Cuba's first Internet connection

Jesus Martinez (l) and Internet pioneer Vint Cerf
Cuba's first Internet connection was made in September 1996. CENIAI, the National Center of Automated Data Exchange, installed and managed the link. As was the custom in those days, CENIAI Director Jesus Martinez sent an email to his colleagues in the networking community announcing the connection. It read:
From: Director CENIAI/ Jesus Martinez/IDICT
Date: Mon, 9 Sep 1996 20:22:41 -0300 (EDT)

Dear friends,

After so many days, years of sacrifice and vigilance, I have great satisfaction to announce that our beloved Cuba, our "caiman of the Indies," has been connected to the Internet as we had desired. We have a 64 Kbps link to Sprint in the U.S.

Many friends helped us and it would be unfair to mention some because of the risk of overlooking others. To be honest, major recognition goes to the Forum of Latin American and Caribbean Networks, first convened in Rio and most recently held in Lima. The Forum gave us the opportunity to meet, share strategies and estimate the size of our tasks to better plan our work. The Forum helped us achieve our connection to the Internet through technical teaching and solidarity.

Our greatest thanks go to my young colleagues at CENIAI, who had full confidence in our ability to make this historic connection.

A new era has just begun for us. We will soon announce our Web site and value-added services to do as much as we can to help develop our region and our culture.

A good Caribbean greeting,

(The Forum Martinez refers to was a group of network leaders from Latin America and the Caribbean who held annual meetings sponsored by the Organization of American States and the US National Science Foundation).

I'm posting Martinez' announcement because it conveys the spirit of the small, international networking community he belonged to. He thanks The Forum for their assistance and solidarity. They did more than meet annually -- they collaborated year around using their new tools like email, threaded discussion, file transfer, Gopher (a limited, text-based precursor to the Web), remote login and eventually the Web. They were among the first to form what networking visionary J. C. R. Licklider had predicted thirty years earlier -- a community "not of common location, but of common interest."

Martinez was clearly proud of Cuba, but he also shared the values and enthusiasm of the international networking community, who believed, correctly, that the Internet would profoundly impact individuals, organizations and society. Cuba (CENIAI) had been among the leaders in pre-Internet networking. They came to the Internet a little late, but were confident of their ability to help develop the region and culture.

That ambition has been achieved to varying degrees around the world, but Cuba has fallen far behind. That's the bad news. The good news is that times are changing, and Cuba has a well educated population ready to use, shape and be shaped by the Internet. When the time comes, they will bring a Cuban perspective to the task, and will develop and use it in Cuban ways.

For example, Cuba has invested in medical education and health care for years and they are poor -- might that prepare them to invent new applications and devices for low-cost, decentralized medicine? Or, might they show us ways to fund the development of the Internet without heavy reliance on advertising and consumer sales?

Yes, I know I am being a Pollyanna, but humor me -- Martinez' vision will eventually be realized.

Much of the early history of Latin American networking is captured at the Network Pioneer site. You can browse the site or focus on The Forum or on Martinez' contribution. Links to reports of the seven annual Forum meetings are here.

For a short article on CENIAI written four years before their Internet connection, see Press, L. and Snyder, J., A Look at Cuban Networks.

Here is Martinez' email in Spanish.
From: Director CENIAI/ Jesus Martinez/IDICT 



Date: Mon, 9 Sep 1996 20:22:41 -0300 (EDT)

Queridos amigos;

Despues de tantos dias, annos, de sacrificio y desvelo, tengo la gran

satisfacion de comunicarles que nuestra querida Cuba, nuestro caiman

antillano ha podido ser conectada a INTERNET como habiamos deseado.

La conexion a 64 Kbps por el momento, se realiza a Sprint en E.U.

Muchos son los amigos que nos han ayudado, apoyado y seria injusto el

mencionar a alguien sin correr el riesgo de olvidar algun nombre, creo que

para ser honesto mi mayor reconocimiento lo voy a dirigir al FORO DE REDES

LATINOAMERICANAS Y DEL CARIBE,desde Rio hasta Lima. El FORO que nos dio la

oportunidad de conocernos, de compartir estrategias, de dimensionar

nuestras tareas, de proyectar mejor nuestras misiones y nos ensenno que

lograr conectarse a Internet no se hace solo con la tecnica, tambien se

hace con solidaridad.

