Google Analytics: More choice for users

We created Google Analytics to help website owners aggregate and analyze their traffic so they can improve and update their sites. Like traffic pattern reports tell you about traffic on a highway or street, Google Analytics provides general trends for a website (numbers of visitors, average time spent on one page) without revealing any personally identifiable information.

Even though Google Analytics doesn’t reveal personal information, we believe in giving users more choice and control whenever possible. So today we’re excited to launch the beta version of our new opt-out for Google Analytics. Now, you can download and install an add-on for your desktop browser that will stop data from being sent from your computer when you visit websites that use Google Analytics Javascript to track usage. This means the information from your visit will not be sent to Google Analytics or included in its reports.

We hope this option will give users even more choices when online. For more information on user choices when using Google Analytics, check out this overview. And for information on other Google efforts to provide you with choice and control, check out the Google Privacy Center.

Google’s U.S. economic impact

(Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog)

In 1978, people told Douglas Twiddy he was crazy when he started renting out vacation homes in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. More than 30 years later, his son Ross is using our AdWords advertising program to help attract prospective renters — and grow his small business, Twiddy. Thanks in part to AdWords, in just the past two years the company has added 100 new homes to its listings and hired 16 full-time employees and it brings on another 50 seasonal employees each year.

This week is National Small Business Week, and Ross will be with me on Capitol Hill in Washington today to share his story and help unveil something that means a tremendous amount to me: a new report detailing, for the first time ever, Google’s economic impact in all 50 states.

People think of Google first and foremost as a search engine, but it’s also an engine of economic growth. In our report, we’re announcing that in 2009 we generated a total of $54 billion of economic activity for American businesses, website publishers and non-profits. Over the years people have asked us whether we could quantify our economic impact on a state level, and we’re pleased to do that for the first time with this report, which you can download at

In a time of tighter budgets and a slow economic recovery, we’re glad to support so many small businesses and entrepreneurs across the country by helping them find new customers more efficiently and monetize their websites through targeted advertising.

Here’s a video from me and our Chief Economist, Hal Varian, with more background on where we get the numbers:

The report is filled with really wonderful stories about the direct economic impact that AdWords, AdSense, Google Grants and our search engine have across the country. These are the stories of entrepreneurs across the country growing their businesses with Google. And this morning Googlers are hosting events in 10 other cities across the country (Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, New York, Oakland, Portland (OR), Raleigh and Seattle) to help share those stories. Ladies and gentlemen, start your economic engines!

Coming tomorrow...

Google isn’t just a search engine -- it’s also an engine of economic growth. And tomorrow morning Googlers will be fanning out to 11 cities across the country -- from Capitol Hill in D.C. to Allied Trade Group in Seattle, and points in between -- to join state and local policymakers in making a major announcement about Google’s economic impact. Keep an eye here on the blog tomorrow for more details.

Extending SSL to Google search

(cross-posted from the On-line Security Blog)

Google understands the potential risks of browsing the web on an unsecured network, particularly when information is sent over the wire unencrypted — as it is for most major websites today. That’s why we offered SSL support for Gmail back when we launched the product in 2004. Most other webmail providers don’t provide this feature even today. We’ve since added SSL support for Calendar, Docs, Sites, and several other products. Additionally, early this year we made SSL the default setting for all Gmail users.

As we work to provide more support for SSL across our products, today we’re introducing the ability to search with Google over SSL. We still have some testing to do, but you can try out the new encrypted version of Google search at and read more about it on the Official Google Blog.

Working with AdMob to move mobile advertising forward

(cross-posted from The Official Google Blog)

Today, the Federal Trade Commission cleared our acquisition of AdMob, a mobile advertising start up. We’re excited to work with Omar Hamoui and his talented team at AdMob to develop new mobile advertising solutions for marketers, mobile app developers and mobile publishers.

The decision is great news for the mobile advertising ecosystem as a whole. This was reflected in the widespread industry support for our acquisition.

Throughout the FTC’s review process, it’s been clear that the mobile advertising is growing rapidly.

As mobile phone usage increases, growth in mobile advertising is only going to accelerate. This benefits mobile developers and publishers who will get better advertising solutions, marketers who will find new ways to reach consumers, and users who will get better ads and more free content.

We’re very excited about the possibilities in this field. As an immediate matter, we’re now moving to close this acquisition in coming weeks. We’ll then start work right away on bringing AdMob’s and Google’s teams and products together. This industry is moving fast, and we’re excited to be part of the race!

