Silence speaks louder than words when finding malware

In Android Security, we’re constantly working to better understand how to make Android devices operate more smoothly and securely. One security solution included on all devices with Google Play is Verify apps. Verify apps checks if there are Potentially Harmful Apps (PHAs) on your device. If a PHA is found, Verify apps warns the user and enables them to uninstall the app.

But, sometimes devices stop checking up with Verify apps. This may happen for a non-security related reason, like buying a new phone, or, it could mean something more concerning is going on. When a device stops checking up with Verify apps, it is considered Dead or Insecure (DOI). An app with a high enough percentage of DOI devices downloading it, is considered a DOI app. We use the DOI metric, along with the other security systems to help determine if an app is a PHA to protect Android users. Additionally, when we discover vulnerabilities, we patch Android devices with our security update system.

This blog post explores the Android Security team’s research to identify the security-related reasons that devices stop working and prevent it from happening in the future.

Flagging DOI Apps

To understand this problem more deeply, the Android Security team correlates app install attempts and DOI devices to find apps that harm the device in order to protect our users.

With these factors in mind, we then focus on ‘retention’. A device is considered retained if it continues to perform periodic Verify apps security check ups after an app download. If it doesn’t, it’s considered potentially dead or insecure (DOI). An app’s retention rate is the percentage of all retained devices that downloaded the app in one day. Because retention is a strong indicator of device health, we work to maximize the ecosystem’s retention rate.

Therefore, we use an app DOI scorer, which assumes that all apps should have a similar device retention rate. If an app’s retention rate is a couple of standard deviations lower than average, the DOI scorer flags it. A common way to calculate the number of standard deviations from the average is called a Z-score. The equation for the Z-score is below.

Z-score for Dead or Insecure devices
  • N = Number of devices that downloaded the app.
  • x = Number of retained devices that downloaded the app.
  • p = Probability of a device downloading any app will be retained.

In this context, we call the Z-score of an app’s retention rate a DOI score. The DOI score indicates an app has a statistically significant lower retention rate if the Z-score is much less than -3.7. This means that if the null hypothesis is true, there is much less than a 0.01% chance the magnitude of the Z-score being as high. In this case, the null hypothesis means the app accidently correlated with lower retention rate independent of what the app does.

This allows for percolation of extreme apps (with low retention rate and high number of downloads) to the top of the DOI list. From there, we combine the DOI score with other information to determine whether to classify the app as a PHA. We then use Verify apps to remove existing installs of the app and prevent future installs of the app.

Android security checkups for DOI devices
Difference between a regular and DOI app download on the same device

Results in the wild

Among others, the DOI score flagged many apps in three well known malware families— Hummingbad, Ghost Push, and Gooligan. Although they behave differently, the DOI scorer flagged over 25,000 apps in these three families of malware because they can degrade the Android experience to such an extent that a non-negligible amount of users factory reset or abandon their devices. This approach provides us with another perspective to discover PHAs and block them before they gain popularity. Without the DOI scorer, many of these apps would have escaped the extra scrutiny of a manual review.

The DOI scorer and all of Android’s anti-malware work is one of multiple layers protecting users and developers on Android. For an overview of Android’s security and transparency efforts, check out our page.

Silence speaks louder than words when finding malware

In Android Security, we’re constantly working to better understand how to make Android devices operate more smoothly and securely. One security solution included on all devices with Google Play is Verify apps. Verify apps checks if there are Potentially Harmful Apps (PHAs) on your device. If a PHA is found, Verify apps warns the user and enables them to uninstall the app.

But, sometimes devices stop checking up with Verify apps. This may happen for a non-security related reason, like buying a new phone, or, it could mean something more concerning is going on. When a device stops checking up with Verify apps, it is considered Dead or Insecure (DOI). An app with a high enough percentage of DOI devices downloading it, is considered a DOI app. We use the DOI metric, along with the other security systems to help determine if an app is a PHA to protect Android users. Additionally, when we discover vulnerabilities, we patch Android devices with our security update system.

This blog post explores the Android Security team’s research to identify the security-related reasons that devices stop working and prevent it from happening in the future.

Flagging DOI Apps

To understand this problem more deeply, the Android Security team correlates app install attempts and DOI devices to find apps that harm the device in order to protect our users.

With these factors in mind, we then focus on ‘retention’. A device is considered retained if it continues to perform periodic Verify apps security check ups after an app download. If it doesn’t, it’s considered potentially dead or insecure (DOI). An app’s retention rate is the percentage of all retained devices that downloaded the app in one day. Because retention is a strong indicator of device health, we work to maximize the ecosystem’s retention rate.

Therefore, we use an app DOI scorer, which assumes that all apps should have a similar device retention rate. If an app’s retention rate is a couple of standard deviations lower than average, the DOI scorer flags it. A common way to calculate the number of standard deviations from the average is called a Z-score. The equation for the Z-score is below.

Z-score for Dead or Insecure devices
  • N = Number of devices that downloaded the app.
  • x = Number of retained devices that downloaded the app.
  • p = Probability of a device downloading any app will be retained.

In this context, we call the Z-score of an app’s retention rate a DOI score. The DOI score indicates an app has a statistically significant lower retention rate if the Z-score is much less than -3.7. This means that if the null hypothesis is true, there is much less than a 0.01% chance the magnitude of the Z-score being as high. In this case, the null hypothesis means the app accidently correlated with lower retention rate independent of what the app does.

This allows for percolation of extreme apps (with low retention rate and high number of downloads) to the top of the DOI list. From there, we combine the DOI score with other information to determine whether to classify the app as a PHA. We then use Verify apps to remove existing installs of the app and prevent future installs of the app.

