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Posts by Google Public Policy Blog
Posted by Stephan Somogyi, Google Security Team
Our users trust Google with some of their most precious data — family photos, emails, work documents, and more. It’s our responsibility to keep your information safe and secure, and provide simple, useful ways for you to manage it.
We also have additional tools you can use to give your account extra protection. More than five years ago, we introduced two-step verification, a tool which offers an added layer of security to your account. With two-step verification, you need something more than just your password—a simple prompt on your phone, a code generated by an app, or a security key— in order to access your account. This makes it much tougher for the bad guys to get into your account, even if they’ve somehow gotten your password.
Today, the White House, in partnership with the National Cyber Security Alliance, launched the Lock Down Your Login campaign to educate Americans about better ways to keep their online accounts secure. It’s a great opportunity to remind everyone about the different two-step verification options available to protect your Google account. To enable two-step verification, go to the “Sign-in & Security” section of My Account or click here to learn more.
Why the IANA Transition Must Move Forward
Posted by Kent Walker, SVP and General Counsel
The Internet community is about to take an important step to protect the Internet for generations to come.
Over the past several years, an ecosystem of users, civil society experts, academics, governments, and companies has worked to protect the free and open Internet. These efforts have produced a detailed proposal that will enable the U.S. government to relinquish its contract with a California non-profit called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to perform certain technical functions through an organization called IANA, short for the Internet Assigned Names Authority. IANA essentially maintains the Internet’s address book, which lets you browse the web and communicate with friends without worrying about remembering long strings of numbers or other technical information.
When this proposal takes effect at the end of this month, you won’t notice anything different when you go online, but we are transitioning the IANA functions into good hands.
Why? Although this is a change in how one technical function of the Internet is governed, it will give innovators and users a greater role in managing the global Internet. And that’s a very good thing. The Internet has been built by — and has thrived because of — the companies, civil society activists, technologists, and selfless users around the world who recognized the Internet’s power to transform communities and economies. If we want the Internet to have this life-changing impact on everyone in the world, then we need to make sure that the right people are in a position to drive its future growth. This proposal does just that.
The proposal will also protect the Internet from those who want to break it into pieces. Unfortunately, some see the Internet’s incredible power to connect people and ideas around the world as a threat. For them, the U.S. government’s contract with ICANN proves that governments are the only ones who should play a role in the way the Internet works. We disagree.
Thinking that only governments should have a say in the Internet’s future is a dangerous proposition. It incentivizes those who fear the Internet’s transformative power to impose burdensome restrictions online, and over time could even lead some repressive governments to try to build their own closed networks operating independently of ICANN, at the expense of a thriving Internet ecosystem.
The Internet community’s proposal avoids this risk by ensuring that the Internet is governed in a bottom-up way that puts its future in the hands of users and innovators, not authoritarian governments. That’s why it’s not just engineers and companies, but also civil society and national security experts, who see the proposal as a critical way to protect Internet freedom.
Finally, and importantly, the proposal will fulfill a promise the United States made almost two decades ago: that the Internet could and should be governed by everyone with a stake in its continued growth. The U.S. government’s contract with ICANN was always supposed to be merely temporary. In fact, since ICANN was created in 1998, the U.S. government has invited the global Internet community to decide the Internet’s future in a bottom-up fashion. The community has proven more than up to the task. The U.S. government’s continued contractual relationship with ICANN is simply no longer necessary.
We’re grateful to have worked with so many stakeholders, including the dedicated officials at the U.S. government who have worked so hard to fulfill the promise made by their predecessors nearly twenty years ago, during this effort to protect one of the greatest engines of economic and social opportunity the world has ever seen. And because the proposal makes sure that ICANN is more accountable and transparent than ever before, we hope that more people from around the world will take this opportunity to get involved. The Internet’s future is in all of our hands.
Posted by Ian Wetherbee, Tech Lead / Manager, Google Patents
When we started Google Patents almost 10 years ago, our mission was to make patents more easily accessible. Today, we’re announcing the addition of 11 more countries to Google Patents with over 41 million new patent publications, bringing the total to over 87 million publications from 17 patent offices around the world.
Starting today, you can now search for patents and applications from Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Belgium, Russia, the Netherlands, Finland, Denmark, and Luxembourg in Google Patents. If you’re interested in learning more about inventions such as bulldozing devices, wind farming, or how to make rice wine, you can now search for them and many more.
