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Google has always worked to improve its services, creating new ways to provide better answers and show more useful ads. We’ve taken seriously the concerns in the European Commission’s Statement of Objections (SO) that our innovations are anti-competitive. The response we filed today shows why we believe those allegations are incorrect, and why we believe that Google increases choice for European consumers and offers valuable opportunities for businesses of all sizes.

The SO says that Google’s displays of paid ads from merchants (and, previously, of specialized groups of organic search results) “diverted” traffic away from shopping services. But the SO doesn't back up that claim, doesn't counter the significant benefits to consumers and advertisers, and doesn't provide a clear legal theory to connect its claims with its proposed remedy.

Our response provides evidence and data to show why the SO’s concerns are unfounded. We use traffic analysis to rebut claims that our ad displays and specialized organic results harmed competition by preventing shopping aggregators from reaching consumers. Economic data spanning more than a decade, an array of documents, and statements from complainants all confirm that product search is robustly competitive. And we show why the SO is incorrect in failing to consider the impact of major shopping services like Amazon and eBay, who are the largest players in this space.

The universe of shopping services has seen an enormous increase in traffic from Google, diverse new players, new investments, and expanding consumer choice. Google delivered more than 20 billion free clicks to aggregators over the last decade in the countries covered by the SO, with free traffic increasing by 227% (and total traffic increasing even more).

Moreover, the ways people search for, compare, and buy products are rapidly evolving. Users on desktop and mobile devices often want to go straight to trusted merchants who have established an online presence. These kinds of developments reflect a dynamic and competitive industry, where companies are continuing to evolve their business models and online and offline markets are converging.

But our central point is our consistent commitment to quality -- the relevance and usefulness of our search results and the ads we display. In providing results for people interested in shopping, we knew we needed to go beyond the old-fashioned “10 blue links” model to keep up with our competitors and better serve our users and advertisers. We developed new ways to organize and rank product information and to present it to users in useful formats in search and ads. In 2012, as part of that effort, in addition to our traditional ads, we introduced the Google Shopping Unit as a new ad format:
We don’t think this format is anti-competitive. On the contrary, showing ads based on structured data provided by merchants demonstrably improves ad quality and makes it easier for consumers to find what they’re looking for. We show these ad groups where we’ve always shown ads -- to the right and at the top of organic results -- and we use specialized algorithms to maximize their relevance for users. Data from users and advertisers confirms they like these formats. That’s not “favoring” -- that’s giving our customers and advertisers what they find most useful.

The SO also seeks a peculiar and problematic remedy, requiring that Google show ads sourced and ranked by other companies within our advertising space. We show in our response that this would harm the quality and relevance our results. And, in a report submitted with our response, former President of the General Court Bo Vesterdorf outlines why such an obligation could be legally justified only where a company has a duty to supply its own rivals – as where it controls an input that is both essential and not available anywhere else (like gas or electricity). Given the many ways to reach consumers on the Internet, the SO doesn't argue that standard applies here.

Our search engine is designed to provide the most relevant results and most useful ads for any query. Users and advertisers benefit when we do this well. So does Google. It’s in our interest to provide high-quality results and ads that connect people to what they’re looking for. The more relevant the ads -- the better they perform in connecting potential buyers and sellers -- the more value they generate for everyone.

Throughout the almost 17 years since Google started, our engineers have been developing innovative approaches to search and ads that are valuable for both users and advertisers. In the video below you can hear from our engineers about how our services have evolved to give people better results and ads. We are proud of their work and eager to tell their story.

We believe that the SO's preliminary conclusions are wrong as a matter of fact, law, and economics. We look forward to discussing our response and supporting evidence with the Commission, in the interest of promoting user choice and open competition.

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When Google first started in Ireland, we opened an office with just five people. Today we have more than 5000 people in our Dublin office and as we have grown, so has Dublin’s tech community. The city is now home to some of the biggest global tech firms as well as some of the most promising startups in Europe. This community is creating jobs and opportunity with two thirds of all new jobs in the Irish economy being created by startups.

We have always been committed to supporting the startup community in Dublin to help the next generation of companies succeed. So we are especially pleased that today the Google for Entrepreneurs Tech Hub Network announced a partnership with Dogpatch Labs, one of Ireland’s leading startup organisations. The announcement was made by Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton T.D at an event at Dogpatch Labs today.

