Celebrating Data Privacy Day

Did you know that today is an international holiday, one that's celebrated in the U.S., Canada, and 27 countries in Europe? Known as Data Privacy Day in North America and Data Protection Day in Europe, today is meant to increase public awareness about privacy in the information age. To mark this occasion, on the Official Google Blog we've unveiled our Privacy Principles, which guide the decisions we make as we create products and services that offer transparency and control.

We've also been participating in several special industry events. Last Friday, Global Privacy Counsel Jane Horvath spoke on a panel at the University of North Carolina called, "Reader Privacy: Should Library Standards for Privacy Apply in the Digital World?" And today at the University of California at Berkeley's Boalt Law School, the Federal Trade Commission is holding the second of a three-part series of public roundtable discussions about the privacy issues raised by the innovations of the 21st century. Throughout the day, industry representatives, regulators, advocacy groups, and academics will be giving talks and appearing on panels about social networking, cloud computing, mobile computing and policy. Nicole Wong, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel at Google, will be appearing alongside representatives from other companies (including Facebook and LinkedIn) and advocacy groups on the day's second panel, "Privacy Implications of Social Networking and Other Platform Providers."

In Brussels, Google privacy and security engineer Alma Whitten appeared Wednesday on a panel at the European Parliament called "Awareness and Empowerment: The Role of Users in Privacy Protection." Today she is giving the very first Google Brussels TechTalk, offering an engineering point of view on online privacy. And on Friday, Global Privacy Counsel Peter Fleischer will speak at the opening panel, "Forgetfulness and Data Retention," of the third annual Computers, Privacy, and Data Protection Conference, of which Google is a sponsor.

You can learn more about our everyday efforts to empower users with transparency and choice at the Google Privacy Center and on our YouTube channel.

Google D.C. Talk Feb. 8 - Democracy Online: Can the Internet Bring Change?

Last summer a chilling 40-second video clip, recorded on a cell phone, went viral and caught the attention of the world. It captured the haunting image of a 26-year old music student, Neda Soltan, who was shot and killed in the streets of Tehran while protesting the Iranian presidential election.

Some experts look at this incident and others where new technology is being used by opponents of repressive regimes and have come to the conclusion that online free expression has the potential to bring about great democratic changes. Others are less optimistic, noting that governments are manipulating Internet activists and that, in any case, all the activity amounts to little more than taking offline techniques and moving them online.

So is the Internet stoking democratic change or is its impact hyped? Are repressive regimes conditioning people not to expect free expression on the Internet? Is online organizing little more than a game of Whac-a-Mole with one form of repression being replaced by another? What are the implications for political organizing of the recent discovery that the email accounts of dozens of Chinese human rights advocates appear to have been hacked? Join Google and Freedom House to answer this question and many more. Please submit and vote on these and other questions for the panel at Google Moderator.

The panel will be moderated by Google's Managing Policy Counsel Pablo Chavez with participation by: Larry Diamond, Professor & Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University; Daniel Calingaert, Deputy Director of Programs, Freedom House; Omid Memarian, Iranian Dissident Blogger.

To join us Monday, February 8, 2010 from 4:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m, RSVP here.

Update 2/7/10: This event has been postponed due to record snowfall in the area. We hope to reschedule soon and will update the blog with the new date and details.

The Digital Playbook: Top 5 strategies for political campaigns

Editor's note: We're excited to welcome Google's Elections and Issue Advocacy Team to the Public Policy Blog. Since 2007, they've worked with political candidates, consultants and advocates to build online advertising campaigns and fully integrate digital media into political strategy. This post marks the beginning of what we hope will be a regular series from the team. Follow the Digital Playbook label for future posts.

"So many people are living their lives through technology—how can we expect their interaction with politics to be the one exception?" This question, posed by Obama campaign manager David Plouffe, is more relevant now than ever. Hundreds of elections will be conducted this year in Congress, and no campaign can afford to ignore the Web.

On Google's Elections and Issue Advocacy team, we work with political campaigns of all stripes to help them use Google's online advertising platforms to build momentum, capture voter interest, steer debate and mobilize supporters. We've worked alongside candidates and issue groups on some of the top issues of the day—from health care reform and the Republican victories in November, to Scott Brown's upset in Massachusetts.