Like our other patent publications, this new collection has been translated into English using Google Translate so you can search using English keywords or the original language. Our collection also includes scientific papers and books from Google Scholar and Google Books, which have been machine-classified like patents with Cooperative Patent Classification codes for easier discovery. You can learn more in the new help center.
A robust prior art search, combining advanced search technology and a patent examiner’s technical expertise, allows an examiner to determine if an invention is new and non-obvious. As a result, technology that was already known isn’t taken from the public, and innovative companies won’t be targeted with unnecessary and expensive lawsuits that drain R&D resources. Patent holders trying to protect the next groundbreaking invention benefit too by gaining more certainty that their patents won’t be invalidated later because of prior art that wasn’t found during examination.
We’ll continue to improve Google Patents to make the collection of patents and prior art accessible and useful to patent examiners, inventors, and the public around the world.
Posted by Richard Salgado, Legal Director, Law Enforcement and Information Security
We have updated our Transparency Report on government requests for user data with information for the second half of 2015 (July – December). Google is proud to have led the charge on publishing these reports, helping shed light on government surveillance laws and practices across the world.
We’re pleased with some of the improvements we’ve seen in surveillance laws. The European Commission and the United States recently agreed on the Privacy Shield agreement, which includes new undertakings covering procedural protections for surveillance efforts. Earlier this year, President Obama signed the Judicial Redress Act into law, which Google strongly supported. The law creates a process for extending procedural protections under the Privacy Act of 1974 to non-U.S. persons. This shift helps address concerns about the ability of non-U.S. persons to redress grievances concerning data collected and stored by the U.S. government under U.S. law. Indeed, the distinctions that U.S. privacy and surveillance laws make between U.S. and non-U.S. persons are increasingly obsolete in a world where communications primarily take place over a global medium: the Internet.
There are other important steps that the U.S. can take to ensure that the privacy interests of non-U.S. persons are addressed as policymakers consider government surveillance issues. We helped create the Reform Government Surveillance coalition to encourage Congress and the executive branch to take steps to modernize U.S. surveillance laws, further protect the privacy and data security rights of all users, including those outside the US and those not of US nationality, and improve diplomatic processes to promote a robust, principled, and transparent framework for legitimate cross-border investigations.
Google looks forward to working on the future rules and standards in countries around the world that, like the Judicial Redress Act, respect the rights of users wherever they may be.
Posted by Susan Molinari, Vice President for Public Policy, Americas
Information is powerful, and historical and cultural information can help us understand the world around us today. That’s why we built Google Arts & Culture—to put the world’s cultural treasures at anyone’s fingertips, and to help museums and other organizations share more of their diverse heritage with the world. So far we’ve partnered with more than 1,100 institutions to share 400,000+ artworks and 5 million photos, videos, manuscripts, and other documents of art, culture and history.
Today, ahead of the Republican and Democratic national conventions, we’re putting that platform to work sharing documents and artifacts in a new collection: American Democracy.
The American Democracy collection allows anyone with an internet connection to explore more than 70 exhibits and 2,500+ artifacts from 45 institutions across the United States—including the Constitutional Rights Foundation in Los Angeles, Thomas Jefferson’s home Monticello, and 8 different Presidential Libraries. The exhibition is open for all at g.co/AmericanDemocracy and through the Google Arts & Culture mobile app for iOS and Android.
Witness the election of 1800, following George Washington’s presidency, in which Federalists and Democratic-Republicans fought over the issue of more government or less—a debate we still have today.
ABOVE: Think Before You Vote Republican Party advertisement informing Michigan voters why they should re-elect Abraham Lincoln as president over George McClellan. From the collection of President Lincoln’s Cottage
Revisit the 1860 election, when a four-way battle culminated in Abraham Lincoln’s ascension to the office of the president.
ABOVE: August 1964, Supporters of the Freedom Democratic Party outside the Democratic National Convention hold up signs bearing the likenesses of 3 slain civil rights workers (L-R) Andrew Goodman, James Chaney & Michael Schwerner. Photo by Ralph Crane via the LIFE Photo Collection
Explore exhibits that offer a view into the legacy of the fight for equal civil rights—well worth remembering and celebrating given the events of today. Relive the history of women in presidential elections and of women in the fight for civil rights thanks to the National Museum of Women’s History, or examine the violent and chaotic Democratic National Convention of 1968 in Chicago in an exhibit from the Chicago History Museum.
