Tag Archives: Public Policy

Respecting rights: Global Network Initiative assessment report

In their first letter to shareholders, our founders highlighted Google’s mission to “develop services that significantly improve the lives of as many people as possible." This vision continues to guide all of us at Google. From Search to YouTube, Gmail to Google Maps—we’ve worked to ensure that our products increase access to information, help people connect with one another, and amplify opportunities around the world. In doing so, Google’s business, products, and technology have long had implications for the advancement of global human rights.

As a founding member of the Global Network Initiative (GNI), we’ve worked closely with civil society, academics, investors and industry peers to protect and advance freedom of expression and privacy globally as we deliver high-quality, relevant and useful content. Yesterday, GNI released its third assessment of Google, conducted by an independent third party, and determined that we are making good-faith efforts to implement the GNI Principles with improvement over time. 

The report provides an overview of how the GNI Principles are integrated into our governance structure, due diligence and risk management, and operational practices regarding freedom of expression and privacy. Senior management oversees the implementation of the GNI Principles at Google and provides quarterly updates to the Board of Directors. We’ve implemented an extensive network of Googlers covering product, jurisdiction, and functional areas who are responsible for the day-to-day work of protecting user rights of freedom of expression and privacy. Members of these teams can escalate issues to Google’s senior management, and are supported by a global human rights policy lead.  

As we reflect on Google’s assessments and some of the recent developments in our work to protect the free expression and privacy interests of our users, and our responsibilities to the societies in which we operate, we wanted to highlight a few examples of how our engagement with GNI continues to inform our broader approach to human rights.

Transparency

Transparency is core to Google’s commitment to respect human rights. Ten years ago (almost to the day!) Google launched a tool to inform people about government requests for user data or content removal. 

Now the Google Transparency Report hub includes transparency reports on requests for user information, government requests to remove content, traffic and disruptions, among many other topics. In April 2018, YouTube took an important first step by releasing a quarterly report on the types and amount of content we remove for violating the YouTube Community Guidelines. Since then, we’ve continued to add more data—disclosing the policy reasons for video and channel removals, the country of upload for video removals, and information about comment removals and appeals—reflecting Google’s continued commitment to iterate on our transparency reporting.

AI principles

In 2018, we published Google’s AI principles, which affirm our commitment to socially beneficial and accountable AI technology, and explicitly state that we won’t design or deploy AI technology that violates international law and human rights. This builds upon our core efforts to incorporate the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights into our responsible decision-making around emerging technologies. 

Since announcing the principles, we’ve established and evolved our formal processes to ensure we’re thoughtfully considering and assessing new AI projects, products and deals. Human rights due diligence is part of that process. 

Human rights by design 

Before creating our Celebrity Recognition tool, Google Cloud asked the human rights experts at Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) to conduct a human rights impact assessment (HRIA). The BSR assessment helped inform and strengthen Google’s “human rights by design” approach—further integrating human rights into product design and development, and strengthened human rights management at Google by embedding more capacity across various Google teams. 

Integrating the human rights assessment in the process of product development ensured that we were following our AI Principles and meeting our broader responsibility to consider and mitigate potential human rights risks. This due diligence helped us build a product in a sensitive area and encourage product managers to and think about product challenges in a new way. When we announced the Celebrity Recognition tool in October 2019, we also released a summary of our Human Rights Impact Assessment.

The GNI assessment also provided  recommendations for enhancing our implementation of the GNI Principles, which  will inform our policies and practices and strengthen our advocacy in 2020. All of this work helps us incorporate business and human rights principles into Google’s long-term strategies and day-to-day decision-making. We’ll continue to build on this approach, enriching lives and strengthening our communities in the future.

Continuing to grow and invest across America in 2020

Today I’m pleased to announce that Google will invest more than $10 billion in offices and data centers across the United States in 2020. 

Google has a presence in 26 states across the country and our new investments will be focused in 11 of them: Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, Oklahoma, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington and California. 

Everywhere we invest, we strive to create meaningful opportunities for local communities. A powerful example is our data center in Pryor, a town in Mayes County, Oklahoma. Last year, I visited Pryor to announce a $600 million investment, our fourth expansion there since 2007. It felt like the whole community came out to welcome us, from small business owners to teachers to Google employees. Pryor Mayor Larry Lees told the crowd that Google’s investments have helped provide local schools with the resources they need—including the latest textbooks and STEM courses—to offer a world-class education. He talked about the small businesses we have helped train and the mentorship Googlers have provided to Pryor’s students. 

