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We’ve heard many troubling stories of “revenge porn”: an ex-partner seeking to publicly humiliate a person by posting private images of them, or hackers stealing and distributing images from victims’ accounts. Some images even end up on “sextortion” sites that force people to pay to have their images removed.

Our philosophy has always been that Search should reflect the whole web. But revenge porn images are intensely personal and emotionally damaging, and serve only to degrade the victims—predominantly women. So going forward, we’ll honor requests from people to remove nude or sexually explicit images shared without their consent from Google Search results. This is a narrow and limited policy, similar to how we treat removal requests for other highly sensitive personal information, such as bank account numbers and signatures, that may surface in our search results.

In the coming weeks we’ll put up a web form people can use to submit these requests to us, and we’ll update this blog post with the link.

We know this won’t solve the problem of revenge porn—we aren’t able, of course, to remove these images from the websites themselves—but we hope that honoring people’s requests to remove such imagery from our search results can help.

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In the 20 years since the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) first made spectrum available on an unlicensed basis, technologies such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth have flourished. Innovation in unlicensed spectrum has given people more opportunity to access the Internet, when and where they need it.

Carriers are also innovating in licensed spectrum, deploying Long Term Evolution (“LTE”) networks that enable the delivery of data traffic faster and more efficiently than previous generations of technology such as 3G. Indeed, a spectrum policy that balances licensed and unlicensed opportunities has allowed expansive growth of the wireless economy, benefiting consumers, innovators, and investors.

With the rapid growth of data services and high bandwidth applications, mobile operators need more capacity than ever. One way to meet the need is to move traffic from their licensed network to the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz unlicensed bands, known as “Wi-Fi offloading”. Offloading benefits carriers and consumers: carriers find additional capacity to relieve congestion on their network and consumers have a high-quality experience.

In recent months, several carriers and suppliers have announced plans to deploy LTE, a technology historically deployed only in licensed frequencies, in the 5 GHz unlicensed band as a means for providing additional capacity to customers. One part of the LTE stream operates in a licensed frequency, and the mobile operator has the flexibility to determine whether to send other portions over licensed or unlicensed frequencies. This arrangement provides licensed operators access to additional spectrum without the expense of obtaining a license, while allowing them to maintain the quality of service expected for licensed services. This form of LTE cannot be used without access to licensed spectrum.

However, LTE over unlicensed — at least as currently conceived — presents new challenges for coexistence with other unlicensed technologies. A new white paper by Google engineers, which we filed with the FCC this week, summarizes our initial investigation into the issue of coexistence between license-anchored LTE and Wi-Fi in the 5 GHz band. The paper shows that in many circumstances, LTE over unlicensed coexists poorly with Wi-Fi.

Although all players in the wireless ecosystem should have the ability to utilize unlicensed spectrum within the FCC’s rules, LTE over unlicensed has the potential to crowd out unlicensed services. Holders of licensed spectrum shouldn’t be able to convert the unlicensed 5 GHz band into a de-facto licensed spectrum band, and certainly they should not have the ability to drive out other unlicensed users.

The ability for diverse technologies to operate together in the unlicensed bands has typically been resolved through cooperation and without regulatory intervention. Providers of unlicensed services share an incentive to make sure that players are able to deliver services in the band without fundamentally degrading other unlicensed activity. The incentives to coexist may be different when providers can fall back to licensed spectrum in the event of conflicts in unlicensed spectrum. But there is still time for the industry-led cooperation that enables technologies like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to coexist successfully.

A potential solution that would avoid coexistence problems in the 5 GHz band is for carriers instead to utilize newly available spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band for additional capacity. The FCC recently identified the now-underutilized 3.5 GHz band spectrum as ideal for this kind of use.

The entire wireless ecosystem should be concerned about allowing one innovation to block others — past and future. The best way to stimulate innovation without regulatory intervention is for the industry to maximize use of all available spectrum and develop workable coexistence and coordination mechanisms that encourage widespread access to unlicensed spectrum. 

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Over the last few years, we've started to see gigabit Internet service transform communities. It has provided a platform for economic development and new ways to use technology to improve citizens’ lives. What’s more, where there is competition, it is driving a race between broadband providers, giving consumers higher speeds, greater choice, and lower prices.

The U.S. shouldn’t settle for less than ubiquitous, abundant broadband access. Unfortunately, many consumers don’t have much choice in broadband providers and for most, gigabit Internet is still a dream. Market-based solutions are critical to closing the gap, yet regulation on the federal, state, and local levels has not kept pace with technological innovation. Some regulations, such as those addressing access to infrastructure, fail to remove — and sometimes worsen — barriers to broadband deployment. Policymakers’ top broadband goal should be abundance, which can be brought about by competition, investment, and adoption.

