#AceWorldNews – BRUSSELS – September 22 – Google could face a record fine for breaching EU competition rules, the European Commission’s competition chief has said, warning that its four year investigation into the US search engine could eventually rival the sixteen years spent investigating software rival Microsoft.
Presenting the Commission’s annual competition report in the European Parliament on Tuesday (23 September), Joaquin Almunia said that he had asked Google “to improve its proposals” or face a formal ‘Statement of Objections’, including a possible fine, if its latest offer did not go “in the right direction”.
Google faces a total of twenty complaints from its rivals, including Microsoft.
“Some of the twenty formal complainants have given us fresh evidence and solid arguments against several aspects of the latest proposals put forward by Google,” Almunia told MEPs.
“We now need to see if Google can address these issues and allay our concerns,” said Almunia, although he noted that “Microsoft was investigated for 16 years, which is four times as much as the Google investigation has taken, and there are more problems with Google than there were with Microsoft.”
#AceWorldNews – UNITED STATES (Silicon Valley) – July 17 – Microsoft will cut a record 18,000 jobs next year, as the company’s new CEO Satya Nadella seeks to boost efficiency, according to a company memo on Thursday.
“The first step to building the right organization for our ambitions is to realign our workforce. With this in mind, we will begin to reduce the size of our overall workforce by up to 18,000 jobs in the next year,” Satya Nadella said in the memo published by Business Insider.
The number made redundant represents 14 percent of the entire Microsoft workforce.
Nadella assured that the layoff will be conducted “in the most thoughtful and transparent way possible.”
“We will offer severance to all employees impacted by these changes, as well as job transition help in many locations, and everyone can expect to be treated with the respect they deserve for their contributions to this company,” he said.
The company is moving to layoff the first 13,000 workers, and most of the employees will be given notice over the next six months, the document added.
“Of that total, our work toward synergies and strategic alignment on Nokia Devices and Services is expected to account for about 12,500 jobs, comprising both professional and factory workers,” it added.
#AceSecurityNews – BOSTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security advised computer users to consider using alternatives to Microsoft Corp’s Internet Explorer browser until the company fixes a security flaw that hackers have used to launch attacks.
The bug is the first high-profile security flaw to emerge since Microsoft stopped providing security updates for Windows XP earlier this month.
That means PCs running the 13-year old operating system could remain unprotected against hackers seeking to exploit the newly uncovered flaw, even after Microsoft figures out how to defend against it.
The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team, a part of Homeland Security known as US-CERT, said in an advisory released on Monday morning that the vulnerability in versions 6 to 11 of Internet Explorer could lead to “the complete compromise” of an affected system.
“We are currently unaware of a practical solution to this problem,” Carnegie Mellon’s Software Engineering Institute warned in a separate advisory, that US-CERT linked to in its warning.
FireEye, whose Mandiant division helps companies respond to cyber attacks, declined to name specific victims or identify the group of hackers, saying that an investigation into the matter is still active.
“It’s a campaign of targeted attacks seemingly against U.S.-based firms, currently tied to defense and financial sectors,” said FireEye spokesman Vitor De Souza on Sunday. “It’s unclear what the motives of this attack group are, at this point.
#AceSecurityNews – Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) hackers have reportedly obtained documents that reveal how much money the FBI pays Microsoft each time agents try to obtain or view an individual customer’s communication information.
“The documents consist of what appear to be invoices and emails between Microsoft’s Global Criminal compliance team and the FBI’s Digital Intercept Technology Unit (DITU), and purport to show exactly how much money Microsoft charges DITU, in terms of compliance costs, when DITU provides warrants and court orders for customers’ data,” wrote the Daily Dot’s Kevin Collier and Fran Berman.
“In December 2012, for instance, Microsoft emailed DITU a PDF invoice for $145,100, broken down to $100 per request for information, the documents appear to show,” they went on. “In August 2013, Microsoft allegedly emailed a similar invoice, this time for $352, 200 at a rate of $200 per request.
The latest invoice provided, from November 2013, is for $281,000.”
He said that 360 million personal account records were obtained in separate attacks, but one single attack seems to have obtained some 105 million records which could make it the biggest single data breach to date, Reuters reports. “The sheer volume is overwhelming,” said Holden in a statement on Tuesday.
“These mind boggling figures are not meant to scare you and they are a product of multiple breaches which we are independently investigating. This is a call to action,” he added.