The partnership will provide co-working space along with new resources including funding, training and mentorship opportunities. Members will also get access to Google programs and products throughout the network including:
  • Mentorship from Dublin Googlers (in 2014, over 200 Googlers mentored Irish startups)
  • Eligibility for Google product offers relevant to startups; and
  • The Google for Entrepreneurs Global Passport, where entrepreneurs from each hub can work for free at spaces designated at any other hub in the network including London, San Francisco and Tel Aviv  
With Dogpatch Labs and our Google for Entrepreneurs program, we hope Dublin’s world-class startup community will grow that much faster, building transformative products and companies that will take the world by storm. We can’t wait to see what new ideas come out

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In the late 19th century, Belgian lawyer Paul Otlet created the Universal Bibliography in Brussels, a repository of more than 12 million searchable index cards that later came to be called the Mundaneum. With today’s Google Doodle on the French, Belgian and several other versions of Google, and new online exhibitions by the Mundaneum on the Cultural Institute website, we pay tribute to Otlet's pioneering work in making information accessible and useful.

Throughout history, prolific thinkers and innovators have had the vision to see what the world might look like in the future. Often, they dreamed up today’s most advanced technologies long before it was even possible to create them.

Paul Otlet belongs to that group of thinkers. He had a clear vision for the Mundaneum: a universal system of written, visual, and audio information that people could access from the comfort of their own homes. Just a few decades later, engineers planted the technological seeds that brought electronic information sharing to life.

Created by Googler Leon Hong, today’s Doodle pays tribute to Otlet’s vision. The collection of knowledge stored in the Mundaneum’s wooden drawers form the foundational work for everything that happens at Google and much of what happens across the world wide web.

Today’s Doodle also coincides with the launch of new online exhibitions about Otlet’s work on the Google Cultural Institute website. The modern day Mundaneum museum in Mons, Belgium has curated the exhibitions, which give insight into Paul Otlet’s life and achievements, and the Nobel Prize won by Mundaneum co-founder Henri La Fontaine. You can view the exhibitions on the Cultural Institute website, and in a dedicated mobile app that our engineers developed together with Mundaneum staff. We especially recommend you to check out these three new exhibitions:

Towards the Information Age 
Paul Otlet (1868–1944), founder of the Mundaneum

Mapping Knowledge
The Visualizations of Paul Otlet

Henri La Fontaine (1854-1943), Nobel Peace Prize in 1913

Posted by Pierre Caessa, Program Manager, Google Cultural Institute

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This year the Google Earth Engine team and I attended the European Geosciences Union General Assembly meeting in Vienna, Austria to engage with a number of European geoscientific partners. This was just the first of a series of European summits the team has attended over the past few months, including, most recently, the IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society meeting held last week in Milan, Italy.

 Noel Gorelick presenting Google Earth Engine at EGU 2015

We are very excited to be collaborating with many European scientists from esteemed institutions such as the European Commission Joint Research Centre, Wageningen University, and University of Pavia. These researchers are utilizing the Earth Engine geospatial analysis platform to address issues of global importance in areas such as food security, deforestation detection, urban settlement detection, and freshwater availability.

Thanks to the enlightened free and open data policy of the European Commission and European Space Agency, we are pleased to announce the availability of Copernicus Sentinel-1 data through Earth Engine for visualization and analysis. Sentinel-1, a radar imaging satellite with the ability to see through clouds, is the first of at least 6 Copernicus satellites going up in the next 6 years.

 Sentinel-1 data visualized using Earth Engine, showing Vienna (left) and Milan (right).

windfarms.png
 Wind farms seen off the Eastern coast of England

This radar data offers a powerful complement to other optical and thermal data from satellites like Landsat, that are already available in the Earth Engine public data catalog. If you are a geoscientist interested in accessing and analyzing the newly available EC/ESA Sentinel-1 data, or anything else in our multi-petabyte data catalog, please sign up for Google Earth Engine.

We look forward to further engagements with the European research community and are excited to see what the world will do with the data from the European Union's Copernicus program satellites.

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In a landmark ruling in May 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) established a "right to be forgotten", or more accurately, a “right to delist”, allowing Europeans to ask search engines to delist certain links from results they show based on searches for that person’s name. We moved rapidly to comply with the ruling from the Court. Within weeks we made it possible for people to submit removal requests, and soon after that began delisting search results.