Earlier this year, the Obama Administration created a “Broadband Opportunity Council” of federal government agencies to examine how each agency could remove barriers to broadband deployment. Today, we’re sharing our ideas with the Council in a filing with the U.S. Commerce Department.

Google has always invested in making online content and applications more widely available. We’re also creating more abundant broadband access through services like Google Fiber and wireless projects. Our experience has given us some ideas for how government officials can implement policies to make the U.S. fiber ready, wireless ready, and consumer ready.

Fiber Ready 
One of the biggest challenges facing new broadband entrants, including Google Fiber, is accessing existing infrastructure. Policymakers can help reduce delays associated with obtaining adequate information, attaching to existing utility poles, and increasing access to existing conduit and rights of way. Moreover, we can streamline processes that pole owners and existing attachers use to get poles ready for a new provider (known as “make-ready” work).

Another challenge for new broadband entrants is unreasonably high rates for access to video programming. The FCC's policy of allowing non-cost based discounts under the guise of permitted volume discounts undermines broadband entry and deployment. The policy should be revised to require covered programmers to justify how their discounts for the biggest incumbents relate to actual cost savings. Most consumers want to buy Internet and video programming in one package. Encouraging the competitive availability of video services can spur the deployment of high-speed networks, resulting in more consumer choice.

Wireless Ready 
Wireless service plays a critical role in bringing broadband to rural areas where low population densities and challenging terrain make traditional deployments prohibitively expensive, and to underserved areas that lack robust infrastructure. Whether a consumer uses a DSL, cable or fiber connection, she likely is using Wi-Fi as the last link for connectivity. To promote broadband abundance, policymakers can ensure that sufficient spectrum is available for Wi-Fi and other unlicensed technologies and adopt policies to enable sharing of underused spectrum.

Consumer Ready 
About 30 percent of Americans still don’t use the Internet at home, leaving them at a disadvantage when it comes to education, job opportunities, and social and civic engagement. Google Fiber has committed to address digital inclusion and adoption with community partners and local leaders, but a broader effort is needed to bring all Americans online. As part of our filing with the Commerce Department, we propose a number of ideas for how the government can further broadband adoption and digital inclusion.

These proposals include expanding digital literacy programs; driving public awareness about why the Internet matters; and modernizing the Lifeline program to shift the responsibility for determining eligibility away from carriers to enable consumers to choose connectivity services that meet their needs. These ideas are an essential complement to the work of Google and others to make the Internet faster and more affordable for more people across the country.

A successful agenda to increase broadband deployment and bandwidth abundance will benefit consumers, small businesses and the economy. We hope that the new Broadband Opportunity Council will remove barriers, give Americans more choices at higher speeds, and help reach the goal of nationwide broadband abundance.

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In passing the USA Freedom Act, Congress has made a significant down payment on broader surveillance reform. Today marks the first time since its enactment in 1978 that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) has been amended in a way that reflects privacy rights enshrined in our history, tradition, and Constitution.

While most of the focus has been on ending the bulk telephony metadata program under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, there are other meaningful reforms in the bill for Internet users. The USA Freedom Act shuts the door to the bulk collection of Internet metadata under a separate legal authority that the government relied upon in the past to collect Internet metadata in bulk. The USA Freedom Act additionally prevents bulk collection of Internet metadata through the issuance of National Security Letters.

Not all of these legal authorities expired on June 1, and we are pleased that Congress took the initiative to prevent the bulk collection of Internet metadata under these legal authorities.

Today’s vote represents a critical first step toward restoring trust in the Internet, but it is only a first step. We look forward to working with Congress on further reforms in the near future.

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Today, there are more artists, publishers, and authors creating more works for global audiences, on a growing number of platforms -- on YouTube, Facebook, Spotify, Twitter, Dailymotion, Tumblr, Medium, SoundCloud, Etsy, Vine, Pinterest and more.

These digital exchanges have become an increasingly important driver of the global economy. As a result, more open trade has the potential to give creators, online platforms and other businesses access to more consumers around the world. And Trade Promotion Authority -- which empowers U.S. officials to negotiate trade agreements subject to up or down votes in Congress -- presents an opportunity to modernize our trade strategy for the Internet era.