Today's electorate is hungry for political news and is eager to voice opinions online. This requires campaigns to adopt thoughtful and integrated strategies. And so as campaigns gear up for the November midterm elections over the coming months, we'll be sharing our thoughts on how they can take advantage of opportunities to do so. Today we are highlighting our top five strategies for using digital media to win:

1. Use search advertising to build your email list and raise money.
Everyone has seen the "Sponsored Links" on Google search results. These simple text ads, called AdWords, have been compared to direct mail because of their precise targeting and cost-effectiveness—you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. At the start of the campaign and throughout, running ads in your district on the names of your candidate and opponents, and on some of the key issues, can be a great way to capture voter interest. But rather than seeking a donation right away, put the email signup form front and center. It can help you build a bigger list, with greater potential for donations and engagement in the long run.

2. "Blast" the Google Network when you need to make a big splash.
The Google Content Network is made up of over a million websites that run Google ads as a way to make money, through a program we call AdSense. These ads can be simple text links, or video and image ads ("display" ads in industry lingo), tailored to your campaign's personal brand. When you want to dramatically raise the buzz level or increase momentum for your campaign—such as when you announce, or before Election Day—you can use a technique called the Google Network blast to blanket the Internet in your district or state with ads. Just about every election since 2008 has seen one or more Google Network blasts, including in Virginia and Massachusetts, and it's a great way to grab attention at crucial moments.

3. Join social networks to further amass and interact with your list of supporters.
Social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube represent massive gatherings of audiences, so they can't be ignored. Social networks allow supporters to "subscribe" or "follow" your campaign, and they're great for sharing information about your candidate and seeing that information passed on. Keep your free YouTube politician channel fresh with short videos that call out your supporters and show your candidate's human side. And don't hesitate to ask your followers to take action when needed.

4. Use data to inform your campaign decisions.
One of the most exciting aspects of campaigning online is access to real-time feedback, and many of the necessary tools are free. Google Insights for Search tracks searches for your candidate and the competition within your state. Google Analytics highlights what content on your website is catching fire—and what's not. Metrics like click-through rates in Google AdWords tell you which of your campaign messages is working best right now. For an even more data-driven campaign, use Google Website Optimizer to run controlled experiments on aspects of your site to see which variations help you, for example, gather the most donations.

5. Remember: Rapid response happens online, with or without you.
Americans go online when political news breaks (see: Joe Wilson). The chance to be a part of the conversation, shift perceptions, enlist support, and raise funds begins within minutes, and the window usually lasts less than three days. Bob McDonnell’s campaign deftly used search advertising to answer questions raised by his controversial thesis. Within hours of the story breaking, Virginians searching for "mcdonnell thesis" saw ads directing them to the campaign's official response.

We'll be posting further insights and best practices throughout the 2010 cycle, so keep an eye on this blog and on the Digital Playbook label. And let us know what you think—we'll be using your comments to help determine what we write about next.

Update: If you're a campaign or candidate looking for help on getting started with advertising on Google, don't hesitate to give us a shout. You can get started on AdWords yourself, though—all it takes is a credit card and a few moments to create your first ad.

Live Tonight on YouTube: The State of the Union

(Cross-posted from the Official YouTube Blog.)

Tonight at 9 p.m. ET we'll be livestreaming the President's State of the Union address on YouTube. As we announced yesterday, not only will you have the opportunity to watch the speech live online, you'll also be able to submit your questions for the President during and after the speech, and the President himself will respond to a collection of your top-voted questions in a live interview at the White House next week.

When the State of the Union address begins at 9 p.m. ET, we'll open a Google Moderator series on CitizenTube (youtube.com/citizentube) that will allow you to submit and vote on questions (in text or on video) for the President. Be ready to submit your questions right after the speech as we'll only keep the platform open for a few days.

How will we know which questions to bring to the President in the interview? You'll tell us by how you voted. After the votes have been cast, we'll assemble a shortlist of the top questions, ensuring that we cover a range of issues, minimize duplicate questions, and include a mix of both video and text submissions. This is your opportunity for an exclusive interview with the President, so be sure to submit great questions and vote for the ones you think should be asked.

If you're submitting your question on video (which we prefer), please be sure to keep it short (20 seconds or less) and use the highest video and audio quality possible so that we can hear you loud and clear.

After the speech, we'll highlight the video of the entire State of the Union address, so those of you who aren't able to see it live can still watch and participate afterwards. We'll also feature Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell's official GOP response to the President's State of the Union, in what promises to be a lively and important discussion of our nation's future in 2010.

See you tonight at 9 p.m. ET on CitizenTube.

