Internet giant Yahoo! announced on November 10, 2013, that it won’t end its revenue sharing contract with Israeli Babylon, despite Google terminating its similar contract on November 30.
Google provided above 40% of Babylon’s revenues during the second quarter of 2013; Yahoo! provided over 30%, which amounts to almost $20 million.
Babylon is the largest company in what is mockingly known as the Israeli Download Valley,* or in a more serious term the field of directing users. Israel has conquered several internet and information-technology niche markets. This is true to the extent that most American citizens are unwillingly sharing their secrets with the State of Israel.
I reviewed Babylon a few months ago in Microsoft Strikes Israeli Software after the American giant limited the activity of Babylon and similar companies on its browsers. Google decision was the result of pressure coming from users of its browser Chrome that correctly understood they were being robbed by Babylon.
“But, they are just nice kids translating stuff!”
On paper, Babylon looks like an inoffensive provider of online dictionaries. In the screenshot reproduced below, one can see the home page featured in many Bolivian internet kiosks. It is a Babylon search page, designed to look like a Google search page; note the odd code appearing in its address line (a long string of nonsense numbers and letters serving as directives to the company’s server, in contrast look at the address of this page), that’s the first sign something is wrong.
The second sign appears while using it; the computer reacts slowly since it is busy sending data to its Babylonian masters. This happens despite Bolivians being unable to spend money on the web; Bolivian money is not a free floating currency and thus it is banned by the international financial system. This search page is defined as a default in the user’s browser while installing Babylon’s dictionary.
Since the page looks like Google’s, few users realize that their home page has been replaced, or that they had clicked on a button asking for this change while installing the dictionary. “Same, same” they say to themselves and begin telling Babylon everything about themselves. The following week, they buy a book named “French Cooking;” a few days later—so that they won’t suspect the link between the events—they get a pamphlet advertising a French restaurant near their home. In thanks for the blunt violation of privacy, the Babylonian masters in Israel get a few silver coins.