This is exactly the kind of difference we hope to make with our new office and data center projects in 2020. These investments will create thousands of jobs—including roles within Google, construction jobs in data centers and renewable energy facilities, and opportunities in local businesses in surrounding towns and communities. 

This effort builds on the momentum of the $13 billion investment in communities from South Carolina to Nevada we made in 2019. Combined with other R&D investments, Google’s parent company Alphabet was the largest investor in the U.S. last year, according to a reportfrom the Progressive Policy Institute.  

We look forward to continuing this progress in the year ahead. Here’s a look at our 2020 investments by region:

2020 investments by region

South

Google continues to invest in Atlanta, and we will be welcoming new engineering teams to our growing office there this year. We will also invest in expanded offices and data centers in Texas, Alabama, South Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee. Plus, we’ll open a Google Operations Center in Mississippi to improve our customer support for users and partners around the world. 

Breaking ground at new office development in Atlanta, in 2019

Breaking ground at our office development in Atlanta in 2019. We’re expanding our space in Atlanta this year.

Midwest 

We recently opened a new Google Cloud office in Chicago and expanded our office in Madison, Wisconsin. We’ll make additional investments in our offices in Detroit, open a new data center in Ohio, and complete the expansion of our data center in Iowa.

Ribbon cutting at our new Google Cloud office in Chicago, Ill., in 2019.

Ribbon cutting at our new Google Cloud office in Chicago in 2019.

Central 

In Colorado, we have the capacity to double our workforce over the next few years, in part by expanding our presence in Boulder. We’ll also invest further in growing data centers in Nebraska and Oklahoma. 

Sundar Pichai speaking at Google’s Mayes County, Okla., data center expansion event.

Google’s Mayes County, Oklahoma data center expansion event. 

East 

We’re opening our new Hudson Square campus in New York City, where we have the capacity to double our local workforce by 2028. We’re also expanding our office in Pittsburgh, and a bigger office in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is under development. 

West 

We are expanding our Google Cloud campus in Seattle and undertaking a major development in Kirkland to open later this year. We’re making office and data center investments in Oregon. In California, we continue to invest in new locations in the Bay Area and Los Angeles. 

We’ll also accelerate our work with businesses, governments, and community organizations to distribute the $1 billion we committed for Bay Area housing. In the first six months of this commitment, we’ve helped to create more than 380 new affordable housing units in the Bay Area, including an investment in a development focused on affordable and inclusive housing for adults with disabilities. There’s more to come in 2020.

In addition to these investments in infrastructure and jobs, we’ll also continue our work nationally with local startups, entrepreneurs and small business owners to help Americans access new digital opportunities. Already Grow with Google and Google for Startups have trained more than 4 million Americans in hundreds of communities across all 50 states. Looking ahead, we're especially excited about our work creating pathways to jobs in the fast-growing field of IT through our two Grow with Google certificate programs

Our growth is made possible only with the help of our local Googlers, partners and communities who have welcomed Google with open arms. Working together, we will continue to grow our economy, create good jobs for more Americans and make sure everyone can access the opportunities that technology creates.

Supporting the 2020 U.S. election

The 2020 election season officially kicks off with the Iowa caucuses today. Building on our work to support the operations and security of the 2020 U.S. Census, we’re sharing more about what we’re doing to tackle abuse on our platforms, equip campaigns, and help voters. 

Tackling threats and abuse

Our Trust and Safety teams span the globe to monitor and disrupt account hijackings, inauthentic activity, disinformation campaigns, coordinated attacks, and other forms of abuse on our platforms on a 24/7 basis. We take seriously our responsibility to protect our users from harm and abuse, especially during elections. 

That’s why we’ve developed policies that prohibit deceptive practices and abuse such as voter suppression and misrepresentation in our products, including Google Ads, YouTube or Google Play. For example, Google Play has implemented new policies to mitigate misleading claims and promote transparency about the sources of government information including voting information communicated through apps. We work together withJigsaw to advance research on“deep fake” detection—and protect the accounts of users and campaigns that are targeted by hacking or phishing. Every day, Gmail blocks more than 100 million phishing emails and Google Safe Browsing helps protect more than 4 billion devices against dangerous sites. 