Nuestro mayor agradecimiento a mi joven colectivo de CENIAI, que ha

confiado plenamente en nosotros y que ha sabido concretar este hecho.


Una nueva etapa acaba de comenzar para nosotros, pronto comenzaran ha

conocer de nuestros WWW y de nuestros servicios de valor agregado, de

nuestra realidad y de lo mucho que podemos ayudar al desarrollo de

nuestra region y de nuestra cultura.

Un saludo bien Caribenno.


The freedom to be who you want to be…

Peter Steiner’s iconic “on the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog” cartoon may have been drawn in jest--but his point was deadly serious, as recent events in the Middle East and North Africa have shown. In reality, as the web has developed--with users anywhere able to post a blog, share photos with friends and family or “broadcast” events they witness online--the issue of identity has become increasingly important.

So, we’ve been thinking about the different ways people choose to identify themselves (or not) when they’re using Google--in particular how identification can be helpful or even necessary for certain services, while optional or unnecessary for others. Attribution can be very important, but pseudonyms and anonymity are also an established part of many cultures -- for good reason.

When it comes to Google services, we support three types of use: unidentified, pseudonymous and identified. And each mode has its own particular user benefits.
Unidentified. Sometimes you want to use the web without having your online activity tied to your identity, or even a pseudonym—for example, when you’re researching a medical condition or searching for that perfect gift for a special someone. When you’re not logged into your Google Account (or if you never signed up for one), that’s how you’ll be using our services. While we need to keep information like IP addresses and cookies to provide the service, we don’t link that information to an individual account when you are logged out.
Pseudonymous. Using a pseudonym has been one of the great benefits of the Internet, because it has enabled people to express themselves freely—they may be in physical danger, looking for help, or have a condition they don’t want people to know about. People in these circumstances may need a consistent identity, but one that is not linked to their offline self. You can use pseudonyms to upload videos in YouTube or post to Blogger.
Identified. There are many times you want to share information with people and have them know who you really are. Some products such as Google Checkout rely on this type of identity assurance and require that you identify yourself to use the service. There may be other times when it’s more desirable to be identified than not, for example if you want to be part of a community action project you may ask, “How do I know these other people I see online really are community members?”

Equally as important as giving users the freedom to be who they want to be is ensuring they know exactly what mode they’re in when using Google’s services. So recently we updated the top navigation bar on many of our Google services to make this even clearer. In the upper right hand corner of these Google pages, you will see an indicator of which account, if any, you are signed into.

We’re also looking at other ways to make this more transparent for users. While some of our products will be better suited to just one or two of those modes, depending on what they’re designed to do, we believe all three modes have a home at Google.

Speaker Boehner takes your questions on YouTube as U.S. budget stand-off continues

(Cross-posted from the Official YouTube Blog)

With many U.S. states facing budget crises, and the President’s recent budget proposal being met with skepticism by Republicans, the financial health of the U.S. is capturing interest around the world.

As the budget debate heats up on Capitol Hill, we invite you to submit your questions for one of the most vocal opponents to President Obama’s proposed budget plan - Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH).

Speaker Boehner will sit down for a special YouTube interview next week, in which he’ll answer your top-voted text and video questions about the budget and spending, as well as other hot topics like the economy, jobs, health care and foreign policy.

Visit and use the Google Moderator gadget to submit your question and vote on others. Or you can tweet in your question using the hashtag #askthespeaker and it will automatically be eligible for voting in the queue.

A few things to note when asking your question:
  1. Video questions are highly preferred (though we also accept text). Videos should be about 20 seconds long and be sure to ask the question directly.
  2. Speak clearly and try to film in a place with minimal background noise. Keep the camera as still as possible.
  3. Feel free to be creative (use props, charts, etc.) to help your question stand out. If you have time, find an interesting backdrop that may help reinforce your message.
  4. Submit your question early. The final deadline to submit is Sunday, February 27 at midnight ET.
We’ll post the final interview next Friday so stay tuned to see if the Speaker answers your question.