The 2010 class of Google Policy Fellows

We began the Google Policy Fellowship 3 years ago to match students with advocacy organizations working on policy issues fundamental to the future of the Internet and its users. We’ve been impressed by incredible pool of talent the program has attracted. More than 500 students applied for this summer’s 17 available slots. The 2010 class of Google Policy Fellows come from 14 schools in 4 countries and are studying everything from law to library science to mathematics and biology.

For 10 weeks this summer, the Fellows will join organizations in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Toronto, and Ottawa to analyze policy and technology, meet with lawmakers, and build coalitions from partners and grassroots supporters on topics including national security, free expression, privacy, and much more.

Here's a complete list of the 2010 Google Policy Fellows and where they'll be this summer:
We've seen great work from the past Fellows in 2008 and 2009, and expect even more this year as the the 2010 class of Fellows sets out to contribute important technology policy issues of our time.

A big congratulations to this year’s fellows and a sincere thank you to everyone who applied. Stay tuned for updates on the 2010 Fellows, and check back here or at for more information on future programs.

WiFi data collection: an update

(cross-posted from the Official Google Blog)

Nine days ago the data protection authority (DPA) in Hamburg, Germany asked to audit the WiFi data that our Street View cars collect for use in location-based products like Google Maps for mobile, which enables people to find local restaurants or get directions. His request prompted us to re-examine everything we have been collecting, and during our review we discovered that a statement made in a blog post on April 27 was incorrect.

In that blog post, and in a technical note sent to data protection authorities the same day, we said that while Google did collect publicly broadcast SSID information (the WiFi network name) and MAC addresses (the unique number given to a device like a WiFi router) using Street View cars, we did not collect payload data (information sent over the network). But it’s now clear that we have been mistakenly collecting samples of payload data from open (i.e. non-password-protected) WiFi networks, even though we never used that data in any Google products.

However, we will typically have collected only fragments of payload data because: our cars are on the move; someone would need to be using the network as a car passed by; and our in-car WiFi equipment automatically changes channels roughly five times a second. In addition, we did not collect information traveling over secure, password-protected WiFi networks.

So how did this happen? Quite simply, it was a mistake. In 2006 an engineer working on an experimental WiFi project wrote a piece of code that sampled all categories of publicly broadcast WiFi data. A year later, when our mobile team started a project to collect basic WiFi network data like SSID information and MAC addresses using Google’s Street View cars, they included that code in their software—although the project leaders did not want, and had no intention of using, payload data.

As soon as we became aware of this problem, we grounded our Street View cars and segregated the data on our network, which we then disconnected to make it inaccessible. We want to delete this data as soon as possible, and are currently reaching out to regulators in the relevant countries about how to quickly dispose of it.

Maintaining people’s trust is crucial to everything we do, and in this case we fell short. So we will be:
  • Asking a third party to review the software at issue, how it worked and what data it gathered, as well as to confirm that we deleted the data appropriately; and
  • Internally reviewing our procedures to ensure that our controls are sufficiently robust to address these kinds of problems in the future.
In addition, given the concerns raised, we have decided that it’s best to stop our Street View cars collecting WiFi network data entirely.

This incident highlights just how publicly accessible open, non-password-protected WiFi networks are today. Earlier this year, we encrypted Gmail for all our users, and next week we will start offering an encrypted version of Google Search. For other services users can check that pages are encrypted by looking to see whether the URL begins with “https”, rather than just “http”; browsers will generally show a lock icon when the connection is secure. For more information about how to password-protect your network, read this.

The engineering team at Google works hard to earn your trust—and we are acutely aware that we failed badly here. We are profoundly sorry for this error and are determined to learn all the lessons we can from our mistake.

More Choice for Users: Unlisted Videos

(cross-posted from the YouTube Blog)

Melinda teaches high school in the Bay Area and recently reached out to us with a problem. Her students just finished a video history project that she wanted to share with their parents and classmates. But she was concerned about posting the videos publicly because she didn't want the whole world to find them (frankly, neither did her students). Melinda told us YouTube's private sharing options -- a 25-person cap that's limited to other YouTube users -- didn't work for her. She needed a better option to privately share her students' talent.

Later today, we'll be rolling out a new choice that will help Melinda and other people like her: unlisted videos.
[Update: Unlisted videos are now available.]

With this feature, you can mark your videos as "unlisted." This means only people who have the link to the video will be able to watch it. It won't appear in any of YouTube's public pages, in search results, on your personal channel or on the browse page. It's a private video, except you don't need a YouTube account to watch it and there is no limit to the number of people who can view it. You'll get a link when you upload the video and then it's up to you to decide who to share it with. Unlisted is the perfect option for that class project, video from last summer's family reunion or your secret Broadway audition tape.