As part of our ongoing efforts to counter interference on our platforms, we work closely with other technology companies and government agencies, such as the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force, on referrals and leads. Alongside my colleagues at Google’s Threat Analysis Group, and at YouTube, we work closely to identify bad actors, disable their accounts, warn our users about them, and share relevant information with industry officials and law enforcement. We will continue to provide updates with findings around state-sponsored phishing attacks, coordinated influence operations, and disinformation campaigns. 

Equipping campaigns

As we approach November’s election, we’ll continue to educate campaigns and elected officials on how they can effectively use Google and YouTube products to reach voters. Candidates can claim their knowledge panels so people have access to quality, authoritative information right in Google Search. And we work with them to optimize their presence on YouTube by helping them get verified and more effectively engage with voters through YouTube. 

Additionally, we’re committed to enhancing election security for campaigns, voters and journalists alike. We created Protect Your Election, a suite of free tools to help protect high-risk users from the most pervasive digital attacks, like DDoS and phishing attacks (to which politicians, journalists, and campaigns are often most vulnerable). Our Advanced Protection Program and Jigsaw’s Project Shield help combat the types of digital attacks that could threaten account and web-site security. 

As part of these efforts, we’re supporting the new Election Security and Information Project, run out of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School. Last week, the trainers kicked off the first of many election security training sessions that will take place in every state across the country. This nonpartisan program is designed to help campaigns, academics, elected officials and NGOs prepare for election-related security challenges between now and November. 

Helping voters

Whether you’re registering for the first time, looking for your polling place, or voting absentee, we want to help you navigate the process. For years, we've worked with trusted organizations and built tools into Google Search to do just that—to provide you with authoritative and objective information in a completely neutral way. Our systems are designed to elevate authoritative content when people seek information about topics such as elections or candidates. We do this not only for users directly on our own platform, but also by supporting the civic technology ecosystem through products like the Google Civic Information API. These products allow third-party developers to create useful applications to help people find information, for instance, about where to vote. 

As the election season unfolds, you can tune into YouTube to watch political events and follow debate livestreams. Over the past few years, YouTube has invested in the teams and systems to raise up quality content, such as prioritizing authoritative voices in search results for news and topics prone to misinformation. 

And for the 2020 elections, you can search for political ads with more visibility than ever before: you’ll be able to see more types of ads in our Political Ads Transparency Report and Ad Library, including ads that mention federal or state-level candidates, officeholders, ballot measures and political parties. As you may have seen, we recently announced changes to our global political ads policies that expand verification and transparency measures to ads that mention state-level candidates and officeholders, ballot measures, and political parties. 

We will continue our work across Google and YouTube to tackle abuse on our platforms and help you navigate the democratic process before you head to the ballot box on November 3. 


The case for open innovation

Software programs work better when they work together. Open software interfaces let smartphone apps and other services connect across devices and operating systems. And interoperability—the ability of different software systems to exchange information—lets people mix and match great features, and helps developers create new products that work across platforms. The result? Consumers get more choices for how they use software tools; developers and startups can challenge bigger incumbents; and businesses can move data from one platform to another without missing a beat. 


This kind of open and collaborative innovation, from scientific peer-reviewed papers to open-source software, has been key to America’s achievements in science and technology.


That’s why today we filed our opening Supreme Court brief in Oracle’s lawsuit against us. We’re asking the Court to reaffirm the importance of the software interoperability that has allowed millions of developers to write millions of applications that work on billions of devices. As Microsoft said in an earlier filing in this case: "Consumers ... expect to be able to take a photo on their Apple phone, save it onto Google’s cloud servers, and edit it on their Surface tablets." 


The Court will review whether copyright should extend to nuts-and-bolts software interfaces, and if so, whether it can be fair to use those interfaces to create new technologies, as the jury in this case found. Software interfaces are the access points that allow computer programs to connect to each other, like plugs and sockets. Imagine a world in which every time you went to a different building, you needed a different plug to fit the proprietary socket, and no one was allowed to create adapters.


This case will make a difference for everyone who touches technology—from startups to major tech platforms, software developers to product manufacturers, businesses to consumers—and we’re pleased that many leading representatives of those groups will be filing their own briefs to support our position.