It's now just over a year later and we’ve evaluated and processed more than a quarter of a million requests to delist links to more than one million individual web pages. Whenever a request meets the criteria set by the Court for removal (which are that the information can be deemed inadequate, irrelevant, no longer relevant or excessive, and not in the public interest) we delist it from search results for that individual’s name from all European versions of Google Search.

However, earlier this summer, France’s data protection regulator, the CNIL, sent us a formal notice ordering us to delist links not just from all European versions of Search but also from all versions globally. That means a removal request by an individual in France, if approved, would not only be removed from google.fr and other European versions of Google Search, but from all versions of Google Search around the world.

This is a troubling development that risks serious chilling effects on the web.

While the right to be forgotten may now be the law in Europe, it is not the law globally. Moreover, there are innumerable examples around the world where content that is declared illegal under the laws of one country, would be deemed legal in others: Thailand criminalizes some speech that is critical of its King, Turkey criminalizes some speech that is critical of Ataturk, and Russia outlaws some speech that is deemed to be “gay propaganda."

If the CNIL’s proposed approach were to be embraced as the standard for Internet regulation, we would find ourselves in a race to the bottom. In the end, the Internet would only be as free as the world’s least free place.

We believe that no one country should have the authority to control what content someone in a second country can access. We also believe this order is disproportionate and unnecessary, given that the overwhelming majority of French internet users—currently around 97%—access a European version of Google’s search engine like google.fr, rather than Google.com or any other version of Google.

As a matter of principle, therefore, we respectfully disagree with the CNIL’s assertion of global authority on this issue and we have asked the CNIL to withdraw its Formal Notice.

We have worked hard to strike the right balance in our implementation of the European Court’s ruling and have maintained a collaborative dialogue with the CNIL and other data protection authorities, who agree with our decisions in the majority of cases referred to them. We are committed to continuing to work with regulators in this open and transparent way.

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Throughout history, Europe has been a hotbed of culture, imagination and natural beauty. At Google we’re keen to share these elements with the world through our maps, so over recent months we’ve been taking all manner of Street View technologies—Trekkers, Trolleys and tripods—to capture some incredible places across the continent, focusing this time on Central and Eastern Europe. Here are a few highlights for you to explore:

Hungary
Floating down the Danube river in summertime is a wonderful thing. But now you can also check out some of Hungary’s hidden gems in Google Maps. Take a look inside the National Theatre of Pécs and explore the beautiful Basilica of Eger, the second largest church in the country. In the capital, Budapest, you can walk among the trees and rose bushes in the little-known but spectacular botanical garden near the centre of town, or even climb a hill to get away from it all.

Czech Republic
If you’re lucky enough to have been to Prague, you may have seen the fairytale sight of Prague Castle from the medieval Charles Bridge. They’re too good to miss, so we added these sites and almost 30 others in Czech Republic to Street View including the gardens of the Prague Castle, Prague’s historic center, interiors of castles such as Cesky Krumlov and Spilberk, and beauty spots like Ceske Svycarsko and Krkonose National Park.

Slovakia
In Slovakia, we’ve just released images of heritage sites like this wooden protestant church in Kezmarok and national parks like Velka Fatra and Pieniny. To get a feel for the history of the country, why not check out Branc Castle or Draskovic Castle in Cachtice? From the high turrets and battlements of the castles, you can then take a trip below ground and visit Dobsinska Ice Cave and Ochtinska Aragonite Cave which we added last year.

Romania
And finally, sink 100 meters deep into one of the most breathtaking places beneath the earth: the Turda Salt Mine, in Cluj County, Romania. Tourists around the world can take a tour of the mine—which is more than 200 years old—with our high-resolution imagery, from the comfort of their homes.


We hope you enjoy discovering some of the delights of Europe as much as we did.

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Thank you for that kind introduction. I’m delighted to be back in Barcelona and to speak for the first time at a Global Editors Network summit.

The last time I gave a major speech at a news industry event was nearly five years ago - that was at the World Association of Newspapers conference in Hyderabad. I’m sure some of you were there.

In preparing for today I took a look back at that speech. Here’s a little of what I said.

“Imagine we're in 2015, and [this phone] is a piece of technology which delivers me my news."

"I can flip through my favorite papers and magazines without a frustrating wait for each new page to load. Even better, it knows who I am, what I like and what I've already read. So the stories that appear are tailored to my interests and needs."