Reporting from inside Cuba

I just had an interesting exchange with "Muchas Gracias" in the comments of this post.

In the exchange, he (she?) tells of a 10 kilometer WiFi link he helped build in Havana using fabricated antennae. He also says some people are sharing 56 kbps Internet connections using illegal WiFi access points.

In another comment on the same post, Napo tells us that WiFi registration is indeed enforced, and the authorities are working hard to detect illegal signals.

I established this blog to discuss the state of the Internet in Cuba, and hope we get other contributions telling what people and the government are really doing. Even these comments lead to other questions -- how common are shared WiFi access points in Havana and elsewhere? Is there not a danger that the police will detect the 10 kilometer WiFi link? The report I just wrote raises many questions that can only be answered from inside Cuba.

Is this man a specialist in cybernetic counterintelligence?

Eduardo Fontes Suárez
A 53 minute video of Eduardo Fontes Suárez giving a presentation on the US attempts at cyber war against Cuba was recently leaked and put online. I won't say more about that because you can read an excellent discussion of its content and likely authenticity here. You can also read a transcript in English or in Spanish.

I will focus on the part of the talk during which Fontes Suárez, who is a "specialist in cybernetic counterintelligence," describes a plot by the US to smuggle ten BGAN satellite terminals into Cuba on order to provide unfettered Internet access by NGOs, bloggers and others.

Fontes Suárez seems to have little knowledge of the technology he is describing, which leads him to grossly overstate its capability.

Fontes Suárez says there are "10 BGAN terminals in different parts of the country" and "These ten terminals are around wireless networks which already existed".  Wow -- ten pre-existing wireless networks with unfettered Internet access sounds like it might be a big deal, but let's look further.

How big are these ten wireless networks? The fastest BGAN terminal is capable of "up to" 492 kbps and subject to the usual high latency of a satellite link. So these "wireless networks" are actually just WiFi hot spots with users sharing a slow, high-latency connection. One user may be able to watch a Netflix video or carry on a VoIP conversation, but if there were, say three or four, they would be restricted to very slow Web surfing or text applications.

Fontes Suárez also refers to people sitting at home and seeing a message pop up that says "you're connected to the Internet." He envisions them as pleasantly surprised and happily "logging on" and starting to search, surf and download. Given this description, I get the feeling that he has never used WiFi.

He goes on to talk about connecting 25-30 machines using WiFi. For a start, 492 kbps/25 = 20 kbps. Web sites are unusable at that speed. He goes on to say the 25-30 machines can be spread out over a half mile to a mile. WiFi is designed for small, local area networks. A WiFi link connecting only one user who was half a mile away would take large antennas with line of sight visibility. Even if the 25 machines were in the same room as the access point, the contention for the limited number of WiFi channels and the access point protocols would slow them to a crawl.

He says the minimum number of users of a BGAN terminal is five. Is there a minimum? Does the equipment refuse to work if there are only four users? When BGAN speaks of five users, they are all assumed to be in the same room as or very close to the base station. If there were five users, remember that they would be sharing a high-latency link of "up to" 492 kbps.

Fontes Suárez also asserts that "in Havana there are thousands of wireless computers connected in any neighborhood, from Playa to San Miguel del Padron" and that kids are using them to play games and university students are using them to study collaboratively. Ten BGAN links in different parts of the country would not be of much use to these "thousands" of computers.

I do not know how widespread WiFi is in Havana or elsewhere in Cuba, but I am skeptical of this image of somewhat ubiquitous WiFi in homes and university dorms. I do know that computer ownership and Internet connection rates are low in Cuba. I also know that there would be little reason to have a WiFi access point that was connected to the Internet via a dial-up line.