Hold Security said that as well as 360 million credentials, hackers were also selling 1.25 billion email addresses, which may be of interest to spammers.
The huge treasure trove of personal details includes user names, which are most often email addresses, and passwords, which in most cases are unencrypted.
Hold Security uncovered a similar breach in October last year, but the tens of millions of records had encrypted passwords, which made them much more difficult for hackers to use. “In October 2013, Hold Security identified the biggest ever public disclosure of 153 million stolen credentials from Adobe Systems Inc. One month later we identified another large breach of 42 million credentials from Cupid Media,” Hold Security said in statement.
AFP Photo / Justin Sullivan
Holden said he believes that in many cases the latest theft has yet to be publically reported and that the companies that have been attacked are unaware of it. He added that he will notify the companies concerned as soon as his staff has identified them. “We have staff working around the clock to identify the victims,” he said.
Heather Bearfield, who runs cybersecurity for an accounting firm Marcum LLP, told Reuters that while she had no information about Hold Security’s findings, she believed that it was quite plausible as hackers can do more with stolen credentials than they can with stolen credit cards, as people often use the same login and password for many different accounts.
“They can get access to your actual bank account. That is huge. That is not necessarily recoverable funds,” she said.
The latest revelation by Hold Security comes just months after the US retailer Target announced that 110 million of their customers had their data stolen by hackers. Target and the credit and debit card companies concerned said that consumers do not bear much risk as funds are rapidly refunded in fraud losses.
#AceSecurityNews says Facebook,Google, and others can unveil national security request details, but not until product is two years old. Thus urging `Civil Rights Groups’ to want more!
Published time: February 03, 2014 23:02
Reuters / Pawel Kopczynski
Some of the most influential companies in Silicon Valley have unveiled data regarding the national security requests they have received from the US government, detailing how many requests they receive, how many the company responds to, and other details.
The Obama administration announced Monday it had come to an agreement with Facebook, LinkedIn, Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft to allow the companies to disclose some details about the surveillance requests targeting their customers.
Apple released its own transparency report last week.
US Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National IntelligenceJames Clapper said in a joint statement that the tech companies are now authorized to disclose the “number of national security orders and requests issued to communication providers, the number of customer accounts targeted under those orders and requests and the underlying legal authorities.”
The companies have spent months fighting for such a deal after complaining that the National Security Agency dragnet exposed last year had hurt business.
“We filed our lawsuits because we believe that the public has a right to know about the volume and types of national security requests we receive,” the five companies said in a joint statement Monday. “We’re pleased the Department of Justice has agreed that we and other providers can disclose this information. While this is a very positive step we’ll continue to encourage Congress to take additional steps to address all of the reforms we believe are needed.”
Civil liberties activists hold a rally against surveillance of US citizens on January 17, 2014. (AFP Photo / Nicholas Kamm)
Reports indicate that, when the first of the Edward Snowden leaks were publicized in June, the White House was reluctant to make any deals with Silicon Valley. But with media pressure mounting and shifting polls proving that a sizable number of Americans are skeptical about the NSA surveillance, administration officials told Politico the time to negotiate had come.
“While this aggregate data was properly classified until today, the office of the Director of National Intelligence, in consultation with other departments and agencies, has determined that the public interest in disclosing this information now outweighs the national security concerns that require its classification,” stated Holder and Clapper.
Facebook’s transparency report for the latter half of 2012 and the first six months of 2013 noted that only a “small fraction” of one percent of its users were the target of any surveillance requests.
LinkedIn received “between 0 and 249” national security-related requests in the first six months of 2013. Over the same time period, Microsoft said it was sent under 1,000 national security letters pertaining to fewer than 1,000 accounts.
However, the government still prohibits companies from disclosing surveillance details about a new product until two years after it was launched, a condition that has irked civil liberties advocates calling for wider change.
Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel and the company’s executive vice president for legal and corporate affairs, has said the government agreed to let the companies disclose requests “in bands of a thousand” and only six months after a request was made.
“Asking the public and policymakers to try to judge the appropriateness of the government’s surveillance practices based on a single, combined, rounded number is like asking a doctor to diagnose a patient’s shadow: only the grossest and most obvious problem, if even that, will be ever evident,” Kevin Bankston, policy director at the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute, told Politico.
Syrian computer hacker conglomerate, the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA), has kicked off the New Year with a number of cyber-attacks, compromising Skype’s Twitter, Facebook accounts, and its official blog.