Android security checkups for DOI devices
Difference between a regular and DOI app download on the same device

Results in the wild

Among others, the DOI score flagged many apps in three well known malware families— Hummingbad, Ghost Push, and Gooligan. Although they behave differently, the DOI scorer flagged over 25,000 apps in these three families of malware because they can degrade the Android experience to such an extent that a non-negligible amount of users factory reset or abandon their devices. This approach provides us with another perspective to discover PHAs and block them before they gain popularity. Without the DOI scorer, many of these apps would have escaped the extra scrutiny of a manual review.

The DOI scorer and all of Android’s anti-malware work is one of multiple layers protecting users and developers on Android. For an overview of Android’s security and transparency efforts, check out our page.

Google Play Music’s “Ones to Watch” Artists in 2017

Everyone loves to be one of the first to discover a new up-and-coming artist before they make it, but with thousands of thriving artists out there launching new music daily, discovering the next big musical breakthrough isn’t easy. Google Play Music has you covered! After hours of listening, analyzing and discussing who you should keep your eye (or ear) on this year, our team of music experts put together a list of the top 10 “Ones to Watch” in 2017—and a new playlist featuring top tracks from these rising stars.

Google Play Music’s ‘Ones to Watch’ for 2017

  1. Lost Kings
  2. Kodie Shane
  3. Bishop Briggs
  4. Midland
  5. Allison Crutchfield
  6. Aminé
  7. Maggie Rogers
  8. Kamaiyah
  9. Kehlani
  10. Rag’n’Bone Man

So, how did we select our “Ones to Watch” list? Our Google Play Music editorial team locked themselves in a room (well, sort of) and considered everything from track performance on Pop Before It Breaks and Blogged 50 to Google search counts and social media reach, to just pure, inalienable music expert gut instinct. Then, by way of committee, lots of strong coffee, some heated debates, and even more coffee, the final 10 artists were chosen.

Listen now so that when one of their singles hits the radio, you can say with confidence that you heard it first.


Learn more about the 2017 “Ones to Watch” Artists:

Lost Kings

EDM duo Lost Kings scored an Internet hit in 2015 with the Carl Carlton via Chris Brown “Bad.” Their latest single, “Phone Down,” with singer and hit songwriter Emily Warren shows how they could follow in the The Chainsmokers’ footsteps from the blogs onto the pop charts. For fans of: The Chainsmokers, Classixx, Matoma.

Kodie Shane

Atlanta’s Kodie Shane opened her debut mixtape with “Drip In My Walk,” one of the best do-it-for-the-Vine,Travolta-in-white-polyester swagger anthems we heard in 2016. “Baby, you know I’m a star!” Here’s hoping 2017 is the year that becomes incontrovertible. For fans of Lil Yachty, Dreezy, D.R.A.M.

Bishop Briggs

Bound to be a festival favorite this year, Bishop Briggs brings energy and an almost manic array of beats to her dark synth-pop. With a soulful voice that packs a punch, Briggs snagged an opening spot on Coldplay’s stadium tour, a long way from the karaoke bars she performed in growing up. For fans of: BANKS, Alessia Cara, St. Vincent.

Midland

Gracefully nodding to ’70s and ’80s country with a modern twist, Texas trio Midland are poised to bring back traditionalism to the country airwaves. Their harmonies and classic steel guitar evoke the Old West erasing the bro-country invasion of recent years. For fans of: George Strait, Dwight Yoakam, The Eagles.

Allison Crutchfield

Twin sister and erstwhile bandmate of Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield, Allison Crutchfield is a powerful indie rock singer-songwriter in her own right. “Dean’s Room” is a propulsive and buoyant power-pop number from forthcoming the album “Tourists in This Town,” which showcases Crutchfield’s softer songwriting. For fans of: Angel Olsen, Mitski, Courtney Barnett.

Aminé

If Clipse and Pharrell wrote a love song, it would probably sound like “Caroline,” the off-kilter and impossibly catchy debut song from Portland, OR native Aminé. We’ll be eagerly anticipating his debut album this year. For fans of: Rae Sremmurd, The Neptunes, Tarantino movies.  

Maggie Rogers

Hand-picked and boosted to viral fame by no less powerful a taste-maker than Pharrell, young singer-songwriter Maggie Rogers is bound for big things in 2017 and beyond. “Alaska,” the song that started it all, is an infectious, alternately frosty and thawed-out blend of electro-pop, R&B, and Rogers’ roots in indie folk. For fans of: BANKS, Tove Lo, Låpsley.

Kamaiyah

This Bay Area MC has already held her own against Drake and Y.G., when she released a critically acclaimed mixtape and rhymed her own name with “please retire.” When that flat, unflappably boss flow of hers rolls by, you will sit up and pay attention. For fans of: Lil Yachty, Young Jeezy, D.R.A.M.

Kehlani

Listen to this Oakland R&B singer’s cooing confession about needing a “Gangsta” on the “Suicide Squad” soundtrack. If you prefer your slinky, intimate soul sans the Jared Leto association, there was also the commanding, ubiquitous 2016 single “CRZY” to get you hooked. The first tracks off her major label debut (out Jan. 27) suggests an even wider range. For fans of: Jhené Aiko, PARTYNEXTDOOR, Tinashe.

Rag’n’Bone Man

Rag’n’Bone Man has already scored a top 10 hit in Germany and his native U.K. with the hip-hop meets blues stomper “Human.” Expect this aggro-tender song to turn up in every “gritty” movie trailer after his debut album drops in February. For fans of: Hozier, Imagine Dragons, impressive beards.

Google Play Music’s “Ones to Watch” Artists in 2017

Everyone loves to be one of the first to discover a new up-and-coming artist before they make it, but with thousands of thriving artists out there launching new music daily, discovering the next big musical breakthrough isn’t easy. Google Play Music has you covered! After hours of listening, analyzing and discussing who you should keep your eye (or ear) on this year, our team of music experts put together a list of the top 10 “Ones to Watch” in 2017—and a new playlist featuring top tracks from these rising stars.

Google Play Music’s ‘Ones to Watch’ for 2017

  1. Lost Kings
  2. Kodie Shane
  3. Bishop Briggs
  4. Midland
  5. Allison Crutchfield
  6. Aminé
  7. Maggie Rogers
  8. Kamaiyah
  9. Kehlani
  10. Rag’n’Bone Man

So, how did we select our “Ones to Watch” list? Our Google Play Music editorial team locked themselves in a room (well, sort of) and considered everything from track performance on Pop Before It Breaks and Blogged 50 to Google search counts and social media reach, to just pure, inalienable music expert gut instinct. Then, by way of committee, lots of strong coffee, some heated debates, and even more coffee, the final 10 artists were chosen.

Listen now so that when one of their singles hits the radio, you can say with confidence that you heard it first.


Learn more about the 2017 “Ones to Watch” Artists:

Lost Kings

EDM duo Lost Kings scored an Internet hit in 2015 with the Carl Carlton via Chris Brown “Bad.” Their latest single, “Phone Down,” with singer and hit songwriter Emily Warren shows how they could follow in the The Chainsmokers’ footsteps from the blogs onto the pop charts. For fans of: The Chainsmokers, Classixx, Matoma.

Kodie Shane

Atlanta’s Kodie Shane opened her debut mixtape with “Drip In My Walk,” one of the best do-it-for-the-Vine,Travolta-in-white-polyester swagger anthems we heard in 2016. “Baby, you know I’m a star!” Here’s hoping 2017 is the year that becomes incontrovertible. For fans of Lil Yachty, Dreezy, D.R.A.M.

Bishop Briggs

Bound to be a festival favorite this year, Bishop Briggs brings energy and an almost manic array of beats to her dark synth-pop. With a soulful voice that packs a punch, Briggs snagged an opening spot on Coldplay’s stadium tour, a long way from the karaoke bars she performed in growing up. For fans of: BANKS, Alessia Cara, St. Vincent.

Midland

Gracefully nodding to ’70s and ’80s country with a modern twist, Texas trio Midland are poised to bring back traditionalism to the country airwaves. Their harmonies and classic steel guitar evoke the Old West erasing the bro-country invasion of recent years. For fans of: George Strait, Dwight Yoakam, The Eagles.

Allison Crutchfield

Twin sister and erstwhile bandmate of Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield, Allison Crutchfield is a powerful indie rock singer-songwriter in her own right. “Dean’s Room” is a propulsive and buoyant power-pop number from forthcoming the album “Tourists in This Town,” which showcases Crutchfield’s softer songwriting. For fans of: Angel Olsen, Mitski, Courtney Barnett.

Aminé

If Clipse and Pharrell wrote a love song, it would probably sound like “Caroline,” the off-kilter and impossibly catchy debut song from Portland, OR native Aminé. We’ll be eagerly anticipating his debut album this year. For fans of: Rae Sremmurd, The Neptunes, Tarantino movies.  

Maggie Rogers

Hand-picked and boosted to viral fame by no less powerful a taste-maker than Pharrell, young singer-songwriter Maggie Rogers is bound for big things in 2017 and beyond. “Alaska,” the song that started it all, is an infectious, alternately frosty and thawed-out blend of electro-pop, R&B, and Rogers’ roots in indie folk. For fans of: BANKS, Tove Lo, Låpsley.

Kamaiyah

This Bay Area MC has already held her own against Drake and Y.G., when she released a critically acclaimed mixtape and rhymed her own name with “please retire.” When that flat, unflappably boss flow of hers rolls by, you will sit up and pay attention. For fans of: Lil Yachty, Young Jeezy, D.R.A.M.

Kehlani

Listen to this Oakland R&B singer’s cooing confession about needing a “Gangsta” on the “Suicide Squad” soundtrack. If you prefer your slinky, intimate soul sans the Jared Leto association, there was also the commanding, ubiquitous 2016 single “CRZY” to get you hooked. The first tracks off her major label debut (out Jan. 27) suggests an even wider range. For fans of: Jhené Aiko, PARTYNEXTDOOR, Tinashe.

Rag’n’Bone Man

Rag’n’Bone Man has already scored a top 10 hit in Germany and his native U.K. with the hip-hop meets blues stomper “Human.” Expect this aggro-tender song to turn up in every “gritty” movie trailer after his debut album drops in February. For fans of: Hozier, Imagine Dragons, impressive beards.

Reflecting on Google’s GNI Engagement

 As the year comes to a close, we’re reflecting on Google’s Global Network Initiative (GNI) assessment and some of this year’s important developments in our work to protect the free expression and privacy interests of our users.

Last week, in our continued effort to increase transparency around government demands for user data, we made available to the public the National Security Letters (NSLs) Google has received where, either through litigation or legislation, we have been freed of nondisclosure obligations. Our goal in doing so is to shed more light on the nature and scope of these requests. We’ve also supported policy efforts to ensure that the privacy interests of non-U.S. persons are addressed as U.S. policymakers consider government surveillance issues.

Earlier this month, we highlighted our efforts to comply with the right to be forgotten in Europe. For much of the last year, we’ve worked to defend the idea that each country should be able to balance freedom of expression and privacy in the way that country sees fit, and not according to another country’s interpretation. One Data Protection Authority, the French Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (the CNIL), ordered Google to delist French right to be forgotten removals for users everywhere. We agree with the CNIL that privacy is a fundamental right — but so, too, is the right to free expression. Any balance struck between those two rights must be accompanied by territorial limits, consistent with the basic principles of international law.

These are some examples of Google’s public policy work that illustrate our commitment to the freedom of expression and privacy rights of our users. We know that pressing global issues are best addressed in partnership with with key stakeholders — and the GNI is critical to Google’s efforts.

The GNI is at the core of our multi-stakeholder engagement on free expression and privacy issues. Google is proud to be a founding member of the GNI, an 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.

Earlier this year, GNI released the second round of assessments, and announced the board’s determination that Google is compliant with the GNI framework. 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.

The assessment process includes a review of relevant internal systems, policies and procedures for implementing the GNI Principles (“the process review”), and an examination of specific cases or examples that show how the company is implementing them in practice (the “case review”).

Our cases were selected for their salience to our approach to implementing the GNI Principles, taking into consideration Google’s products and services, geographical footprint, operating environments, and human rights risk profile. In addition, to the Google-specific cases discussed in GNI’s public assessment report, we wanted to provide additional examples to illustrate the types of non-U.S. cases reviewed.

Request for user data
A request was made for Gmail user information by a federal police department. A key part of our process is making sure that the requests we receive are appropriately supported by legal process. In this case, we found that the initial request was inadequate due to failure to have a judicial stamp or signature, and we therefore pushed back, as we would not comply unless the request was judicially authorized. Once these items were obtained and, we determined that it was a valid legal request (including that it was not overbroad), we complied with the request.

Request for removal
A request for Blogger content removal was made by a regulatory agency. The requestor claimed that content was subject to removal under the country’s statute prohibiting appeals to mass riots, extremist activities, and mass actions against established order. In reviewing the request, we determined that the content did not violate our terms of service.  We then responded by requesting a copy of the decision citing specific URLs that are illegal. This would be evidence of an authoritative interpretation of the local law as applied to the content.  As there was no response from the requestor, and the content did not violate our company policies, the request was denied and we did not remove the material.

RTBF: Push for Judicial Review; Careful Development and Implementation of Rigorous Removal Process for Requests
This example describes how we responded to requests subsequent to the Google Spain v AEPD and Mario Costeja ruling, which presented risks to freedom of expression. In the Costeja case, we appealed through the court process, but were unsuccessful.  We pushed back on this ruling because we considered the requirement for Google to take down this information to be in conflict with freedom of expression. On appeal, the Court of Justice of the European Union found that people have the right to ask for information to be removed from search results that include their names if it is “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive.” In deciding what to remove, search engines must also have regard to the public interest, without additional guidance regarding what information constitutes “public interest.” The court also decided that search engines don’t qualify for a “journalistic exception.” We continue to fight court cases seeking to expand this requirement for takedowns globally.

We also convened the Advisory Council to Google on the Right to be Forgotten to review input from dozens of experts in meetings across Europe, as well as from thousands of submissions via the Web. The Council included Frank La Rue, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression. The Council advised us on performing the balancing act between an individual’s right to privacy and the public’s interest in access to information.

In response to the Costeja ruling, Google established a dedicated team to develop and implement a system to remove valid RtbF requests. We evaluate each request appropriately, complying with the law, but making sure that, if there is a legal basis for the content to remain available, we will assess how that applies. To address the ruling, we assembled a team to address the new category of requests arising from the rights articulated in Costeja. Our web removals site was updated to include information about and a portal for RtbF requests. Requests are reviewed by the legal removals team; after review, the requester is notified of the determination. Since implementing this system, we have delisted approximately 780,000 URLs. Our process responds to individual requests and carefully evaluates  each request against the criteria for removal. We also notify websites when one of their pages has been removed pursuant to a RtbF claim. In addition to removing URLs, we include information about RtbF requests and removals in our Transparency Report.

Our assessors also provided us with recommendations for enhancing our implementation of the GNI Principles. These recommendations, combined with feedback and ongoing engagement with GNI stakeholders, will inform our policies and practices and strengthen our advocacy in 2017.

Reflecting on Google’s GNI Engagement

 As the year comes to a close, we’re reflecting on Google’s Global Network Initiative (GNI) assessment and some of this year’s important developments in our work to protect the free expression and privacy interests of our users.

Last week, in our continued effort to increase transparency around government demands for user data, we made available to the public the National Security Letters (NSLs) Google has received where, either through litigation or legislation, we have been freed of nondisclosure obligations. Our goal in doing so is to shed more light on the nature and scope of these requests. We’ve also supported policy efforts to ensure that the privacy interests of non-U.S. persons are addressed as U.S. policymakers consider government surveillance issues.

Earlier this month, we highlighted our efforts to comply with the right to be forgotten in Europe. For much of the last year, we’ve worked to defend the idea that each country should be able to balance freedom of expression and privacy in the way that country sees fit, and not according to another country’s interpretation. One Data Protection Authority, the French Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (the CNIL), ordered Google to delist French right to be forgotten removals for users everywhere. We agree with the CNIL that privacy is a fundamental right — but so, too, is the right to free expression. Any balance struck between those two rights must be accompanied by territorial limits, consistent with the basic principles of international law.

These are some examples of Google’s public policy work that illustrate our commitment to the freedom of expression and privacy rights of our users. We know that pressing global issues are best addressed in partnership with with key stakeholders — and the GNI is critical to Google’s efforts.

The GNI is at the core of our multi-stakeholder engagement on free expression and privacy issues. Google is proud to be a founding member of the GNI, an 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.