It also seems that one must register a WiFi LAN. At the MIC Web site, under the heading "Wireless Networks," we see that registration is required:
Los equipos y dispositivos auxiliares que componen estos sistemas están sujetos a la obtención de un certificado de homologación otorgado por el Ministerio de la Informática y las Comunicaciones (MIC), y podrán ser sometidos a los procedimientos de medición y comprobación de sus parámetros por los laboratorios que designe ese ministerio.
The application form is here. (Note that it describes the radios as spread spectrum in frequency band 2456 to 2482 MHz. The frequency is not exactly WiFi -- this may be a typo or indicate some non-standard technology). Does anyone know whether this registration requirement is actually enforced?

Finally, Fontes Suárez claims that BGAN terminals use "linear transmission," which he claims is difficult to detect and it surely sounds nefarious, but what does that piece of snow/jargon mean?

Some have questioned the authenticity of this leak - it may be a plant. One never knows, but it is hard for me to believe that Fontes Suárez is a specialist in cybernetic counterintelligence.

Explore our U.S. Presidents on a map

(Cross-posted from the Google Lat Long Blog.)

When I was in elementary school, I got two days off every February; one for George Washington and another for Abraham Lincoln. I remember classrooms were usually wallpapered with a potpourri of decorations left over from Valentine’s Day and token silhouettes of these two Presidents thumb-tacked to the bulletin board. My teachers would talk about the significance of the holiday during class but with lack of visuals to pique my interest, it was always hard to retain (and fully enjoy!) the information. With that in mind, we’re pleased to celebrate the President’s Day holiday by letting you go back in time to learn more about our past presidents in a visually fun and interactive way.

We’ve created a U.S. Presidents Showcase to map the birthplaces of all 44 presidents, and provide details about their presidential terms, using the Google Earth plug-in. You can also see the states that voted during each president’s election by clicking on the tours in the left column of the showcase.

Whether you’re a history buff or simply curious to learn more about U.S. presidents, we hope you enjoy exploring a little further using Google Earth. In addition to the U.S. Presidents map, educators can use some of our other resources in their classroom to explore more aspects of history. Here are a few ideas:
  • Explore the White House, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and other historical monuments in 3D and have students explain how architecture is used to honor people, concepts and establishments
  • View a 3D model of Valley Forge National Park in Google Earth
  • View a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Abraham Lincoln and map the areas where slavery ended, as well as the areas that were not initially covered by this executive order
  • Discuss the famous painting “Washington Crossing the Delaware” by German American artist Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze and use the ruler tool in Google Earth to measure the width of the Delaware River
We hope you have fun exploring and learning a little more of the history behind the President’s Day holiday. And when you’re done, go out and enjoy your day off!

Act locally in Sudan with new imagery & maps

(Cross-posted from the Google Lat Long Blog.)

After years of conflict, Southern Sudan overwhelmingly opted to secede from the country's north. Many challenges lie ahead as the newly independent state negotiates the rocky path towards independence. We believe that access to high-quality, up-to-date and locally relevant maps will assist humanitarian organizations working in the region.

We are encouraging users to add their local knowledge to this mapping effort through a campaign to build a better map of Sudan. Recent satellite imagery is key to building up-to-date maps, and we are continuously acquiring fresh and historical imagery of Sudan. Our latest imagery update is now live on Google Map Maker, Google Earth, and Google Maps, with nearly fifty percent of the UN priority areas over Southern Sudan covered with high resolution imagery. Thanks to our satellite partner GeoEye, we will continue to acquire and publish high resolution imagery of the remaining UN priority areas, as well as to refresh areas that we have previously covered as the need arises. This new imagery, such as the one over Melut, will directly benefit the many organizations working in Sudan and ultimately support the building of a solid basemap of Sudan to achieve long-term socioeconomic objectives.

Town of Melut (before 2/16/2004, after 1/30/2011). In Melut, there is a humanitarian hub where many services are delivered to at risk populations, including food, water, health care, education, and more. Given the varying needs of each of these services, maps can provide a variety of planning benefits for expansion, staff safety, and emergency procedures.

Google is also contributing to various humanitarian efforts, including the Satellite Sentinel project, by helping to build an active and self-sustained Sudanese mapping community -- locally and among the Sudanese diaspora. This community will help improve maps of Sudan by using Google Map Maker, a product that combines the power of mapping with community engagement.