Social media accounts belonging to Skype, Microsoft’s voice-over-IP service, were hacked around 19:30 GMT. SEA posted on Skype’s Twitter account a rogue message saying “Stop spying on people! via Syrian Electronic Army.” The hacker group also urged people not to use Microsoft accounts because the company is “selling the data to the governments.”
SEA later re-tweeted the message using its own twitter page.
A similar message was posted on Skype’s Facebook page, but was quickly deleted, according to TheNextWeb. The link to it, which the SEA posted on its Twitter account, leads to a removed page.
Screenshot from facebook.com
Attacks were also generated on Skype’s official blog with posts calling on the US to…
#AceBreakingNews says this is courtesy of Rob Cox – Author Reuters Breaking Views columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
Can General Electric keep activist investors at bay? If the gates at Apple, Microsoft and Procter & Gamble can be rattled, complacency just is not an option for any company, even and maybe especially a $270 billion conglomerate. While GE’s broad strategy looks more coherent than ever, the Connecticut giant still has two potential vulnerabilities: its finance arm and its long-time leader Jeffrey Immelt.
Corporate America has learned of late that size offers no immunity from the braying of ornery shareholders. A $320 billion market value did not shield Microsoft from the pressures of Value Act Capital, which nabbed a board seat and accelerated the exit of Chief Executive Steve Ballmer. Even bigger Apple, and boss Tim Cook, have been targeted by both David Einhorn and Carl Icahn to return more cash to shareholders. A long-standing reputation as a consumer-products stalwart did not protect $220 billion P&G from the advances of Bill Ackman.
GE has so far kept clear. Its executives, however, seem to be cognizant of how quickly that could change. The engines-to-dishwashers manufacturer has been proactively restructuring in ways that could wisely head off rabble-rousers. GE is reducing its exposure to finance, and in recent years exited businesses like NBC Universal, deemed ancillary to a strategy focused on global infrastructure.
As a result, the existing configuration of GE’s industrial portfolio looks better positioned to take advantage of a middle-class future. That world, to put it simply, involves more people around the globe seeking better healthcare, travelling on jet planes and gaining access to clean water and abundant energy – from which they can run GE appliances.
So what would an activist investor go after at GE? The most obvious weak spot is GE Capital. During the financial crisis, the division’s balance sheet of some $550 billion overshadowed the world-class industrial businesses. The need to finance a large financial institution without a stable base of deposits stoked fears GE might even need to jettison valuable assets. GE Capital has since pared its balance sheet by almost a third.
There’s also more to come. In November, GE said it would begin the process of spinning off its consumer finance business, which carries some $59 billion of assets. Once the divestiture is completed, GE Capital will have a loan book of about $350 billion. That’s far below its peak. Yet it still puts GE Capital on a par with U.S. Bancorp and renders it among the country’s biggest financial institutions.
Some of this is easy to justify. About a quarter of GE Capital’s assets will be devoted to what it calls “GE Verticals” where it uses its balance sheet to help finance customer purchases of GE products. But it still envisions tying up more than half its assets in lending and leasing initiatives and some $50 billion in commercial real estate. To investors wanting a more focused, industrial GE, this could provide a potential soft spot.
Courtesy of Rob Cox – Author Reuters Breaking Views columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
Editor says this is a Copyrighted Article courtesy of ProPublica and The New York Times.
Not limiting their activities to the earthly realm, American and British spies have infiltrated the fantasy worlds of World of Warcraft and Second Life, conducting surveillance and scooping up data in the online games played by millions of people across the globe, according to newly disclosed classified documents.
Fearing that terrorist or criminal networks could use the games to communicate secretly, move money or plot attacks, the documents show, intelligence operatives have entered terrain populated by digital avatars that include elves, gnomes and supermodels.
The spies have created make-believe characters to snoop and to try to recruit informers, while also collecting data and contents of communications between players, according to the documents, disclosed by the former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden. Because militants often rely on features common to video games — fake identities, voice and text chats, a way to conduct financial transactions — American and British intelligence agencies worried that they might be operating there, according to the papers.
Online games might seem innocuous, a top-secret 2008 NSA document warned, but they had the potential to be a “target-rich communication network” allowing intelligence suspects “a way to hide in plain sight.” Virtual games “are an opportunity!,” another 2008 NSA document declared.
But for all their enthusiasm — so many CIA, FBI and Pentagon spies were hunting around in Second Life, the document noted, that a “deconfliction” group was needed to avoid collisions — the intelligence agencies may have inflated the threat.