"There’s an interesting piece in Egypt's Al-Ahram, translated automatically from Arabic to English. A story pops up about great restaurants in Hyderabad. I tap my finger on the screen, to tell the computer it got that bit right!"

"Some of these stories will be part of my monthly news subscription package. Some - where the free preview draws me in - will cost a few pennies billed to my account. Others will be free, paid for by advertisements.”


NOT BAD - if I say so myself!

It sounded a bit like science fiction just five years ago, but most if not quite all of that has come to pass. For the user consuming news online, the advances of the last five years have been truly momentous. The lightning fast move to mobile has challenged us all. And the quality and ambition of journalism just seems to get higher every year.

But you don’t need me to tell you that the road to sustainable models for journalism remains work in progress

I concluded that speech by encouraging publishers to work with Google, not without us - or against us.

That’s also work in progress!

Unfortunately here in Spain, we’ve had some ups and downs. The ‘all or nothing’ nature of the copyright law led us to close Google News here — lose-lose for everyone, and one of the saddest decisions I’ve had to make at Google. But we haven’t given up. We continue to talk with publisher groups and the government and I hope we can bring it back in the future.

Today I want to talk in a little more detail about how we are working with the news industry in 2015 and how we intend to work with you in the years ahead.

And why. At Google, we believe fundamentally in information, and the role that free flowing information plays in strengthening democracies and economies around the world. Journalism is a vital part of that and we want to play our role in making sure high quality journalism has a sustainable future.

In April we announced the Digital News Initiative, a partnership between Google and news publishers in Europe to support quality journalism through technology and innovation. Today I want to give you an update on the progress we are making.

Less than two months ago we started out with eleven partners, including our hosts here - the Global Editors Network - the Guardian in the UK, Die Zeit in Germany, Les Echos in France and El Pais in Spain. I’m very pleased to say that they have now been joined by more than 65 new participants and we have received over 1000 expressions of interest from across Europe. We invite others to join us.

We are working together in three key areas - on product development, on training and research, and on supporting innovation in digital news.

First: product development.

We agree with news publishers that this is THE crucial area if we are to build more sustainable business models together. It won’t be a simple or quick fix but I believe we really have an historic opportunity to help shape the future of this industry in a way which can ensure the survival of high quality journalism online and which will provide an ever-better service for readers.

It will take time, but our Engineering and Product leaders are already engaged in detailed thinking with a working group of publishers on a set of priorities including video, mobile and monetisation.

I can’t yet tell you what they will achieve, but is great to see some of the greatest practitioners in journalism sitting down for the first time with some of the best brains at Google to figure out how our industries can work more productively together. I’ve been party to some of those conversations and I can tell you that the level of commitment on both sides is sky high.

So stay tuned for product developments.

The second pillar of our partnership is in Training and Research. Through our newly established News Lab at Google our programme of newsroom training workshops - with a dedicated European team - is already well underway.

By the end of this year we will have worked with ten thousand journalists around the world, through newsroom trainings and partnerships with such groups as the European Journalism Centre, the International News Media Association and the Global Editors Network.

At Google we like the joke that goes: “In God we Trust, all others must bring data.” For the past four years we’ve partnered with GEN on the Data Journalism Awards to encourage the growth of this highly promising area of journalism. It has been an inspiring journey through a discipline that was almost unknown 5 years ago - and last night’s awards ceremony was a terrific showcase of some of the most engaging examples. Congratulations to the winners!

We’ve always felt that Google’s aggregated search data has the potential to be a great source of raw material for journalists. In May for example, our search data showed that the British were gripped by two things above all others - the General Election...and the Eurovision Song Contest! What did we learn? Well, first - that an awful lot of people were wondering: why is Australia taking part in the Eurovision Song Contest!

But more importantly, Google Trends confounded the pollsters and successfully predicted that Prime Minister David Cameron would win the election.

After consultation with dozens of journalists about how the platform could be even more useful, we’ve just undertaken a major revamp of Google Trends. We’ve improved the depth, comprehensiveness, and speed of our tools - launching real time Google Trends for the first time. It’s well worth a look and you can see it demonstrated at the Google Trends Booth at the EXPO.

Turning to Research, I’m delighted to say that the Reuters Institute Digital News Report, which we support under the DNI, has just launched its 2015 edition covering 12 countries. It’s full of great statistics and analysis of how the digital news landscape is changing in Europe. And over the next year it will grow to cover 20 countries, making it the most comprehensive picture of how European readers are consuming and absorbing their news.

