Monday, June 18, 2007

Taking the Wraps Off Google's Public Policy Blog

At the beginning of 2005, I was Google's lone public policy guy. Today, there's a bigger – and growing - team of us scattered around the world, working on issues like privacy, child online safety, copyright and trademark protection, content regulation, reform of the patent system, and broadband policy. These issues are fundamental to the future of the Internet (and of the individuals it empowers), and are increasingly prominent on the agendas of policymakers worldwide.

We're seeking to do public policy advocacy in a Googley way. Yes, we're a multinational corporation that argues for our positions before officials, legislators, and opinion leaders. At the same time, we want our users to be part of the effort, to know what we're saying and why, and to help us refine and improve our policy positions and advocacy strategies. With input and ideas from our users, we'll surely do a better job of fighting for our common interests.

This blog is part of the dialogue we're hoping to foster.

You may be wondering why it contains two months' worth of posts, given that we're only just now launching. Well, we started the blog internally back in April, to limber up our blogging muscles. Now that we've gone public we thought it'd be fun to share our earlier internal posts. In the weeks and months ahead, expect to hear more from us on issues like net neutrality, censorship, innovation regulation, immigration, R&D, national security, and trade, just to name a few. All of the members of Google's global public policy team will be contributing posts (or else – right, team?).

We hope this blog will serve as a resource for policymakers around the world -- including legislators, ministers, governors, city councilmembers, regulators, and the staffers who support them -- who are trying to enact sound government policies to foster free expression, promote economic growth, expand access to information, enable innovation, and protect consumers. We also hope (cliché alert) that this blog will promote real conversation, so we've enabled comments.

34 comments: said...

Brilliant addition to the fine array of Google blogs....looking forward to valuable insights and responses.

It will be very valuable to interact with the responses and answer concerns directly

Philipp Lenssen said...

Thanks for opening up the comments here. One of your policies is to sometimes censor content when local laws and regulations require it. In a future post, can you tell us which legal/ technical channels censorship requests in Germany, France & China go through before they are implemented by you in local versions of Google?

michaelzimmer said...

Hello Andrew: I'm looking forward to fruitful discussions on the new blog.

Dan said...

Very Cool Blog! Working in Health Care advocacy in Iowa, it's always interesting to see what other industries are doing to advance their cause. (We're looking into a policy blog too).

Keep the posts coming!

Russell McOrmond said...

Great to hear about the work. I am a Canadian working on these issues, entirely as a volunteer at the moment. I'm the policy coordinator for CLUE /policy, host for , and co-coordinator for Getting Open Source Logic INto Governments

One of the problems we have seen is that the US headquartered companies see Canada as a "branch plant" of the USA, even though the public policy and other issues are very different. There are many ways in which Canada could also be leveraged to help US advocates, by having Canada be able to be held up as an example (There are ways our policy is better, and other ways in which we are worse).

Any way we could collaborate?

Andy said...

Congratulations on the new blog. Looking forward to reading it.

Suchmaschinen News said...

this blog is a good step in the right way. some of your ways are different to understand and its good to know, that you want it too, that your clients YOU understand or the philosophie of google.

if you found some errors in the grammatic or english - its for free ^^ *smile

writ said...

Good to hear, I'm a techie who's growing more and more interested in Public Policy (almost more than the tech work I'm paid for). I would love to add this blog as another plate on my policy education buffet!!!


jordan said...

This from my colleague, Mark Schneider:

I am representing our 100,000 members of, the largest community of news crowd-sourcers on the web.

And we'd be delighted to hear your response to this question:

Google famously has stated its primary policy as "Don't be evil." Just about one year ago, Google founder Sergey Brin was quoted in Forbes Magazine as being prepared to "compromise" on this primary policy in regards to information requested by the government of China.

"We felt that perhaps we could compromise our principles but provide ultimately more information for the Chinese and be a more effective service and perhaps make more of a difference," Brin was quoted.

Can you please inform us if there has been any recent developments - and as head of Google policy, what are your thoughts on this issue?


Mark Schneider
Actual News Guy
(I, too, work at NowPublic; thanks for opening up this forum. -jordan)

Steve Consilvio said...

Funny how the assumption is that the government needs advice, when oftentimes the government complains that people are not "behaving" egalitarianly. (Is that a word?)

In any case, advertising revenues is as corrosive to the body politic as taxes are. Both force people to put numbers above one another. Or, as I like to put it, "obedience to a stupid system is stupid." The money chase is insane, and we have all this cool technology that makes sharing possible, and instead have made sharing illegal.

"None are more enslaved than those who falsely believe themseves to be free." I'm not sure who said that, but when Google went public, it proved its vision did not extend beyond coding. The love of money was the first priority.

For thousands of years there have been beggars outside of the castles, and those inside the castle are always surprised to see the beggars. Google, like government, is just another castle that bankrupts the people.

Will it reform itself first?


John.s.czwartacki said...


nick said...

project with someone in google. I am working on a project and would like to work with google on it.

any chance for a discussion?

thekyleguy said...

I hope that you will write on the topic of k-12 school policy in regards to mandated curricular subject matter and discipline issues that arise outside the school. Interested cyber ethics and policy around the world.