The documents do not cite any counterterrorism successes from the effort, and former American intelligence officials, current and former gaming company employees and outside experts said in interviews that they knew of little evidence that terrorist groups viewed the games as havens to communicate and plot operations.
Games “are built and operated by companies looking to make money, so the players’ identity and activity is tracked,” said Peter W. Singer of the Brookings Institution, an author of “Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know.” “For terror groups looking to keep their communications secret, there are far more effective and easier ways to do so than putting on a troll avatar.”
The surveillance, which also included Microsoft’s Xbox Live, could raise privacy concerns. It is not clear exactly how the agencies got access to gamers’ data or communications, how many players may have been monitored or whether Americans’ communications or activities were captured.
One American company, the maker of World of Warcraft, said that neither the NSA nor its British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters, had gotten permission to gather intelligence in its game. Many players are Americans, who can be targeted for surveillance only with approval from the nation’s secret intelligence court. The spy agencies, though, face far fewer restrictions on collecting certain data or communications overseas.
“We are unaware of any surveillance taking place,” said a spokesman for Blizzard Entertainment, based in Irvine, Calif., which makes World of Warcraft. “If it was, it would have been done without our knowledge or permission.”
A spokeswoman for Microsoft declined to comment. Philip Rosedale, the founder of Second Life and a former chief executive officer of Linden Lab, the game’s maker, declined to comment on the spying revelations. Current Linden executives did not respond to requests for comment.
A Government Communications Headquarters spokesman would neither confirm nor deny any involvement by that agency in gaming surveillance, but said that its work is conducted under “a strict legal and policy framework” with rigorous oversight. An NSA spokeswoman declined to comment.
Intelligence and law enforcement officials became interested in games after some became enormously popular, drawing tens of millions of people worldwide, from preteens to retirees. The games rely on lifelike graphics, virtual currencies and the ability to speak to other players in real-time. Some gamers merge the virtual and real worlds by spending long hours playing and making close online friends.
In World of Warcraft, players share the same fantasy universe — walking around and killing computer-controlled monsters or the avatars of other players, including elves, animals or creatures known as orcs. In Second Life, players create customized human avatars that can resemble themselves or take on other personas — supermodels and bodybuilders are popular — who can socialize, buy and sell virtual goods, and go places like beaches, cities, art galleries and strip clubs. In Microsoft’s Xbox Live service, subscribers connect online in games that can involve activities like playing soccer or shooting at each other in space.
According to American officials and documents that Mr. Snowden provided to The Guardian, which shared them with The New York Times and ProPublica, spy agencies grew worried that terrorist groups might take to the virtual worlds to establish safe communications channels.
In 2007, as the NSA and other intelligence agencies were beginning to explore virtual games, NSA officials met with the chief technology officer for the manufacturer of Second Life, the San Francisco-based Linden Lab. The executive, Cory Ondrejka, was a former Navy officer who had worked at the NSA with a top-secret security clearance.
He visited the agency’s headquarters at Fort Meade, Md., in May 2007 to speak to staff members over a brown bag lunch, according to an internal agency announcement. “Second Life has proven that virtual worlds of social networking are a reality: come hear Cory tell you why!” said the announcement. It added that virtual worlds gave the government the opportunity “to understand the motivation, context and consequent behaviors of non-Americans through observation, without leaving U.S. soil.”
Ondrejka, now the director of mobile engineering at Facebook, said through a representative that the NSA presentation was similar to others he gave in that period, and declined to comment further.
Even with spies already monitoring games, the NSA thought it needed to step up the effort.
“The Sigint Enterprise needs to begin taking action now to plan for collection, processing, presentation and analysis of these communications,” said one April 2008 NSA document, referring to “signals intelligence.” The document added, “With a few exceptions, NSA can’t even recognize the traffic,” meaning that the agency could not distinguish gaming data from other Internet traffic.
By the end of 2008, according to one document, the British spy agency, known as GCHQ, had set up its “first operational deployment into Second Life” and had helped the police in London in cracking down on a crime ring that had moved into virtual worlds to sell stolen credit card information. The British spies running the effort, which was code-named “Operation Galician,” were aided by an informer using a digital avatar “who helpfully volunteered information on the target group’s latest activities.”
Though the games might appear to be unregulated digital bazaars, the companies running them reserve the right to police the communications of players and store the chat dialogues in servers that can be searched later. The transactions conducted with the virtual money common in the games, used in World of Warcraft to buy weapons and potions to slay monsters, are also monitored by the companies to prevent illicit financial dealings.
