What a difference a year makes. This time last year, Celine Dion was still performing in Las Vegas, Jamie Lynn was the "good" Spears sister, and I was Time's reigning Person of the Year (you were too).
The holidays are a good time to look back on what the past 12 months have brought for Google's public policy efforts.
This blog is now a toddler
It's hard to believe that we took the wraps off this blog only six months ago. When we launched in June, our hope was to create a resource to inform policymakers -- as well as our users -- about our positions and efforts to keep the Internet a revolutionary medium for freedom and innovation. Since then we've welcomed tens of thousands of visitors each month, including folks from the House, Senate, FCC, and other agencies. For the curious, here were this year's most popular posts:
- What Do We Mean By "Net Neutrality"? (June 16)
- Eric Schmidt's summer of public policy (July 26)
- The promise of open platforms in the upcoming spectrum auction (July 10)
- Signs of real progress at the FCC (July 31)
- Candidates at Google: Barack Obama (November 15)
In what Newsweek called a "must-stop on the 2008 trail," eight (nine?) presidential candidates visited our headquarters in Mountain View, California: Senator Chris Dodd, Senator Barack Obama, Senator Mike Gravel, Representative Ron Paul, Senator John Edwards, Senator John McCain, Governor Bill Richardson, and Senator Hillary Clinton.
With the Iowa caucuses fast approaching and the 2008 election less than 11 months away, these visits allowed Googlers (and voters, via YouTube) to hear the candidates' thoughts on the war in Iraq, technology, immigration, trade, health care, and the most efficient methods for sorting one million 32-bit integers.
Issues, Issues, Issues
This year we were very proud of our efforts to promote changes in U.S. spectrum policy. We called for international privacy standards and took steps to further enhance privacy for our users. Patent reform moved forward, and we reminded people of the value of fair use. At year's end, we were gratified that the FTC approved our acquisition of DoubleClick with no conditions -- agreeing that the deal will help consumers and doesn't hurt competition. And, last but not least, we continued our work to keep the Internet free and open.
Debates, YouTube style
Democratic and Republican presidential candidates descended on Charleston and St. Pete, respectively, for the first-ever CNN/YouTube debates. Nearly 4.5 million viewers tuned in to the Republican debate, making it the most-watched primary debate in cable television history. More than 3,000 questions were submitted for the Democrats; over 5,000 for the Republicans. One Nebraska high school teacher even asked his students to submit questions as a homework assignment. And who said school was boring?
Googlers on the Hill
Four Googlers testified before Congress this year. YouTube's Chad Hurley talked about the future of online video. People Operations VP Laszlo Bock talked immigration. Chief Legal Officer David Drummond promoted our acquisition of DoubleClick, and JL Needham talked about our work to make federal government websites more searchable.
From all of us to all of you, best wishes for a happy holiday season. And stay tuned to this blog for much more in the new year.