Please see my cyberpolicy wiki at

ourcurrentemailaddress said...

I liked Google a lot when I heard about it sometime in the last decade. Clearly some nerds with a clue. Dramatic difference to then-synonym-for-search Altavista. Recommended you to friends.

I stopped liking you when I heard that you store searches (and all data you can get your hands on) forever. This is very sensitive data, and extremely scary, because it allows to see to a good deal what I think about. It doesn't belong in the hands of anybody, not even NSA or FBI, not EU governments, and not your log files either.

Since then, I increasingly avoid Google for that reason. 6-12 months ago, I found that Yahoo search improved a lot and are using that instead now.

BrianR said...

This blog seems like a really good idea. I'm looking forward to reading it and telling my Council members about it.

Also... A big THANK YOU to Google and State Policy Council John Burchett for writing a letter to our House Chair, Representatives, and Governor opposing the North Carolina House Bill 1587. (The wording was strong and pulled no punches.) This piece of unfair legislation would prevent local governments in North Carolina from building broadband networks. I for one want to work with my municipality to bridge the digital divide. Net Neutrality is under threat in State government as well as Federal Government.

Andrew said...

Hi there. It's great that you guys have started a public policy blog, and I look forward to seeing your work here.

If the Google policy folks are interested in the issue, I'd really like to read your take on voting machines. Some other corporations (*cough* Microsoft *cough*) have gotten a rider slipped into a bill here in NY to change the law so Microsoft and Diebold won't need to let the state check out its voting machine source code when they bid to supply the state with voting machines. How does Google look at things like this, as well as the broader issues of paper trails and auditability?

Thanks for your time.

vhee said...

Great to see Google as a primary information source become more open through this blog.

What is your current policy on sharing personal data with users? I made a data protection request to Google and it was blanked. However this is contrary to EU data protection legislation. Will Google continue to rely on avoiding privacy conformance through the safe harbor principles?

Another step in Google becoming more open would be to comply with higher levels of privacy protection and allow users to see what profiles you are building on your users.

Freeman said...

Very disappointing!
The introductory item talks of Google being a "multinational corporation" and of the blog being "a resource for policymakers around the world" - yet ALL other articles on the front page relate to specifically U.S. issues (except for one on the French elections). How does this represent Google's **international** Public Policy?

Freeman (from the U.K.)

jordan.applewhite said...

I'd really like to know why you must hold on to search data for well over a year. Also, even if I delete my gmail, I've read that you store it indefinitely.

While I appreciate that you resisted subpoena's for your user's info, it seems that not storing personally identifiable information for more than a few days would be safer for your users.

No transparency, no opt-out ability, these are the things that are making my friends and I move away from google services.

Rubencito said...

Ok. This is nice, that you've opened this kind of blog. I mean, I've observed that Google is a very open-minded corporation, even if is one of the biggest company in the world. Few companies stays in touch with the customers/users in the manner Google do. And you can see the effects of the feedbacks in the services&products wich Google offers. When I heard about the Privacy International report I was dissapointed, that a company like Google is accused. But the reactions arrived right away. Good work GOOGLE! I LOVE YOU!

KineticReaction said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Cybertelecom said...

Nice blog. On the list of blogs that you are reading, may I suggest Federal Internet Law and Policy - An Educational Not For Profit Project

Bob Calder said...

Thanks for opening the blog for interaction. Interaction is a step in the right direction. The purchase fo Doubleclick was very chilling news and I'm sure we would like to hear more about it vis-a-vis the privacy and public policy arena. Page didn't talk about it in February in San Francisco (hadn't been announced), nor did he talk about the social repercussions of the acquisition of Rosling's software.

Neal said...

I'll be very, very interested to hear their thoughts on censorship - and why they support it.

Stanton said...

Today's Washington Post article was interesting. While much has been said about corporate lobbying of late, criticizing such activity, equally important is how Google and other companies deal with their political spending.

Does Google disclose to its shareholders its political spending? Does it disclose its political giving policies to shareholders? Is there any sort of oversight of political giving at the executive and board levels?

Transparency is the key here. The risks to shareholders by failing to disclose this information are significant.

Mr. Noah said...


Guyminuslife said...

I always wondered why people were so upset about the Chinese censorship issue. Given the choice between having their IP blocked entirely or being allowed in the country in a censored form, I'm curious as to which choice critics of the policy would have the company make...strict censorship or total censorship?

philcoextra said...

the newmark link takes you to a 404 boing boing page (?)

phil tadros,

Nanobot said...

It seems to me that critics of Google's China censorship decision are those of the black-and-white mentality. Sometimes you must choose between two evils, and this really was a case of either partial censorship or total censorship. What Google chose allowed the Chinese people the maximum immediate access to information that Google could provide.

Since Google had no significant political or cultural influence in China, a "boycott" of sorts would have been absolutely pointless. Instead, people would have just used Baidu, which allegedly uses even harsher censorship than Google does. At least Google is informing the Chinese people that they're being kept from information due to their rotten government's policies.

The Chinese people will have to rise up against their government on their own and demand greater access to information. If you give them a taste of the great wealth of information the Web has to offer, they will start to crave more. I think Google's decision in this matter is about the best decision they could have made.

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