argument when the harm is "willingly abetting an oppressive government on a massive scale" and the benefit is "we make a whole bunch of money."


China will steal any technology you put in their country.

Not only will they steal it, but they'll use it for whatever they want.

Right now China is talking to Google because they lack the technological prerequisites to make their goals happen by themselves. If you want to see a Chinese Google competitor, just let Google get a shoe in the door and wait a couple years. Then when China has what it wants they'll dismiss Google.

Google's short-sighted greed is going to divide the internet in two. We should be letting China either stand on it's own or join the rest of the world. Instead they will prioritize market share in a technologically inept country and, quite advertently, give the Chinese everything they're lacking to completely break away from the world wide web and start their own.

I just can't wait until Google gets kicked out of the party they created for themselves.


> China is talking to Google because they lack the technological prerequisites to make their goals happen by themselves

Seriously? China has 1.3B people and you don't think that any of them can do the same things people in USA can do?

> technologically inept country

Add up the populations of Europe and USA and you'll still be hundreds of millions away from that of China alone. And you still believe China is technologically inept?

I can't tell if this is satire or if you just hate China. Do you have any measurements demonstrating the ineptitude you mention?


China certainly isn't technologically inept. They are playing a game of catchup that is mad impressive, makes plenty of sense that they'd seek to "appropriate" IP instead of reinventing the wheel.


What technology do you think will be on Chinese soil from this?

There's no reason to bring source code over.


Do you really think a nation state (especially a psuedo-communist one) that involves itself in a project like this with specific requirements (like backdoors) is going to let it be housed off-site? Do you really think they won't demand to let their engineers all over it? Inside and out?

The whole reason AMD exists is because IBM wouldn't do business with Intel without an alternate domestic supplier.

In government manufacturing here in the US we can't even put CUI in the Cloud if the end-user is the government. And we're democratic. Can you imagine the export controls on Chinese technology?

The chances that China WON'T see the source code are zero.


The compiled binaries can end up in a Chinese DC, but the source? I don't understand why. I don't think Google's interested in being replaced.


The parent was arguing that it was less wrong because Google was motivated to do it by self-interest. That's simply not a mitigating factor in any case.


I guess that’s what the GP was saying. I’m not sure what the alternative is, though - Google could completely pull out of the Chinese market and leave it for competitors like Facebook, Yahoo and MS? Didn’t we go through that already?


To respond to your argument, the same "sitting duck" claim could be made in any case of wrongdoing. You can't steal something just because it is unsecured and likely to be stolen - "His bike wasn't locked, so I took it on the grounds that somebody would probably take it and that somebody might as well be me." Neither the ease of perpetrating the crime nor the number of other criminals in the world are mitigating factors when you and your specific actions are tried.


We’re talking about business. To many people, those other companies are conducting legitimate business in China, not committing a clearly inexcusable crime, like your example. Google is competition with those companies worldwide, and it could easily be construed by shareholders that their refusal to participate is harming the business. A clear case can be made that choosing to not participate in the largest market in the world for moral reasons is not a good business decision. The comparison you’ve made fits the situation poorly but I’d welcome a better analogy.


> China has a nation-wide firewall blocking any Google service, thereby forcing Google to negotiate how their service works if they want to make money there.

So if the Chinese demand they get real-time access to all information Google has stored about anyone, or Google gets banned from China, they should do that too?


Is there a difference to how the NSA does same albeit with a time delay instead of being instantaneous?


The NSA and USA do not have a recent history of murdering tens of millions of its own citizens.

What America does has no effect on the morality of what China does. This is whataboutism at its finest.


Whataboutism wasn’t necessarily the point I intended on making. Rather if Google employees feel morally infringed at the prospect of Dragonfly for reasons described why then do they give a pass to their own state? Of course the USA & China differ vastly on governance but what’s the use of principles if you selectively apply them?


Saying “whataboutism” is not a defense for hypocrisy.

But I suppose you’re right, the US only murders tens of millions of foreigners.


The USA has not murdered tens of millions of foreigners.


> time delay

Is there one? PRISM and the early Snowden leaks indicated the searches were immediate. Was that not true?


IIRC, MUSCULAR was the program where they were getting direct access, and they did so without Google's knowledge. That was the program that had the slides with the infamous (at least within Google) smiley talking about how SSL is removed at the edge of Google's network.


The NSA doesn't send people to "reeducation camps" because of their political or religious beliefs.[1]

[1]: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/08/world/asia/china-uighur-m...


Who needs camps when you can drone strike them? [1]

> In 2014, former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden said in a public debate, “We kill people based on metadata.”

> According to multiple reports and leaks, death-by-metadata could be triggered, without even knowing the target’s name, if too many derogatory checks appear on their profile. “Armed military aged males” exhibiting suspicious behavior in the wrong place can become targets, as can someone “seen to be giving out orders.” Such mathematics-based assassinations have come to be known as “signature strikes.”

https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/how-...!


What America does has no effect on the morality of what China does. This is whataboutism at its finest.


GP was asking how this is different than what the NSA does. The poster above me said it was because China acts on that information, but the US does not.

