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Google blocks YouTube on Amazon devices in escalating feud
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Google blocks YouTube on Amazon devices in escalating feud

Google blocks YouTube on Amazon devices in escalating feud

Google blocks YouTube on Amazon devices in escalating feud

Google is pulling its popular YouTube video service from Amazon’s Fire TV and Echo Show devices in an escalating feud that has caught consumers in the crossfire.

The decision to block YouTube is retaliation for Amazon’s refusal to sell some Google products that compete with Amazon gadgets. That includes Google’s Chromecast streaming device, an alternative to Fire TV, and an internet-connected speaker called Home, which is trying to catch up to Amazon’s market-leading Echo. Amazon’s high-end Echo Show has a screen that can display video.

“Given this lack of reciprocity, we are no longer supporting YouTube on Echo Show and Fire TV,” Google said in a Tuesday statement.

Amazon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Two tech heavyweights do battle

The battle highlights the power that the world’s major technology companies are gaining as they dominate important corners of commerce and communications. As the world’s largest online retailer, Amazon has tremendous sway over what people buy, while the results delivered by Google’s ubiquitous search engine often help determine what people do on and off the web.

Google is hoping to pressure Amazon into selling Google’s products by taking away access to the world’s most widely watched video service. Unless a truce is reached, YouTube will stop working on Fire TV on Jan. 1. YouTube was supposed to disappear from the Echo Show Tuesday, although Amazon has previously found ways to make unauthorized versions of YouTube available on that device.

RELATED: Should you sign up for YouTube TV?

The dispute between Amazon and Google mirrors the face-offs that occasionally crop up between pay-TV providers and TV networks when it comes time to re-negotiate their deals.

But in this instance, the two tech heavyweights aren’t fighting over licensing fees. Instead, they are jockeying to position their gadgets and, by extension, their digital services into homes as internet-connected appliances and devices become more deeply ingrained in people’s lives.

The bickering between Google and Amazon has been going on several years as they have ratcheted up the competition with each other. One of the first signs that the companies were at odds came when Amazon redesigned Google’s Android mobile software for its Kindle tablets. Two years ago, Amazon ousted Chromecast from its store, even though that device had previously been its top-selling electronics gadget.

The latest standoff between Google and Amazon was ridiculed by a trade association of high-speed internet providers. The group, USTelecom, has been trying to persuade skeptics that internet providers will preserve equal access to all digital services, even if the Federal Communications Commission adopts a proposal to rescind current “net neutrality” regulations .

Internet providers are committed to “protections like no content blocking or throttling,” said USTelecom CEO Jonathan Spalter. “Seems like some of the biggest internet companies can’t say the same. Ironic, isn’t it?”

Besides withholding Chromecast and the Home speaker from its store, Amazon has also rankled Google by declining to sell an internet-connected thermostat made by Nest, which is owned by Google parent Alphabet Inc. Amazon also doesn’t allow its Prime video streaming service on Chromecast, an omission that Google wants to change.

Amazon also doesn’t sell Apple’s video streaming player. But that could change if Amazon’s video streaming service starts working on Apple TV, something Apple has said would happen by the end of this year. But that announcement was made in June and Prime video still isn’t available on Apple TV.

Roku’s market-leading streaming players are sold through Amazon. Roku’s players feature channels for watching both Prime video and YouTube.