Open interfaces between programs are the building blocks of many of the services and products we use today, as well as of technologies we haven’t yet imagined. An Oracle win would upend the way the technology industry has always approached the important issue of software interfaces. It would for the first time grant copyright owners a monopoly power to stymie the creation of new implementations and applications. And it would make it harder and costlier for developers and startups to create more products for people to use.


We welcome the opportunity to appear before the Supreme Court this spring to argue for software interoperability that has promoted the progress of science and useful arts—the core purpose of American copyright law.

How Google and YouTube are working to protect the 2020 U.S. Census

Next year, as it has done every decade since 1790, the U.S. will carry out its constitutional duty to count the population of the United States. In 2020, for the first time, the census will offer individuals the option of completing the census online, in addition to completing it by mail or phone. With over 70 percent of U.S. households using the internet at home, and 80 percent using smartphones, this new format will allow more people to participate in the census next year. 

Yesterday, U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and 41 of their Senate colleagues introduced a bipartisan resolution to ensure the census count is fair and accurate, and to urge participation by everyone, and Google is a strong supporter of the resolution.

To support the new online option, we’re working to connect people with useful and high-quality information about the census.  Building upon our ongoing work to protect the integrity of information and civic processes, this past March we established our 2020 U.S. Census Taskforce, a team to support the operations and security of the 2020 Census across Google and YouTube. Its primary objective is to prevent bad actors from abusing our services to spread misinformation, or to conduct fraudulent activity around the census such as phishing or other scams. We’ll provide regular updates on our efforts to the Census Bureau and other relevant organizations. Here's a look at some of the work we're doing on this front.

YouTube policies

YouTube expanded its existing deceptive practices policy to explicitly cover the census process. Videos and comments that aim to misinform viewers about the time, means or eligibility requirements for participating in the census are not allowed on YouTube.

Policies for ads on our platforms

Our policies already prohibit ads that contain misleading uses of official government sites or agency names, or attempt to mimic the layout and design of an official government agency site. Last month we clarified this policy to explicitly prohibit ads featuring incorrect information about how to participate in the census.  

Security protections for Gmail and Chrome

Every day, Gmail blocks more than 100 million phishing emails and Google Safe Browsing helps protect more than 4 billion devices against dangerous sites. Our team is working to ensure that legitimate emails from the Census Bureau are delivered, and to block phishing attempts (such as attempts to drive users to fake census websites, or to hand over personal information or account information). Security tools like Safe Browsing in Chrome are turned on by default, and can warn people of compromised sites related to the census.

Access to authoritative information on Search

Search is designed to surface relevant results from the most authoritative sources available. As part of our efforts to tackle disinformation and stay ahead of the malicious actors that propagate it, we’re improving our systems and elevating authoritative information, particularly for important areas like civics and news.

Engagement with partner organizations

We’ll share actionable information with other companies, law enforcement and the U.S. Census Bureau to help investigate, identify and resolve relevant issues. The U.S. Census Bureau is joining the YouTube Trusted Flagger program so it can augment our efforts by quickly notifying YouTube of census-related content that violates our policies. 

Transparency for government information on Play

To promote transparency about the sources of government information communicated through apps on the Google Play Store, a recent policy update now requires apps that communicate government information but are not affiliated with a government entity to provide users the source(s) of this information. Census partners will need to provide the sources of any census related information they provide in their app and make clear the nature of their relationship with the census.

As other countries make a similar shift to an online census, we hope the work we’re doing for the 2020 Census in the United States will be a strong foundation on which to build.

You can learn more about the count by visiting the U.S. Census Bureau’s official website.

An update on our political ads policy

We’re proud that people around the world use Google to find relevant information about elections and that candidates use Google and search ads to raise small-dollar donations that help fund their campaigns. We’re also committed to a wide range of efforts to help protect campaigns, surface authoritative election news, and protect elections from foreign interference.

But given recent concerns and debates about political advertising, and the importance of shared trust in the democratic process, we want to improve voters' confidence in the political ads they may see on our ad platforms. So we’re making a few changes to how we handle political ads on our platforms globally. Regardless of the cost or impact to spending on our platforms, we believe these changes will help promote confidence in digital political advertising and trust in electoral processes worldwide. 