And experience conventions from the past, as told by members of the press who were actually there, in the Archive of American Television’s Stories from National Political Conventions. Or view never-before-seen pictures of President Richard Nixon addressing the crowd at the Republican National Convention of 1972, photographed by renowned photographer Ollie Atkins and the White House Photo Office.
Knowledge of the past helps us understand the impact of our choices on the future. Every few years, American citizens are challenged with the question of how they want to be governed and to what end. With the American Democracy collection on Google Arts & Culture, we hope to make the history of those choices, and their outcomes, available to all.
Posted by Katie Oyama, Senior Policy Counsel, Google
The internet continues to be a boon for creators, their communities, and the content industry. At Google, we are committed to helping these industries flourish online. Today, Google’s services provide content for people all around the world and generate significant revenue for rightsholders. YouTube alone has now generated over $2 billion to rightsholders by monetizing user-uploaded content through Content ID, its industry-leading rights management system.
We take protecting creativity online seriously, and we’re doing more to help battle copyright-infringing activity than ever before. Today, we are releasing an update to our “How Google Fights Piracy” report, which explains the robust programs, policies, and technologies we have put in place to combat piracy online.
Here are a few highlights from those ongoing efforts:
- Leading the industry in finding copyright solutions that work: We go above and beyond the requirements of the law to lead the industry in finding solutions that work. Content ID is a great example of this. Content ID goes beyond a simple “notice-and-takedown” system to provide a set of automated tools that empowers rightsholders to automatically claim their content and choose whether to track, block or monetize it on YouTube. Content ID is a highly effective solution, and today over 98% of copyright management on YouTube takes place through Content ID, with only 2% being handled through copyright removal notices.
- Providing new revenue streams for media industries and content owners: Content ID has also created a robust new revenue stream for the content industry. YouTube has paid out over $2 billion to rightsholders who have monetized their content through Content ID since it first launched. In fact, today well over 90% of all Content ID claims across the platform result in monetization. The music industry chooses to monetize more than 95% of their claims, opting to leave the content up on the platform – half of the music industry’s YouTube revenue comes from fan content claimed via Content ID. Thanks to Content ID, YouTube is also the only platform that gives partners an automated way to directly monetize background/incidental use and covers.
- Connecting fans to better legitimate alternatives: The best way to battle piracy is with better, more convenient, legitimate alternatives. And Google is all-in when it comes to partnering with the content industry to build and enable those alternatives. Through YouTube and Google Play, Google is in the business of helping users legitimately discover, purchase, and enjoy music, movies, books, magazines, and apps. Thanks to these platforms, Google Play has paid out more than $7 billion to developers, while YouTube has paid out more than $3 billion to the music industry. Today, Google Play also makes music available in 62 countries, movies in 105 countries, and books in 75 countries.
- Solving for Search: Thanks to the efforts of Google’s engineers, the vast majority of media-related queries that users submit every day return results that include only links to legitimate sites. For any problematic links that may appear for rarer “long-tail” queries, our systems for processing copyright removal notices handle millions of URLs each day, in less than 6 hours on average. And when we get a large number of valid notices for a site, our search ranking algorithms demote that site in future search results.
- Following the money: Rogue sites that specialize in online piracy are commercial ventures, which means that one effective way to combat them is to cut off their money supply. As a global leader in online advertising, Google is committed to rooting out and ejecting rogue sites from our advertising services. Since 2012, Google has blacklisted more than 91,000 sites from AdSense for violating our policies against copyright infringement, the vast majority caught by AdSense’s own proactive screens. We have also been working with other advertising leaders to craft best practices aimed at raising standards across the entire online advertising industry, including in the U.S., U.K., France, Italy, and Asia.
Protecting and fostering creativity online is a priority for Google. We remain committed to investing in efforts to address copyright infringement online, collaborating with rightsholders and protecting the interests of our users.