Read More

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  • First it was Pizzagate. The completely bogus 2016 election conspiracy theory that almost resulted in tragedy at my neighborhood pizza joint, spurred by the ridiculous assertion that supporters of Hillary Clinton were running a child sex ring out of Comet Ping Pong Pizza in a Washington, D.C. neighborhood. A year later in December of 2017, the conspiracy theorists are back on my doorstep. This time, instead of my family’s favorite pizza parlor, they’re after my long time hobby, convinced that a woman with ties to Fusion GPS got a ham radio license in order to hide communications to help a bid to undermine President Donald Trump’s campaign. The focus is on a woman named Nellie Ohr, who is married to a top Justice Department official named Bruce Ohr. Why she was working with the group Fusion GPS – which was paying a former British intelligence agent to put together the Trump Dossier – is certainly something of note. But the idea that Ohr was using ham radio for secret communications with Steele on the dossier, or items related to the Trump campaign – is somewhat laughable to me and many in the amateur radio community. RT ARmastrangelo: Now we're learning that they were communicating by ham radio. Robert Ohr's wife even applied for a ham radio license so that nobody could monitor them during their Trump investigation, while they prepared the dossier. Real cute. — Ex-GOP Ronin! (@ShawDeuce) December 15, 2017 And just like with Pizzagate, there are no actual facts to back up claims like that one on Twitter about the ham radio link – but that hasn’t stopped it from making the quick jump from social media to talk radio. “Now we find out that Robert Ohr’s wife applied for a ham radio license?” said Rush Limbaugh as he opened his show on December 14, not even three full days after it surfaced on Twitter. “They were communicating by ham radio,” Limbaugh declared with authority, adding that it was an effort to get around monitoring efforts of the National Security Agency, evidently to facilitate contacts by Orr and former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele. Sigh. Let’s start with this question – could Nellie Orr use ham radio to be in contact with Steele in England, or others on the European continent? Take it from me – a few weeks ago, I was furiously trying to make as many contacts as possible with European ham radio operators – it wouldn’t be easy for someone with a new license like hers. And I could come up with a lot better choices. @jamiedupree Can't quit laughing about this talk of KM4UDZ using her 'ham radio' to write a campaign document. idiots know nothing about subject OR who she was communicating with or which band (& it's limitation) – ridiculous. — Jim Bowman (@W4DFS) December 14, 2017 “It would be one of the least efficient communication methods one could choose,” said David Isgur, the Communication Manager for the American Radio Relay League, the national association for ham radio in the U.S. As Isgur pointed out to me in an email from ARRL HQ, not only would you need good antennas, and some good knowledge about when signals are the best between the United States and Europe, but Ohr’s license grade is a “Technician,” which is the lowest level license issued by the FCC. Hams who are “Technicians” have the smallest amount of privileges on the various amateur radio frequencies. Most of her frequencies would support very local communication, not even out of state, let alone across the country, or across the ocean  to Europe. And with her license, class, the best way she could communicate with someone in Europe would be in Morse Code – and that’s not easy for a beginner (it isn’t part of the license requirement any longer in the United States). But like Pizzagate, those kind of facts don’t matter to those who want to spread this story. The ham radio angle seems to have originated with a Twitter user who goes by the handle @TruthinGov2016, who found that Nellie Ohr had applied for an amateur radio license, and been granted the call sign KM4UDZ. Why is Nellie Ohr communicating via amateur HAM radio and with who? Here’s her call sign. You can listen in. https://t.co/NEYPPj1dIq pic.twitter.com/TmS2rGLzmm — TruthInGovernment (@TruthinGov2016) December 12, 2017 That tweet on December 11, would quickly gain attention on social media, and end up on talk radio just a few days later. Ham radio operators who have been in touch with me were trying not to laugh too much. “If you wanted to have secret, encrypted communications, why would you even bother getting a ham radio license,” said one amateur radio operator on my Facebook page. As for the idea that Ohr would be using ham radio to get around the National Security Agency, “this is 100% totally, completely, wrong,” said another ham, who noted that the NSA records the entire radio spectrum 24/7/365. “That you think ham radio has anything to do with this is hysterical,” one ham wrote to @TruthinGov2016 about the supposed Chris Steele link. “Absolutely hysterical.” But even with comments like that from people who know the limits of the hobby, it didn’t stop the conspiracy theory from spreading fast over the internet. Nellie Ohr gets a HAM radio license so she can communicate with Steele or MI6 or the Russians or whoever! Tom Clancy couldn't make this stuff up on his best day! — Tom Joad (@blakemankansas) December 12, 2017 I got my ham radio license when I was a freshman in college back in 1981, so I’ve seen a few things in the hobby. If Nellie Ohr were trying to get in touch with England or Russia via ham radio, it’s more difficult than normal, as we’re in a time period where radio signals aren’t bouncing around the globe as easily as they can – all of that is related to the low number of sunspots, and how it impacts radio signals here on Earth. But just like when I told people that there weren’t sadistic paintings on the walls at Comet Ping Pong – and they accused me of protecting a child sex ring – people are going to believe conspiracy theories, because they want to believe conspiracy theories, not because there are facts behind them. Amateur radio could always use a little good publicity. But not a conspiracy theory like this one. Pizza and ham radio go together. Pizzagate and ham radio do not. 73.