Just remember, the video can be viewed by anyone with the link, so only give it to people you trust! For more information, check out our Help Center page.

Mobile app developers talk Google-AdMob

More mobile app developers -- the folks who use mobile ad networks like Google, AdMob, Apple/Quattro, Millennial, Jumptap, Greystripe and others to make money from ads within their iPhone and Android apps -- are joining Wertago in sharing their views about our planned acquisition of AdMob.

Wayne Skipper of Concentric Sky, a developer of iPhone and Android apps, blogged that he was asked by the FTC for his views on Google/AdMob, and told the agency:
Like many in the industry, we believe [that blocking the deal] would be a serious mistake. There are much better places for the agency to focus its attention.

The mobile space is clearly in its infancy and is changing rapidly. At every touchpoint with the FTC, we felt like the market had shifted enough that what we’d said previously was already out of date. Recent game changing events like Apple’s iAd platform - not to mention Alcatel-Lucent’s new ad system that bypasses apps entirely - make it hard to understand why anyone would feel that a Google/AdMob partnership will reduce competition. From our perspective, this acquisition is a positive, reaffirming event for the entire mobile industry.
We tried to emphasize our view that mobile advertising is an industry in flux - and as such, we strongly believe regulation now would be premature.
Will Price, the CEO of mobile website developer WidgetBox, also shared his views that blocking the acquisition could have a negative impact on the start-up economy. And later Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Media tweeted in agreement with Price:
I agree: FTC considering blocking Google acquisition of AdMob is madness. Key competition is in mobile, not advertising
Finally, Farhad Manjoo of Slate wrote this morning about "why it's so absurd for the FTC to question Google's AdMob deal."

You can read more about what others are saying about the deal here.

Our letter to data protection commissioners on privacy

Today, we responded to a letter that a group of data protection commissioners recently sent us about privacy at Google, relating to the launch of Buzz in particular. In our letter, we outlined the work we do every day to protect user privacy. In the spirit of transparency, we wanted to share our letter as it explains our ongoing efforts and outlines tools like the Google Dashboard that provide you with increased transparency and choice.

As we mention in the letter, we are in regular contact with all of the commissioners’ offices and look forward to continue working with them. For more information on our privacy initiatives, you can visit our Privacy Center.

Honoring those who give voice to the silenced

(cross posted from the Official Google Blog)

It's said that change comes through the concerted efforts of small groups of people who dream of better times ahead. And then do something about it.

Today in Santiago, Chile, Google and the group Global Voices recognized three groups from around the world who are fighting for free expression online from Africa to Asia with the first "Breaking Borders" awards. These awards, supported by Thomson Reuters, are meant to honor those who are using the Internet to give voice to those once silenced, make the activities of governments more transparent, and standing up for the rights of dissidents.

The awards — given today at the Global Voices Summit where Internet activists from 60 countries have gathered — were originally announced November 3, 2009, when Google and others marked the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, with the aim of celebrating how the Internet has become a vital ally in worldwide efforts to advance freedom and political change. This is particularly true at a time when dissidents, journalists and bloggers remain under severe pressure in the online and offline worlds.

An international jury of experts reviewed nominations from around the world and chose the awardees in three categories: advocacy, technology and policy. Each of the groups honored will receive a $10,000 grant to further their work. The winners are: (advocacy)
An online community for Zimbabwean activists, Kubatana uses the Internet, email, SMS, blogs and print materials to disseminate information to the general public. Cited for its extraordinary contributions while operating under in a tense and dangerous political atmosphere, Kubatana's contributions also include an online library of more than 16,000 human rights and civic reports together with a directory listing over 240 NGOs. Beyond its significance as a resource for information on Zimbabwe, Kubatana has also developed Freedom Fone, innovative software that marries the mobile phone to audio voice menus and SMS to give citizens new ways to communicate with one another.

BOSCO - Uganda
BOSCO was cited for its tremendously effective and creative use of long-exisiting technology to foster social and economic development and peace building in rural communities of northern Uganda. Launched in April 2007, BOSCO began as a solar powered, long-range wireless computer network covering locations in former Internally Displaced Persons camps across the Gulu and Amuru districts. Low power PCs and VoIP phones were installed in schools, health centers and parish offices, bringing Internet, phone and Intranet connectivity to remote areas. BOSCO's long-term vision is to build collaborative, web-based networks. Today it focuses on developing and facilitating Web 2.0 training, online digital ethnography and collaborative online communication mediums between Internet sites.

