Announcing the Asia Pacific Google Policy Fellows

There are now more than 2 billion people online, with approximately 850 million of them in Asia Pacific.

Given Asia Pacific’s importance, we're excited to announce the extension of the Google Policy Fellowship program to this part of the world. The goal of the program is to assist public interest organizations at the forefront of debates on important Internet policy issues, and to support talented young advocates and scholars. Since its inception in 2007, the Google Policy Fellowship has provided a platform for students interested in technology policy to contribute to the public dialogue on these issues, and to explore future academic and professional interests.

The Asia Pacific program for 2011 includes one Fellow each in Australia, Hong Kong and India. The University of New South Wales, the City University of Hong Kong, and the Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore will be serving as the respective host institutions.

In this region, we see many policy challenges concerning access to information online. The 2011 Asia Pacific Fellows will therefore focus on legal and policy issues related to the open Internet.

Congratulations to our first class of Asia Pacific Google Policy Fellows:
  • Lauren Loz, University of New South Wales, Faculty of Law Australia
  • Henry Hu Ling, University of Hong Kong, Faculty of Law, Hong Kong
  • Rishabh Dara, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, India
We extend our sincere thanks to everyone who applied. If this pilot program proves to be a success, we hope to expand the Policy Fellowship for 2012.

Testimony on location services and mobile privacy

Mobile location services create enormous social and economic benefits. Many of us are already experiencing those benefits – things as simple as getting real-time traffic maps that aid your commute, or finding the closest gas station on your car’s GPS.

But the value of these services extends far beyond commerce and convenience. They can also be lifesavers. Mobile location services can help you find the nearest hospital or police station, or let you know where you can fill a prescription at one in the morning for a sick child. And this is just the start.

We are now working with partners like the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to explore how to deliver AMBER alerts about missing children within seconds to all users nearby. And mobile services will soon be able to alert people in the path of a tornado or tsunami, or guide them to an evacuation route in the event of a hurricane.

Mobile services have growing importance for our economy; according to recent market reports, their potential economic impact is staggering. These services are creating jobs in new businesses and increasing jobs in existing businesses.

To succeed in the long run, however, they require consumer trust built on strong privacy and security protections. We are committed to providing that trust.

This morning I testified before the Senate Commerce Committee about how we protect our users’ privacy, including those who use mobile location services. You can read my full testimony here.

Google’s 2010 U.S. Economic Impact

(Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog.)

This week is National Small Business Week, an opportunity to celebrate the spirit and ingenuity of small businesses like Everblue, a start-up in North Carolina.

Everblue was founded in 2008 by veterans Chris and Jon Boggiano along with fellow entrepreneur Grant McGregor. The brothers’ goal was to make the U.S. more energy independent by helping people get certified in sustainable building practices. With old-fashioned hard work and some help from Google AdWords, their business has quadrupled in size. They now have 80 full time employees and instructors, and this year alone they’ll train tens of thousands of people—architects, engineers, electricians and others—to build smarter and greener.

Chris and Jon Boggiano, veterans and co-founders of Everblue, a training institute for sustainable building.

Today we’re announcing that Google provided $64 billion of economic activity to businesses, website publishers and non-profits in 2010. This is an 18% increase from the economic impact total in 2009. Here’s how it works: for every $1 a business spends on Google AdWords, they receive an average of $8 in profit through Google Search and AdWords.

We’re proud that Everblue and over one million American businesses use our advertising services to tell consumers about their products and services. Learn more at

Remembering fallen journalists on video

(Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog.)

We live in a world that feels smaller every day. As we become accustomed to nearly ubiquitous coverage of the news and events unfolding around the world, it’s easy to forget the price that is sometimes paid to obtain quality, accurate reporting on important stories—particularly in areas of conflict or in cases of government repression of the media. With this in mind, today, the Newseum in Washington, D.C., Google and YouTube are together launching the Journalists Memorial channel on YouTube to remember the journalists who have died in the last year while reporting news around the world.

Their stories are incredible: heading into a street battle with no weapon other than your camera; talking about politics over the radio, only to be beaten to death with iron bars by a group of thugs on the way to work. The risks and sacrifices that many have made in order to provide us with accurate information is remarkable. On the Journalists Memorial channel you can watch a collection of videos representing these journalists’ lives and their work.

This channel will become a digital version of the Newseum’s Journalists Memorial, which is re-dedicated annually to honor journalists worldwide who have died during the preceding year. This year, 77 names are being added to the list of the more than 2,000 journalists who have been recognized for their sacrifices since 1837. At today’s rededication ceremony, Krishna Bharat, the founder and head of Google News, will be delivering the keynote address, which the Newseum will post to the new YouTube channel later today.

In tribute to those who are being honored at today’s ceremony, we would like your help finding videos that profile or represent the work of all journalists who have risked or lost their lives doing the important work they do. We invite you to go to the Journalists Memorial channel and submit videos you think deserve recognition to the Moderator platform on the channel. The Newseum will be featuring additional submissions there.