I provided evidence America does act on information.

This is perspective.


You're not wrong. The NSA acts on that information, but the comparison is meaningless. America launches targeted attacks on what it believes to be terrorist threats to itself. China murders millions of its own innocent civilians.


related to #1 -- I predict if some division of Alphabet threatens the income of another larger division (esp. Google), the smaller one will be shut down.

This is the reason for much of Sony's failure/inability to build a usable mp3 player. They built amazing music playback devices, but the record label division was so terrified of 'piracy' they forced the hardware division to require a proprietary encryption format (no "plain" mp3s) which essentially ruined the usability. So the company that built the walkman was hobbled, deliberately. Even the Poor Sony Aibo robot dog had to use specially modified Sony memory sticks with encryption and keys written into the normally-unwritable boot sector.


Alternately, Jigsaw won’t work against Google’s own censorship efforts, and exists to push countries that want to censor their citizens’ internet to use Google’s own censorship product.


> ...thereby forcing Google to negotiate how their service works if they want to make money there.

I'm struggling to see how this addresses the point about Google's variable standards. I mean, are you saying that somehow because Google needs to adjust its standard to make money in a particular market that it therefore doesn't have variable standards?

Not quite following you ...


> if they want to make money there.

That's the point. Google is willing to throw out their supposed principles in order to make money.


>2) Venezuela doesn't have a huge market where Google is blocked by a nation-wide firewall.

How is that a justification?


I'm not trying to justify anything, exactly. I'm pointing out that oversimplifying the situation is not helpful.

However, they are different in this case because Venezuela's market isn't large enough that Google feels the need to bend to the will of the government there to be competitive in the world's market. Therefore, they can afford, on a competitive level, to stand against censorship in Venezuela, where doing the same thing in China costs them a huge amount of money. Which is their motivator, as they are a corporation.


I'm not sure I understand what you're getting at.

Alphabet and Google can't claim to be against censorship while they're profiting from it. They can't have their cake and eat it too.

Clearly the only thing Google and Alphabet are "for" is making more money, so there's really no point pretending they have a moral compass guiding them.


Why can’t they make that claim? There are many things in this world that I oppose yet benefit from. I can’t fight every injustice in the world — I don’t know how to, I haven’t got the skills, I don’t have the resources.

It’s like a prayer to serenity: Grant me the courage to change what I cannot accept, the serenity to accept what I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Google maybe rich beyond the dreams of any single human, but they can’t force the Chinese government to stop thinking like the Chinese government.


> Why can’t they make that claim?

Well, they can claim anything they want. If they want to be consistent and have integrity then they'll make sure their actions align with their claims. Claiming to support privacy while also conceding to China shows they have no integrity and they're only telling people what they want to hear for marketing purposes.

> Google maybe rich beyond the dreams of any single human, but they can’t force the Chinese government to stop thinking like the Chinese government.

Right, but their inability to change Chinese policy doesn't imply that they have to take an active role in helping China's censorship. They could have said, "We're not doing business in China because it conflicts with our 'Don't be evil' policy." Instead, they got rid of that policy and are working with the Chinese government to censor web content.


> yet benefit from

this seems a bit reductive if not weaseling. google isn't a bystander, they're knowingly and voluntarily aiding a state oppress it's people.


> Venezuela and China are very different companies

c o m p a n i e s


Can I ask you if you work for Google? If so you should probably disclose that because you post history makes this very much look like astroturfing.

Sorry for bringing this up (I never do that on HN) but this is just too questionable of a defense to be putting up.


As someone who was a part of a project that Jigsaw sponsored, I can vouch for his claim that Google and Jigsaw have entirely different (and often contrary) missions.

I am a Google critic as much as everyone else here, but I can say with confidence that we would all be thrilled if Google took the same stand on censorship as is Jigsaw's.


Yes, dual standards because of dual internets. Alphabet is contributing to the trend of dual internets predicted by its own ex-CEO Eric Schmidt[1], "a Chinese-led internet and a non-Chinese internet led by America".

[1] https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/20/eric-schmidt-ex-google-ceo-p...


It's blatant hypocrisy. Google has also de-ranked both Russia Today and Sputnik, but apparently doesn't doesn't consider that "censorship."

https://www.pcmag.com/news/357494/google-to-de-rank-rt-sputn...


Perhaps this project is to create demand for Google-China-like solutions in other countries. Venezuela is not a large market but perhaps they want a demo vehicle for Saudi Arabia to witness to help get them a deal (and a more favorable one than China).

The most profitable SW projects often have a lot of reuse.


Maybe the strategy is to service Sneetches with both Star-On and Star-Off machines.[1]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sneetches_and_Other_Storie...


YouTube is another example of gross censorship.


Google isn't the only big tech company to cave to China's demands


Google is one of these US tech companies claiming they have moral values in their code of conduct, using such words as "evil".


It meant "don't become Microsoft." HNers keep bringing it up as if they didn't live through the late 90s. Am I old now?

And it worked. Sadly, there are many more evils in the world than becoming Microsoft.


They no longer use that word.