Google Voice & Project CARE connect with DC's homeless vets

This weekend, Google along with dozens of other D.C. organizations, attended the Winterhaven Homeless Veterans Stand Down at the Washington DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The annual event helps homeless Veterans get back on their feet with job clinics, medical aid, dental care, and housing assistance.

One of the first pieces of information you put on a job application is your phone number, but what if you don't have one?

In an effort to help that problem, Google and Project CARE gave away nearly 400 special Google Voice accounts to support homeless vets looking to connect with employers and loved ones. The Google Voice team has been offering this program in the San Francisco Bay Area for more than two years and we are excited to extend it to the D.C. area.

It was a small gesture, but hopefully a useful one as these Veterans move to get their lives back on track.

Finance clean energy, Mr. President

Along with other entrepreneurs, investors and industry stakeholders, we wrote a letter urging President Obama to craft a jobs package that includes the creation of a Clean Energy Deployment Administration (CEDA). Swift enactment of CEDA will create jobs in 2010 and also position the U.S. as a global leader in the development and deployment of clean energy technologies for years to come.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee adopted bipartisan legislation to create CEDA last year. This pending Senate proposal would establish and fund CEDA to provide various types of flexible credit support for the development and deployment of clean energy technologies throughout the economy. CEDA would be affiliated with the Department of Energy, but have largely independent operation.

A critical feature of CEDA, as created in the Senate bill, is its focus on innovative technologies. We believe the availability of CEDA financing will help America’s emerging clean energy technology companies cross the so-called “valley of death” between the invention of a technology and its commercial deployment, and substantially accelerate and increase private sector investment necessary to position the U.S. as the global clean energy leader. In short, CEDA will help finance the scale-up of precisely the kinds of innovative technologies that will create new, 21stCentury American jobs and position the U.S. to capture the economic benefits of the global transition to low-carbon energy infrastructure.

Bringing Project CARE to veterans in Washington, D.C.

(cross-posted from the Official Google Blog)

It's sometimes easy to take the little things in life for granted: a haircut, a shower, shoes or even a phone number. Sometimes life doesn't turn out the way we planned, and those little luxuries become much harder to come by.

Project CARE is a program to provide free Google Voice phone numbers and voicemail accounts to homeless individuals. The Google Voice team has been offering this program in the San Francisco Bay Area for more than two years, and we're excited to bring Project CARE to a new city.

On Saturday, Google Voice will join dozens of other Washington, D.C. organizations at the Winterhaven Homeless Veterans Stand Down at the D.C. Veterans Affairs Medical Center to try and make life a little easier for hundreds of veterans in the Washington, D.C. area. We will be handing out Project CARE cards and helping attendees set up unique phone numbers and voicemail accounts, which they can use when applying for jobs or filling out medical forms, or share with family.

In today's connected world, many of us don't think twice about picking up the phone to place or receive a call. However, for a homeless individual, a phone number can be an important lifeline, connecting you with prospective employers, health care providers, family and friends. We hope these Project CARE phone numbers provide homeless veterans with a way to reconnect with those they've lost touch with over the years.

FCC broadband plan to call for access to real-time energy info

Over the past six months we have been providing you with periodic updates and comments on the FCC's National Broadband Plan, which is scheduled for release in mid-March. Earlier today FCC energy and environment director Nick Sinai gave a sneak preview of one of the Plan's key components: how broadband will facilitate smarter energy usage.

He told an audience at the Clean-tech Investor Summit that the FCC will call on States and the Congress to give consumers and consumer-authorized third parties access to real-time energy information. This kind of information could have a huge financial and environmental impact. Studies show that access to real-time usage data results in energy savings of up to 15%. He talked about how, combined with other measures, this information could create a platform that could lead to new products and services to help consumers manage energy. Picture it: a smart phone apps store for home energy management.

Sinai singled out for praise technologies like "smart" electricity meters and recent efforts in California to include consumer data access policies as part of a statewide smart meter roll out. (Learn more by reading Google's comments.) While encouraged by state-led initiatives like this, Sinai said if state efforts don't work, the FCC could recommend that Congress consider national energy data accessibility legislation.

Google Docs guy talks cloud computing at Brookings

If you've ever posted a video on YouTube, shared a photo through Flickr, or used web-based e-mail service, you're a cloud computing user. As more computing shifts from the desktop to the Internet "cloud," what do policymakers need to know about the cloud? That question and many more were the topic of a Brookings Institution talk yesterday on cloud computing (full audio here).