Google Transit goes to Washington

(Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog.)

Every day, many thousands of commuters, locals, and tourists ride public transit in Washington, D.C. To help all of these transit riders find their way around the metro area, today we’re making comprehensive information about D.C.’s public transportation available on Google Transit.

In partnership with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), we’re adding all of D.C.’s Metro and bus stations, stops and routes, as well as connections to other transit systems in nearby cities. You can find this information on Google Maps as well as Google Maps for mobile—no matter where you are, you can get to where you’re going. With Google Transit, D.C. metro-area commuters—including those in Baltimore, Montgomery and Jefferson counties—may discover a quicker route to work, while visitors can easily make their way from Reagan National Airport straight to the Smithsonian.

Public transportation is a vital part of city infrastructure and can help alleviate congestion and reduce emissions. But planning your trip on public transit can be challenging, especially when there are multiple transit agencies and you need to use information from multiple sources to figure out the best route. With mapping tools like the transit feature, we’re working to make that easier.

Directions are also available on Google Maps for mobile—so if you’re graduating from GWU and want to meet some friends in Adams Morgan to celebrate, it’s as easy as pulling out your phone. If you’re using an Android device, for example, search for [Adams Morgan] in Google Maps, click on the Places result and select “Directions.” Switch to Transit in the upper-left corner and find out which bus gets you there fastest.

Wherever your journey takes you, whether using public transit, driving, biking or walking, we hope Google Transit directions in D.C. make finding your way a little easier.

Our Senate testimony on protecting Android users’ privacy

This morning I’ll be testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the important issue of mobile privacy. You can read my full testimony here or watch a webcast of the hearing here starting at 10 a.m. EDT.

Mobile devices and location services are now used routinely by tens of millions of Americans and create enormous benefits for our society. Those services will not be used – and they cannot succeed – without consumer trust, built on a sustained effort by our industry to protect user privacy and security. With this in mind, at Google we have made our mobile location services opt-in only – treating this information with the highest degree of care possible.

Google focuses on privacy protection throughout the life cycle of product development, starting with the initial design. We are particularly sensitive when it comes to location information. We provide transparent information for users about what is collected; opt-in choice before location information is collected; and high security standards to anonymize and protect information. Our hope is that this becomes a standard for the broader industry.

Yuma stay home!

Wow -- it is sad to read that professor Ted Henken is persona non grata in Cuba as a result of his conducting interviews of Cuban bloggers. I don't want to be political in this blog, but since his research was Internet related, I will say a few words.

I've never met professor Henken, but his writing makes it clear that he is not partial or one-sided. He says he is "against both blockades -- that of the US against Cuba and that of the Cuban government against its own people." That reminds me of a colleague who was at Radio Marti several years ago and told me that he knew he was doing his job well when both sides were angry with him. Nothing that is interesting is black or white.

I have much less Cuban expertise or experience than Professor Hencken, and have not been to Cuba for over ten years, but my experience at that time was one of openness. There were no bloggers at the time, so I had to talk mostly with the establishment. I met technical people, policy people and a few underground hackers during my trips to Cuba. I was watched. The people I met knew who I was and had read things I had written. They knew I had published reports for the "evil" Rand Corporation. Still they treated me with respect as a professional who had no political axe to grind.

One might argue that Henken's treatment was because he lied by traveling with a tourist visa. But, I don't think he would have had a problem if he had been doing interviews for a pro-government newsgroup like CubaNews, in which the majority of the contributions are by Walter Lippmann, who lives in the US and travels extensively in Cuba.

Evidently, the increased visibility and importance of the Internet has caused a tightening of control. Perhaps I would no longer be welcome in Cuba either.

Network performance testing

I've been busy with teaching and a curriculum development project, and have neglected this blog. Sorry.

About a month ago, I tried a data gathering experiment. I created a simple survey on underground TV viewing in Cuba, hoping that Cubans would reply. Well, the experiment did not work -- a number of people started the survey, but only a couple completed and submitted it. I don't know if there was some sort of mistrust or they just had nothing to say.

I would still like to find ways of getting grass roots data on the Internet in Cuba from Cubans. For example, it would be interesting to get data on international network performance before and after the undersea cable is up and running. That could be done if people at different locations could run timing tests -- from simple pings and traceroutes to more elaborate tests like the Network Diagnostic Tool, which is available on many Internet servers (for example, this one at MIT).

In the mean time, here are a few ping tests run during the evening from the US to three Cuban servers:
  Mean Minimum Maximum St. dev. 634 632 642 2.2 856 707 995 89.9 667 638 885 59.9

If we assume that 250 or 300 milliseconds are due to satellite link latency, these times are still slow. At these speeds, low-bandwidth, asynchronous applications like email would be slow and something like browsing a modern Web site nearly impossible.

Running tests like these from within Cuba would require Web access with the ability to run Java applets. Would anyone be willing to run some tests?

Using the power of mapping to support South Sudan

(Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog.)