Posted by Lewis Segall, Senior Counsel, Ethics and Compliance and Alex Walden, Counsel, Free Expression and Human Rights
Google is proud to be a founding member of the Global Network Initiative (GNI), a multi-stakeholder initiative that brings together ICT companies with civil society organizations, investors, and academics to define a shared approach to freedom of expression and privacy online. The GNI provides a framework for company operations, rooted in international standards; promotes accountability of ICT sector companies through independent assessment; enables multi-stakeholder policy engagement; and creates shared learning opportunities across stakeholder boundaries.
As part of our commitment to GNI, outside assessors conduct periodic reviews of how we’re doing against GNI’s Principles on Freedom of Expression and Privacy. In 2013, GNI conducted the inaugural round of assessments of the GNI member companies.
Today, GNI released the second round of assessments. We’re pleased that the board determined Google is compliant with the GNI framework and affirmed our ongoing efforts to protect freedom of expression and privacy online. The assessment is an important tool for companies, NGOs, academics, and others working together to review how companies address risks to privacy and free expression. We look forward to continuing to work within GNI to improve the GNI assessment process as it evolves.
Google is deeply committed to our responsibility to respect and protect the freedom of expression and privacy rights of our users. We value our partnership with GNI on the pressing issues in our sector, for example: reforming the global mutual legal assistance (MLAT) regime; developing new international frameworks for cross-border data requests; and establishing principles to help governments and companies address extremist or terrorist content online.
For more information on Google’s efforts, visit our Transparency Report.
Posted by Kent Walker, SVP and General Counsel
When we think about global trade, most of us imagine container ships navigating the Panama Canal and large multinational companies with warehouses around the world. But the Internet is upending this model and opening the door for the over three billion people already online to exchange goods, services, and ideas.
Today, a small business can sell its products overseas with little more than an app or website. An artist, musician, or author can reach a global audience without needing a superstar agent. A small business on Bainbridge Island, Washington sells its marine parts to customers in 176 countries, and a unique performer like Lindsey Stirling cultivates a global audience with millions of views on YouTube.
The Internet is profoundly changing the global economy — democratizing who participates in trade, transforming the way traditional industries do business, and internationalizing the way people around the world connect. Today, information flows contribute more than the flow of physical goods to global economic growth.
But Internet restrictions — like censorship, site-blocking, and forced local storage of data — threaten the Internet’s open architecture. This can seriously harm established businesses, startups trying to reach a global audience, and Internet users seeking to communicate and collaborate across national borders.
Trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are beginning to recognize the Internet’s transformative impact on trade.
- The Internet has revolutionized how people can share and access information, and the TPP promotes the free flow of information in ways that are unprecedented for a binding international agreement. The TPP requires the 12 participating countries to allow cross-border transfers of information and prohibits them from requiring local storage of data. These provisions will support the Internet’s open architecture and make it more difficult for TPP countries to block Internet sites — so that users have access to a web that is global, not just local.
- The TPP provides strong copyright protections, while also requiring fair and reasonable copyright exceptions and limitations that protect the Internet. It balances the interests of copyright holders with the public’s interest in the wider distribution and use of creative works — enabling innovations like search engines, social networks, video recording, the iPod, cloud computing, and machine learning. The endorsement of balanced copyright is unprecedented for a trade agreement. The TPP similarly requires the kinds of copyright safe harbors that have been critical to the Internet’s success, with allowances for some variation to account for different legal systems.
- The TPP advances other important Internet policy goals. It prohibits discrimination against foreign Internet services, limits governments’ ability to demand access to encryption keys or other cryptographic methods, requires pro-innovation telecom access policies, prohibits customs duties on digital products, requires proportionality in intellectual property remedies, and advances other key digital goals.
The TPP is not perfect, and the trade negotiation process could certainly benefit from greater transparency. We will continue to advocate for process reforms, including the opportunity for all stakeholders to have a meaningful opportunity for input into trade negotiations.
In terms of substance, we believe that future trade agreements can do even more to build a modern pro-innovation, pro-Internet trade agenda. For example, while the TPP’s balanced copyright provisions can be a force for good, these balancing provisions should be expanded in future agreements.
We hope that the TPP can be a positive force and an important counterweight to restrictive Internet policies around the world. Like many other tech companies, we look forward to seeing the agreement approved and implemented in a way that promotes a free and open Internet across the Pacific region.
