Adapting our approach to the European right to be forgotten

In the last few weeks, it has been widely reported that we will adapt our approach to delisting search results under the “right to be forgotten” in Europe, in response to discussions with regulators. We’ll be implementing the change next week.

The right to be forgotten — or, more accurately, the “right to delist” — was established by the Court of Justice of the European Union in 2014. It allows Europeans to ask search engines to delist certain links from the set of search results generated by a search query for their name.

At the moment, if someone submits a URL for delisting via our webform and we determine that their request meets the criteria set by the Court (the information to be delisted must be inadequate, irrelevant, no longer relevant or excessive, and not in the public interest), then we will delist the URL from the search results generated in response to a search for their name. Our current practice is to delist from all European versions of Google Search (like google.de, google.fr, google.co.uk, etc) simultaneously.

Starting next week, in addition to our existing practice, we will also use geolocation signals (like IP addresses) to restrict access to the delisted URL on all Google Search domains, including google.com, when accessed from the country of the person requesting the removal. We’ll apply the change retrospectively, to all delistings that we have already done under the European Court ruling.

So for example, let’s say we delist a URL as a result of a request from John Smith in the United Kingdom. Users in the UK would not see the URL in search results for queries containing [john smith] when searching on any Google Search domain, including google.com. Users outside of the UK could see the URL in search results when they search for [john smith] on any non-European Google Search domain.

We’re changing our approach as a result of specific discussions that we’ve had with EU data protection regulators in recent months. We believe that this additional layer of delisting enables us to provide the enhanced protections that European regulators ask us for, while also upholding the rights of people in other countries to access lawfully published information.

Since May 2014, we’ve worked hard to find the right balance as we implement the European Court’s ruling. Despite occasional disagreements, we’ve maintained a collaborative dialogue with data protection authorities throughout. We’re committed to continuing to work in this way.

Posted by Peter Fleischer, Global Privacy Counsel Continua a leggere

Matching your donation to humanitarian relief for refugees and migrants

Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog

My name is Rita Masoud and I am a refugee. I was born in war-torn Kabul, Afghanistan. When I was seven, my family and I fled to Europe with our belongings in a single suitcase, hoping for a safer and better future. Our journey involved many dark train and bus rides, as well as hunger, thirst, cold and fear. Fortunately, we received asylum in The Netherlands, where I grew up in a safe environment and was able to find my way in life. Today, I work for Google in California.

I was lucky. But as the refugee and migrant crisis has grown, many people like my family are desperate for help. Last week, Google announced a €1 million (~$1.1 million) donation to organizations who are providing front-line humanitarian relief to refugees and migrants around the world. Today, we’re inviting you to join us. To double the impact of your contribution, we’ll match the first €5 million (~$5.5 million) in donations globally, until together we raise €10 million (~$11 million) for relief efforts.

Your donation will be distributed to four nonprofits providing aid to refugees and migrants: Doctors Without Borders, International Rescue Committee, Save the Children and UN High Commissioner for Refugees. These nonprofits are helping deliver essential assistance—including shelter, food and water, and medical care—and looking after the security and rights of people in need.

Visit google.com/refugeerelief to make your donation. Thank you for giving.

En route from Afghanistan, with my family and some belongings. You can read more about my journey on my blog.

Posted by Rita Masoud, Product Marketing Manager, Google.org Continua a leggere

Google is a growth engine for European business

Last month I got an email from a proud daughter in the UK whose mother Tricia Cusden used Google tools to launch a makeup business called Look Fabulous Forever. She used Search to find suppliers; she built a following using YouTube to show older women makeup tips; and she’s using Google Adwords to find customers online. To date, her YouTube channel has racked up over half-a-million views, and her company now exports products to 24 countries around the world.

Today we are launching an initiative spotlighting hundreds of European entrepreneurs like Tricia who have used Google products as a growth engine for their businesses. We’re also announcing that Google will train 1 million Europeans to learn crucial digital skills by 2016. Not long ago, small businesses could only afford to source and sell locally. Global marketing and distribution were out of reach for all but the biggest. Today, any business can reach a global market using the Internet, allowing even the smallest businesses to be a multinational.

If you have a product or service, Google AdWords can connect your business with potential customers. Take Berto Salotti, a furniture-maker who has shared his story as part of our project. In 2002, after 30 years of production, Berto had six employees based in Meda, Italy, where they sold most of their furniture. Today, after marketing online through Adwords, they’ve quadrupled in both size and revenue and have customers worldwide.

Eumelia is an ecotourism farm and guesthouse based in rural Greece that uses Google tools to reach out to prospective visitors as far away as Japan and Australia. The company’s founder, Frangiskos, said AdWords is “the best way for a small, local business to have global impact.” And Dutch office supply company DiscountOffice said Adwords “levels the playing field”, allowing them “to compete with big multinationals from the beginning.”

But it’s not just online marketing through AdWords that helps businesses grow; YouTube has helped European creators and entrepreneurs attract fans and customers using the power of video. Marie Lopez is like many 19-year-old Parisians. She loves fashion, design and makeup. But what makes Marie different is that she has more than one million people around the world who subscribe to her YouTube channel, EnjoyPhoenix. Having amassed over 120 million views, Marie is now developing her own line of products and working with top brands like L’Oreal. Today, thousands of YouTube channels are making six figures annually and total revenue amongst our YouTubers has grown by 50 percent in each of the last two years.

Google Play is also a huge growth engine for European developers, connecting them to a booming global app economy. Launched in Spain, WePlan is a free Android app that looks at how people use their phones, and recommends the best carriers for their needs. Today it has more than 100,000 users in 24 countries. And WePlan has gone from five to 18 employees in just two years. Last year, Google paid out more than €4.4 billion to developers like WePlan.

We are excited that businesses all around Europe are using the technology we provide as an engine for their growth. To see more of these stories, check out this video:

It’s clear that the opportunities for businesses in the digital age are immense–there are many more ways to reach customers than anyone could have imagined not that long ago. But, for Europe to reach its full potential, we need to clear the way for companies online. We need a single market in the digital world that reflects the single market we enjoy in the physical world already. With over two dozen regulatory and frameworks to contend with, businesses stumble when they seek to sell, grow or hire across borders. The European Commission has rightly identified the digital single market as one of Europe’s top priorities.

Of course, the opportunities afforded by the digital economy are still limited if people don’t have the right skills. At current rates, the EU predicts a shortfall of 900,000 jobs by 2020 due to a lack of digital skills, and there are many businesses that want to get online but don’t know where to start. At Google we’re playing our part. Over the last year we have have helped tens of thousands of German entrepreneurs export through partnerships with DHL, PayPal and Commerzbank. We have trained tens of thousands of young, unemployed people in Spain with free courses on subjects like web development, digital marketing, and ecommerce. And, we have shown thousands of traditional Italian craftspeople how to sell and market their wares online.

But we want to do more. So, today we’ve announced that Google will train 1 million Europeans in crucial digital skills by 2016. We will invest an additional €25M to broaden our current programs and take them to new markets across Europe to train more small businesses on the digital skills they so need. We’ll build a Europe-wide training hub to support businesses anywhere in Europe to get training online.

Some people look at the state of the economy in Europe and are pessimistic. We see something else: a huge diversity of businesses and entrepreneurs with creativity, ambition, and talent — all using digital tools to create jobs and boost the economy.

Posted by Matt Brittin, President, EMEA Business and Operations, Google Continua a leggere

SMEs in the Digital Single Market: Europe’s Growth Engine

From farmers to florists, clockmakers to cheesemakers, accountants to antique shops, the web is powering the growth of small businesses across Europe. Entrepreneurs today find their customers online and export their products and services around the globe thanks to the web. Businesses that use the web intensively grow up to four times faster than those that don’t, creating new jobs and opportunities across all sectors.

On February 26th, together with Digital Europe and the Lisbon Council, we’re hosting an event in Brussels to celebrate the success of small, web-savvy European businesses, and we hope you’ll join us.

At SMEs in the Digital Single Market: Creating Growth in Europe, you can:

  • Meet 20 small business owners from 10 countries that are using the web to get ahead. They’ll explain their journey from bright idea to thriving business – and how Europe’s Digital Single Market will help them grow further and faster.
  • Hear a keynote speech from Matt Brittin, Google’s President, Business and Operations, EMEA, who will outline how every day, small businesses across Europe are using Google’s online tools as a growth engine to help them compete on the global stage
  • Listen to Internet entrepreneurs including the UK’s Look Fabulous Forever, Germany’s Book A Tiger and Sweden’s Happy Socks, who will share their experiences and hopes for Europe’s Digital Single Market in a panel session
  • Debate the policies required to advance Europe’s Digital Single Market with Kristian Hedberg, from Internal Market Commissioner Bienkowska’s cabinet, MEP Eva Paunova and John Higgins, Director-General of Digital Europe.
  • Join us afterwards for a delicious bite of lunch and networking.

A limited number of places are still available, to register, please get in touch via [email protected]

Posted by: Sylwia Giepmans, Senior Policy Analyst, Google Continua a leggere

Supporting Europe Code Week

The European Commission estimates that more than 900,000 high tech jobs will go unfilled in 2020. While digital competency is one of the most important prerequisites for getting a job, too few students are studying computing. We want to help fill this gap. In order to encourage more school age students to learn about computing, we’re participating in the European Commission initiative, Europe Code Week, which takes place Oct 11-17.