While U.S. trade agreements have historically included copyright provisions to protect right holders, the Internet’s success depends on both copyright protection and pro-innovation limitations and exceptions, such as fair use and safe harbors for online platforms. Without both, Internet platforms -- and the explosion of creativity and new distribution channels they have enabled -- would not be possible.

We tend to take this balanced approach for granted in the U.S. But without trade agreements reflecting that balance, there is a very real risk that the Internet’s most popular platforms -- like search engines, video sharing sites, and social networks -- could be hindered or even blocked in foreign markets on the basis of one-sided copyright principles. And that could hurt the overall U.S. economy; one study found that 1 in 8 U.S. jobs are tied to industries that rely on copyright limitations and exceptions.

We were glad that U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman last year committed to “asking our trading partners to secure robust balance in their copyright systems -- an unprecedented move that draws directly on U.S. copyright exceptions and limitations, including fair use.” That was a big step. 

And while it’s unfortunate that the Trade Promotion Authority legislation now being debated by Congress does not on its face fully reflect Ambassador Froman’s commitment, we’re happy that the bill’s authors made clear for the first time ever (in their accompanying report on the bill) that trade agreements should foster an appropriate balance, including copyright limitations and exceptions. It’s progress. We’re also glad to see other provisions to promote pro-innovation policies globally.

We hope Congress will approve Trade Promotion Authority, and urge trade officials to increasingly promote the balanced copyright policies abroad that have enabled great content and Internet platforms to thrive.

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We’re grateful that the U.S. House of Representatives just approved the USA Freedom Act, which -- as I blogged last week -- takes a big step toward reforming our surveillance laws while preserving important national security authorities. It ends bulk collection of communications metadata under various legal authorities, allows companies like Google to disclose national security demands with greater granularity, and creates new accountability and oversight mechanisms.

The bill’s authors have worked hard to forge a bipartisan consensus, and the bill approved today is supported by the Obama Administration, including the intelligence community. The bill now moves to the other side of the Capitol, and we hope that the Senate will use the June 1 expiration of Section 215 and other legal authorities to modernize and reform our surveillance programs, while recognizing the importance of protecting Americans from harm. We believe the bill approved today achieves that goal.

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For students today, coding is becoming an essential skill just like reading, writing and math. And the need for coders is only going to increase over the next few years. But today, fewer than one percent of high school girls express interest in majoring in computer science.

Research tells us that perceptions of CS and computer scientists are primary drivers that motivate girls to pursue CS. Disney Junior and Google recently teamed up on their series “Miles from Tomorrowland” to take on this challenge in a new way.

This Monday, May 18, we invite you to join us at our DC office to hear more about this exciting project.

“Coding Tomorrow: A Conversation About Inspiring Girls to Learn CS” 
Monday, May 18, 2015 
3:00-4:00PM ET 
Google DC 
25 Massachusetts Ave NW - Ninth Floor 
Washington DC 

The event will feature a panel discussion with Dr. Yvonne Cagle, NASA’s Johnson Space Center Space and Life Sciences Directorate and Series Consultant, “Miles from Tomorrowland”, Julie Ann Crommett, CS Education in Media Program Manager at Google, Nancy Kanter, Executive Vice President, Original Programming and General Manager at Disney Junior, Angela Navarro, Google Software Engineer, and Sascha Paladino, Creator and Executive Producer of “Miles From Tomorrowland” and remarks by Congresswoman Susan Brooks and Congresswoman Suzan DelBene.

Hope to see you there.

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Nearly two years have passed since the initial Snowden revelations. In about a month, Section 215 of the Patriot Act -- one of the key authorities relied upon by the government to undertake bulk collection -- is set to expire. As we and others noted last month, Section 215 should not be reauthorized without significant changes.

Yesterday, a bipartisan group of legislators in the House and Senate introduced legislation that represents a step toward broader surveillance reform while preserving important national security authorities. Google supports this measure as introduced, the USA Freedom Act of 2015, and we urge Congress to move expeditiously to enact it into law.

The bill would advance several important goals that Google and other members of the Reform Government Surveillance coalition (RGS) underscored in principles unveiled in 2013:

  • First, the bill would end the bulk collection of communications metadata under various legal authorities. This not only includes telephony metadata collected under Section 215, but also Internet metadata that has been or could be collected under other legal authorities. 
  •  Second, the bill would enable companies like Google to disclose the volume and scope of national security demands in smaller ranges (bands of 500) than we are currently permitted to report national security demands (bands of 1,000). 
  •  Finally, the bill would create new oversight and accountability mechanisms that will shed greater light on the decisions reached by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), and enable participation by outside attorneys in cases involving significant interpretations of the law. 