Our ads platforms today

Google’s ad platforms are distinctive in a number of important ways: 

  • The main formats we offer political advertisers are search ads (which appear on Google in response to a search for a particular topic or candidate), YouTube ads (which appear on YouTube videos and generate revenue for those creators), and display ads (which appear on websites and generate revenue for our publishing partners). 

  • We provide a publicly accessible, searchable, and downloadable transparency report of election ad content and spending on our platforms, going beyond what’s offered by most other advertising media.  

  • We’ve never allowed granular microtargeting of political ads on our platforms. In many countries, the targeting of political advertising is regulated and we comply with those laws. In the U.S., we have offered basic political targeting capabilities to verified advertisers, such as serving ads based on public voter records and general political affiliations (left-leaning, right-leaning, and independent). 

Taking a new approach to targeting election ads

While we've never offered granular microtargeting of election ads, we believe there’s more we can do to further promote increased visibility of election ads. That’s why we’re limiting election ads audience targeting to the following general categories: age, gender, and general location (postal code level). Political advertisers can, of course, continue to do contextual targeting, such as serving ads to people reading or watching a story about, say, the economy. This will align our approach to election ads with long-established practices in media such as TV, radio, and print, and result in election ads being more widely seen and available for public discussion. (Of course, some media, like direct mail, continues to be targeted more granularly.) It will take some time to implement these changes, and we will begin enforcing the new approach in the U.K. within a week (ahead of the General Election), in the EU by the end of the year, and in the rest of the world starting on January 6, 2020.

Clarifying our ads policies

Whether you’re running for office or selling office furniture, we apply the same ads policies to everyone; there are no carve-outs. It’s against our policies for any advertiser to make a false claim—whether it's a claim about the price of a chair or a claim that you can vote by text message, that election day is postponed, or that a candidate has died. To make this more explicit, we’re clarifying our ads policies and adding examples to show how our policies prohibit things like “deep fakes” (doctored and manipulated media), misleading claims about the census process, and ads or destinations making demonstrably false claims that could significantly undermine participation or trust in an electoral or democratic process. Of course, we recognize that robust political dialogue is an important part of democracy, and no one can sensibly adjudicate every political claim, counterclaim, and insinuation. So we expect that the number of political ads on which we take action will be very limited—but we will continue to do so for clear violations.

Providing increased transparency

We want the ads we serve to be transparent and widely available so that many voices can debate issues openly. We already offer election advertising transparency in India, in the EU, and for federal U.S. election ads. We provide both in-ad disclosures and a transparency report that shows the actual content of the ads themselves, who paid for them, how much they spent, how many people saw them, and how they were targeted. Starting on December 3, 2019, we’re expanding the coverage of our election advertising transparency to include U.S. state-level candidates and officeholders, ballot measures, and ads that mention federal or state political parties, so that all of those ads will now be searchable and viewable as well. 

We’re also looking at ways to bring additional transparency to the ads we serve and we’ll have additional details to share in the coming months. We look forward to continuing our work in this important area.

Bringing Wi-Fi to the residents of Celilo Village

For the past seven years, I have spent time visiting students in rural communities across Washington State, where I live. I share information about science, engineering, technology and math, and specifically talk about software engineering and the projects Google has launched. It’s a true joy of mine to see students excited about technology, and see their young minds thinking about the possibilities ahead of them. 


When I visit students, I get to combine my experience as an engineer at Google, and as a member of the Google American Indian Network, to bring access to technology to those who may not otherwise have it. As an Elder and an Enrolled Member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Oregon, I was honored to take part in Google’s latest initiative to bring Wi-Fi and Chromebooks to Celilo Village, a Native American community on the Columbia River. This project will give residents and students the ability to access the abundance of information found online, and improve the digital divide between urban and rural communities.


The village has a historical significance to this part of the country, dating back over 11,000 years. Today, it’s home to nearly 100 Native Americans from many tribes, four of whom are the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Confederated Tribes of Yakama, Confederated Tribes of Umatilla and the Nez Perce Tribe. And until now, the 16 homes in the village had sporadic or no access to Wi-Fi.

Celilo Village schoolhouse

Distributing Chromebooks to village residents in their renovated schoolhouse.