Google's Jonathan Rochelle, Group Product Manager for Google Docs, was on the panel and took a minute afterward to break it down:

Secretary Clinton to address Internet freedom

Like many people interested in technology, diplomacy, and free expression on the Internet, we look forward to hearing Secretary of State Clinton's speech today on these topics. The speech will be streamed live here.

Staying connected in post-earthquake Haiti

(cross-posted from the Official Google Blog)

With relief efforts underway, many displaced Haitians and their friends and families around the world are deeply concerned about the safety and whereabouts of loved ones. In response to the Haitian earthquake, a team of Googlers worked with the U.S. Department of State to create an online People Finder gadget so that people can submit information about missing persons and to search the database.

You'll find this gadget on our Haiti earthquake response website as well as on the State Department website. In order to prevent the proliferation of multiple missing persons databases (a big problem during Hurricane Katrina), we've made the People Finder gadget standards-based and easily embeddable on any website (see here for instructions). The gadget is currently available in English, French and Creole.

We're also helping families in the U.S. stay connected with their loved ones in Haiti by offering free calls to Haiti for the next two weeks via Google Voice. If you don't have a Google Voice account already, request an invitation at www.google.com/voice.

For anyone interested in viewing updated imagery in Google Earth, we've now included GeoEye's shots from Wednesday in the Historical Imagery feature. Now you can view the imagery without downloading the KML file and can use the time slider to easily compare the stark before-and-after images, such as those below. To help relief organizations, GeoEye has made professional-quality files of their recent satellite imagery of Haiti downloadable via our earthquake response website. We hope the imagery in this format will be valuable to GIS organizations and aid workers.

(click image to see full-size)

We have also made Haiti Map Maker data publicly available for download for non-commercial use and attribution. Data can be used by relief workers to do things such as create offline maps, combine data sets and run analysis, all of which we hope will help with their efforts on the ground. Please help improve Haiti maps with Google Map Maker.

News and user footage continues to roll into YouTube. Oxfam and the American Red Cross are even responding to donations by uploading videos that show viewers exactly where their contributions are making a difference.

Our common ground on the open Internet

(Cross-posted on Verizon Policy Blog)

Last night Google and Verizon filed a joint submission in response to the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Preserving the Open Internet. This submission, which is in addition to the separate comments that each company filed today, expands on our October joint blog post. In that post, we endorsed a principled approach to finding common ground with respect to an open Internet. We expand on that common ground in our joint submission today.

Hey FCC, keep the Internet open -- and awesome!

There's a lot of awesome stuff on the Internet: Cats talking LOLspeak. Iranian dissidents tweeting. Live traffic updates. Science experiments.

All of these things, and so much more, are possible because of the openness of the Internet. Any entrepreneur with an idea has always been able to create a website and share their ideas globally – without paying extra tolls to have their content seen by other users. An open Internet made Google possible eleven years ago, and it's going to make the next Google possible.

In our comments filed today in the FCC's proposed rulemaking docket, we explained that our goal is straightforward: "to keep the Internet awesome for everybody."

The Internet was designed to empower users. Its open, "end-to-end" architecture means that users – not network providers or anyone else – decide what succeeds or fails online. It's a formula that has worked incredibly well, resulting in mind blowing innovation, incredible investment, and more consumer choice than ever.

For the online world's first three decades, a set of FCC regulations protected the openness of the communications on-ramps. Unfortunately, those safeguards were stripped away back in 2005, which since then has led to confusion, uncertainty, and, in some cases, bad acts.

That's why we've argued that the FCC should re-adopt rules to prevent network providers from discriminating against certain services, applications, or viewpoints on the Web, and requiring them to be transparent about how they manage their networks.

More specifically, in our FCC filing, we support:
  • Adding a nondiscrimination principle that bans prioritizing Internet traffic based on the ownership (the who), the source (the what) of the content or application;
  • Adding a transparency principle that ensures all users have clear information about broadband providers' offerings;
  • Providing a carefully-defined "reasonable network management" exception so that broadband providers are empowered to address genuine congestion issues and protect against hazards like malware and spamming;
  • Applying general openness protections to both wireline and wireless broadband infrastructure; and
  • Creating better enforcement mechanisms at the FCC, and introducing the concept of technical advisory groups (TAGs) to potentially provide expert advice and resolve disputes.
I sat down with Megan Stull, our telecom policy counsel, to discuss these and other issues. Forgive our video editing, it's a little Max Headroom-ish, but hey that's one of the things that make the Internet awesome.