The Philippines Center for Investigative Journalism
An independent, not-for-profit media agency, the PCIJ was founded by nine Filipino journalists in 1989 — with borrowed office space, an old-DOS-based computer, a second-hand electric typewriter, and office furniture bought from a thrift shop — to promote the values of investigative reporting in fostering good governance, freedom of expression, and the people's right to know. In 20 years, the PCIJ has produced 500 investigative reports, two dozen books on journalism and governance, five full-length films and dozens of video documentaries. It has conducted a hundred training seminars for journalists in the Philippines and Southeast Asia, and won over 120 national and international awards. The PCIJ maintains a multimedia website, an institutional blog; a database site on politics and governance; and institutional accounts on Twitter and YouTube.

Happy half-birthday Dashboard! Six months in and 100,000 users a day

(cross posted from the Official Google Blog)

Six months ago, we launched the Google Dashboard to help you view and control information stored in your Google Account. It’s organized according to the products you use (like Gmail, Docs or YouTube), listing data stored in your account and providing direct links to control your personal settings.

Since we’re celebrating our very first half-birthday, we thought it was the ideal time to update you on how things are going. On average, around 100,000 unique visitors a day check out their Dashboard, 85 percent for the first time. Since launch, we’ve worked to grow Dashboard, adding a number of other Google products including Sites, Maps, Books, Webmaster Tools, Buzz, Goggles, Sidewiki and Analytics. We’re still working on adding other products to the tool and are talking with users about new ways to improve the functionality moving forward.

We launched the Dashboard to provide you with greater transparency and control. We’re proud of its success so far and look forward to what’s next. If you haven’t looked at your own Dashboard yet, check it out!

An important step toward updating ECPA

Just over a month ago, we helped launch Digital Due Process, a coalition of technology companies, privacy advocates and academics working to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986 to ensure traditional privacy protections are applied to new and emerging technologies.

Today, we move one step closer as the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties holds its first hearing on the issue. At the hearing, experts like Jim Dempsey of the Center for Democracy and Technology (a member of Digital Due Process) are expected to explain why updating ECPA will better protect users, while preserving the legal tools necessary for government agencies to enforce the laws.

Though we are not testifying today, we did submit written testimony explaining why updating ECPA is vital for both our business and our users. In our testimony, we explain that companies like Google are now able to offer individuals, businesses, educational institutions, government entities, and others the ability to store, access, use and share their data from remote servers -- but that unless we update ECPA, we run the risk of slowing adoption and innovation. Why? Because certain ECPA provisions no longer reflect the way people use the services or the reasonable expectations they have about government access to information they store in the cloud.

ECPA was written before most people used the Internet or had even heard of e-mail. As far as technology is concerned, we’re living in a different age. We hope that today’s hearing will help continue to build the needed momentum to modernize ECPA for today’s world.

For more information on our efforts, visit the Digital Due Process website or check out the video below.

Google & Small Business Administration partner to share tips with businesses

Ben and Jerry turned a $5 correspondence class in ice cream making into a multi-million dollar business. Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, sold sneakers out of the trunk of his car at track meets. And, like many silicon valley startups, Google got its start, literally, in a garage.

Every business starts small and sometimes, with a little luck, they catch on. One way to make sure your business has the best possible chance of success is to make sure it has a strong web presence. A new generation of tools geared especially for even the smallest businesses make this easier than ever. They are easy, low-cost and often completely free and they can ensure that consumers can find you online and learn about what you do.

These tools are great for small business and for our economy and that's why we've teamed with the U.S. Small Business Administration to create a website featuring video testimonials by small business owners who are using online tools to attract more customers. The goal of the partnership between Google and the SBA is to help small businesses understand the tools and resources available to them online and learn savvy tips from other small business owners.
  • Establish your online presence. One out of five searches on Google are related to local information. Massive numbers of consumers are using the Internet to search for everything from taekwondo classes on the south side of town to a trusted vet for the family pet. Small and large businesses can easily create a rich online presence using tools like Google Places and, for businesses that want to take the plunge and create a full-blown website, ready-made site templates and free hosting services like Google Sites make creating one painless and fast.
  • Use free marketing to reach customers. You can build a fan base for your business with free services like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter that will keep your customers in-the-know about new products and special promotions. These services are great "word of mouth" platforms that make it easy for a customer following your business to tell their friends about it.
  • Understand your customers. Online tools can make you smarter about your customers by analyzing the search terms they use to find you and the pages they visit on your site. This data can help you tune your offers and site to what's truly popular and can be used to help you select terms for online search advertising such as Google AdWords.
In addition to the videos, Google also produced a “Tools for Online Success” booklet that will be in nearly 1,000 SBA, SCORE, and Women's Development Centers nationwide. The booklet offers online tips and tricks for businesses of any size.