We have also been busy gathering proposals for our Computational Journalism Awards, and today we are announcing three academic research grants of 55 thousand euros each to encourage collaboration between computer science and journalism at universities in Europe. Congratulations to the researchers at the University of Hamburg, INRIA in Paris, and London’s City University who are the first recipients of these awards. These were impressive proposals with strong potential to become real-world tools for journalism.

In the weeks since we announced the kick-off of DNI, we’ve had some great conversations with key people in the news industry. For example, at an UNconference we organised in Helsinki called Newsgeist, one of the topics which was top of editors’ minds was the question of how their publications can maintain or indeed rebuild trust in this era of atomic news consumption.

In a world of native ads, user generated content and widespread sharing, how do readers know what they are reading is true, or what is the motivation of the publisher?

Based on these conversations we have committed to funding an initiative called the Trust Project, led by Markkula Center for Applied Ethics in California, which aims to propose approaches and structures to rebuild trust in online journalism. I’m delighted to say that the Trust Project has extended its pilot to include a number of prominent European news organisation, including La Stampa, Zeit Online and the BBC. And greater trust should translate into greater value.

Since we announced the Digital News Initiative there has been a good deal of interest too in the third pillar - the Innovation Fund, and I wanted to give you an update.

As you know, we have allocated 150 million euros to stimulating and supporting innovation in digital journalism within the news industry in Europe. The ambition and intent of the Fund is bold: to spark new thinking, which could come from anywhere in the news ecosystem, to give news organisations - of all sizes - the space to try some new things. This is a complicated task and we are in the process of setting up the governance structure for the fund. We want to take the appropriate time and diligence to get this right, and make the process transparent and equitable. We’ll announce the details of the submission process in September.

So what kind of proposals are we looking for? In short, the emphasis will be on the experimental and - we hope - the impactful. We want to see genuinely new ideas from those engaged in the day-to-day practice of journalism with the potential to transform the way we all think of digital news.

We encourage you to think broadly about ideas, rather than the levels of funding - sometimes small, scrappier ideas are enough to get things moving faster than larger, more costly projects. And, as we did with the French fund, at the higher end of investment we will ask that participants share the risk by investing some of their own money as well.

Anyone working on innovation in online news in Europe will be able to apply, including national and regional publishers, new players and pure players. And one final thought on this - perhaps this would be a great area for news organisations to come together to submit joint proposals as there are many ideas that affect the whole ecosystem and collaboration can benefit everyone involved.

Finally, I want to say a word about a subject close to my heart - press freedom. This year, we’ve seen journalists kidnapped and killed while working in the service of providing the world information. And these threats go beyond the physical world: digital threats of surveillance, account hacking, and website attacks have have become a common weapon of oppressors around the world. While Google is not in a position to help guard against physical attacks, we are in a position it protect journalists from digital attacks, and so reduce the chilling effects of those threats.

Over the last year we have quietly operated an experiment called Project Shield to protect hundreds of news sites around the world from attacks aimed at censoring them by taking them offline. We do this by putting Google’s considerable computing power between the attackers and independent media sites to help them stay up in times of crisis when they're needed most.

Project Shield has protected more than 250 at-risk sites in more than 50 countries. For example, during last year's conflict in Ukraine, Ukrainian AND Russian media sites were facing denial of service attacks. Project Shield offered protection to news organisations on both sides, and during that two month period alone, we protected over 650 million page views from censorship. I’m proud of that and we aim to extend the scope of Project Shield.

To conclude...

These are interesting times in the relationship between the news and technology industries - perhaps even historic times.

While we have always sought to be a good partner to the news industry we have tended to operate on different paths, and sometimes the dialogue has either been of the deaf - or of the megaphone.

I - and the Product leaders who build and run Google services - are determined to change that. We recognise that technology companies and news organisations are part of the same information ecosystem. We are committed to playing our part.

And of course it is not just Google.

Facebook, Apple, Twitter and others are also engaged in initiatives aimed at working more closely with publishers and helping to re-imagine the future of news. We compete fiercely with those companies day in day out, but as some have observed, if tech companies are competing to outdo each other in how they work with news publishers, what’s not to like about that?

As the great playwright Arthur Miller put it: “A good newspaper... is a nation talking to itself”. Today we are not just talking to ourselves, but talking WITH each other. Long may the conversation continue.

Thank you.