Last Thursday, the Google Map Maker team, along with the World Bank and UNITAR/UNOSAT, held a unique event at the World Bank Headquarters in Washington, D.C., and a satellite event in Nairobi at the same time. More than 70 members of the Sudanese diaspora, along with regional experts from the World Bank, Sudan Institute, Voices for Sudan, The Enough Project and other organizations gathered together to map what is expected to become the world’s newest country later this year: the Republic of South Sudan. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has asked the international community “to assist all Sudanese towards greater stability and development” during and beyond this period of transition.

South Sudan is a large but under-mapped region, and there are very few high-quality maps that display essential features like roads, hospitals and schools. Up-to-date maps are particularly important to humanitarian aid groups, as they help responders target their efforts and mobilize their resources of equipment, personnel and supplies. More generally, maps are an important foundation for the development of the infrastructure and economy of the country and region.

The Map Maker community—a wide-ranging group of volunteers that help build more comprehensive maps of the world using our online mapping tool, Google Map Maker—has been contributing to the mapping effort for Sudan since the referendum on January 9. To aid their work, we’ve published updated satellite imagery of the region, covering 125,000 square kilometers and 40 percent of the U.N.’s priority areas, to Google Earth and Maps.

The goal of last week’s event was to engage and train members of the Sudanese diaspora in the United States, and others who have lived and worked in the region, to use Google Map Maker so they could contribute their local knowledge of the region to the ongoing mapping effort, particularly in the area of social infrastructure. Our hope is that this event and others like it will help build a self-sufficient mapping community that will contribute their local expertise and remain engaged in Sudan over time.

We were inspired by the group’s enthusiasm. One attendee told us: “I used to live in this small village that before today did not exist on any maps that I know of...a place unknown to the world. Now I can show to my kids, my friends, my community, where I used to live and better tell the story of my people.”

The group worked together to make several hundred edits to the map of Sudan in four hours. As those edits are approved, they’ll appear live in Google Maps, available for all the world to see. But this wasn’t just a one-day undertaking—attendees will now return to their home communities armed with new tools and ready to teach their friends and family how to join the effort. We look forward to seeing the Southern Sudanese mapping community grow and flourish.

Our testimony on how technology can aid crisis response

This morning Shona Brown, Senior Vice President of, was on Capitol Hill to testify before the Senate Homeland Security Committee on the use of technology in coordinating disaster relief efforts.

Google plays a modest role in crisis response compared to relief organizations and agencies, but we have found that the Internet can help users and relief workers quickly find the information they need during emergencies. For example, Google Person Finder – which helps loved ones reconnect during emergencies – managed more than 600,000 records following the earthquake in Japan, and there were more than 36 million page views within the first 48 hours alone.

During her testimony, Shona outlined three reasons how simple, standard and open Internet-based technologies are critical tools for emergency responders and affected populations: the Internet often remains available when other networks fail, people often turn to Internet services during emergencies, and the Internet scales and promotes openness.

You can read Shona’s full testimony here or watch video of the hearing here.

Today is World Press Freedom Day 2011

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted more than sixty years ago, but its words still ring true today – almost as though they were crafted with the Internet in mind:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” (Article 19)
Today is World Press Freedom Day 2011 – an event marking the central role that free and independent media play in building and maintaining democratic movements and nations.

This year’s theme is digital media – a particularly appropriate focus in a year that has seen the Internet play a crucial role in helping people to organize against dictators in the Middle East and North Africa. A free and open Internet is just one tool, but it has proved itself to be truly powerful over the past few months.

World Press Freedom Day is a date to recognize those who strive to advance the cause of freedom of expression and keep the flow of information open and unfettered. That includes efforts by groups that aim to investigate and expose Internet filtering and surveillance practices, as well as those who work to protect journalists and measure press freedom around the world.

For our part, Google is committed to providing the information that citizens around the globe need to understand the world and participate in the governing of their societies. We’re happy to join the UN Foundation, the National Endowment for Democracy, UNESCO and all the other partners to mark today’s occasion.

A strong step for congressional openness and accountability

(Cross-posted from the Google Public Sector Blog.)

Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor took another strong step towards an open and accountable Congress, calling for better access to House legislative data in a letter to the Clerk of the House:
“...Openness, once a proud tradition of the House, is again the new standard. At the start of the 112th Congress, the House adopted a Rules Package that identified electronic documents as a priority for the institution. Towards that end, we are asking all House stakeholders to work together on publicly releasing the House’s legislative data in machine-readable formats...Ultimately, legislative data is the property of the American public. It is our hope that these reforms will continue to rebuild the trust between Congress and the people we serve.”
Open, standard data formats are fundamental to helping engineers, entrepreneurs and citizens access and use legislative information. We applaud Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor for their continued leadership on transparency.

Across industries, we’ve seen how well organized information can improve operations and reduce spending. In the same way that barcodes made merchandise easier to track and supply chains more efficient, using standardized machine-readable formats will be a large step in improving transparency around lawmaking.

And one day, it will be as simple for citizens to understand and track a bill as School House Rock makes it look: