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Today, there are more artists, publishers, and authors creating more works for global audiences, on a growing number of platforms -- on YouTube, Facebook, Spotify, Twitter, Dailymotion, Tumblr, Medium, SoundCloud, Etsy, Vine, Pinterest and more.

These digital exchanges have become an increasingly important driver of the global economy. As a result, more open trade has the potential to give creators, online platforms and other businesses access to more consumers around the world. And Trade Promotion Authority -- which empowers U.S. officials to negotiate trade agreements subject to up or down votes in Congress -- presents an opportunity to modernize our trade strategy for the Internet era.

While U.S. trade agreements have historically included copyright provisions to protect right holders, the Internet’s success depends on both copyright protection and pro-innovation limitations and exceptions, such as fair use and safe harbors for online platforms. Without both, Internet platforms -- and the explosion of creativity and new distribution channels they have enabled -- would not be possible.

We tend to take this balanced approach for granted in the U.S. But without trade agreements reflecting that balance, there is a very real risk that the Internet’s most popular platforms -- like search engines, video sharing sites, and social networks -- could be hindered or even blocked in foreign markets on the basis of one-sided copyright principles. And that could hurt the overall U.S. economy; one study found that 1 in 8 U.S. jobs are tied to industries that rely on copyright limitations and exceptions.

We were glad that U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman last year committed to “asking our trading partners to secure robust balance in their copyright systems -- an unprecedented move that draws directly on U.S. copyright exceptions and limitations, including fair use.” That was a big step. 

And while it’s unfortunate that the Trade Promotion Authority legislation now being debated by Congress does not on its face fully reflect Ambassador Froman’s commitment, we’re happy that the bill’s authors made clear for the first time ever (in their accompanying report on the bill) that trade agreements should foster an appropriate balance, including copyright limitations and exceptions. It’s progress. We’re also glad to see other provisions to promote pro-innovation policies globally.

We hope Congress will approve Trade Promotion Authority, and urge trade officials to increasingly promote the balanced copyright policies abroad that have enabled great content and Internet platforms to thrive.

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We’re grateful that the U.S. House of Representatives just approved the USA Freedom Act, which -- as I blogged last week -- takes a big step toward reforming our surveillance laws while preserving important national security authorities. It ends bulk collection of communications metadata under various legal authorities, allows companies like Google to disclose national security demands with greater granularity, and creates new accountability and oversight mechanisms.

The bill’s authors have worked hard to forge a bipartisan consensus, and the bill approved today is supported by the Obama Administration, including the intelligence community. The bill now moves to the other side of the Capitol, and we hope that the Senate will use the June 1 expiration of Section 215 and other legal authorities to modernize and reform our surveillance programs, while recognizing the importance of protecting Americans from harm. We believe the bill approved today achieves that goal.

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For students today, coding is becoming an essential skill just like reading, writing and math. And the need for coders is only going to increase over the next few years. But today, fewer than one percent of high school girls express interest in majoring in computer science.

Research tells us that perceptions of CS and computer scientists are primary drivers that motivate girls to pursue CS. Disney Junior and Google recently teamed up on their series “Miles from Tomorrowland” to take on this challenge in a new way.

This Monday, May 18, we invite you to join us at our DC office to hear more about this exciting project.

“Coding Tomorrow: A Conversation About Inspiring Girls to Learn CS” 
Monday, May 18, 2015 
3:00-4:00PM ET 
Google DC 
25 Massachusetts Ave NW - Ninth Floor 
Washington DC 

The event will feature a panel discussion with Dr. Yvonne Cagle, NASA’s Johnson Space Center Space and Life Sciences Directorate and Series Consultant, “Miles from Tomorrowland”, Julie Ann Crommett, CS Education in Media Program Manager at Google, Nancy Kanter, Executive Vice President, Original Programming and General Manager at Disney Junior, Angela Navarro, Google Software Engineer, and Sascha Paladino, Creator and Executive Producer of “Miles From Tomorrowland” and remarks by Congresswoman Susan Brooks and Congresswoman Suzan DelBene.

Hope to see you there.

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Nearly two years have passed since the initial Snowden revelations. In about a month, Section 215 of the Patriot Act -- one of the key authorities relied upon by the government to undertake bulk collection -- is set to expire. As we and others noted last month, Section 215 should not be reauthorized without significant changes.