We’re providing small grants to organizations who are running events in nearly a dozen countries, from Spain to Slovenia. In Sevilla, Programamos is going to teach 100 students to code. In Athens, we’re supporting coding workshops for underprivileged girls with Greek Geekettes. Other innovative projects range from Atelier-Gouter du Code, which is bringing coding workshops to students in underprivileged areas of Marseilles, France, to Python for Everyone through the University of Ljubljana.

An important priority in this year’s event is encouraging girls to explore computer science. We are coordinating Hangouts on Air interviews, hosting female Google engineers from across the continent to show children, especially girls, role models in the tech field. Tune in to +Europe Code Week’s Google+ Page.

Click on Code Week’s events page to see all the different opportunities to participate in this celebration of computer science.

Posted by Marielena Ivory, Pre-university Education Specialist, Europe
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Join the European Health Parliament

Want to help reinvent health care? Join us in a new European Health Parliament. Together with Janssen pharmaceutical company, the European Voice, and the College of Europee, we will bring together 80 young professionals in Brussels between November 2014 and June 2015 to look at the opportunities offered by the new digital world to improve medical care and policy. Apply now at www.healthparliament.eu

The Internet promises to bring exciting change to medicine and fitness. At Google, for example, we’re working on cutting edge projects such as a “smart” contact glass, complete with a minaturized wireless chip connected to the Internet, to measure glucose levels for diabetics. While such innovations offer the tantalizing prospect of improving care and building longer, healthier lives, they often also raise difficult questions about privacy and other public policy matters.

Over the course of the next six months, members of the European Health Parliament will meet in Brussels with politicians, experts and opinion leaders. At the end of the process, they will co-author a prestigious publication on the future of healthcare in the Internet era.

Eligibility

AGE: below 35 (Born after 1/1/1979)
EDUCATION: University graduate
AVAILABILITY: Participation will be required in four plenary sessions and several committee meetings in Brussels. Unfortunately, transportation costs will not be reimbursed.
WORKING LANGUAGE: Fluent spoken and written English.
ATTITUDE: Enthusiastic, creative, pro-active, curious and eager to improve the face of future healthcare;

No prior expertise in healthcare is required.

Application Process

The application deadline is October 20, 2014. A jury of professionals from the College of Europe, Janssen, European Voice and Google will choose the successful “parliamentarians.”

Before applying, please be sure that you can attend the plenary sessions:
November 21, 2014 (Opening Session)
February 27, 2015
April 5, 2015
June 17, 2015 (Closing Session)

Apply. You can change the face of European Healthcare.

Posted by Catherine Williams, Public Policy analyst, Brussels
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Hacking for EU democracy

It’s hackathon time in Brussels. Applications are open now here for the fourth annual EUhackathon. This year’s event, scheduled for December 2 and 3, 2014, focuses on increasing democratic participation and how to increase European citizens’ involvement in the European Union policy-making process.

Previous EUhackathons also addressed pressing policy issues and built bridges between policymakers and the world of coders. The 2011 edition aimed to enhance transparency around broadband Internet access; the 2012 edition created child safety solutions; and the 2013 edition promoted transparency around government surveillance of online communications.

This year’s Hackathon entrants will be asked to produce apps that increase democratic participation. They might allow citizens to participate in public consultations or in policy-making debates held at EU (and possibly national) level. They might promote transparency, enable the mining and analysis of responses and positions published in the public consultation process or legislative debate.

Selected applicants will be invited to Brussels for the two day event. Sponsors will cover their travel and accommodation costs. The winner will receive EUR 5,000. European Parliamentarians Eva Paunova (EPP, Bulgaria), Julia Reda (Greens/EFA, Germany) and Marietje Schaake (ALDE, Netherlands) will host the award ceremony.

Posted by Marco Pancini, Senior Counsel, Brussels
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Teaming up with Europeana to bring Europe’s culture online

It was a natural marriage. Our Google Cultural Institute based in Paris is devoted to partnering with institutions around the world to allow online access to art, archives and other, often previously hard-to-find culture. Europeana, launched in 2009, represents a bold European project bringing together more than 2,000 museums, archives, and other institutions, with their rich collections of millions of books, paintings, films and other objects.

Given these complementary missions, it is with great pleasure that we just have launched Europeana’s first exhibit on our Cultural Institute. Curated by the Austrian National Library, the new virtual exhibition is part of Europeana’s 1914-1918 project and represents the first Austrian contribution to our own Cultural Institute’s First World War channel.

