Tag Archives: Public Policy

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.

Google’s services create choice for consumers, and spur innovation in the U.S.

Google's services help people, create more choice, and support thousands of jobs and small businesses across the United States. Google is one of America’s top spenders on research and development, making investments that spur innovation: Things that were science fiction a few years ago are now free for everyone—translating any language instantaneously, learning about objects by pointing your phone, getting an answer to pretty much any question you might have.


At the same time, it’s of course right that governments should have oversight to ensure that all successful companies, including ours, are complying with the law. The Department of Justice, for example, has announced that it’s starting a review of online platforms.


We have answered many questions on these issues over many years, in the United States as well as overseas, across many aspects of our business, so this is not new for us. The DOJ has asked us to provide information about these past investigations, and we expect state attorneys general will ask similar questions. We have always worked constructively with regulators and we will continue to do so.


We look forward to showing how we are investing in innovation, providing services that people want, and engaging in robust and fair competition.

Maintaining the integrity of our platforms

Protecting our users and the integrity of our platforms is essential to Google’s mission. My team works with others across Google to detect phishing and hacking attempts, identify influence operations and protect users from digital attacks.

When identifying and preventing threats, we exchange information with industry partners and law enforcement, and also apply our own internal investigative tools as well as intelligence from third parties.

Earlier this week, as part of our ongoing efforts to combat coordinated influence operations, we disabled 210 channels on YouTube when we discovered channels in this network behaved in a coordinated manner while uploading videos related to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. This discovery was consistent with recent observations and actions related to China announced by Facebook and Twitter.

We found use of VPNs and other methods to disguise the origin of these accounts and other activity commonly associated with coordinated influence operations.

Separately, we are continuing our work to protect users against online security threats. This week, Google announced that we have taken action to protect users in Kazakhstan after credible reports that its citizens were required to download and install a government-issued certificate on all devices and in every browser. This certificate enabled the government to decrypt and read anything a user types or posts, including intercepting their account information and passwords.

These actions are part of our continuing efforts to protect the integrity of our platforms and the security and privacy of our users. Each month, our Threat Analysis Group sends more than 4,000 warnings to our users about attempts by government-backed attackers or other illicit actors to infiltrate their accounts. This is the warning we send if we detect such an attempt:

Security alert

In addition to identifying and detecting the source of threats, we also integrate the most advanced security measures into all of our products so that users are protected automatically. To that end, this month we announced an expansion of the Advanced Protection Program to Chrome to provide extra security for that program’s users when they’re downloading files online. We also just introduced that program as a beta for enterprise customers. Our ​improving ​technology has also enabled ​us to ​significantly ​decrease ​the ​volume ​of ​phishing ​email, and we've rolled out significant protections in Gmail that detect and block over 99.8 percent of attachment malware.

Our teams will continue to identify bad actors, terminate their accounts, and share relevant information with law enforcement and others in the industry.

It’s time for a new international tax deal

Finance ministers from the world’s largest economies recently came together and agreed on the need for the most significant reforms to the global tax system in a century. That’s great news.

We support the movement toward a new comprehensive, international framework for how multinational companies are taxed. Corporate income tax is an important way companies contribute to the countries and communities where they do business, and we would like to see a tax environment that people find reasonable and appropriate.

While some have raised concerns about where Google pays taxes, Google’s overall global tax rate has been over 23 percent for the past 10 years, in line with the 23.7 percent average statutory rate across the member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Most of these taxes are due in the United States, where our business originated, and where most of our products and services are developed. The rest we paid in the roughly fifty countries around the world where we have offices helping to sell our services.

We’re not alone in paying most of our corporate income tax in our home country. That allocation  reflects long-standing rules about how corporate profits should be split among various countries. American companies pay most of their corporate taxes in the United States—just as German, British, French and Japanese firms pay most of their corporate taxes in their home countries. 

For over a century, the international community has developed treaties to tax foreign firms in a coordinated way. This framework has always attributed more profits to the countries where products and services are produced, rather than where they are consumed. But it’s time for the system to evolve, ensuring a better distribution of tax income.

The United States, Germany, and other countries have put forward new proposals for modernizing tax rules, with more taxes paid in countries where products and services are consumed. We hope governments can develop a consensus around a new framework for fair taxation, giving companies operating around the world clear rules that promote a sensible business investment.

The need for modernization isn’t limited to the technology sector. Both the OECD and a group of EU experts have concluded that the wider economy is “digitizing,” creating a need for broad-based reform of current rules. Almost all multinational companies use data, computers, and internet connectivity to power their products and services. And many are seeking ways to integrate these technologies, creating “smart” appliances, cars, factories, homes and hospitals. 

But even as this multilateral process is advancing, some countries are considering going it alone, imposing new taxes on foreign companies. Without a new, comprehensive and multilateral agreement, countries might simply impose discriminatory unilateral taxes on foreign firms in various sectors. Indeed, we already see such problems in some of the specific proposals that have been put forward.   

That kind of race to the bottom would create new barriers to trade, slow cross-border investment, and hamper economic growth. We’re already seeing this in a handful of countries proposing new taxes on all kinds of goods—from software to consumer products—that involve intellectual property. Specialized taxes on a handful of U.S. technology companies would do little more than claim taxes that are currently owed in the U.S., heightening trade tensions. But if governments work together, more taxes can be paid where products and services are consumed, in a coordinated and mutually acceptable way. This give-and-take is needed to ensure a better, more balanced global tax system.

We believe this approach will restore confidence in the international tax system and promote more cross-border trade and investment. We strongly support the OECD’s work to end the current uncertainty and develop new tax principles. We call on governments and companies to work together to accelerate this reform and forge a new, lasting, and global agreement.