Dedicated mappers have started building the foundation for a Sudan mapping community, resulting in high quality maps of Sudan. But this is a long term process that requires deep commitment from various stakeholders and community groups. To join the Sudan mapping efforts, and offer feedback, please join our Sudan community mailing list or visit our team site.

The dictator's dilemma


Glasnost which undermined the USSR and other socialist countries consisted in handing over the mass media, one by one, to the enemies of socialism.
Raúl Castro
October, 1997

One telex can cost twelve dollars [whereas] the same message costs 75 cents in the form of a fax and 3 cents via the Internet ... in spite of our blockaded circumstances, we are in a relatively good position [to face the challenges of such scientific and technological changes], due to the educational and scientific work developed by the revolution.
Carlos Lage
October, 1997

These quotes are from talks at the Fifth Plenum of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party, a year after Cuba's connection to the Internet. Lage saw the promise of the Net, Castro the threat. Castro was unwilling to risk political instability in order to achieve the benefits of the Internet, and he prevailed, opting for a small Internet effort with tight control over content and access.

I hadn't planned for the "dictator's dilemma" be the topic of the first post to this blog, but developments in Tunisia and Egypt have pushed it to the front of the queue.

In the 1990s, I would have agreed with Castro that the Internet was destined to bring democracy. Today I have a more nuanced view -- the Internet is used by dictators and terrorists as well as democrats. Furthermore, happy, well fed citizens (for example in China) are relatively complacent in their attitudes toward Internet openness.

The Internet did not cause the governments of Egypt and Tunisia to fall -- Mubarak and Ben Ali get credit for that, not Mark Zuckerberg -- but it played a key emotional and logistical role in the demonstrations that pushed them over the edge.

Mubarak tried to shut the Internet down, but that backfired. As Google marketing executive Wael Ghonim pointed out in a 60 Minutes interview, cutting the Internet showed the people that the government was afraid and caused them to go out into the street to learn what was happening. It was too late -- perhaps Mubarak would still be in power if he had chocked the Internet the way the Cuba did in the mid 1990s.

I wonder how the Internet and these events are seen by Cuban leaders today.

In his 2007 keynote address at the bi-annual Informatica Conference in Havana, Ramiro Valdés Menéndez, then Minister of Informatics and Communications, embraced "the wild stallion of the new technologies," which "could and should be controlled and used to serve peace and development" in spite of the fact that it construes one of the "mechanisms for global extermination." He sounded like a combination of Lage and Castro on steroids -- still focused on the dictator's dilemma.

The tone was different at the 2011 Informatica conference held this week. Deputy Minister of Informatics Communications Jorge Luis Perdomo, who chaired the conference organizing committee, said that limitations on Internet access were technical, not political and he stressed the government's willingness to open Internet access to the general public. The government also unblocked access to over 40 Cuban Voices blogs, including that of dissident Yoani Sánchez.

Are the times changing? (Valdés and Perdomo certainly look like they are of different generations). Will Cuba have the will and infrastructure (human and physical) to utilize the bandwidth of the new undersea cable?

What about the Army? The new Minister of Informatics and Communication is an army general and last month Telecom Italia sold their share of ETECSA to Rafin S.A. Dissident blogger Iván García tells us that "Rafin" stands for "Raúl Fidel Inversiones" and that it is run by military business men. Garcia says "Since 2008, Cuba has changed into a country almost basically controlled by the military. The majority of the ministries are occupied by active duty or retired olive green officers." The military running business sounds a bit like Egypt.

Stay tuned.

About this blog -- el tema de este blog

In the 1990s, during the years just before and just after Cuba’s first Internet connection, I visited the island three times, and wrote several reports and articles on the state of Cuban networking.

Cuba was one of the leading pre-Internet networking nations in the Caribbean. The small community of Cuban networking technicians was like that of other nations at the time. They were smart, resourceful, and motivated. They believed, correctly, that the Internet was important -- that it would have a profound impact on individuals, organizations and society. They were members of the international community of Internet pioneers.

