Small business confidence at new low

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According to Inc.com, “[t]he crisis on Wall Street continues to drag economic confidence among smaller business owners to record lows”  A study by Discover found that “[o]f 1,000 small-business owners recently surveyed, 64 percent described the economy as poor, up from 57 percent last month. At the same time, 53 percent said economic conditions were getting worse for their businesses, up two percent from September. Both readings are the highest recorded in the credit card firm's monthly small-business confidence index since it was launched in 2006.

Yahoo!Tech reports that “Google Inc., the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers have settled a class-action lawsuit over Google's book-scanning project.  The company and the book groups said Tuesday that Google will pay $125 million to resolve claims by authors and publishers and to pay legal fees.  Several universities have agreed to let Google scan their libraries and make the texts fully searchable online. But the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers sued in 2005, arguing that the plan violated copyright protections.  Now Google's payment will go toward the creation of a Book Rights Registry. That will allow holders of U.S. copyrights on books to register their work so they can get a cut of Internet ad revenue and online book sales.”     

The Register writes that “[t]he US's Center for Democracy & Technology has announced that after two years of negotiations, Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft will in the next few days adopt a voluntary code of ethics ‘intended to safeguard online freedom of speech around the world.’  The big three joined the initiative early last year and promised to work towards ‘a set of principles guiding company behaviour when faced with laws, regulations and policies that interfere with the achievement of human rights.’  Yahoo! has in the past demonstrated it could use a bit of guidance, notably in China. In 2005, the company copped a righteous amount of flak for ‘assisting’ the communist powers that be in tracking down and subsequently jailing ‘dissident’ Shi Tao – a data-coughing incident which caused the company much embarrassment and earned it a rap on the knuckles from the US Congress.  Google, meanwhile, has been criticised for offering Google.cn which fails to index touchy local subjects such as the the Falun Gong sect or Tiananmen Square lest they offend the delicate sensibilities of the lucrative Chinese market's masters.”

In another team effort, reported by CNetNews.com, “Microsoft, Yahoo, Western Union, and The African Development Bank are partnering to educate Internet users about the dangers of falling prey to the fake lottery winner e-mails.  In such scams, victims are told that they have won a lottery, often in a foreign country, and are then asked to provide their personal and financial information to claim the winnings. In the current economic downturn, the fear is that desperate people will be more likely to take the bait.”

Internetnews.com reveals that “Government Web sites are becoming more intuitive and user-friendly, according to a new study measuring customer satisfaction.  In its quarterly survey, research group ForeSee Results evaluated 98 government Web sites on a 100-point scale developed by the University of Michigan, known as the American Customer Satisfaction Index, or ACSI.  The aggregate score of the Web sites ForeSee reviewed was 73.9, a 1.4 percent increase from last quarter, and just slightly off from the highest mark posted since the study began in July 2003.  More sites' scores improved than declined, and 25 percent of those measured posted a score of 80 or higher, which is considered a superior score on the ACSI index.”

 

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