Thanks to a grant from Google, participation from the Google American Indian Network and collaboration with Dufur School, village residents and The Dalles Data Center, all homes now have access to Wi-Fi, and so do their schoolhouse and longhouse. Residents will have access to Chromebooks, and I put together a booklet with instructions on getting online and accessing Google apps.

Daydream VR in Celilo Village

Karen Whitford, a resident and Elder of Celilo Village, tries out the Google Daydream View VR headset.

The idea for the partnership came from Celilo Village resident Bobby Begay, who talked to the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center about funding connectivity for the village. The Discovery Center then worked with Googlers across the company to get the project started, including the Google American Indian Network. We celebrated this special gift with a community event in Celilo Village over the weekend, where we were joined by tribal leaders, policymakers and community members.

My fellow Googlers and I worked directly with the community to get this done, and we plan to keep our partnership going. “I’m excited to see the project come to fruition, but I think even more I’m excited at the opportunity to foster a longer-term relationship with residents of Celilo,” says my colleague Tria Bullard, one of the first Googlers to get involved with the project. We plan to provide more trainings and other computer science-related activities in the future. 

My hope is that with this new window into technology, Celilo Village will continue to grow and thrive for years to come. And who knows: Maybe kids growing up there will become part of the next generation of scientists and engineers.

Bringing Wi-Fi to the residents of Celilo Village

For the past seven years, I have spent time visiting students in rural communities across Washington State, where I live. I share information about science, engineering, technology and math, and specifically talk about software engineering and the projects Google has launched. It’s a true joy of mine to see students excited about technology, and see their young minds thinking about the possibilities ahead of them. 


When I visit students, I get to combine my experience as an engineer at Google, and as a member of the Google American Indian Network, to bring access to technology to those who may not otherwise have it. As an Elder and an Enrolled Member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Oregon, I was honored to take part in Google’s latest initiative to bring Wi-Fi and Chromebooks to Celilo Village, a Native American community on the Columbia River. This project will give residents and students the ability to access the abundance of information found online, and improve the digital divide between urban and rural communities.


The village has a historical significance to this part of the country, dating back over 11,000 years. Today, it’s home to nearly 100 Native Americans from many tribes, four of whom are the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Confederated Tribes of Yakama, Confederated Tribes of Umatilla and the Nez Perce Tribe. And until now, the 16 homes in the village had sporadic or no access to Wi-Fi.

Celilo Village schoolhouse

Distributing Chromebooks to village residents in their renovated schoolhouse.

Thanks to a grant from Google, participation from the Google American Indian Network and collaboration with Dufur School, village residents and The Dalles Data Center, all homes now have access to Wi-Fi, and so do their schoolhouse and longhouse. Residents will have access to Chromebooks, and I put together a booklet with instructions on getting online and accessing Google apps.

Daydream VR in Celilo Village

Karen Whitford, a resident and Elder of Celilo Village, tries out the Google Daydream View VR headset.

The idea for the partnership came from Celilo Village resident Bobby Begay, who talked to the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center about funding connectivity for the village. The Discovery Center then worked with Googlers across the company to get the project started, including the Google American Indian Network. We celebrated this special gift with a community event in Celilo Village over the weekend, where we were joined by tribal leaders, policymakers and community members.

My fellow Googlers and I worked directly with the community to get this done, and we plan to keep our partnership going. “I’m excited to see the project come to fruition, but I think even more I’m excited at the opportunity to foster a longer-term relationship with residents of Celilo,” says my colleague Tria Bullard, one of the first Googlers to get involved with the project. We plan to provide more trainings and other computer science-related activities in the future. 

My hope is that with this new window into technology, Celilo Village will continue to grow and thrive for years to come. And who knows: Maybe kids growing up there will become part of the next generation of scientists and engineers.

The historic partnership of democracy and technology

In September I joined the 2019 Digital Summit in Dublin, where I was invited to deliver a speech on technology and politics. The Digital Summit brings together stakeholders from across society to discuss technological innovation and the challenges facing all of us. It’s a forum designed to tackle hard questions in a thoughtful, serious, and mutually respectful way. In that regard, the summit built on what I believe to be one of the more constructive and least told stories in modern history—the relationship between technology and politics in society, and the work of policymakers who helped lay the foundation for our digital century.


