Expanding our data centres in Europe

The Internet is growing fast and so is demand for our services, from search to Gmail and YouTube. In order to keep up with this growth, we are announcing a new EUR600 million investment over the next four years to build a new data centre in Eemshaven, the Netherlands.

At a time of high unemployment throughout Europe, the project promises a welcome infusion of jobs. Construction will provide work for more than 1000 workers. We expect to start initial operations in the first half of 2016 and to be fully operational by the end of 2017. By then, the centre will create employment for more than 150 people in a range of full-time and contractor roles. The jobs do not require phds in computer science; they include IT technicians, electrical and mechanical engineers, catering, facilities and security staff.

The new Dutch data centre will benefit from the latest designs in cooling and electrical technology. It will be free-cooled – taking advantage of natural assets like cool air and grey water to keep our servers cool. Our data centers use 50% less energy than a typical datacenter – and our intention is to run this new facility on renewable energy.

This will be Google’s fourth hyper efficient facility in Europe. Importantly, demand for Internet services remains so strong that the new building does not mean a reduction in expansion elsewhere. Our expansion will continue in Dublin in Ireland, in Hamina in Finland, and in St. Ghislain in Belgium. Our existing rented datacenter facility in Eemshaven also will continue to operate.

Since our investment in our first European datacenter back in 2007, we have been on the lookout for supportive communities with the necessary resources to support large data centers. The required ingredients are land, workforce, networking, a choice of power and other utilities including renewable energy supplies.

It’s much more efficient to build a few large facilities than many small ones. Eemshaven enjoys a direct cable connection to two major European Internet hubs, London and Amsterdam. In the Eemshaven, we’ve found a great community in a great location that meets the needs to become a backbone for the expanding Internet.

Posted by William Echikson, Head of Data Centre Community Relations, Europe
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Promoting transparency around in Europe

When eight technology companies presented a plan this month to reform government surveillance, a key request concerned transparency. At Google, we were the first company to publish a transparency report detailing the requests we receive from governments around the world to bring down content or hand over information on users.

But Google’s report represents only a narrow snapshot. It is limited to a single company. Imagine instead if all the requests for information on Internet users and for takedowns of web content in a country could be published. This would give a much more effective picture of the state of Internet freedom. As the year draws to a close, we’re happy to report that Panoptykon, a Polish NGO, published this month a preliminary Internet transparency report for Poland and Fores, a Stockholm-based think tank, issued a study in Sweden.

In Poland and Sweden, we helped initiate these transparency efforts and supported them financially. NGOs in six other European countries are working on national transparency reports. Our Estonian-supported transparency coalition already published a report last spring. In addition, NGOs in Hong Kong moved ahead over the summer with their own report. In Strasbourg, the Council of Europe recently held an important conference on the subject and hopefully will move ahead to present a series of recommendations on transparency for its 47 members.

Each transparency campaign takes a different approach – we hope this process of experimentation will help all of us learn. The Estonian effort, titled Project 451, focuses on content removals, not government surveillance, because the authors believe this is the most important issue in their country. The name of Project “451″ refers to HTTP Status Code 451, defined as “unavailable for legal reasons” and the report found that many web platforms were taking legal content down due to fears of legal liability.

The new Polish and Swedish reports attempt to shed light on government requests for information on users. Fores contacted 339 Swedish authorities and found that more than a third had requested data about users or takedowns of user-uploaded content. Panoptykon uncovered that Polish telcos received 1.76 million requests for user information in 2012, while Internet companies polled received approximately 7,500. In addition, Panoptykon discovered that many Polish government requests for information on users were based on a flawed or unclear legal basis.

Admittedly, both the Swedish and Polish reports remain incomplete. Not all Internet companies participated. Much relevant data must be missing. Like with our own Google report, we hope to continue filling in the holes in the future. Our aim is to see this campaign gather momentum because the bottom line is transparency is essential to a debate over government surveillance powers.

Posted by William Echikson, Head of Free Expression, Europe, Middle East and Africa
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Music spreads across Europe with Google Play

Your music is supposed to be fun, but in reality it can be the exact opposite: a chore – moving files between computers, syncing across your phone and tablet, and lots and lots of wires. Google Play Music, an easier way to manage your music, offers a solution. It just has launched so you can listen to any song you want, whenever you want, on all of your devices. has just come to Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Netherlands, Russia and Switzerland.

All Access coverage is now spread pretty much across the entire continent. A first group of nine European countries last month received the service.

All Access is the first service of its kind that lets you store 20,000 songs from your personal music collection in the cloud for free; purchase new music from all the major record labels and thousands of indies to grow your collection; or get an unlimited pass to a huge library of music on all your devices with All Access, our monthly music subscription service. It’s all stored in the cloud so you never have to worry about losing songs or moving them again. You can add a new favorite track to your collection while you’re on your computer, and it will be instantly available on your phone and tablet. And you can “pin” all of this content to make it available on your phone or tablet when you’re offline without a connection.

All Access lets you search for and listen to any song from our library of millions of tracks, wherever and whenever you want. You can create an ad-free, interactive radio station from any song or artist you love. Or you can browse recommendations from our expert music team and explore songs by genre. The “Listen Now” tab puts artists and radio stations we think you’ll like front and center so you can start listening the minute you open your library. You can try All Access for free for the first month and pay only a modest subscription service each month after that.

With this launch, Google Play moves one step closer to being your ultimate digital entertainment destination, where you can find, enjoy and share your favourite apps, games, books, movies, magazines and music on your Android phone or tablet. Good listening.

Posted by Posted by Sami Valkonen, Head of International Music Partnerships, Google Play
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Celebrating the new Dutch King

On April 30, Crown-Prince Willem-Alexander will become the new Dutch King – and as part of the celebrations, we’re joining forces with the the national committee organising the coronation, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to allow the estimated 750,000 Dutch who are out of the country enjoy the festivities.

Want to send your best wishes to the new King? Go to wenswereldwijd.nl and send a photo or short message. Dutch celebrities including DJ Armin van Buuren, cyclist Thomas Dekker, sprinter Churandy Martina and conductor Jaap van Zweden have already have participated.

We expect strong interest around the globe with countries in royal families. Non Dutch speakers can post a wish through the English version of the website, available at wishesworldwide.com. Dutch public broadcaster NOS has made it possible for us to show a live stream of the festivities through the Royal YouTube Channel.

In collaboration with Dutch embassies, we’re also organising a series of Google+ Hangouts. which can be viewed online via YouTube and other websites, including MijnDroomVoorOnsLand.nl. The Hangouts will also be on display on 13 large television screens in city centers installed by KPN across the Netherlands.

And if you want to enjoy the festivities together with friends and family around the world, you can of course invite them to watch the coronation via Hangout.

Posted by Tim van de Rijdt, Google Netherlands
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