Disaster relief in Haiti

We have been heartbroken by the footage streaming onto YouTube of the devastation caused by yesterday's 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti and inspired by the generosity people are showing toward relief efforts. Here's a Google site that provides disaster relief information -- including ways to donate to the effort online and through SMS.

Video from Monday's Google D.C. Talk on ACTA

This past Monday, our Washington office hosted a Google D.C. Talk on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA. Panelists included Jonathan Band, Ryan Clough, James Love, and Steve Metalitz, and the talk was moderated by Washington Post Consumer Technology Columnist Rob Pegoraro. Special thanks to the folks who submitted questions on Google Moderator.

In case you missed it, check out the video here:

A new approach to China

(cross-posted from Official Google Blog)

Like many other well-known organizations, we face cyber attacks of varying degrees on a regular basis. In mid-December, we detected a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google. However, it soon became clear that what at first appeared to be solely a security incident--albeit a significant one--was something quite different.

First, this attack was not just on Google. As part of our investigation we have discovered that at least twenty other large companies from a wide range of businesses--including the Internet, finance, technology, media and chemical sectors--have been similarly targeted. We are currently in the process of notifying those companies, and we are also working with the relevant U.S. authorities.

Second, we have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Based on our investigation to date we believe their attack did not achieve that objective. Only two Gmail accounts appear to have been accessed, and that activity was limited to account information (such as the date the account was created) and subject line, rather than the content of emails themselves.

Third, as part of this investigation but independent of the attack on Google, we have discovered that the accounts of dozens of US-, China- and Europe-based Gmail users who are advocates of human rights in China appear to have been routinely accessed by third parties. These accounts have not been accessed through any security breach at Google, but most likely via phishing scams or malware placed on the users' computers.

We have already used information gained from this attack to make infrastructure and architectural improvements that enhance security for Google and for our users. In terms of individual users, we would advise people to deploy reputable anti-virus and anti-spyware programs on their computers, to install patches for their operating systems and to update their web browsers. Always be cautious when clicking on links appearing in instant messages and emails, or when asked to share personal information like passwords online. You can read more here about our cyber-security recommendations. People interested wanting to learn more about these kinds of attacks, can read this U.S. government report, Nart Villeneuve's blog and this presentation on the GhostNet spying incident.

We have taken the unusual step of sharing information about these attacks with a broad audience not just because of the security and human rights implications of what we have unearthed, but also because this information goes to the heart of a much bigger global debate about freedom of speech. In the last two decades, China's economic reform programs and its citizens' entrepreneurial flair have lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese people out of poverty. Indeed, this great nation is at the heart of much economic progress and development in the world today.

We launched Google.cn in January 2006 in the belief that the benefits of increased access to information for people in China and a more open Internet outweighed our discomfort in agreeing to censor some results. At the time we made clear that "we will carefully monitor conditions in China, including new laws and other restrictions on our services. If we determine that we are unable to achieve the objectives outlined we will not hesitate to reconsider our approach to China."

These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered--combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web--have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.

The decision to review our business operations in China has been incredibly hard, and we know that it will have potentially far-reaching consequences. We want to make clear that this move was driven by our executives in the United States, without the knowledge or involvement of our employees in China who have worked incredibly hard to make Google.cn the success it is today. We are committed to working responsibly to resolve the very difficult issues raised.

New online safety video: Steering Clear of Cyber Tricks

Posted by Mandy Albanese, Policy Communications

Today we're releasing the latest in a series of online safety videos as part of our Digital Literacy campaign. As we engage more students, parents and teachers about how to make good decisions online, many have noted how difficult it is to identify and avoid online scams. We know how tricky scammers can be. Our new video, Steering Clear of Cyber Tricks, shares some tips on how to avoid tricky online scams.

FCC seeks short extension to complete National Broadband Plan

Posted by Richard Whitt, Washington Telecom and Media Counsel

Today the FCC asked Congress for a one-month extension to deliver its National Broadband Plan, explaining that it needs more time to review the public record and to brief key officials. The deadline originally had been set for February 17th.

For years Google has been a vocal proponent of a national broadband strategy, and we're eager to see this plan delivered to Congress as soon as possible. That said, given the immense challenges faced by FCC staff in putting together such a comprehensive and far-reaching document, asking for an additional four weeks is not at all unreasonable. A broadband plan for our country may be too many years overdue, but with so much at stake, it's important to get this done right.