Posted by Astri Kimball, Senior Policy Counsel
Energy ministers from around the globe visited the Bay Area this week for their first meeting following the signing of historic climate change agreements in France last year. The Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) is an annual meeting of energy ministers and other high-level delegates from 23 of the world’s largest economies and the EU to discuss collaboration on low-carbon economy solutions. The focus of this year’s CEM was to discuss how to achieve the goals set in the Paris climate change deal as well as learn how innovations coming out of Silicon Valley are tackling the issue head on.
Hosted by U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, a number of ministers embarked on a fact finding mission that included Google, where they came to learn first hand about our commitment to clean energy and sustainability.
Google’s Senior Vice President for Technical Infrastructure Urs Hölzle told the group that renewable energy is critical for businesses like ours — from powering our data centers to our products and services. “Having pioneered some of the first corporate renewable power purchasing back in 2010-2011, we’re excited to see that this is becoming business-as-usual for companies everywhere. And at Google we continue to be committed to 100% renewable energy because this makes good business sense and is the right thing to do for the planet and for our users.”
US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz who led the visit to Google was joined by ministers and officials from countries including the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Chile, India, Indonesia, and South Africa.
The CEM group had the opportunity to see at first hand a number of projects aimed at everything from helping people make smart choices about solar power to how we power our data centers with renewable energy.
At Google, we’ve made a long-term commitment to power 100% of our operations with renewable energy. To that end, we’ve purchased more than 2 gigawatts of renewable energy to date, making us the world’s largest non-utility purchaser of renewables.
In an effort to build on this week’s momentum, the CEM launched a campaign that will promote solutions that enable more companies to purchase renewable power. Google is pleased to join this effort by agreeing to host a forum later this year for national governments, renewable energy buyers and suppliers, NGOs, and other interested groups to look for ways to further unlock corporate renewable energy demand in CEM countries.
Posted by David Graff, Director, Global Product Policy
When ads are good, they connect people to interesting, useful brands, businesses and products. Unfortunately, not all ads are–some are for fake or harmful products, or seek to mislead users about the businesses they represent. We have an extensive set of policies to keep bad ads out of our systems – in fact in 2015 alone, we disabled more than 780 million ads for reasons ranging from counterfeiting to phishing. Ads for financial services are a particular area of vigilance given how core they are to people’s livelihood and well being.
In that vein, today we’re sharing an update that will go into effect on July 13, 2016: we’re banning ads for payday loans and some related products from our ads systems. We will no longer allow ads for loans where repayment is due within 60 days of the date of issue. In the U.S., we are also banning ads for loans with an APR of 36% or higher. When reviewing our policies, research has shown that these loans can result in unaffordable payment and high default rates for users so we will be updating our policies globally to reflect that.
This change is designed to protect our users from deceptive or harmful financial products and will not affect companies offering loans such as Mortgages, Car Loans, Student Loans, Commercial loans, Revolving Lines of Credit (e.g. Credit Cards).
According to Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, “This new policy addresses many of the longstanding concerns shared by the entire civil rights community about predatory payday lending. These companies have long used slick advertising and aggressive marketing to trap consumers into outrageously high interest loans – often those least able to afford it.”
We’ll continue to review the effectiveness of this policy, but our hope is that fewer people will be exposed to misleading or harmful products.
Posted by Alex Sanchez, Public Policy Team
Google captures tour at Hannover Fair with 360-degree video technology
Last week marked the first visit of a U.S. President to the Hannover Messe, the world’s largest industrial trade show. Hannover is the birthplace of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who is credited with helping create binary code, the 0’s and 1’s that make up all things digital. It’s fitting that Google helped document President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s tour of the Fair with several 360-degree cameras – a perfect way to combine digital and industry in front of an international audience. The video allows you join the delegation of the two heads of state for a virtual tour you can watch on YouTube, or by using a virtual-reality (VR) viewer like Google Cardboard.
Before the tour gets started, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker explains the importance of the President’s trip to Germany and the collaboration between US and German business. It’s a great opportunity to see the Fair, take a look at the booths of economic development delegations from most of the fifty United States, and catch a glimpse of some of the happenings taking place in the middle of the Select USA partner country area.
One stop on the tour was the JobsOhio booth, where the President and Chancellor viewed a demo of a made-in-Ohio 3D printer. Take a look at the demo, and then turn around to see the press capturing their visit. The President’s Press Secretary Josh Earnest concludes the video in front of the Young Tech Enterprises show floor, where Google sponsored space for emerging startups to showcase their innovations.