Over the past 30 years, in democracies around the world, policymakers’ support for the free flow of goods, services, and ideas has created a larger, more diverse, more inclusive digital economy. It’s fostered a world where individuals are empowered through wider access to knowledge, and where start-up entrepreneurs and small businesses can reach customers around the globe. As the World Bank has found, over the past 25 years more than 1 billion people have emerged from extreme poverty—an event unparalleled in human history. That’s due in no small part to the twin rise of technology and trade. And today, with innovations in areas like artificial intelligence, we stand on the cusp of even greater advances.


This amazing story of human progress didn’t come out of the ether. The policies and attitudes of open societies made it possible. From investments in ARPA and the National Science Foundation to the pioneering work at CERN, policymakers created the environment that made invention happen. More than just permitting innovation, they championed the idea of a world in which technology could support greater prosperity, freedom, and individual empowerment. History doesn’t often talk about that, but I think it will ultimately tell the story of how that framework helped unleash the human ingenuity that will help us address the most serious challenges of our time. 


To hear more, watch or read my full speech from the 2019 Digital Summit.

The courage to change: sharing resources for recovery

I didn't know what recovery meant until a friend asked me if I was still "in recovery." Confused, I responded, “Yes, I’m still not drinking, if that's what you mean.” I know now what I didn’t know then: Recovery means life after substance abuse. It means having a clear mind and a healthy body. It means having the foresight to say no to alcohol. It means having the mental clarity to thrive at work and the desire to live a fuller, happier, complete life. 

As someone who has struggled with addiction and embarked on a journey toward recovery, I am so proud that Google is marking National Recovery Month with a new site, Recover Together. I participate in a recovery group at Google and know how important it is for this community to be connected. As part of Google’s ongoing efforts to combat the opioid crisis, today we’re taking an additional step to support those in recovery.

Too many of us have experienced firsthand the devastating impact of addiction—with our friends, colleagues, family members and loved ones. From the first time I filled my water bottle with alcohol and brought it to school at only 14 years old, to the many times I blacked out and woke up in the back seat of my car in surprising locations, I know how deeply addiction affected my life and worried my family.

More than 21 million Americans struggle with substance use. But it is treatable: An estimated 1 out of 14 American adults is in recovery. In fact, people come to Google every day to seek information on addiction treatment, prevention and recovery. Just last month, we saw an all-time high in search interest for “rehab near me,” “addiction treatment near me” and “how to help an addict.”

Top searched questions on addiction

Starting today, you can come to Google to find recovery resources all in one place, beginning with a video series from those in recovery. I felt less alone when hearing others share their stories, and I am grateful to be able to do the same here.

Recovery locator tool

Our new Recovery Locator Tool in Maps. 

We’re also launching two new Google Maps locator tools that will connect people with crucial recovery resources, including: 

  • Recovery Locator ToolA map with locations of more than 83,000 recovery support meetings such as AA, NA, Al-Anon and SmartRecovery, and other services such as school-based and family support. These take place at more than 33,000 community centers, churches, and other spaces—put in your address and you’ll see many recovery services are in your area or wherever you’re traveling.

  • Naloxone Locator ToolA special locator tool will show you locations where you can get Naloxone, the life-saving opioid overdose-reversal drug, without a prescription. All you have to do is type “Naloxone near me” or “Narcan near me” into the search bar in the tool. It already includes 20,000 pharmacies (including CVS, Rite-Aid and Walgreens) in 50 states, and we’ll continue to add local clinics and independent pharmacies. The site will also have more information about the availability and life-saving capability of this medication. Soon, these locations will also be searchable directly in Google Maps.

Finding recovery is a personal journey, and I am so grateful to work for a company that is making resources available to those who need them. In addition to these new tools, the site points to many other resources for those seeking treatment, including a self-assessment screener from the National Institute of Drug Abuse and state-specific Helpline resources and hotlines. 

To anyone at the beginning stages of recovery: This process is hard and tiring and challenging and you do not need to figure this all out alone. From the moment I first connected to the Employee Assistance Program counselor at Google who helped me confront the reality of my addiction, my life has changed in ways that at one time seemed unimaginable. I teach yoga. I run marathons. My life has been enriched by others in the recovery community. My sorrow has been replaced with a joy I never thought possible. And today, my hope is that anyone seeking recovery can find the same help and resources through Google I wanted so many years ago. Recovery is difficult, and it is so much better when we’re all in it together.