That's incorrect, it's still in the code of conduct. It's the last statement: https://abc.xyz/investor/other/google-code-of-conduct.html


Just another example of why codes of conduct are fuzzy hypocritical bullshit.

If you want to actually change something, create clearly defined, actionable rules, specify scope and follow them 100% of the time. Like "we do not log any information except X and Y".


Sorry, I stand corrected.


[flagged]


How exactly is google working with governments to censor right wing media?


You see, Venezuelans dont have enough money for Google to extract.



This is richly ironic. I had to check that this was not an article from The Onion.

Will this tool bypass the censored Google that will be introduced in China?

More likely it will automatically report the user to the Chinese government if used in China.


This is about preventing dns manipulation attacks. That assumes that a DNS server (like 8.8.8.8) is generally accessible, but an adversary is trying to manipulate the responses. In China, you anyway can't access regular global dns servers. You need to use official dns supported by the government. So the question of dns manipulation is moot.


This is not true. I tried 8.8.8.8 and it worked when I visited China 2 years ago.


"Worked" does not mean freely accessible. It means you received DNS responses when you sent DNS requests there, but there's a high chance the responses weren't coming from Google, and that encrypted connections would fail.

However, it seems that Google hosts the encrypted endpoint separately anyways, not on 8.8.8.8.


that’s what they wanted you to think ;)


Were you on a VPN?


So that makes it morally consistent...how?


Google's a big business with many divisions and even more people. I don't see why moral consistency is supposed to be expected or of particular interest.


Google and Alphabet have executives that set mission statements. If these executives wanted to, they could easily prioritize ethical conduct and refuse compliance with censorship schemes and oppressive regimes.


what consistency are you referring to? that jigsaw ought do what google does, or google ought to what jigsaw does, and thus establish some notional inter-consistency between them?


It will tell the user to the chinese government, in a way.

1. All DNS traffic from intra must go through the chinese national firewall. Although the firewall cannot see or tamper the data, it can tell whether it is encrypted.

2. Most DNS traffic are not encrypted. Intra users will be very easy to discover to the firewall, like a flare in the night.

3. One's name is linked to one's IP in china, and encryption alone cannot hide the user IP.

It may work in some other nations. But not china.


[flagged]


Ctrl F: "google" -> 0 results


Hahaha, that had to be deadpan humor.


It probably won't even be available to Chinese users.


It wouldn't work in China anyway. So it can be available there, or not available there. Would make no functional difference.


Maybe it will, but have a country-specific feature to report its users to the authorities. After all, gotta comply with those "local laws and regulations."


Can we get a rename of this story?

"Alphabet's Jigsaw" would be more appropriate. Jigsaw is, at best, a sibling of Google, not a part of Google.

It is explained in the very first sentence, but comments so far don't seem to acknowledge that.


This is an interesting communications dilemma.

I don't think most people have really understood the Google/Alphabet transition. When most people think of "Google" they're actually thinking of Alphabet.

If you say "Google" then you're conveying the correct information using the wrong term. If you say "Alphabet" then you're using the right term but a lot of people won't know what you're talking about. What to do?

This is probably less of a problem on HN than it is for TechCrunch.


Good point, let's try “Alphabet” in the title here instead.


I would really hope that everyone on HN knows what Alphabet is by now. If necessary, it can be written as "Alphabet (Google's parent company)". The TechCrunch crowd is pretty similar and should mostly know this too, right?


Don't know about most people but I understand the idea of a holding company. I don't care though.

It's still Google because it's the most important part. A synecdoche, not a misconception.


Out of interest, I searched for the Waymo tag in TechCrunch, and they seem to start the related articles with the following:

> Waymo, the former Google self-driving project that spun out to become a business under Alphabet, ...

Didn't look through all of them, but couldn't find an instance in which Waymo is represented as Google's Waymo anywhere, let alone in the title.


> This is an interesting communications dilemma. I don't think most people have really understood the Google/Alphabet transition.

If the media consistently referred to Google as Google and Alphabet as Alphabet, people would learn the difference more quickly. Using one term for the other is just delaying this process and sowing confusion.


The confusion is also because despite being Alphabet-owned... most of these smaller companies are listed under a Google domain, so people believe they're Google-owned instead of Alphabet-owned.

https://jigsaw.google.com/


Well, the story also claims there are plans to build it in to Android, so apparently they are at least working in close concert.


Semantics. No rational person would believe that anyone other than Larry Page is calling the shots.


oh just turn it on an use it huh? And collect all of my web queries. Clever. Yet another mass collection scheme by Alphabet. I have to give it to Google(the real company here), they sure know how to embed themselves everywhere in your life.


I find it ironic that both CloudFlare and Google which this app uses, were involved in the censorship of DailyStormer. It was a vile site and Google and ClouFlare were fully within their rights to terminate their business agreement with them. However, they do not also get to turn around and claim the high moral ground of being anti-censorship in principle. So this is not about censorship vs free speech, it is about government vs corporate censorship.


Choosing not to do business with a company is NOT censorship. The only way you could believe it to be so is if you believe that the Daily Stormer has a right to speech, but no one else does.




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