Google was thrilled to host promising startups like: INFARM working to help cities with efficient food production; RELAYR providing an innovative enterprise middleware platform; WATLY combining a solar water purifier with power and connectivity; DAS TERMINAL offering digital banners and marketing solutions; KIWI providing hands-free access solutions for apartment buildings; UNU tackling the challenges of urban mobility through innovative e-scooters; and Beaconinside offering integrated next generation indoor location-based experiences.
So how’d we do VR? We used a mix of 4K cameras that are positioned to take pictures in every direction. We then used software in post-production to help stitch together the picture to transport you right into the action! The cameras were provided by our YouTube spaces in Berlin, London, and Paris in true European collaboration.
360-degree cameras and virtual reality are unique technologies to experience events like the Hannover trade show through a new perspective. If you couldn’t get to Hannover this year, seeing this incredible industrial fair in 360 might be the next best thing. We were thrilled to capture this special moment with two important world leaders — and even more excited that we could share it with you!
Watch the full VR tour in English on YouTube, and in German on the Berliner Morgenpost website.
Posted by Richard Salgado, Director, Law Enforcement and Information Security
The House of Representatives’ unanimous (419-0) passage of the Email Privacy Act (H.R. 699) is a decisive victory for Internet users, who deserve the highest privacy protections when governmental entities seek access to their data. The unanimous approval of the Email Privacy Act is a testament to the broad bipartisan support for this commonsense reform. Representatives Yoder (R-Kan.), Polis (D-Colo.), Goodlatte (R-Va.), and Conyers (D-Mich.) have been real leaders in helping to shepherd this important bill through the House of Representatives.
Enacted in 1986, ECPA makes distinctions that simply don’t match with what users reasonably should expect of privacy in 2016. An email, for example, may receive more robust privacy protections under ECPA depending on how old it is or whether it is in an opened or unopened state. Users don’t and shouldn’t expect that communications they send through or information they store with a provider will enjoy lower privacy protection based on these arbitrary and nonsensical distinctions.
The Email Privacy Act replaces the confusing array of rules that govern when the government can compel a provider to disclose user information with a simple warrant-for-content rule. In many ways, the Email Privacy Act is a modest, though important, codification of the status quo; it implements the 6th Circuit’s conclusion in 2010 that ECPA is unconstitutional to the extent it would permit the government to compel a service provider to disclose to the government a user’s electronic communications content without a warrant. This warrant-for-content rule has been observed by Google and other companies and the government alike since 2010.
The version of the Email Privacy Act that passed the House of Representatives today is the result of robust debate to address a broad array of competing concerns. We urge the Senate to move swiftly toward passage of this bill, and to reject further changes that would weaken the warrant-for-content rule reflected in the Email Privacy Act.
Posted by David Weller, Head of Global Trade Policy
The Internet is fundamentally transforming global trade.
When we think about trade, we’re likely to picture container ships navigating the Panama Canal and large multinational companies with warehouses around the world.
However, trade today also looks like this: millions of small businesses reaching global markets with the touch of a button. Likewise, millions of artists, authors, developers, and publishers are creating apps, movies, music, books, and more for global audiences, on a growing number of platforms and digital outlets. Almost everyone with a smartphone, tablet or laptop is taking part in Internet-driven trade.
At the same time, large companies in sectors from advanced manufacturing to agriculture are using the Internet to transform how they do business.
Together, these changes are having a remarkable impact on trade. Data flows enabled by the Internet — practically non-existent just 15 years ago — now contribute to global economic growth more than the flow of goods.
Governments are rightly taking note of this transformation. In agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, negotiators have started to address Internet issues. They are starting to recognize that restrictive Internet policies can damage trade just as much as high tariffs and quotas.
Trade agreements can be a force for good for the global free and open Internet. They can counter the balkanization or fragmentation of the Internet into disconnected local networks. They can promote access to information. And they can make it easier for a small startup to get off the ground, reach new markets, and challenge competitors anywhere across the globe.
For trade and Internet policy to work together, trade negotiators need to have input from the full range of Internet stakeholders. At the same time, Internet stakeholders need to start engaging in the trade policy process. Small businesses, startups, civil society groups, the Internet technical community, and everyday users all have a stake.
