Our views on the Internet and society
A principle that should not be forgotten
Thursday, May 19, 2016
published an op-ed
by Kent Walker, Google’s global general counsel, in France’s Le Monde newspaper. We’re republishing the op-ed in English below.
For hundreds of years, it has been an accepted rule of law that one country should not have the right to impose its rules on the citizens of other countries. As a result, information that is illegal in one country can be perfectly legal in others: Thailand outlaws insults to its king; Brazil outlaws negative campaigning in political elections; Turkey outlaws speech that denigrates Ataturk or the Turkish nation — but each of these things is legal elsewhere. As a company that operates globally, we work hard to respect these differences.
In March, the French data protection regulator (the CNIL) ordered that its interpretation of French law protecting the right to be forgotten should apply
not just in France,
but in every country in the world.
The right to be forgotten - more accurately, a right to be delisted from search results - was created in a landmark 2014 ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). It lets Europeans delist certain links from search engine results generated by searches for their name, even when those links point to truthful and lawfully published information like newspaper articles or official government websites.
Google complies with the European Court’s ruling in every country in the EU. Our approach reflects the criteria set out by the CJEU, as well as guidance from each country’s regulators and courts about the nuances of their local data protection rules. Across Europe we’ve now reviewed nearly 1.5 million webpages, delisting around 40%. In France alone, we’ve reviewed over 300,000 webpages, delisting nearly 50%.
Following feedback from European regulators, we recently
expanded our approach
, restricting access to delisted links on all Google Search services viewed from the country of the person making the request. (We also remove the link from results on other EU country domains.) That means that if we detect you’re in France, and you search for someone who had a link delisted under the right to be forgotten, you won’t see that link anywhere on Google Search - regardless of which domain you use. Anyone outside the EU will continue see the link appear on non-European domains in response to the same search query.
The CNIL's latest order,
however, requires us to go even further, applying the CNIL’s interpretation of French law to every version of Google Search globally. This would mean removing links to content - which may be perfectly legal locally - from Australia (
) to Zambia (
) and everywhere in between, including
As a matter of both law and principle, we disagree with this demand. We comply with the laws of the countries in which we operate. But if French law applies globally, how long will it be until other countries - perhaps less open and democratic - start demanding that their laws regulating information likewise have global reach? This order could lead to a global race to the bottom, harming access to information that is perfectly lawful to view in one’s own country. For example, this could prevent French citizens from seeing content that is perfectly legal in France. This is not just a hypothetical concern. We have received demands from governments to remove c
ontent globally on various grounds -- and we have resisted, even if that has sometimes led to the blocking of our services.
In defence of this
principle of international law, we today filed our appeal of the CNIL’s order with France’s Supreme Administrative Court, the Conseil d’Etat. We look forward to the Court’s review of this case, which we hope will maintain the rights of citizens around the world to access legal information.
Posted by Kent Walker, Senior Vice President and General Counsel
Look beyond the surface - celebrating Freud’s 160th birthday
Friday, May 6, 2016
Do you wake up in the morning wondering what your dreams mean? The idea that dreams ‘mean’ anything, or that we have an unconscious mind at all, is now commonly accepted thanks to Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), the father of psychoanalysis. To celebrate the 160th anniversary of his birth today, we have partnered with the
Sigmund Freud Museum in Vienna
Freud Museum London
to bring the stories behind Freud’s life and legacy online. We
commemorate Sigmund Freud
on our homepages in 40 countries.
The Sigmund Freud Museum in Vienna is located in the physician’s former apartment and office located in the city’s ninth district. He lived and worked there from 1891 until 1938, when his family fled Nazi persecution. The online exhibition
Getting to know Sigmund Freud
, presents several stages of his life through a selection of photographs, illustrations and documents.
The Freud Museum London is located in
the house where the Freud family lived after their escape from Austria. The museum’s online exhibition “
Sigmund Freud: A Life in Psychoanalysis
” brings Sigmund Freud to life and shows how he was one of the most
influential thinkers and cultural personalities of the 20th century. The exhibit introduces psychoanalysis
in an accessible way, show us how Freud’s ‘talking cure’ helped treat psychological issues, and even allows us to peek inside Freud’s home with
the famous couch
his patients opened up their thoughts.
Freud's psychoanalytic couch
by photographer: Ardon Bar Hama,
Freud Museum London
The Google Doodle that honors Freud’s work doesn’t focus on the more familiar symbol of the psychoanalyst’s couch. Instead, Kevin Laughlin, who created this Google Doodle, visualises Freud’s theory of the mind.