What people are telling the FTC about Google-AdMob

We’ve been talking with the Federal Trade Commission for the past six months about our planned acquisition of mobile advertising start-up AdMob, which we believe will bring new innovation and competition to mobile advertising. We’ve told the FTC about how new and highly competitive the mobile advertising space is, and the FTC has been talking to others in the industry about their views as well.

Some of those folks are sharing what they told the FTC. The developers of a mobile app called Wertago said they told the FTC that:
The internet and mobile technology sectors right now are perhaps the most (or among the most) competitive and fast-moving industries EVER TO EXIST. The web and mobile spaces have remarkably low barriers to entry. [...] And we think Google’s AdMob acquisition will have little if any effect on the competitiveness of the mobile advertising market space.
Wertago also talked about both the low entry barriers and non-existing switching costs in mobile advertising:
The crucial point here is 1) the marginal advertiser and the marginal developer, not the average or typical advertiser and developer, are who drive the competition, and there will always be a fight for them, especially because of the “long-tail” where lots of niche opportunities exist, and 2) the cost of switching ad networks in a mobile app is close to zero, and the cost of developing an ad network is not terribly high and easily bankrolled.
Industry analyst Greg Sterling also met with the FTC, and said that he told them:
I didn’t believe competition would be affected adversely and that advertising prices were not likely to go up. Indeed, mobile CPM prices have been falling in mobile. In short I said, yes Google becomes more powerful and effective but the deal doesn’t stifle competition. The market is dynamic and highly competitive, I told the FTC.
I’m no laissez-faire capitalist but I think the mobile ad market is both very young and highly dynamic. It’s evolving quickly and definitely very competitive. If the objective of anti-trust law is to protect competition in the market then it is simply unnecessary for the FTC to intervene at this stage by blocking the AdMob deal.
Other analysts and observers have been weighing in too:
With Google and AdMob facing strong competition every day from businesses like Apple, JumpTap, Millennial Media, Microsoft, inMobi, Greystripe, Mobclix and many more, we agree that there’s vibrant competition in this space.

Update (5/5): Dow Jones asked a few players in the mobile industry yesterday what they thought about the deal:
Two of these people said the FTC staff didn't appear to be taking into account other companies like Millennial Media Inc., Greystripe Inc. and Jumptap Inc., all of which operate in-application advertising networks. By a broader definition, the mobile advertising market also includes corporate behemoths such as Yahoo Inc. (YHOO) and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), which serve ads displayed on mobile websites.[...]

Industry insiders and analysts said an FTC antitrust challenge would be problematic for a number of reasons. One industry source argued that it was a "flawed theory" to distinguish between ads that appear within mobile-phone applications and those displayed on mobile websites. This person said the mobile-advertising market is at such an early stage that it is impossible to predict which companies will emerge on top.

Michael Chang, chief executive at Greystripe, acknowledged that the combination of Google and AdMob would create a stronger rival, but he agreed that the market is too new and too dynamic to predict how it will evolve.

"It definitely creates a stronger competitor, but we're in the second inning and it's going to be a long game," said Chang.

Celebrating World Press Freedom Day

Today we’re joining Internews, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), and others in recognizing the critical, and often dangerous work that print journalists and bloggers do to bring us information from the most inaccessible corners of the world. Groups like these help make it possible for journalists like John Musa, who is covering the first Sudanese election in 24 years, to give a first-hand account of what is happening at the polls.

CPJ just released its 2010 Impunity Index, which shows where legal systems have failed to protect journalists against violence and murder. When crimes like these go unpunished because government officials refuse to prosecute, the heightened risk of reporting chokes off news and information flow for citizens, amounting to de facto censorship. Just last week Freedom House released its 2010 annual report on freedom of the press, citing “broad setbacks to global media freedom.”

In response to growing threats, we were glad to hear that Congress passed the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act last Thursday, which will shine a light on the practices of foreign governments and the fundamental importance of a free, independent media. We’re hopeful that Congress will continue to stand up for the free flow of information across all networks in all forms of media, a fundamental building block of democracy and human rights.