While the USA Freedom Act of 2015 does not address the full panoply of reforms that Congress ought to undertake, it represents a significant down payment on broader government surveillance reform. It is critical that Congress now act to begin to restore consumers’ trust in the Internet. 

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We invite you to sell us your patents. The Patent Purchase Promotion is an experimental marketplace for patents that’s simple, easy to use, and fast.

Patent owners sell patents for numerous reasons (such as the need to raise money or changes in a company’s business direction). Unfortunately, the usual patent marketplace can sometimes be challenging, especially for smaller participants who sometimes end up working with patent trolls. Then bad things happen, like lawsuits, lots of wasted effort, and generally bad karma. Rarely does this provide any meaningful benefit to the original patent owner.

So today we’re announcing the Patent Purchase Promotion as an experiment to remove friction from the patent market. From May 8, 2015 through May 22, 2015, we’ll open a streamlined portal for patent holders to tell Google about patents they’re willing to sell at a price they set. As soon as the portal closes, we’ll review all the submissions, and let the submitters know whether we’re interested in buying their patents by June 26, 2015. If we contact you about purchasing your patent, we’ll work through some additional diligence with you and look to close a transaction in short order. We anticipate everyone we transact with getting paid by late August.

By simplifying the process and having a concentrated submission window, we can focus our efforts into quickly evaluating patent assets and getting responses back to potential sellers quickly. Hopefully this will translate into better experiences for sellers, and remove the complications of working with entities such as patent trolls.

There’s some fine print that you absolutely want to make sure you fully understand before participating, and we encourage participants to speak with an attorney. More detailed information about the Patent Purchase Promotion is available on our Patent Website, including all the fine print, the form to make a submission (which won’t go live until May 8), and details about what happens if Google agrees to buy your patent. Throughout this process, Google reserves the right to not transact for any reason. 

We’re always looking at ways that can help improve the patent landscape and make the patent system work better for everyone. We ask everyone to remember that this program is an experiment (think of it like a 20 percent project for Google’s patent lawyers), but we hope that it proves useful and delivers great results to participants.

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As a child, my sisters and I loved when our father let us use his CB radio. We memorized the code of conduct: Rule #1 - be respectful, listen before speaking and don’t hog the channel. And we had humorous “handles” long before Twitter. CB radios gave me and my family a way to communicate over short distances, and we didn’t need a license for use of the radio waves.

Flash forward to today. We’ve come a long way from CB radios, and we all have more and more devices in our homes and offices connected to Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, the airwaves allocated for this purpose have become congested.  

The good news is that the Federal Communications Commission (or “Friendly Candy Company” in CB lingo) today took a step toward addressing this problem, by creating a new “Citizens Broadband Radio Service,” that makes some spectrum available for shared wireless broadband use in the 3.5 GHz spectrum band.  

The FCC established three tiers of access in the 3.5 GHz band. The first tier is for incumbent access, including both federal and non-federal incumbents (like U.S. Navy radar operations and Fixed Satellite Service earth stations, respectively); the second is for “priority access licensees,” who will gain access by bidding for rights to use small chunks of spectrum for short periods of time; and the third tier is for unlicensed spectrum users in the new Citizens Broadband Radio Service.

Users of the spectrum might deploy “small cell” networks that can carry heavy loads of data in high-traffic areas -- such as crowded stadiums -- or offer fixed wireless broadband services in rural areas. Unlike the large scale infrastructure necessary to operate cellular networks that you see mounted on towers or tall buildings, these small cells are easy to deploy.

A key component to sharing in this band is the Spectrum Access System, which utilizes database technology to protect important federal government uses of spectrum. These systems will ensure that neither priority access or general consumer users interfere with the existing government and private users who will continue to need 3.5 GHz spectrum in a limited number of areas. They also will allow new users to share effectively with each other. Google has been a leader in using databases to free-up available spectrum, and we are one of the companies working to develop a sharing system for the 3.5 GHz band.
The additional spectrum that is now available in the 3.5 GHz band will help relieve Wi-Fi congestion – improving the experience of consumers accessing the Internet over wireless broadband. The Commission recognized today that we don’t have to allocate spectrum for only a single purpose the way the government did in the 1950s. This action will have an impact far beyond what we can imagine today. Creating this “innovation band” by opening the spectrum on a shared basis will advance the goal of wireless broadband abundance.  

Catch ya on the flip-flop. We’re down’n gone.