Earlier this year, GNI released the second round of assessments, and announced the board’s determination that Google is compliant with the GNI framework. 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.

The assessment process includes a review of relevant internal systems, policies and procedures for implementing the GNI Principles (“the process review”), and an examination of specific cases or examples that show how the company is implementing them in practice (the “case review”).

Our cases were selected for their salience to our approach to implementing the GNI Principles, taking into consideration Google’s products and services, geographical footprint, operating environments, and human rights risk profile. In addition, to the Google-specific cases discussed in GNI’s public assessment report, we wanted to provide additional examples to illustrate the types of non-U.S. cases reviewed.

Request for user data
A request was made for Gmail user information by a federal police department. A key part of our process is making sure that the requests we receive are appropriately supported by legal process. In this case, we found that the initial request was inadequate due to failure to have a judicial stamp or signature, and we therefore pushed back, as we would not comply unless the request was judicially authorized. Once these items were obtained and, we determined that it was a valid legal request (including that it was not overbroad), we complied with the request.

Request for removal
A request for Blogger content removal was made by a regulatory agency. The requestor claimed that content was subject to removal under the country’s statute prohibiting appeals to mass riots, extremist activities, and mass actions against established order. In reviewing the request, we determined that the content did not violate our terms of service.  We then responded by requesting a copy of the decision citing specific URLs that are illegal. This would be evidence of an authoritative interpretation of the local law as applied to the content.  As there was no response from the requestor, and the content did not violate our company policies, the request was denied and we did not remove the material.

RTBF: Push for Judicial Review; Careful Development and Implementation of Rigorous Removal Process for Requests
This example describes how we responded to requests subsequent to the Google Spain v AEPD and Mario Costeja ruling, which presented risks to freedom of expression. In the Costeja case, we appealed through the court process, but were unsuccessful.  We pushed back on this ruling because we considered the requirement for Google to take down this information to be in conflict with freedom of expression. On appeal, the Court of Justice of the European Union found that people have the right to ask for information to be removed from search results that include their names if it is “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive.” In deciding what to remove, search engines must also have regard to the public interest, without additional guidance regarding what information constitutes “public interest.” The court also decided that search engines don’t qualify for a “journalistic exception.” We continue to fight court cases seeking to expand this requirement for takedowns globally.

We also convened the Advisory Council to Google on the Right to be Forgotten to review input from dozens of experts in meetings across Europe, as well as from thousands of submissions via the Web. The Council included Frank La Rue, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression. The Council advised us on performing the balancing act between an individual’s right to privacy and the public’s interest in access to information.

In response to the Costeja ruling, Google established a dedicated team to develop and implement a system to remove valid RtbF requests. We evaluate each request appropriately, complying with the law, but making sure that, if there is a legal basis for the content to remain available, we will assess how that applies. To address the ruling, we assembled a team to address the new category of requests arising from the rights articulated in Costeja. Our web removals site was updated to include information about and a portal for RtbF requests. Requests are reviewed by the legal removals team; after review, the requester is notified of the determination. Since implementing this system, we have delisted approximately 780,000 URLs. Our process responds to individual requests and carefully evaluates  each request against the criteria for removal. We also notify websites when one of their pages has been removed pursuant to a RtbF claim. In addition to removing URLs, we include information about RtbF requests and removals in our Transparency Report.

Our assessors also provided us with recommendations for enhancing our implementation of the GNI Principles. These recommendations, combined with feedback and ongoing engagement with GNI stakeholders, will inform our policies and practices and strengthen our advocacy in 2017.

CSEdWeek 2016: Giving every student access to computer science skills

Editor’s Note: Every year during Computer Science Education Week, partners and educators come together to help encourage millions of students to try computer science (CS). This year, Google is focusing on improving perceptions of CS while making it more accessible for underrepresented students. Follow along here throughout this week (Dec 5 – 11) to find out what we’ve learned from the latest research about CS education, what we’re doing for CSEdWeek and how each of us can help champion #CSForAll.

In January, we announced our continued $23.5 million investment for 2016 on behalf of CS education, with the aim of reaching an additional 5 million students through our programs. We’re committed to making #CSForAll a reality by making tools and programs that work for every student.

Computer science (CS) isn’t just an optional subject — it’s a life skill that’s become as critical to student success as reading and math. These skills can be applied in fields as diverse as music and medicine (Careers with Code). The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that by 2022 there will be more than 1.3 million computer- and math-related jobs available, and 67 percent of these careers will be in industries outside of the tech sector.

Every student should have access to the technical skills that will help them thrive and tackle future challenges, but research indicates that some students are less likely to receive this opportunity — especially girls and minorities. That’s why we’re excited to be part of #CSforall: the White House’s national pledge to give every U.S. student an opportunity to learn CS.

Empowering more educators to teach computer science

As the need increases for students to explore and create with computer science, so does the need for qualified CS educators to teach them. We’re committed to increasing the CS teacher pipeline through CS4HS — an annual, application-based funding program for research institutions and education nonprofits to provide CS professional development and support to teachers in their local communities. These teachers apply what they’ve learned in the CS4HS workshops to their classrooms — inspiring the next generation of technologists.

Applications for professional development practitioners are open now until March 19. Funding is available in the United States, Canada, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China, Australia and New Zealand. Learn more on our website.

Empowering organizations around the world to provide equitable CS education

image02.jpg
Genesis and Gerard learn about microcontrollers to make this panda move at the South End Technology Center.

CSforAll means everyone — worldwide. So our annual RISE program supports organizations around the world to make CS education more equitable.

Today we’re announcing the latest round of RISE recipients: 28 nonprofits in 16 countries who will receive support to continue their important work. From reaching youth in rural parts of the U.S. to encouraging young entrepreneurs in India, these organizations will join a community of past winners that are making measurable difference in the world. For example, South End Technology Center, which won a RISE award earlier this year, was started in Boston by social activist and community organizer Dr. Mel King. The Tech Center provides training for teens to become creators of technology by combining computer science with social justice and community service. We’re honored to support the program, which not only provides resources, but also mentoring skills so older students can pass on their tech and problem-solving skills to the younger students.

Empowering kids to code through fun new projects

Computer science isn’t just about complicated programming. It’s a chance for everyone to get creative and have fun coming up with new ways to do things. Since only 41 percent of U.S. schools actually teach programming or coding, we’d love your help  to introduce more kids to computer science (while having fun!) during this year’s CS Education week. Here are a few activities anyone can try at home or in school:

Hour of Code: Create a scene for “Gumball’s Coding Adventure”

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Code.org is a non-profit that offers free one-hour CS tutorials designed for all ages. Google’s CS First and Cartoon Network have teamed up to create a new one-hour activity that encourages students ages 10-13 to create their own scene for “The Amazing World of Gumball,” using the Scratch programming language. During a “glitch” in the show, students get to imagine how Gumball and his friends would react, all while learning computational thinking concepts such as abstraction, sequencing, looping and parallelism. In addition, students can express their creativity and build their confidence. Check it out!

Millions of young people around the world use Scratch, a free programming platform, to create and share their own projects, games and animations. Together with the MIT Scratch team, we’re also making the Scratch programming blocks available as an open platform, called Scratch Blocks, so that developers of other kids’ products can add Scratch-style programming to their own products. Stay tuned for updates on the Google Developer Blog next Monday.

Create snowflakes and dancing elves in the 2016 Santa Tracker

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Thanks to Santa Tracker, it’s now easier than ever to keep tabs on Santa’s travel schedule. But St. Nick’s developer elves could use some help to keep the holiday fun going. This December, classrooms can pitch in by coding their very own snowflakes with Scratch Blocks or using code to make those elves dance. Lesson plans aligned with Common Core are included, so it’s easy to get started. Visit Santa Tracker to begin.

CSEdWeek is a great opportunity to experience coding for the first time. We hope you’ll share  these activities with your community to help make CS truly accessible.

Impact Portraits: success stories with Google for Education

Editor’s Note: We’re often asked by educators, “what impact do you see with Google technology in schools?” Last year we engaged Evergreen Education Group on a journey around the world to answer that question. During Education on Air on Saturday December 3rd, we will share the findings in Impact Portraits. These portraits demonstrate success with Google for Education through the lens of teachers, students and administrators. To hear Linda Darling-Hammond lead a discussion on Impact Portraits, register now for Education On Air.

At Evergreen Education Group we’ve studied K-12 digital education for fourteen years. Among the most important developments we have seen is the proliferation of devices in the classroom, whether through bring-your-own-device, district-led one-to-one programs or other channels. Relatively little study to date has examined how devices are successfully deployed and what their impact has been.

We were therefore thrilled that Google was interested in learning the answers to these questions, and in particular that they understood the study required speaking directly with the district and school leaders, curriculum and instruction specialists, and teachers at the forefront of the use of technology. Particularly they wanted to understand the impact of Chromebooks and G Suite for Education across schools.

Over the course of 16 months we spoke with more than 100 district and school leaders in six countries representing more than 880,000 students, analyzed each school’s documents and data, conducted surveys of administrators, teachers and students, and reviewed surveys the schools conducted. Our goal at every step was to let educators tell their stories, be honest about the challenges and failures, and celebrate the successes in the vein of highlighting these wonderful schools and providing guidance as schools continue down the digital path.

Early in the project we were asked to complete the sentence “Technology in the classroom equals…what?” Our answer: when considered alone, technology equals nothing. Technology is a tool that can be used well, or it can be used poorly. But when technology was combined with four key factors, it could help the school flourish. What are these key factors? Planning, Professional learning, Patience, and Support.

Why are these factors necessary? Because supporting the teachers who are using technology and transforming classrooms takes time—time measured in years, not weeks or months.

What does success look like? It takes different forms. But one common factor is that when educators speak of their success, they rarely lead with technology. Instead they talk about personalization, student engagement, and the role of teachers—all of these supported by technology.

This is about weaving technology into everything we do. Education technology is a tool, not a strategy.”

Dr. Mike Pressler

Maine East High School

The findings reveal examples of accomplishment and achievement from schools in different geographic regions, of varied sizes, enrolling a diversity of students. We—and the educators that we interviewed—would never suggest that the use of technology is a silver bullet that will in itself improve student achievement. However, based on our review of these schools, we are confident in saying that technology, when well planned and implemented, can be a key component of a successful digital strategy that has a positive impact on student outcomes.

  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg (US), the world’s largest Chromebook deployment, outperformed the state and other large North Carolina school districts in exceeding student growth expectations in 2015-2016 and saw a 20% increase in graduation rate.
[edu] Charlotte-Mecklenburg Chart.png
  • At McKinnon Secondary College (AU), students are actively driving learning and creating more than 1000 Google Docs each day. McKinnon was ranked 14th among all schools in Victoria and named one of the top 50 in Victoria based on Mathematics and English results in 2015.
  • Maine Township 207 (US), an early adopter of G Suite for Education, created a supportive learning environment that helped maintained high ACT scores even as demographics shifted and the low-income student population grew. This shift in demographics typically puts pressure on test scores, but the support of 1:1 take home Chromebooks helped Maine keep the playing field level for all.
[edu] Maine Township 207 Chart.png
  • Tring School (UK) saw 21% of students perform above their expected level in Science compared to the previous year and 20% more students reach average results in Science over the previous year.
  • In Oshkosh (US) changes to English class instruction improved passing rates in two classes from 75% to 94% and from 82% to 97%. And Oshkosh high schools, which implemented Chromebooks and G Suite first, outperformed the elementary school on measures of collaboration, critical thinking and creativity.
  • At St. Patrick’s College (NZ), Chromebooks enabled a flipped classroom for the Science department. Students receive more tailored feedback, and self-assessment is now seen as an essential step during assignments. Year 9 students saw a 97% pass rate on test designed for Year 12 students.
  • Devonport Boys High School (UK) saw 60% increase in students accessing their accounts outside of school. Students led clubs, campaigns and trips using G Suite for Education tools to work together.
[edu] Devonport Boys High School Graphic.png

Along with the individual cases, we surveyed leaders from across these schools and our initial results from the US found that more than 80% of respondents believe that the use of technology had a strong impact on the district’s vision, culture and ability to deliver professional learning. Three in four respondents report that the use of Google tools had a positive impact on the district budget, and–in a surprise to us–63% said the technology had impacted curriculum.

For additional findings and examples of instructional impact, read the Impact Portraits released on a rolling basis at g.co/EduImpact. For ideas on successful implementation of technology, visit Google for Education’s Transformation Center. And stay tuned to the Google for Education blog for a deeper look into each portrait and more profiles from the US, UK, Sweden, Spain, New Zealand and Australia in the coming months.

Impact Portraits: success stories with Google for Education

Editor’s Note: We’re often asked by educators, “what impact do you see with Google technology in schools?” Last year we engaged Evergreen Education Group on a journey around the world to answer that question. During Education on Air on Saturday December 3rd, we will share the findings in Impact Portraits. These portraits demonstrate success with Google for Education through the lens of teachers, students and administrators. To hear Linda Darling-Hammond lead a discussion on Impact Portraits, register now for Education On Air.

At Evergreen Education Group we’ve studied K-12 digital education for fourteen years. Among the most important developments we have seen is the proliferation of devices in the classroom, whether through bring-your-own-device, district-led one-to-one programs or other channels. Relatively little study to date has examined how devices are successfully deployed and what their impact has been.

We were therefore thrilled that Google was interested in learning the answers to these questions, and in particular that they understood the study required speaking directly with the district and school leaders, curriculum and instruction specialists, and teachers at the forefront of the use of technology. Particularly they wanted to understand the impact of Chromebooks and G Suite for Education across schools.

Over the course of 16 months we spoke with more than 100 district and school leaders in six countries representing more than 880,000 students, analyzed each school’s documents and data, conducted surveys of administrators, teachers and students, and reviewed surveys the schools conducted. Our goal at every step was to let educators tell their stories, be honest about the challenges and failures, and celebrate the successes in the vein of highlighting these wonderful schools and providing guidance as schools continue down the digital path.

Early in the project we were asked to complete the sentence “Technology in the classroom equals…what?” Our answer: when considered alone, technology equals nothing. Technology is a tool that can be used well, or it can be used poorly. But when technology was combined with four key factors, it could help the school flourish. What are these key factors? Planning, Professional learning, Patience, and Support.

Why are these factors necessary? Because supporting the teachers who are using technology and transforming classrooms takes time—time measured in years, not weeks or months.

What does success look like? It takes different forms. But one common factor is that when educators speak of their success, they rarely lead with technology. Instead they talk about personalization, student engagement, and the role of teachers—all of these supported by technology.

This is about weaving technology into everything we do. Education technology is a tool, not a strategy.

Dr. Mike Pressler

Maine East High School

The findings reveal examples of accomplishment and achievement from schools in different geographic regions, of varied sizes, enrolling a diversity of students. We—and the educators that we interviewed—would never suggest that the use of technology is a silver bullet that will in itself improve student achievement. However, based on our review of these schools, we are confident in saying that technology, when well planned and implemented, can be a key component of a successful digital strategy that has a positive impact on student outcomes.

  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg (US), the world’s largest Chromebook deployment, outperformed the state and other large North Carolina school districts in exceeding student growth expectations in 2015-2016 and saw a 20% increase in graduation rate.
[edu] Charlotte-Mecklenburg Chart.png
  • At McKinnon Secondary College (AU), students are actively driving learning and creating more than 1000 Google Docs each day. McKinnon was ranked 14th among all schools in Victoria and named one of the top 50 in Victoria based on Mathematics and English results in 2015.
  • Maine Township 207 (US), an early adopter of G Suite for Education, created a supportive learning environment that helped maintained high ACT scores even as demographics shifted and the low-income student population grew. This shift in demographics typically puts pressure on test scores, but the support of 1:1 take home Chromebooks helped Maine keep the playing field level for all.
[edu] Maine Township 207 Chart.png
  • Tring School (UK) saw 21% of students perform above their expected level in Science compared to the previous year and 20% more students reach average results in Science over the previous year.
  • In Oshkosh (US) changes to English class instruction improved passing rates in two classes from 75% to 94% and from 82% to 97%. And Oshkosh high schools, which implemented Chromebooks and G Suite first, outperformed the elementary school on measures of collaboration, critical thinking and creativity.
  • At St. Patrick’s College (NZ), Chromebooks enabled a flipped classroom for the Science department. Students receive more tailored feedback, and self-assessment is now seen as an essential step during assignments. Year 9 students saw a 97% pass rate on test designed for Year 12 students.
  • Devonport Boys High School (UK) saw 60% increase in students accessing their accounts outside of school. Students led clubs, campaigns and trips using G Suite for Education tools to work together.
[edu] Devonport Boys High School Graphic.png

Along with the individual cases, we surveyed leaders from across these schools and our initial results from the US found that more than 80% of respondents believe that the use of technology had a strong impact on the district’s vision, culture and ability to deliver professional learning. Three in four respondents report that the use of Google tools had a positive impact on the district budget, and–in a surprise to us–63% said the technology had impacted curriculum.