This report is an update of my earlier reports, a study of the state of the Internet in Cuba today. I discovered that remarkably little has changed since those early days. The Cuban Internet has stagnated, while most of the world raced ahead.

This left me saddened -- for the optimistic Internet pioneers who were not able to realize their dreams and for the Cuban people who have not enjoyed and profited from the Internet.

I can think of three major causes for this stagnation: the US embargo, the Cuban economy, and the government's fear of information freedom.

The US embargo delayed an undersea cable and made computers, routers, and other equipment expensive and difficult to obtain. Cuban leaders are quick to blame the embargo for their networking problems, but it was only one hurdle.

With or without an embargo, building Internet infrastructure, training a generation of demanding users, building the Internet industry, and developing innovative applications is expensive. Cuba's first Internet connection occurred a few years after the fall of the Soviet Union, and the economy was severely depressed during that "special period." Furthermore, the policies of the Cuban government were hostile to, not encouraging of, foreign investment. Cuba could not afford to develop the Internet.

The third constraint was the government's fear of freedom of speech and communication -- the dictator's dilemma. They were unwilling to risk political instability in order to achieve the benefits of the Internet.

This sad situation is changing. Cuba will soon have an undersea cable. Chinese networking equipment and expertise are world class and, presumably, not effected by the embargo. The political situation in the United States is slowly changing as the revolution fades further into the past. The Cuban leaders are old and will change. Most important, there is a good deal of pent up demand for the Internet among the well-educated Cuban population.

I am starting this blog as a small effort to encourage the modernization of and access to the Internet in Cuba.

Respectful comments and guest posts are welcome.


Durante la década de los noventa, justo antes e inmediatamente después de la primera conexión de Cuba al Internet, tuve la oportunidad de visitar la isla tres veces, y de escribir varios informes y artículos sobre el estado del Internet en Cuba.

Cuba estuvo a la vanguardia con respecto a redes de computadores, entre los países caribeños de la época pre-Internet. La pequeña comunidad de técnicos de las redes en cuba fue parecida a las de otros países durante esa época. Eran inteligentes, creativos, originales, y sumamente motivados. Creían, correctamente, que las redes y el Internet era importante y que tendría un profundo impacto en los individuos, organizaciones, y la sociedad entera. Se sentían miembros de la comunidad internacional de los pioneros del Internet.

Eso era entonces -- acabo de completar un estudio del estado actual del Internet en Cuba que actualisa mis previos informes. Descubrí que desgraciadamente aun permanecen en el pasado, y muy poco ha cambiado desde aquellos días pioneros. El Internet en Cuba ha quedado estancado cuando el resto del mundo se ha unido en forma acelerada a todos los cambios.

Esto me ha hecho sentir pena por el pueblo Cubano y la comunidad de técnicos -- por Cuba que no han podido aprovecharse de las riquezas del Internet, por los técnicos que han visto sus suenos morir.

Pienso en tres causas que explican este estancamiento: el embargo impuesto por los EEUU, la economía Cubana tan deteriorada y el miedo del gobierno al libre flujo de la información.

El embargo de los EEUU bloqueo la construcción de un cable submarino y agrego costo a la adquisición de computadoras, “routers,” y cualquier otro equipo necesario. Los líderes cubanos culparan solamente al embargo por sus dificultades con el Internet y desconocieron los otros obstáculos.

Aunque el embargo no hubiese existido, Cuba no tenia acceso a los capitales necesarios para construir la infraestructura del Internet, para entrenar una generación de usuarios, para desarrollar una industria de Internet y para desarrollar aplicaciones. La primera conexión de Cuba al Internet fue a los pocos anos despues de la caída de la Unión Soviética. La economía sufrió una severa depresión durante ese "periodo especial." Fuera de eso, la política normal del gobierno Cubano se oponía a inversiones extranjeras. Cuba no disponía de los medios para desarrollar el Internet.

El tercer obstáculo eral el miedo de parte del gobierno al flujo de la información libre -- el dilema del dictador. No les interesaba arriesgar la estabilidad política para conseguir los beneficios de la Internet.