The hidden portion of the icebergs suggest the vast, murky underside of the unconscious human mind. Like the steam ship, Freud’s psychoanalysis helps us to navigate these fascinating depths. Sigmund Freud steered a path through 20th-century thought, leaving all of us in the wake of his remarkable legacy.
Lauren Nemroff, program manager, Google Cultural Institute
This Is For Everyone: Google and Debating Europe Discuss Women and Tech
Friday, May 6, 2016
The online world is at its best when it includes everyone. Currently, three billion of the world's seven billion people are connected to the internet; by 2020 it'll be five billion. If women aren't included as equal partners in this internet revolution, we all stand to lose. That's why this week, we teamed up with
to host a Women & Tech event in Brussels with EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Věra Jourová, Google Europe’s President Matt Brittin, and wired women from around the world to highlight the impact of tech on women and of women on tech.
Women are still vastly underrepresented in the tech sector. We only make up only 30% of the workforce in the ICT sector, and 19% of digital entrepreneurs -- compared to over 30% in other sectors. This disparity begins in education, where we have a lower participation rate worldwide in science, technology maths and engineering subjects.
Jourová set the tone, noting that we shouldn’t just talk about change, but make it happen. She told us about the vital work the European Commission is doing in this area, for instance by contributing to the
Girls in ICT
project. But there’s still a lot of work on the same basic point: we need to increase the number of women working in tech.
To solve a problem, you need data. Google's aim is to organise the world's information, and one of our speakers, Lucy Hurst, had plenty to share. She co-authored The Economist Intelligence Unit's
on the gender gap, which showed that in some countries inequality between men and women is getting worse.
Next, you need enthusiasm, and a will to change. One of the most inspiring speakers we heard from was
-- a Dubai-based YouTube star who was recently made a
UN Change Ambassador
. She mentioned that in one of her videos -- which offer a light-hearted look at everything from pre-exam panic to satirical differences between Arab and Western mothers -- she talked about her love of reading. Soon after, parents were thanking her for encouraging their daughters to read.
She also told us about the importance of having a diverse range of female role models worldwide; about how women can discover economic and educational opportunities online; and that everyone benefits when women around the world are connected, educated, and able to use their capabilities to the full.
From Google, we invited Yvonne Agyei, our Vice President of People Operations.We know the most exciting ideas come from unexplored places: that's why with hiring, we extend our reach beyond traditional universities, helping us discover the talent of underrepresented groups, including women. We also invest in partnerships across the continent to get young people excited about computer science, like
Lero’s Summer Computing Camp for Girls
We’re pleased with the results, even though there’s clearly more to do. So far, 37% of Campus London community members are female, and 33% of our Madrid members are female. Our Campus Directors in London and Madrid - Sarah Drinkwater and Sofia Benjumea - are doing an amazing job in supporting greater diversity in local start-up communities. Of all the startups that make up our
community, 40% have a woman in the ‘founder’ team.
All of this fits in with our wider goal of training 2 million Europeans in digital skills -- in fact, 43% of participants in our digital workshops, so far, are women. They include Romanian folk blouse retailers and a cat grooming service in The Netherlands.
There's a lot to be optimistic about, but there's a great deal of work to be done as well. Great companies rely on great people -- and if women aren’t included, half the talent pool is absent. We want more stories like
Mame Khary Diene
, and her start-up BioEssence, more YouTubers like Hayla and her friends sharing their excitement about gender equality, and more coding workshops for girls like the ones run by Cheryl D. Miller of the Digital Leadership Institute. We look forward to training hundreds of thousands of girls and women in digital skills over the next few years.
Posted by: Sara Elnusairi, Public Affairs Manager Google Brussels
Android’s Model of Open Innovation
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
We released the Android operating system in 2007. A free and open-source operating system, supported by numerous hardware partners, the model was unlike any other that had come before it. The first device didn’t foretell Android’s future success. It was
” …. having “
a kind of charming, retro-future look; like a gadget in a 1970's sci-fi movie set in the year 2038.”
But we (and the thousands of other companies working on Android devices and apps) kept at it.
Since that time, Android has emerged as an engine for mobile software and hardware innovation. It has empowered hundreds of manufacturers to build great phones, tablets, and other devices. And it has let developers of all sizes easily reach huge audiences. The result? Users enjoy extraordinary choices of apps and devices at ever-lower prices.
The European Commission has been investigating our approach, and today issued a Statement of Objections, raising questions about its impact on competition. We take these concerns seriously, but we also believe that
our business model keeps manufacturers’ costs low and their flexibility high, while giving consumers unprecedented control of their mobile devices. That’s how we designed the model
Our partner agreements are entirely voluntary --
anyone can use Android without Google.