The Austrian library exhibition guides visitors through the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph’s manifestos, from announcements for mobilisation, to administering shortages, to dealing with prisoners of war and refugees. “Putting the content online ensures that all of this history is preserved for future generations,” said Wiebe de Jager of Europeana. “Partnerships with prestigious platforms such as the Google Cultural Institute is one way to effectively share with people our common history that defined who we are and what we do.”


Online exhibition “To My Peoples!”, by Europeana in association with Austrian National Library

It’s a tremendous undertaking to bring Europe’s rich cultural heritage online, one that can only be achieved by both private and public effort. As this collaboration shows, both Europeana and Google share similar visions – allowing people around the world to explore Europe’s cultural and scientific heritage from prehistory to the modern day.

Posted by Simon Rein, Google Cultural Institute, Program Manage
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Searching for the right balance

In May, the Court of Justice of the European Union established a “right to be forgotten.” Today, we published an op-ed by David Drummond, senior vice president of corporate development and chief legal officer, in the U.K.’s The Guardian, Germany’s Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung, France’s Le Figaro and Spain’s El Pais, discussing the ruling and our response. We’re republishing the op-ed in full below. -Ed.

When you search online, there’s an unwritten assumption that you’ll get an instant answer, as well as additional information if you need to dig deeper. This is all possible because of two decades worth of investment and innovation by many different companies. Today, however, search engines across Europe face a new challenge—one we’ve had just two months to get our heads around. That challenge is figuring out what information we must deliberately omit from our results, following a new ruling from the European Court of Justice.

In the past we’ve restricted the removals we make from search to a very short list. It includes information deemed illegal by a court, such as defamation, pirated content (once we’re notified by the rights holder), malware, personal information such as bank details, child sexual abuse imagery and other things prohibited by local law (like material that glorifies Nazism in Germany).

We’ve taken this approach because, as article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

But the European Court found that people have the right to ask for information to be removed from search results that include their names if it is “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive.” In deciding what to remove, search engines must also have regard to the public interest. These are, of course, very vague and subjective tests. The court also decided that search engines don’t qualify for a “journalistic exception.” This means that The Guardian could have an article on its website about an individual that’s perfectly legal, but we might not legally be able to show links to it in our results when you search for that person’s name. It’s a bit like saying the book can stay in the library, it just cannot be included in the library’s card catalogue.

It’s for these reasons that we disagree with the ruling. That said, we obviously respect the court’s authority and are doing our very best to comply quickly and responsibly. It’s a huge task as we’ve had over 70,000 take-down requests covering 250,000 webpages since May. So we now have a team of people individually reviewing each application, in most cases with limited information and almost no context.

The examples we’ve seen so far highlight the difficult value judgments search engines and European society now face: former politicians wanting posts removed that criticize their policies in office; serious, violent criminals asking for articles about their crimes to be deleted; bad reviews for professionals like architects and teachers; comments that people have written themselves (and now regret). In each case, someone wants the information hidden, while others might argue it should be out in the open.

When it comes to determining what’s in the the public interest, we’re taking into account a number of factors. These include whether: the information relates to a politician, celebrity, or other public figure; if the material comes from a reputable news source, and how recent it is; whether it involves political speech; questions of professional conduct that might be relevant to consumers; the involvement of criminal convictions that are not yet “spent”; and if the information is being published by a government. But these will always be difficult and debatable judgments.

We’re also doing our best to be transparent about removals: for example, we’re informing websites when one of their pages has been removed. But we cannot be specific about why we have removed the information because that could violate the individual’s privacy rights under the court’s decision.

Of course, only two months in, our process is still very much a work in progress. It’s why we incorrectly removed links to some articles last week (they have since been reinstated). But the good news is that the ongoing, active debate that’s happening will inform the development of our principles, policies and practices—in particular about how to balance one person’s right to privacy with another’s right to know.

That’s why we’ve also set up an advisory council of experts, the final membership of which we’re announcing today. These external experts from the worlds of academia, the media, data protection, civil society and the tech sector are serving as independent advisors to Google. The council will be asking for evidence and recommendations from different groups, and will hold public meetings this autumn across Europe to examine these issues more deeply. Its public report will include recommendations for particularly difficult removal requests (like criminal convictions); thoughts on the implications of the court’s decision for European Internet users, news publishers, search engines and others; and procedural steps that could improve accountability and transparency for websites and citizens.

The issues here at stake are important and difficult, but we’re committed to complying with the court’s decision. Indeed it’s hard not to empathize with some of the requests we’ve seen—from the man who asked that we not show a news article saying he had been questioned in connection with a crime (he’s able to demonstrate that he was never charged) to the mother who requested that we remove news articles for her daughter’s name as she had been the victim of abuse. It’s a complex issue, with no easy answers. So a robust debate is both welcome and necessary, as, on this issue at least, no search engine has an instant or perfect answer.

Posted by David Drummond, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer
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