Esta situación está en vías de cambio. Muy pronto Cuba va a tener un cable submarino. China ofrece equipos de alta calidad sin el “impuesto” del embargo y técnicos con experiencia en las redes. La relación de los EEUU hacia Cuba está abriéndose paulatinamente dado a que la presión que ejercía la comunidad cubana-americana ha ido disminuyendo. Sobre todo, el pueblo cubano, con sus altos niveles de educación, va a exigir el acceso al Internet.

Estoy empezando este blog como un pequeño esfuerzo para fomentar la modernización y el acceso al Internet en Cuba.

Bienvenido cualquier comentario respetuoso o post invitado.

(Gracias a Leon Kaplan para la traducción).

Google D.C. Talk February 24 - Breaking Digital Dependency: A Conversation with William Powers

Posted by Jenna Wandres, Public Policy Communications

Obsessively checking your smart phone. Responding to email while you're on a beach vacation. Taking a Sunday morning conference call. You know the symptoms of 'digital dependency', and chances are good that you've experienced some form of it.

Carrying a smartphone or laptop is a great way to stay on top of your workload and to be available in case of an emergency - but at what cost? William Powers' new book, Hamlet's Blackberry, critiques online life and examines the dichotomy of technology as a convenience and technology as a burden.

Join us to hear from Powers about how historical greats such as Plato, Shakespeare, and Thoreau dealt with "disconnecting" from the technological advances in their day. Powers will suggest remedies for digital dependency (like a digital sabbath), and he'll answer your questions on how to strike a happy balance between digital life and real life.

This event is a collaboration of Google, D.C. and the Family Online Safety Institute.

Please RSVP.

Featuring William Powers, author and journalist
Moderated by Stephen Balkam, founding CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute

Thursday, February 24, 2011
4:00pm - 5:30 pm
Followed by a book signing and reception with William Powers
Drinks will be served


Google DC 
1101 New York Avenue, NW 2nd Floor
Entrance on Eye Street Washington, DC

Advanced security protection for your Google Account

From encrypted search to security alerts in Gmail, we’re always looking at new ways to make your online experience more secure.

Building on that tradition, starting today we’re offering an advanced sign-in security feature for Google Accounts called 2-step verification.

Most of us are familiar with 1-step verification, which requires a username and password to sign in. 2-step verification adds an extra layer of security to your Google Account by requiring two factors for authentication: your username and password, plus a unique code generated by your mobile phone.

It's an extra step, but it's one that significantly improves the security of your Google Account. Now, if someone steals or guesses your password, the potential hijacker still can’t sign in to your account because he doesn’t have your phone.

We first rolled out 2-step verification for our Google Apps customers last year, and now we’re excited to bring the same advanced protection to all our users. To learn how to set up 2-step verification on your account, check out the Official Google Blog.

IPv6 marks the next chapter in the history of the Internet

(Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog.)

In the same way your phone is associated with a unique number, your computer is assigned a unique Internet Protocol (IP) address when you connect to the Internet. The current protocol, IPv4, allows for approximately 4 billion unique addresses—and that number is about to run out.

This morning the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced (PDF) that it has distributed the last batch of its remaining IPv4 addresses to the world’s five Regional Internet Registries, the organizations that manage IP addresses in different regions. These Registries will begin assigning the final IPv4 addresses within their regions until they run out completely, which could come as soon as early 2012.

As the last blocks of IPv4 addresses are assigned, adoption of a new protocol—IPv6—is essential to the continued growth of the open Internet. IPv6 will expand Internet address space to 128 bits, making room for approximately 340 trillion trillion trillion addresses (enough to last us for the foreseeable future).

Google, along with others, has been working for years to implement the larger IPv6 format. We’re also participating in the planned World IPv6 Day, scheduled for June 8, 2011. On this day, all of the participating organizations will enable access to as many services as possible via IPv6.

Today’s ICANN announcement marks a major milestone in the history of the Internet. IPv6, the next chapter, is now under way.