Yesterday, a bipartisan group of legislators in the House and Senate introduced legislation that represents a step toward broader surveillance reform while preserving important national security authorities. Google supports this measure as introduced, the USA Freedom Act of 2015, and we urge Congress to move expeditiously to enact it into law.

The bill would advance several important goals that Google and other members of the Reform Government Surveillance coalition (RGS) underscored in principles unveiled in 2013:

  • First, the bill would end the bulk collection of communications metadata under various legal authorities. This not only includes telephony metadata collected under Section 215, but also Internet metadata that has been or could be collected under other legal authorities. 
  •  Second, the bill would enable companies like Google to disclose the volume and scope of national security demands in smaller ranges (bands of 500) than we are currently permitted to report national security demands (bands of 1,000). 
  •  Finally, the bill would create new oversight and accountability mechanisms that will shed greater light on the decisions reached by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), and enable participation by outside attorneys in cases involving significant interpretations of the law. 

While the USA Freedom Act of 2015 does not address the full panoply of reforms that Congress ought to undertake, it represents a significant down payment on broader government surveillance reform. It is critical that Congress now act to begin to restore consumers’ trust in the Internet. 

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We invite you to sell us your patents. The Patent Purchase Promotion is an experimental marketplace for patents that’s simple, easy to use, and fast.

Patent owners sell patents for numerous reasons (such as the need to raise money or changes in a company’s business direction). Unfortunately, the usual patent marketplace can sometimes be challenging, especially for smaller participants who sometimes end up working with patent trolls. Then bad things happen, like lawsuits, lots of wasted effort, and generally bad karma. Rarely does this provide any meaningful benefit to the original patent owner.

So today we’re announcing the Patent Purchase Promotion as an experiment to remove friction from the patent market. From May 8, 2015 through May 22, 2015, we’ll open a streamlined portal for patent holders to tell Google about patents they’re willing to sell at a price they set. As soon as the portal closes, we’ll review all the submissions, and let the submitters know whether we’re interested in buying their patents by June 26, 2015. If we contact you about purchasing your patent, we’ll work through some additional diligence with you and look to close a transaction in short order. We anticipate everyone we transact with getting paid by late August.

By simplifying the process and having a concentrated submission window, we can focus our efforts into quickly evaluating patent assets and getting responses back to potential sellers quickly. Hopefully this will translate into better experiences for sellers, and remove the complications of working with entities such as patent trolls.

There’s some fine print that you absolutely want to make sure you fully understand before participating, and we encourage participants to speak with an attorney. More detailed information about the Patent Purchase Promotion is available on our Patent Website, including all the fine print, the form to make a submission (which won’t go live until May 8), and details about what happens if Google agrees to buy your patent. Throughout this process, Google reserves the right to not transact for any reason. 

We’re always looking at ways that can help improve the patent landscape and make the patent system work better for everyone. We ask everyone to remember that this program is an experiment (think of it like a 20 percent project for Google’s patent lawyers), but we hope that it proves useful and delivers great results to participants.

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As a child, my sisters and I loved when our father let us use his CB radio. We memorized the code of conduct: Rule #1 - be respectful, listen before speaking and don’t hog the channel. And we had humorous “handles” long before Twitter. CB radios gave me and my family a way to communicate over short distances, and we didn’t need a license for use of the radio waves.

Flash forward to today. We’ve come a long way from CB radios, and we all have more and more devices in our homes and offices connected to Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, the airwaves allocated for this purpose have become congested.  

The good news is that the Federal Communications Commission (or “Friendly Candy Company” in CB lingo) today took a step toward addressing this problem, by creating a new “Citizens Broadband Radio Service,” that makes some spectrum available for shared wireless broadband use in the 3.5 GHz spectrum band.  

The FCC established three tiers of access in the 3.5 GHz band. The first tier is for incumbent access, including both federal and non-federal incumbents (like U.S. Navy radar operations and Fixed Satellite Service earth stations, respectively); the second is for “priority access licensees,” who will gain access by bidding for rights to use small chunks of spectrum for short periods of time; and the third tier is for unlicensed spectrum users in the new Citizens Broadband Radio Service.