In the 2008 NSA document, titled “Exploiting Terrorist Use of Games & Virtual Environments,” the agency said that “terrorist target selectors” — which could be a computer’s Internet Protocol address or an email account — “have been found associated with Xbox Live, Second Life, World of Warcraft” and other games. But that document does not present evidence that terrorists were participating in the games.
Still, the intelligence agencies found other benefits in infiltrating these online worlds. According to the minutes of a January 2009 meeting, GCHQ’s “network gaming exploitation team” had identified engineers, embassy drivers, scientists and other foreign intelligence operatives to be World of Warcraft players — potential targets for recruitment as agents.
At Menwith Hill, a Royal Air Force base in the Yorkshire countryside that the NSA has long used as an outpost to intercept global communications, American and British intelligence operatives started an effort in 2008 to begin collecting data from World of Warcraft.
One NSA document said that the World of Warcraft monitoring “continues to uncover potential Sigint value by identifying accounts, characters and guilds related to Islamic extremist groups, nuclear proliferation and arms dealing.” In other words, targets of interest appeared to be playing the fantasy game, though the document does not indicate that they were doing so for any nefarious purposes. A British document from later that year said that GCHQ had “successfully been able to get the discussions between different game players on Xbox Live.”
By 2009, the collection was extensive. One document says that while GCHQ was testing its ability to spy on Second Life in real time, British intelligence officers vacuumed up three days’ worth of Second Life chat, instant message and financial transaction data, totaling 176,677 lines of data, which included the content of the communications.
For their part, players have openly worried that the NSA might be watching them.
In one World of Warcraft discussion thread, begun just days after the first Snowden revelations appeared in the news media in June, a human death knight with the user name “Crrassus” asked whether the NSA might be reading game chat logs.
“If they ever read these forums,” wrote a goblin priest with the user name “Diaya,” “they would realize they were wasting” their time.
Even before the American government began spying in virtual worlds, the Pentagon had identified the potential intelligence value of video games. The Pentagon’s Special Operations Command in 2006 and 2007 worked with several foreign companies — including an obscure digital media business based in Prague — to build games that could be downloaded to mobile phones., according to people involved in the effort. They said the games, which were not identified as creations of the Pentagon, were then used as vehicles for intelligence agencies to collect information about the users.
Eager to cash in on the government’s growing interest in virtual worlds, several large private contractors have spent years pitching their services to American intelligence agencies. In one 66-page document from 2007, part of the cache released by Mr. Snowden, the contracting giant SAIC promoted its ability to support “intelligence collection in the game space,” and warned that online games could be used by militant groups to recruit followers and could provide “terrorist organizations with a powerful platform to reach core target audiences.”
It is unclear whether SAIC received a contract based on this proposal, but one former SAIC employee said that the company at one point had a lucrative contract with the CIA for work that included monitoring the Internet for militant activity. An SAIC spokeswoman declined to comment.
In spring 2009, academics and defense contractors gathered at the Marriott at Washington Dulles International Airport to present proposals for a government study about how players’ behavior in a game like World of Warcraft might be linked to their real-world identities. “We were told it was highly likely that persons of interest were using virtual spaces to communicate or coordinate,” said Dmitri Williams, a professor at the University of Southern California who received grant money as part of the program.
After the conference, both SAIC and Lockheed Martin won contracts worth several million dollars, administered by an office within the intelligence community that finances research projects.
It is not clear how useful such research might be. A group at the Palo Alto Research Center, for example, produced a government-funded study of World of Warcraft that found “younger players and male players preferring competitive, hack-and-slash activities, and older and female players preferring noncombat activities,” such as exploring the virtual world. A group from the nonprofit SRI International, meanwhile, found that players under age 18 often used all capital letters both in chat messages and in their avatar names.
Those involved in the project were told little by their government patrons. According to Nick Yee, a Palo Alto researcher who worked on the effort, “We were specifically asked not to speculate on the government’s motivations and goals.”
Andrew W. Lehren contributed reporting.
Editor says this is a Copy Righted Article Courtesy of ProPublica and The New York Times.
LIVE DISCUSSION: What are intelligence agencies doing in virtual worlds? Join ProPublica reporter Justin Elliott and New York Times reporter Mark Mazzetti this Monday, Dec. 9, at 2 pm ET to discuss. Submit your questions here or on Twitter with the hashtag #spygames.