The bad news: the traditionally closed and complex nature of trade negotiations makes engagement by this broader range of stakeholders difficult.
The good news: key players increasingly see the need to increase participation and transparency.
- Former trade negotiators are urging governments to “solicit public comments on contentious proposals” rather than relying on input only from a small group of cleared advisors. They worry that excessive secrecy is feeding into negative public perceptions of trade.
- Former White House staffers are putting forward ideas to build more open debate into trade policy development.
- Groups representing Internet users, consumers and scholars are brainstorming how to modernize trade policy and build public trust.
- Trade negotiators in the European Union and US are beginning to explore new approaches.
Increasing transparency is a win-win proposition. If we’ve learned anything from the Internet’s history, it’s that bringing more voices to the table can produce better outcomes for all. We look forward to continuing the conversation and working with the Internet and trade communities to build out these ideas.
Posted by Christian Kleinerman, Product Management Director, YouTube
Last November, T-Mobile introduced a program called Binge On, which allows video services and users to reduce T-Mobile’s data charges by limiting streaming to a lower resolution that many users find acceptable for watching most videos on their phone screen.
The initial implementation of the Binge On program raised questions from both users and video services, including YouTube. For instance, we didn’t think it was clear how the program would be implemented for video services that were not included in the “free streaming” portion of the Binge On program. We also thought users needed more help to understand how the program worked and how to exercise their options.
Over the last several months, we raised these concerns with T-Mobile, and they’ve heard us and others who provided similar feedback. We’re glad T-Mobile will continue to improve the program for all users and video providers by:
- Improving notice and choice for users: T-Mobile has been clarifying for users what ‘optimization’ means as well as the impact of turning Binge On on or off. And for those who want to turn it off, they’ve made it easier to do so — rather than having to click through a series of menu items, users can now turn the setting off with an SMS short code and with two clicks from the T-Mobile app and one click from the my.tmobile.com site. Any user can toggle Binge On off and on, and the change will take effect within minutes — which significantly improves the user experience.
- Improving information and choice for video services: While T-Mobile has always stated that any video service can join the program at no charge, prior to our discussions, video services were not given a choice about whether their streams would be managed by T-Mobile if they did not join the program. Going forward, any video service meeting traffic-identification requirements will be able to opt-out, and T-Mobile will stop including them in the Binge On program and will no longer modify their video streams. In addition, T-Mobile will now work with video services that wish to optimize their own streams, using an average data rate limit. This allows video services to offer users an improved video experience, even at lower data rates, by taking advantage of innovations such as video compression technology, benefiting T-Mobile, their customers, and video providers.
We think these changes, which T-Mobile is making for all users and video providers on a non-preferential basis, can help ensure that the program works well for all users and the entire video ecosystem. As a result, YouTube and Google Play Movies & TV are participating in Binge On. Starting today, if you’re a T-Mobile user with Binge On enabled, when you watch YouTube or a movie or TV show on Google Play, it won’t count against your data cap. We hope our users enjoy this new option.
Posted by Richard Salgado, Director of Law Enforcement and Information Security, Google
Today, Google joined a variety of technology companies to file an amicus brief in US federal court. Together, we are voicing concern about the use of a broad statute from the 18th century, the All Writs Act, to require companies to re-engineer important security features that protect people and their data.
Today, Google joined a variety of technology companies to file an amicus brief in US federal court. Together, we are voicing concern about the use of a broad statute from the 18th century, the All Writs Act, to require companies to re-engineer important security features that protect people and their data.
We have tremendous respect for the challenges that law enforcement officials face as they work to keep people safe. However, while we support the government’s goals of thwarting terrorist and criminal acts, the implications of this case extend well beyond this particular investigation.
The key question is whether the government should be able to use the All Writs Act to force private companies to actively compromise the safety and security features that we all build into our products. These are the same security features that we all develop to keep people safe from identity thieves, hackers, and other criminals. A bad precedent here could let governments compel companies to hack into your phones, your computers, your software, and your networks.
We’re proud to stand with our colleagues and competitors in the industry to make our views clear on this important case. It’s rare that such a wide cross-section of the industry comes together on these types of issues — but the shadow of this troubling legal precedent compels us to do so.