Users of the spectrum might deploy “small cell” networks that can carry heavy loads of data in high-traffic areas -- such as crowded stadiums -- or offer fixed wireless broadband services in rural areas. Unlike the large scale infrastructure necessary to operate cellular networks that you see mounted on towers or tall buildings, these small cells are easy to deploy.

A key component to sharing in this band is the Spectrum Access System, which utilizes database technology to protect important federal government uses of spectrum. These systems will ensure that neither priority access or general consumer users interfere with the existing government and private users who will continue to need 3.5 GHz spectrum in a limited number of areas. They also will allow new users to share effectively with each other. Google has been a leader in using databases to free-up available spectrum, and we are one of the companies working to develop a sharing system for the 3.5 GHz band.
The additional spectrum that is now available in the 3.5 GHz band will help relieve Wi-Fi congestion – improving the experience of consumers accessing the Internet over wireless broadband. The Commission recognized today that we don’t have to allocate spectrum for only a single purpose the way the government did in the 1950s. This action will have an impact far beyond what we can imagine today. Creating this “innovation band” by opening the spectrum on a shared basis will advance the goal of wireless broadband abundance.  

Catch ya on the flip-flop. We’re down’n gone.

Posted by Staci Pies, Senior Policy Counsel, Google

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Last year Robert Thomson, CEO of News Corp, accused Google of creating a "less informed, more vexatious level of dialogue in our society." Given the tone of some of your publications, that made quite a few people chuckle.
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This week you were at it again.  One of your newspapers, The Wall Street Journal, accused Google of wielding undue political influence.  Blimey!

More seriously, given the inaccuracies that have been published, we wanted to give our side of the story. Here goes.

Wall Street Journal:
The findings [from the Bureau of Competition] stand in contrast to the conclusion of the FTC’s commissioners, who voted unanimously in early 2013 to end the investigation”.   

Google:
As the FTC made clear this week:  “... the Commission’s decision on the search allegations was in accord with the recommendations of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, Bureau of Economics, and Office of General Counsel” (something the Journal has chosen not to report).

Wall Street Journal:
Since Mr. Obama took office, employees of the Mountain View, Calif., company have visited the White House for meetings with senior officials about 230 times …  In comparison, employees of rival Comcast Corp., also known as a force in Washington, have visited the White House a total of about 20 times … Google’s knack for getting in the room with important government officials is gaining new relevance as scrutiny grows over how the company avoided being hit by the FTC with a potentially damaging antitrust lawsuit”.

Google:
Of course we’ve had many meetings at the White House over the years.  But when it comes to the information the Journal provided to Google about these meetings, our employment records show that 33 of the White House visits were by people not employed here at the time.  And over five visits were a Google engineer on leave helping to fix technical issues with the government’s Healthcare.gov website (something he’s been very public about).  Checking through White House records for other companies, our team counted around 270 visits for Microsoft over the same time frame and 150 for Comcast.  

And the meetings we did have were not to discuss the antitrust investigation.  In fact, we seem to have discussed everything but, including patent reform, STEM education, self-driving cars, mental health, advertising, Internet censorship, smart contact lenses, civic innovation, R&D, cloud computing, trade and investment, cyber security, energy efficiency and our workplace benefit policies.  For example:  
  • Several visits were advertising industry meetings attended by Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL and others.  Yes, Microsoft, the main complainant in the FTC’s antitrust investigation;
  • Over a dozen visits were for production crews covering the YouTube interviews with the President following the State of the Union and photographing the White House art collection for Google’s Art Project;
  • One of the meetings specifically called out by the Journal was actually a meeting with our Chairman, Eric Schmidt, and Chief Legal Officer, David Drummond, with several other technology companies to discuss copyright legislation (the draft SOPA/PIPA laws that were ultimately dropped by Congress).

As the FTC has said, the Journal "makes a number of misleading inferences and suggestions about the integrity of the FTC's investigation. The article suggests that a series of disparate and unrelated meetings involving FTC officials and executive branch officials or Google representatives somehow affected the Commission's decision to close the search investigation in early 2013. Not a single fact is offered to substantiate this misleading narrative". 