Try it—you can
the entire operating system for free, modify it how you want, and build a phone.
And major companies like Amazon do just that.
Manufacturers who want to participate in the Android ecosystem commit to test and certify that their devices will support Android apps. Without this system, apps wouldn’t work from one Android device to the next. Imagine how frustrating it would be if an app you downloaded on one Android phone didn’t also work on your replacement Android phone from the same manufacturer.
Any manufacturer can then choose to load the suite of Google apps to their device and freely add other apps as well. For example, phones today come loaded with scores of pre-installed apps (from Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, Google, mobile carriers, and more).
Of course while Android is free for manufacturers to use, it’s costly to develop, improve, keep secure, and defend against patent suits. We provide Android for free, and offset our costs through the revenue we generate on our Google apps and services we distribute via Android.
And it’s simple and easy for users to personalize their devices and download apps on their own -- including apps that directly compete with ours. The popularity of apps like Spotify, WhatsApp, Angry Birds, Instagram, Snapchat and many more show how easy it is for consumers to use new apps they like. Over 50 billion apps have been downloaded on Android.
Our partner agreements have helped foster a remarkable -- and, importantly, sustainable -- ecosystem, based on open-source software and open innovation.
We look forward to working with the European Commission to demonstrate the careful way we’ve designed the Android model in a way that’s good for competition and for consumers.
Posted by Kent Walker, Senior Vice President & General Counsel
Working together to better protect children online
Thursday, April 14, 2016
At Google we know that collaboration has been key to ensuring that our products and services offer families a safe and secure experience online, which is why we regularly work with NGOs, government and industry partners to empower parents and children with the tools and skills they need to make the most of the Internet. In previous years, we’ve held events bringing together NGOs from around Europe to discuss these important issues and explore opportunities for better partnership.
This year, we are hosting our third Child Safety Summit in collaboration with Facebook. On April 14-15 in Dublin NGOs from 18 countries in Europe, Middle East and Africa will join us to exchange best practices, discuss how we all can better protect children online, and work together to ensure that we anticipate and respond to the ever-changing needs that children have on the web.
Since Google believes deeply in technology’s ability to unlock creativity, we work hard to ensure that parents and children have the tools and knowledge they need to make smart and responsible choices on online. Google’s work falls into three distinct areas, all of which will be addressed at this year’s summit:
product and feature launches
that help ensure we provide offer families a safe and secure experience online,
commitment and investment
in the fight against child sexual abuse and exploitation online, and
partnerships with NGO
s on digital literacy in order to help build an informed and responsible generation of digital citizens.
Our ongoing partnerships with NGOs respond to local challenges and aim to have a lasting impact.
In the UK, we have launched Internet Legends, an interactive, in-school assembly for 8-11 year olds. In partnership with Parentzone, we are aiming to educate 10,000 primary school children from 40 schools across the country on online safety. Using the powerful and memorable
Internet Legends code
, we are working together to empower children with the tools they need to stay safe and act responsibly online.
In Spain, we partnered with
to launch an
to promote safe and responsible use of the Internet by teens. The game focuses on building skills and fostering deeper understanding around privacy, security, copyright and best practices for safe & responsible behavior online. 12,000 Spanish students have participated so far, and we held an initial awards ceremony in the European Parliament to celebrate winners.
In France, we worked alongside
and YouTube creators
to launch a campaign, #NonAuHarcèlement. The
was filmed in our YouTube Space in Paris and aims to facilitate a movement for teens to unite against online bullying and harassment.
In Italy, we launched a web safety and digital empowerment campaign with Altroconsumo, the largest consumer association in the country.
Love the internet, safely
offers practical, educational material to encourage users to create stronger passwords, enable features like
, and take the
Google Privacy Checkup
We believe that companies like Google have a responsibility to not only ensure that our products and services offer the safest and most secure experiences possible, but that we also work alongside a wide range of stakeholders and industry partners to creatively and effectively raise awareness and offer support on these important issues.
Posted by Brittany Smith, Online Safety Lead, Public Policy, EMEA
Supporting digital inclusion for 1M French citizens
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
It’s an unfortunate truth that five million French residents are both economically disadvantaged and lack the skills needed to find work and access information in today’s digital world. At Google.org we see everyday how new technologies can transform lives and generate new opportunities for people. That’s why we support
around the globe that leverage technology to address social challenges--and why this week we’re supporting a new initiative in France with
to meet these increasing needs.