For additional findings and examples of instructional impact, read the Impact Portraits released on a rolling basis at g.co/EduImpact. For ideas on successful implementation of technology, visit Google for Education’s Transformation Center. And stay tuned to the Google for Education blog for a deeper look into each portrait and more profiles from the US, UK, Sweden, Spain, New Zealand and Australia in the coming months.

Impact Portraits: success stories with Google for Education

Editor’s Note: We’re often asked by educators, “what impact do you see with Google technology in schools?” Last year we engaged Evergreen Education Group on a journey around the world to answer that question. During Education on Air on Saturday December 3rd, we will share the findings in Impact Portraits. These portraits demonstrate success with Google for Education through the lens of teachers, students and administrators. To hear Linda Darling-Hammond lead a discussion on Impact Portraits, register now for Education On Air.

At Evergreen Education Group we’ve studied K-12 digital education for fourteen years. Among the most important developments we have seen is the proliferation of devices in the classroom, whether through bring-your-own-device, district-led one-to-one programs or other channels. Relatively little study to date has examined how devices are successfully deployed and what their impact has been.

We were therefore thrilled that Google was interested in learning the answers to these questions, and in particular that they understood the study required speaking directly with the district and school leaders, curriculum and instruction specialists, and teachers at the forefront of the use of technology. Particularly they wanted to understand the impact of Chromebooks and G Suite for Education across schools.

Over the course of 16 months we spoke with more than 100 district and school leaders in six countries representing more than 880,000 students, analyzed each school’s documents and data, conducted surveys of administrators, teachers and students, and reviewed surveys the schools conducted. Our goal at every step was to let educators tell their stories, be honest about the challenges and failures, and celebrate the successes in the vein of highlighting these wonderful schools and providing guidance as schools continue down the digital path.

Early in the project we were asked to complete the sentence “Technology in the classroom equals…what?” Our answer: when considered alone, technology equals nothing. Technology is a tool that can be used well, or it can be used poorly. But when technology was combined with four key factors, it could help the school flourish. What are these key factors? Planning, Professional learning, Patience, and Support.

Why are these factors necessary? Because supporting the teachers who are using technology and transforming classrooms takes time—time measured in years, not weeks or months.

What does success look like? It takes different forms. But one common factor is that when educators speak of their success, they rarely lead with technology. Instead they talk about personalization, student engagement, and the role of teachers—all of these supported by technology.

This is about weaving technology into everything we do. Education technology is a tool, not a strategy.

Dr. Mike Pressler

Maine East High School

The findings reveal examples of accomplishment and achievement from schools in different geographic regions, of varied sizes, enrolling a diversity of students. We—and the educators that we interviewed—would never suggest that the use of technology is a silver bullet that will in itself improve student achievement. However, based on our review of these schools, we are confident in saying that technology, when well planned and implemented, can be a key component of a successful digital strategy that has a positive impact on student outcomes.

  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg (US), the world’s largest Chromebook deployment, outperformed the state and other large North Carolina school districts in exceeding student growth expectations in 2015-2016 and saw a 20% increase in graduation rate.
[edu] Charlotte-Mecklenburg Chart.png
  • At McKinnon Secondary College (AU), students are actively driving learning and creating more than 1000 Google Docs each day. McKinnon was ranked 14th among all schools in Victoria and named one of the top 50 in Victoria based on Mathematics and English results in 2015.
  • Maine Township 207 (US), an early adopter of G Suite for Education, created a supportive learning environment that helped maintained high ACT scores even as demographics shifted and the low-income student population grew. This shift in demographics typically puts pressure on test scores, but the support of 1:1 take home Chromebooks helped Maine keep the playing field level for all.
[edu] Maine Township 207 Chart.png
  • Tring School (UK) saw 21% of students perform above their expected level in Science compared to the previous year and 20% more students reach average results in Science over the previous year.
  • In Oshkosh (US) changes to English class instruction improved passing rates in two classes from 75% to 94% and from 82% to 97%. And Oshkosh high schools, which implemented Chromebooks and G Suite first, outperformed the elementary school on measures of collaboration, critical thinking and creativity.
  • At St. Patrick’s College (NZ), Chromebooks enabled a flipped classroom for the Science department. Students receive more tailored feedback, and self-assessment is now seen as an essential step during assignments. Year 9 students saw a 97% pass rate on test designed for Year 12 students.
  • Devonport Boys High School (UK) saw 60% increase in students accessing their accounts outside of school. Students led clubs, campaigns and trips using G Suite for Education tools to work together.
[edu] Devonport Boys High School Graphic.png

Along with the individual cases, we surveyed leaders from across these schools and our initial results from the US found that more than 80% of respondents believe that the use of technology had a strong impact on the district’s vision, culture and ability to deliver professional learning. Three in four respondents report that the use of Google tools had a positive impact on the district budget, and–in a surprise to us–63% said the technology had impacted curriculum.

For additional findings and examples of instructional impact, read the Impact Portraits released on a rolling basis at g.co/EduImpact. For ideas on successful implementation of technology, visit Google for Education’s Transformation Center. And stay tuned to the Google for Education blog for a deeper look into each portrait and more profiles from the US, UK, Sweden, Spain, New Zealand and Australia in the coming months.