We understand you have a new found love of the regulatory process, especially in Europe, but as the FTC’s Bureau of Competition staff concluded, Google has strong pro-competitive arguments on our side.  To quote from their report “... the record will permit Google to show substantial innovation, intense competition from Microsoft and others, and speculative long-run harm”.  

And the FTC was not alone when it comes to search ranking and display.  The Texas and Ohio Attorneys General closed their comprehensive competition investigations into Google in 2014. And courts in Germany and Brazil found that there is no basis in the law for Google competitors to dictate Google’s search results.
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by Rachel Whetstone, SVP Communications and Policy

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At the end of May, Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act is set to expire. Section 215 is one of the legal authorities relied upon by the U.S. government to conduct surveillance through the bulk collection of communications metadata.

Earlier today, we joined other companies in the Reform Government Surveillance coalition, civil society groups, and trade associations in a letter that underscores the essential elements of any surveillance reform legislation. These elements include ending the bulk collection of communications metadata under various legal authorities, and establishing transparency and accountability mechanisms to ensure surveillance programs are narrowly tailored and subject to broader oversight.

We have a responsibility to protect the privacy and security of our users’ data.  At the same time, we want to do our part to help governments keep people safe. We have little doubt that Congress can protect both national security and privacy while taking a significant, concrete step toward restoring trust in the Internet.

Google has been working hard for the last two years to reform government surveillance laws, and we will continue to push for broader surveillance reforms in the months ahead.

We invite you to join us in asking Congress to enact surveillance reform by adding your name at google.com/takeaction.

Posted by David Drummond, Chief Legal Officer, Google

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Posted by Richard Salgado, Legal Director, Law Enforcement and Information Security

At the request of the Department of Justice, a little-known body -- the Advisory Committee on the Rules of Criminal Procedure -- is proposing a significant change to procedural rules that could have profound implications for the privacy rights and security interests of everyone who uses the Internet.  Last week, Google filed comments opposing this change.

It starts with the Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 41, an arcane but important procedural rule on the issuance of search warrants.  Today, Rule 41 prohibits a federal judge from issuing a search warrant outside of the judge’s district, with some exceptions.  The Advisory Committee’s proposed change would significantly expand those exceptions in cases involving computers and networks.  The proposed change would allow the U.S. government to obtain a warrant to conduct “remote access” searches of electronic storage media if the physical location of the media is “concealed through technological means,” or to facilitate botnet investigations in certain circumstances.  

The implications of this expansion of warrant power are significant, and are better addressed by Congress.  

First, in setting aside the traditional limits under Rule 41, the proposed amendment would likely end up being used by U.S. authorities to directly search computers and devices around the world.  Even if the intent of the proposed change is to permit U.S. authorities to obtain a warrant to directly access and retrieve data only from computers and devices within the U.S., there is nothing in the proposed change to Rule 41 that would prevent access to computers and devices worldwide.

The U.S. has many diplomatic arrangements in place with other countries to cooperate in investigations that cross national borders, including Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs).  Google supports ongoing efforts to improve cooperation among governments, and we are concerned that the proposed change to Rule 41 could undermine those efforts.  The significant foreign relations issues associated with the proposed change to Rule 41 should be addressed by Congress and the President, not the Advisory Committee.

Second, the proposed change threatens to undermine the privacy rights and computer security of Internet users.  For example, the change would excuse territorial limits on the use of warrants to conduct “remote access” searches where the physical location of the media is “concealed through technological means.”  The proposed change does not define what a “remote search” is or under what circumstances and conditions a remote search can be undertaken; it merely assumes such searches, whatever they may be, are constitutional and otherwise legal.  It carries with it the specter of government hacking without any Congressional debate or democratic policymaking process.  

Likewise, the change seemingly means that the limit on warrants is excused in any instance where a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is set up.  Banks, online retailers, communications providers and other businesses around the world commonly use VPNs to help keep their networks and users’ information secure.  A VPN can obscure the actual location of a network, however, and thus could be subject to a remote search warrant where it would not have been otherwise.   
 
The Advisory Committee is entertaining a dramatic change to electronic surveillance rules.  Congress is the proper body to determine whether such changes are warranted, and we urge the Committee to respect Congress’ traditional role in prescribing the substantive rules governing electronic surveillance.