We continue to believe that the FCC should set both shorter-term "ubiquity" goals of bringing high-speed Internet access to every single American, and longer-term "stretch" goals of driving the adoption of truly high capacity broadband pipes. We hope the Commission shares this dual vision, and we look forward to seeing their final product.

Introducing the Breaking Borders Awards

Posted by Rachel Whetstone, Vice President Global Communications and Public Affairs

(Cross-posted from the European Public Policy Blog)

Last year we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  When I visited Berlin last November to participate in a conference entitled Breaking Borders, politicians, policy makers, netizens and journalists all agreed on the importance of freedom of expression for a functioning democracy.  The web is providing once unimaginable possibilities for political participation, free exchange of information and democratic movements around the world.

As part of the Berlin conference, we announced a plan to work with an NGO called Global Voices and with Thomson Reuters to establish the Breaking Borders Awards.

The awards will honor outstanding web projects by individuals or groups who have shown courage, energy and resourcefulness in using the Internet to promote freedom of expression, making us aware of diverse political viewpoints and standing up to those who censor information. The winners will be those who are making a real difference. We are delighted to share further details about the awards and invite nominations.

Closing date for submissions is February 15. Details on how to apply and the opportunities to join the award committee can be found on the website.

First 2010 Google D.C. Talk on ACTA: the global treaty that could reshape the Internet

Posted by Mistique Cano, Public Policy Communications Manager

The first Google D.C. Talk of 2010 will be this coming Monday, January 11th and it should be an interesting exchange.

It's on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, known as ACTA, which the U.S. and other countries have been negotiating for the last two years. A number of consumer advocates and technology companies, including Google, have raised serious concerns about ACTA's potential reach and the impact it could have on Internet users' rights and innovation.

The talk will be moderated by Washington Post Consumer Technology Columnist Rob Pegoraro, who wrote a must-read piece on the issue.

The panel will tackle important questions like:  Will ACTA preserve the existing balance in intellectual property laws, providing not just enforcement for copyright holders but also appropriate exceptions for technology creators and users? Will it undermine the legal safe harbors that have allowed virtually every Internet service to come into existence? And will it encourage governments to endorse "three strikes" penalties that would take away a user's access to the Internet?

What other questions should be raised? Submit and vote for questions through Google Moderator. And, if you can make it, come be a part of the exchange:

When: Monday, January 11, 2009
4:30 p.m. Discussion

Where: Google D.C.
1101 New York Avenue, NW 2nd Floor
Entrance on Eye Street, Washington, D.C. 20005

Please RSVP so we've got enough chairs!

Apple's acquisition of Quattro: more proof of mobile advertising competition

Posted by Paul Feng, Group Product Manager

When we announced our planned acquisition of AdMob in November, we noted that the mobile advertising space is highly competitive -- with more than a dozen mobile ad networks.  In fact, the experts at MobiThinking recently called mobile advertising a "very fragmented" space, in which "no ad network is dominant" and "no one really knows what ad network is biggest."

Today's news that Apple is acquiring one of AdMob's competitors, Quattro Wireless, is further proof that the mobile advertising space continues to be competitive.  And with more investments and acquisitions in the space, including from established players like Apple and Google, that's a sign that vigorous growth and competition will continue. That's ultimately great for users, advertisers and publishers alike.

Our proposal to build and operate a white spaces database

It's been a while since we've talked about what's happening with white spaces being freed up for wireless broadband, but today we took another step towards making "Wi-Fi on steroids" a reality for consumers. In a submission to the FCC, we're asking the Commission to designate Google as one of potentially several administrators of a white spaces geolocation database.

When the FCC voted to open the white spaces to unlicensed use in November 2008, it required that such a database be deployed before consumer electronics companies could start selling PCs, smartphones, e-book readers or other devices that used this spectrum. Before sending or receiving data, these devices will be required to connect to the database to determine what frequencies can and can't be used in a particular location. Licensed television and wireless microphone signals will be fully protected from harmful interference.

Why are we offering to do this? We continue to be big believers in the potential for this spectrum to revolutionize wireless broadband, and we think it's important for us to step forward and offer our assistance to make that vision a reality. Since launching the White Spaces Database Group last February, we've been working with other stakeholders to exchange ideas and perspectives on how to best operate a working database, and we believe we're in a strong position to build and successfully manage one.

We propose to build a database that is publicly accessible and searchable, so that any individual could access and review the data. You can read our full proposal here:
01-04-10 Google White Spaces Database Proposal

We anticipate that the Commission shortly will accept comments on the various database proposals, and will make its final decision sometime this spring.