Some time ago, a
small entrepreneurial team within the large and historic NGO
came to us with an idea, and we were inspired by their vision. They asked us: ‘What if we could help a million French citizens to find jobs and gain crucial skills needed in a digital world?’
This week, with a €1M Google.org grant and technical expertise from Google volunteers, Emmanaus is launching
. This social startup will teach the basics of looking for a job online and help people to access social benefits on the web with an ambitious goal of supporting one million French citizens by 2020.
Two key platforms supporting the WeTechCare mission will be launched in the coming months. The first, called “Clic’n’Job” will coach young unemployed people through the process of finding a job. The second, called “Les Bons Clics” will help people lacking basic digital skills to access government social rights and benefits which will soon, in France, will be exclusively accessible online--a significant barrier to entry.
is committed to making sure everyone can participate in and benefit from the digital future and the team at Google France and Google.org look forward working with them on this ambitious new project. From startups to enterprises, creators to
communities, Google continues to work towards ensuring that the opportunities of the Internet benefit everyone in society and towards our
goal of training Europeans in digital skills
Posted by Florian Maganza, Google.org
A world that works for everyone: $20M in global funding from Google Impact Challenge Disabilities
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Last spring we
kicked off our Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities
with an open call to global nonprofits building transformative technologies for the billion people around the world with disabilities. In the past year, we’ve been amazed by the innovative ideas submitted by over 1,000+ organisations spanning 88 countries. Throughout this work, the Google.org team has had the opportunity to meet some incredible people who are working hard to create a world that works for everyone.
Through this Impact Challenge, we committed $20 Million in Google.org grants. We’ve shared a
of the organisations we’re supporting already—and today we’re excited to share the
full list of 30 winners
. From employment to education, communication to mobility, each of our grantees is pushing innovation for people with disabilities forward.
The organisations we’re supporting all have big ideas for how technology can help create new solutions and each of their ideas has the potential to scale. Each organisation has also committed to open sourcing their technology—which helps encourage and speed up innovation in a sector that has historically been siloe
Meet some of our incredible grantees, from among the 12 EMEA winners, below. You can learn more about all 30 organisations working to improve mobility, communication, and independence for people living with disabilities at
For more than half of wheelchair users, postural support devices (PSDs) are necessary to ensure their health and safety, while also making it easier for them to get around. In developing countries, low-income individuals in need of a wheelchair often don't have access to PSDs, w
hich can severely impact their health and
lead to a less independent lifestyle. With a $866,813 grant from Google.org, British organisation Motivation is using 3D printing to test designs for customizable PSDs—sharing designs that perform well with other service providers through an an open database.
Foundation, based in The Netherlands, is working with a $1 million grant from Google.org to expand the development and distribution of Majicast, a
fully automated, easy-to-use device that produces high-quality prosthetic sockets in developing countries where access to prosthetics can be an enormous challenge.
Despite efforts to rate the accessibility of the world’s public places, barriers in data collection have made it difficult to map, making planning even the simplest of outings a challenge for people with disabilities. With a $939,262 grant, Germany’s Wheelmap, a project of Sozialhelden, is developing the common standards and technology backend needed to bring this data together and make it available for use by the many apps and websites that help people with disabilities route, plan, and enjoy exploring the world.
Beit Issie Shapiro
The range of accessibility challenges people face around the world make it nearly impossible to build cost-effective, customized solutions for each one—meaning many go unaddressed. With $700,000 from Google.org, Israeli organisation Beit Issie Shapiro is partnering with TOM to empower a growing army of makers to help their communities. Their “Makeathon-in-a-box” is a template for community Makeathons that bring makers and people with disabilities together to prototype new solutions for “orphan” accessibility challenges.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, it’s estimated that 85-95% of people with disabilities who need assistive technology do not have access to it--largely because they don’t know of its existence. With a $717,728 grant from Google.org, the Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD) is working with with the University of Washington and AfriNEAD to establish AT-Info-Map, a system that will map the location and availability of assistive technology in Sub-Saharan Africa—providing critical information and increasing access to life-changing technology.
With a mission that is to make the world’s information accessible to everyone, accessibility is something we care deeply about at Google. The Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities set out to accelerate the use of technology to create meaningful change in the lives of the one billion people in the world with a disability. We’re eager to watch as all of the fund’s grantees, selected from over 1,000 submissions from around the world, build new solutions that will transform lives and make the world more accessible for all.
Posted by Brigitte Hoyer Gosselink, Google Impact Challenge Disabilities Project Lead for Google.org
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