Corporate Profile Timelines

  • In 2017, Alphabet's Sidewalk Labs began a collaboration with Waterfront Toronto intended to turn a 12-acre lakeside area into a "smart city" equipped with sensors and responsive infrastructure. Frustration that Torontonians' data privacy concerns were not being addressed led Saadia Muzaffar, founder
  • Google announced on October 8 having discovered a vulnerability in the Google+ API which has been open since 2015. This vulnerability allowed third-party developers to access data for more than 500,000 users, including their usernames, email addresses, occupation, date of birth, profile photos, and
  • In September 2018, Google was discovered to be prototyping a search engine, codenamed Dragonfly, designed to comply with China's censorship regime. Among other features, Dragonfly would tie users' searches to their personal phone numbers, ensuring the government could track their queries. Among the
  • In May 2018, Google announced an AI system to carry out tasks such as scheduling appointments over the phone using natural language. A Duplex user wanting to make a restaurant booking, for example, could hand the task off to Duplex, which would make the phone call and negotiate times and numbers. In
  • In 2017 the Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a complaint with the US Federal Trade Commission asking the agency to block Google's Store Sales Measurement service, which the company introduced in May at the 2017 Google Marketing Next event. Google's stated goal was to link offline sales to
  • When Google launched Gmail in 2004, the new service rapidly gained acceptance because it offered far more storage space than any other comparable service. From the beginning, however, Gmail scanned the contents of emails to help the company generate contextual ads. Scanning has never applied to the
  • In 2016, Facebook and Google began introducing ways to measure the effectiveness of online ads by linking them to offline sales and in-store visits. Facebook's measurement tools are intended to allow stores to see how many people visit in person after seeing a Facebook campaign, and the company
  • In 2012, London Royal Free, Barnet, and Chase Farm hospitals agreed to provide Google's DeepMind subsidiary with access to an estimated 1.6 million NHS patient records, including full names and medical histories. The company claimed the information, which would remain encrypted so that employees
  • In April 2016, Google's Nest subsidiary announced it would drop support for Revolv, a rival smart home start-up the company bought in 2014. After that, the company said, the thermostats would cease functioning entirely because they relied on connecting to a central server and had no local-only mode
  • In 2009, Spanish citizen Mario Costeja González objected to the fact that an auction notice from 1998, when his home was repossessed, was still accessible on the website of the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia and the first thing people saw when they searched for him on Google. When the courts
  • In 2013, Edward Snowden, working under contract to the US National Security Agency for the consultancy Booz Allen Hamilton, copied and leaked thousands of classified documents that revealed the inner workings of dozens of previously unknown surveillance programs. One of these was PRISM, launched in
  • In 2012 the US Consumer Watchdog advocacy group filed a complaint against Google alleging that the company had violated its 2011 consent decree with the US Federal Trade Commission in the case about Google Buzz. The complaint was based on February 2012 revelations that the site was failing to honour
  • In 2012, Google announced it would condense 70 different privacy policies into a single one that would allow the company to merge the data collected across all its services, including Maps, search, Android, Books, Chrome, Wallet, Gmail, and the advertising service provided by its DoubleClick
  • In July 2011, the established writer GrrlScientist tried to log into her Google account and found that it was suspended, barring her access to Gmail, Google Docs, YouTube, Google Reader, and the newly launched social network Google+. It turned out that the reason was then when Google launched its
  • In 2010, increasing adoption of social media sites such as blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr led Google to develop Buzz, an attempt to incorporate status updates and media-sharing into its Gmail service. Users could link their various social media feeds, including Picasa (Google's photo-sharing
  • In 2010, Google revealed that a data audit required by Germany's data protection authority had revealed that since 2007 the cars deployed to capture images for its Street View project had accidentally captured 600GB of data from local wifi networks, including personal web browsing histories. Google
  • Google launched its first version of Android in 2009. Based on a modified Linux kernel and other open source software, Android provides the operating system for mobile phones, tablets, televisions, cars, wrist watches, and many other devices including digital cameras, game consoles, PCs, and
  • In May 2007, Google launched Street View, an add-on to its Maps service that allows users to see and "drive" through images of streets and buildings. Almost immediately, the service provoked controversy when users realised that these images included pictures looking through the windows of their
  • DoubleClick was one of the first companies set up to sell display advertising on the web. Set up in 1996, it went public in 1998, and in 1999 merged with the data collection company Abacus Direct. In response to a 2001 US Federal Trade Commission investigation of the proposed merger, DoubleClick
  • To personalise the services it offers, Google retains user data such as search histories and as well as the Internet Protocol (IP) addresses and other digital identifiers that enable the company to link search queries to the specific computer where they were generated. Until March 2007, the company
  • In 2005, Google launched its web analytics service, which tracks and reports website traffic. The most widely-used analytics service on the web, Google Analytics comes in three versions: free, the subscription enterprise service 360, and a mobile service that collects analytics from both iOS and
  • The first example of internet users being blindsided by the retention of information they had thought was ephemeral was Usenet, a worldwide collection of discussion groups ("newsgroups") created in 1979. At the beginning, computers called each other directly to swap and distribute new postings; as