Editor says this is a Copy Righted Article courtesy of ProPublica and The New York Times.
In 2012 the tradition continued, and showed even more ways that you and your little ones can follow Father Christmas‘ progress. A stunning 25 million people from around the globe are predicted to follow Santa in real-time on-line, on mobile phones and tablets, by email and phone.
What makes the program so special is that more than 1,250 Canadian and American uniformed personnel and Defense-Department civilians volunteer their time on Christmas Eve to answer thousands of phone calls and emails. What’s more, organizations such as Microsoft, Analytical Graphics Inc., Verizon, Vision-box and over 50 others support NORAD.
t’s hard to believe it all started with a typo. A program renowned the world over — one that brings in thousands of volunteers, prominent figures such as the First Lady of the United States, and one that has gone on for more than five decades — all started as a misprint.
That error ran in a local Colorado Springs newspaper back in 1955 after a local department store printed an advertisement with an incorrect phone number that children could use to ‘call Santa.’ Except that someone goofed. Or someone mistook a three for an eight. Maybe elves broke into the newspaper and changed the number. We’ll never know.
But somehow, the number in the advertisement changed, and instead of reaching the ‘Santa’ on call for the local department store, it rang at the desk of the Crew Commander on duty at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center, the organization that would one day become the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or ‘NORAD.’
And when the commander on duty, Col. Harry Shoup, first picked up the phone and heard kids asking for Santa, he could have told them they had a wrong number.
But he didn’t, instead, the kind-hearted colonel asked his crew to play along and find Santa’s location. Just like that, NORAD was in the Santa-tracking business.
2012 Improvements Are Made:
Santa is already on his way across the globe delivering presents to the boys and girls on his Nice List. The 2012 NORAD Santa Tracker is currently tracking good ol’ Saint Nick as he makes his way across the world to deliver presents on Christmas.
You can watch a live video of Santa’s journey below thanks to Norad’s hightech Santa Tracker, but you can also interact with the Santa tracking team via Facebook and Twitter. NORAD will be posting a constant stream of updates via social media sites today.
If you want to talk to the team first hand, you can even give NORAD a call.
Santa’s navigation team can be reached at 877-HI-NORAD (877-446-6723). They’ll be able to give you Santa’s current location and may even be able to tell you when to expect your presents.
2013 Technology Steps Up:
For the second straight year, Microsoft has partnered with the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) to monitor Santa’s progress around the globe. Microsoft redid the site this year, however, to allow excited children armed with Surface tablets to spin an interactive Claymation-styled globe around (beginning Dec. 24) and pinpoint when the jolly old elf will arrive in their neighborhood.
The site, now live, offers several holiday-themed games (unlocked using an Advent calendar motif), holiday videos, and music. There’s also “secret Santa” files that talk about the tracker’s history, which began when an advertisement offering to help kids track Santas accidentally published the phone number of CONAD, NORAD’s predecessor. The Director of Operations when, Colonel Harry Shoup, had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole, according to NORAD.
Years later, Google provided the first “data” that established the Santa Tracker Web site.(For the record, NORAD says its joint radar and satellite tracking system, together with a network of “Santa-Cams” and U.S. and Canadian jet fighters, provide up-to-the-minute alerts on Santa’s progress.) But two years ago, Google and NORAD parted ways, for unexplained reasons, and went with Microsoft instead.. Last year, Google’s revamped Santa tracker offered an opportunity to chat with Santa, download an Android app, and track him via Google+.
For Microsoft, it’s another opportunity to show off how sites designed for Internet Explorer and touch can mimic the apps that its platforms have unfortunately lacked. Microsoft has archived other, similar sites at its ”Reimagine the Web” site. Bing Maps will track Santa this year.
It looks like Google will be directly competing with NORAD this year, however.
“On Christmas Eve we’ll be proudly showcasing a preview of Santa’s dashboard—the technology that powers his sleigh during his around-the-world journey,” Google says. “We have received this special preview from one of Santa’s many developer elves, who are hard at work in the North Pole helping Santa prepare for his big day. Santa’s dashboard—featuring the latest and greatest in Google Maps technology and sleigh engineering—will allow you to follow his progress around the world, and also learn a little about some of his stops along the way.”
Don’t worry, though. As Stefan Weitz, Bing’s general manager, tweeted last month (as noted by Search Engine Land) Microsoft and Google have teamed up to avoid placing Santa in different locations throughout Christmas Eve night.