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Earlier this week, Leviathan Security released their latest piece of research, called the Value of Cloud Security. This research takes a close look at cloud infrastructure security and how it's impacted by forced data localization. Google commissioned the study and discussed the results with Leviathan, but Leviathan alone is responsible for the analysis and conclusions.


When companies take advantage of cloud services, they get more secure systems as a result. Many countries, however, have proposed laws requiring that companies keep the data of that country’s users within national borders. This idea, known as “data localization,” purports to keep citizen users safer and out of the hands of spying governments and hackers. The report found that forced data localization actually undermines many of the benefits that come from cloud services:


  • Cloud services provide much better resiliency and redundancy than local services in the face of disasters of all sizes, from small transformer explosions that affect 30,000 users up to superstorms the size of Thaiphoon Haiyan that can interrupt entire countries. If data has to stay in one place by law, that redundancy is lost.
  • Security expertise is in short supply and tends to congregate in large organizations and sharing what expertise there is is better for everyone as a whole. E.g. - There are currently over a million unfilled security positions open worldwide and all of the GCHQ-led cybersecurity programs together will graduate just 66 PhD's per year starting in 2017. Small companies that are forced to host their own data will find it hard to compete to hire qualified security engineers.

If policymakers are thinking about the perceived benefits of datalocalization, they should carefully examine this study and take into account the cybersecurity of their country’s enterprises.You can check out  the full studies on Leviathan’s blog.

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Last summer, students from all over the US and Canada gathered to explore pressing questions at the intersection of technology and policy. Whether working on data security standards at the National Consumers League or innovation economy issues at the R Street Institute, students gained hands-on experience tackling critical technology policy questions.

2015 is just beginning, but these issues show no signs of slowing down. We’re excited to announce the 8th annual Google Policy Fellowship, which connects students interested in emerging technology policy issues with leading nonprofits, think tanks, and advocacy groups.

Applications are open today for North America, and students of all levels and disciplines are welcome to apply before Thursday, March 12th.

This year’s organizations include: 
  • American Association of People with Disabilities
  • American Enterprise Institute
  • American Library Association
  • Center for Democracy and Technology
  • Center for Data Innovation
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation
  • Engine
  • Future of Music Coalition
  • Georgetown Center on Privacy & Technology
  • Global Network Initiative
  • Internet Education Foundation
  • Internet Keep Safe Coalition
  • Mercatus
  • National Consumers League
  • National Hispanic Media Coalition
  • Open Technology Institute, New America Foundation
  • Public Knowledge
  • R Street Institute
  • Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic
  • TechFreedom
  • Technology Policy Institute
  • The Citizen Lab
  • US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

More fellowship opportunities in Asia, Africa, and Europe will be coming soon. You can learn about the
program, application process and host organizations on the Google Public Policy Fellowship website.

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Posted by Susan Molinari, Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Policy

There are few issues more horrifying than human slavery and trafficking. Yesterday, the House of Representatives took important steps to address these issues by passing twelve bills aimed at helping the victims and calling attention to these criminal acts. We are encouraged by the actions taken yesterday and applaud the House’s leadership.

We recently heard about a number of these bills from Members of both the House and Senate at an event Google hosted with the McCain Institute and Rights4Girls. In addition to the launch of the No Such Thing campaign to eradicate the term “child prostitute,” we heard from organizations on the frontlines of the modern anti-trafficking movement, including the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), Polaris, and Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children, about how they are using technology to stop human trafficking and help those who have been trafficked. You can watch the event here and here.

Collaboration and technology are key weapons in the fight. That’s why Google recently launched a new feature in our search results with Polaris, connecting victims of human trafficking with organizations who can help. We also worked with Polaris, La Strada International, and Liberty Asia to launch the Global Human Trafficking Hotline Network, to connect global hotlines and better help victims and prevention efforts. Google also has a zero-tolerance policy for any ads for paid sex acts, and we work around the clock to fight illegal content and abuse on our platforms.

Fighting human slavery and trafficking is not a partisan issue. The more voices who say it is morally unacceptable to enslave and exploit humans, the more we can reduce the demand and help the victims. There’s more work to be done, so let’s keep going — together.