Posted by Staci Pies, Senior Policy Counsel, Google

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Last year Robert Thomson, CEO of News Corp, accused Google of creating a "less informed, more vexatious level of dialogue in our society." Given the tone of some of your publications, that made quite a few people chuckle.
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This week you were at it again.  One of your newspapers, The Wall Street Journal, accused Google of wielding undue political influence.  Blimey!

More seriously, given the inaccuracies that have been published, we wanted to give our side of the story. Here goes.

Wall Street Journal:
The findings [from the Bureau of Competition] stand in contrast to the conclusion of the FTC’s commissioners, who voted unanimously in early 2013 to end the investigation”.   

Google:
As the FTC made clear this week:  “... the Commission’s decision on the search allegations was in accord with the recommendations of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, Bureau of Economics, and Office of General Counsel” (something the Journal has chosen not to report).

Wall Street Journal:
Since Mr. Obama took office, employees of the Mountain View, Calif., company have visited the White House for meetings with senior officials about 230 times …  In comparison, employees of rival Comcast Corp., also known as a force in Washington, have visited the White House a total of about 20 times … Google’s knack for getting in the room with important government officials is gaining new relevance as scrutiny grows over how the company avoided being hit by the FTC with a potentially damaging antitrust lawsuit”.

Google:
Of course we’ve had many meetings at the White House over the years.  But when it comes to the information the Journal provided to Google about these meetings, our employment records show that 33 of the White House visits were by people not employed here at the time.  And over five visits were a Google engineer on leave helping to fix technical issues with the government’s Healthcare.gov website (something he’s been very public about).  Checking through White House records for other companies, our team counted around 270 visits for Microsoft over the same time frame and 150 for Comcast.  

And the meetings we did have were not to discuss the antitrust investigation.  In fact, we seem to have discussed everything but, including patent reform, STEM education, self-driving cars, mental health, advertising, Internet censorship, smart contact lenses, civic innovation, R&D, cloud computing, trade and investment, cyber security, energy efficiency and our workplace benefit policies.  For example:  
  • Several visits were advertising industry meetings attended by Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL and others.  Yes, Microsoft, the main complainant in the FTC’s antitrust investigation;
  • Over a dozen visits were for production crews covering the YouTube interviews with the President following the State of the Union and photographing the White House art collection for Google’s Art Project;
  • One of the meetings specifically called out by the Journal was actually a meeting with our Chairman, Eric Schmidt, and Chief Legal Officer, David Drummond, with several other technology companies to discuss copyright legislation (the draft SOPA/PIPA laws that were ultimately dropped by Congress).

As the FTC has said, the Journal "makes a number of misleading inferences and suggestions about the integrity of the FTC's investigation. The article suggests that a series of disparate and unrelated meetings involving FTC officials and executive branch officials or Google representatives somehow affected the Commission's decision to close the search investigation in early 2013. Not a single fact is offered to substantiate this misleading narrative". 

We understand you have a new found love of the regulatory process, especially in Europe, but as the FTC’s Bureau of Competition staff concluded, Google has strong pro-competitive arguments on our side.  To quote from their report “... the record will permit Google to show substantial innovation, intense competition from Microsoft and others, and speculative long-run harm”.  

And the FTC was not alone when it comes to search ranking and display.  The Texas and Ohio Attorneys General closed their comprehensive competition investigations into Google in 2014. And courts in Germany and Brazil found that there is no basis in the law for Google competitors to dictate Google’s search results.
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by Rachel Whetstone, SVP Communications and Policy

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At the end of May, Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act is set to expire. Section 215 is one of the legal authorities relied upon by the U.S. government to conduct surveillance through the bulk collection of communications metadata.

Earlier today, we joined other companies in the Reform Government Surveillance coalition, civil society groups, and trade associations in a letter that underscores the essential elements of any surveillance reform legislation. These elements include ending the bulk collection of communications metadata under various legal authorities, and establishing transparency and accountability mechanisms to ensure surveillance programs are narrowly tailored and subject to broader oversight.

We have a responsibility to protect the privacy and security of our users’ data.  At the same time, we want to do our part to help governments keep people safe. We have little doubt that Congress can protect both national security and privacy while taking a significant, concrete step toward restoring trust in the Internet.

Google has been working hard for the last two years to reform government surveillance laws, and we will continue to push for broader surveillance reforms in the months ahead.

We invite you to join us in asking Congress to enact surveillance reform by adding your name at google.com/takeaction.

Posted by David Drummond, Chief Legal Officer, Google