Updating our “right to be forgotten” Transparency Report

In May 2014, in a landmark ruling, the European Court of Justice established the “right to be forgotten,” or more accurately, the “right to delist,” allowing Europeans to ask search engines to delist information about themselves from search results. In deciding what to delist, search engines like Google must consider if the information in question is “inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant or excessive”—and whether there is a public interest in the information remaining available in search results.

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Digital News Initiative: €20 million of funding for innovation in news

In October 2015, as part of our Digital News Initiative (DNI)—a partnership between Google and news publishers in Europe to support high-quality journalism through technology and innovation—we launched the €150 million DNI Innovation Fund. Today, we’re announcing the recipients of the fourth round of funding, with 102 projects in 26 European countries being offered €20,428,091 to support news innovation projects. This brings the total funding offered so far to €94 million.

In this fourth round, we received 685 project submissions from 29 countries. Of the 102 projects funded today, 47 are prototypes (early stage projects requiring up to €50,000 of funding), 33 are medium-sized projects (requiring up to €300,000 of funding) and 22 are large projects (requiring up to €1 million of funding).


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Bridging the digital skills gap in Europe through the Developer Scholarship Challenge

Everyone needs the right digital skills to get a job, grow their career or business, or become an entrepreneur or developer. That’s why we started Google Growth Engine in 2015, a collection of digital skills programs offering free online and in person training across Europe.

The Developer Scholarships Challenge is one of these programs, a partnership between Google, Bertelsmann and Udacity, to help Europeans develop the skills required to build winning apps. Together we launched the first phase of developer scholarships in November 2016, and in September this year, announced phase 2 of the Developer Scholarships Challenge offering 75,000 scholarships to beginner and existing programmers.

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Defending access to lawful information at Europe’s highest court

Under the right to be forgotten, Europeans can ask for information about themselves to be removed from search results for their name if it is outdated, or irrelevant. From the outset, we have publicly stated our concerns about the ruling, but we have still worked hard to comply—and to do so conscientiously and in consultation with Data Protection Authorities. To date, we’ve handled requests to delist nearly 2 million search results in Europe, removing more than 800,000 of them. We have also taken great care not to erase results that are clearly in the public interest, as the European Court of Justice directed. Most Data Protection Authorities have concluded that this approach strikes the right balance. But two right to be forgotten cases now in front of the European Court of Justice threaten that balance. Continue reading “Defending access to lawful information at Europe’s highest court”

More than EUR 21 million in funding from Round 3 of the Digital News Initiative Fund

Two years ago, we established the Digital News Initiative (DNI), a partnership between Google and news publishers in Europe to support high-quality journalism through technology and innovation. As well as investing in product development, research and training, we also launched the DNI Innovation Fund, committing €150 million to innovation projects across the European news industry. Today, we’re announcing the recipients of our third round of funding, with 107 projects in 27 countries being offered funding worth €21,968,154 in total.

In this third round, we received more than 988 project submissions from 27 countries. Of the 107 projects funded today, 49 are prototypes (early stage projects requiring up to €50k of funding), 31 are medium-sized projects (requiring up to €300k of funding) and 27 are large projects (requiring up to €1m of funding).

Innovation Fund - Round 3

What’s new in this round? First and foremost,there is growing interest in fact checking experiments, with 29 percent more applications in that field in comparison to the previous rounds. We’ve also seen a rise in projects including artificial intelligence (+23 percent more applications than last round), investigative reporting (+20 percent more) and immersive approaches through virtual and augmented reality (+20 percent more). Last but not least, this round was also about collaboration between organisations and across borders, with 47 percent of all the applications selected for funding having a collaborative dimension. Here’s a sample of some of the projects funded in this round:

[Prototype] The Open State Foundation – Netherlands

The Open State Foundation promotes transparency through the use of open data and innovative and creative applications. It will receive €50k to prototype a real-time database of what politicians say and do, drawn from a wide range of sources. The goal is to increase transparency and give journalists better access to political information, in particular on niche topics, local politics, backbenchers and alternative local parties.

[Medium] Publico.es – Spain

With its Transparent Journalism Tool (TJ Tool) and funding of €208,500 from the DNI Innovation Fund, Publico.es will offer an open source application that gives readers behind-the-scenes access citizens to the newspaper’s editorial process, so they can trace the newsgathering and editing work in a radically transparent way. It will also provide the publisher with data about the cost of producing each story, with a view to monetizing more content via formats like micropayments.

[Large] Deutsche Welle – Germany

Deutsche Welle reports in 30 languages and reaches more than 135 million listeners around the world. Doing so cost-effectively is a major challenge. But with €437,500 from the DNI Innovation Fund, the German public broadcaster is building “news.bridge – Bridge the Language Barrier for News” a platform that integrates and enhances a mix of off-the-shelf tools for automated transcription, translation, voiceover and summarising of video and audio content in virtually any language.

[Large] WikiTribune – UK

WikiTribune, a news platform launched by Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, has been awarded €385,000 to scale its operations. It seeks to counter the proliferation of low quality news sources with fact-based, transparently sourced articles that are written by professional journalists and verified and improved by a community of volunteers. Like Wikipedia, it’s free, and ad free, but funded by supporters.

Since February 2016, we’ve evaluated more than 3,000 applications, carried out 748 interviews with project leaders, and offered 359 recipients in 29 countries a total of €73m. To mark this milestone, we’re hosting our first DNI Innovation Fund event today in Amsterdam, where 24 project teams that received funding in Round 1 or 2 will share details of their work and results to date.

We’re also publishing the Fund’s first annual report, which outlines the early impact of the projects funded so far. From startups to large newsrooms, at national and local news outlets, DNI-funded projects are embracing the opportunities of big data, blockchain technology and machine learning, evolving and reinventing everything from subscriptions and fact checking to video production and reader engagement.  These projects are helping shape the future of high-quality journalism—and some of them are already directly benefiting the European public today too.

Digital News Initiative Fund: Experiment, Innovate, Invent


Finally, we’re excited to announce that the application window for Round 4 of the DNI Innovation Fund will open in early September and will run for 30 days. Based on feedback from Round 3, we’ll be making a few changes to the application process, and we’ll be posting details to the digitalnewsinitiative.com website in the coming weeks.

Helping journalists tell stories with data

The Data Journalism Handbook, published in 2011, is considered the guidebook for telling stories with data. To ensure that journalists are up to speed on the latest data journalism practices, the Google News Lab is partnering with the the European Journalism Centre to launch a new version of the Data Journalism Handbook, which will be published in four languages next year.

The original handbook was born at a 48-hour workshop at MozFest 2011 in London, and became an international, collaborative effort involving dozens of data journalism’s leading advocates and best practitioners.

Over the past three years, the handbook has been digitally downloaded 150,000 times, and almost a million people have accessed the online version. But the world is changing, and so are the ways we use data to tell news stories. So this project is one of a series of initiatives by the data team at the Google News Lab to support data journalists and help them understand how to best incorporate technology into their work—you can find out more on our site. We’re also proud to partner with the European Journalism Centre on their mission to connect journalists with new ideas through initiatives like the News Impact Summits and the News Impact Academy.

On July 31, we will open a call for contributions. Later this year, around 50 authors and experts will join a Handbook Hack to create and edit content for the new edition. And you won’t have to wait long to start reading the new chapters: we’ll make them available online as they are completed. Check out the official site for the latest updates.

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