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While the Tour de France may just have completed its final lap around the Champs Elysees, our Maps team continues to pedal ahead at top speed. Want to avoid that brutal Mountain Stage while you’re cycling to work? The latest version of Google Maps for Android update puts elevations in bike directions, so you can arrive with leg muscles intact.

We first added biking directions three years ago to our maps for a number of countries in Europe, from Austria to the United Kingdom. It proved to be a popular feature among cycling amateurs and enthusiasts and we’ve expanded the product to cover almost the entire continent. Enthusiastic users have added hundreds of kilometers of biking paths through Google Mapmaker.

We’re also innovating before you hop onto the bicycle. Do you sometimes get a sudden urge for a pizza or a banana split? The improved GoogleMaps for desktop lets you click and drag to measure your next road trip, bike ride or run—even if you’re taking a few sharp turns.

Oh, and what about the Tour de France? With the race over, you might want to relive its high moments, visiting the routes the riders took up the same mountains with StreetView, starting in Saint-Étienne and climbing into the Alps to finish at Chamrousse. And if you want to say au revoir to Le Tour de France, look below, or click on an EarthView on the Champs Élysées.


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Twenty five years ago, the historic World War II codebreaking center Bletchley Park faced demolition.  We have supported its restoration, culminating in last month’s opening of Block C by the Duchess of Cambridge. Her grandmother Valerie Glassborow worked as a duty officer and managed the interception of enemy signals for decryption at Bletchley.
Photos copyright Shaun Armstrong
Now reborn as one of England’s most evocative museums, Bletchley Park is a fitting place of pilgrimage for both history and technology fans alike. The extraordinary code-breaking feats that took place in its spartan wooden huts were crucial to the Allied victory, and helped lay the foundations for the computer age. We were honoured to have been invited to create this new film for the visitors centre:


Bletchley Park is where Alan Turing’s theories were first put into practice, in the Bombe machines used to break Enigma, operated by women like 93 year old veteran and grandmother of one of our colleagues in Google London, Jean Valentine. It was also home to Colossus, the world’s first electronic programmable computer.

As important as what was achieved at Bletchley Park are the lessons we can learn from the way it was done.

Bletchley Park was a melting pot of brilliant minds set free by an atmosphere of tolerance. Societal norms were swept aside because of extreme need and circumstances. What mattered was what a person could do — not their gender, sexual orientation, religion, national origin or any supposed eccentricity. By removing these artificial constraints, Bletchley Park brought out the best in the fullest range of talent.

In this sense, Bletchley’s codebreaking success came not in spite of people’s differences, but because of them. It’s a compelling role model for the power of diversity that resonates still today.

Overall, at Bletchley Park thousands of talented people, more than half women, made heroic contributions that were kept secret until the 1970s. To borrow Keira Knightley’s line playing code breaker Joan Clarke in upcoming movie “The Imitation Game”: “Sometimes it’s the people who no one imagines anything of, who do the things no one can imagine.”

Google has long championed saving Bletchley Park together with Dr. Sue Black, Stephen Fry, Sir John Scarlett and many others. We’ve donated money, hosted events, created videos to help preserve and promote its story, including this . But nothing beats the experience of visiting this hallowed place in person — it’s just 45 minutes by train from London Euston — do go if you can. We promise you will be inspired by these technical heroes and early founders of our industry.

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Václav Havel was a playwright, essayist, poet, philosopher - and also a politician, first a leading anti-communist dissident and then president of Czechoslovakia. A new exhibit on this remarkable man just has been launched on our Cultural Institute. It shows the interior of his quirky, personalised office, full of brightly colored furniture and modern art, and recounts the trajectory of his remarkable life.
Vaclav Havel's quirky office
The new Havel exhibit is only one of a slew of new exhibitions celebrating Czech culture. Until now, the Culture Institute featured only two Czech galleries, the Kampa Museum and the National Gallery. Nine new Czech museums and organizations from all around the country have joined, bringing together up to 500 art works. Two new high definition gigapixel pictures are featured, including Jiri Sopko’s spectacular Dance. In addition to Havel, the life of the first Czechoslovak President Tomas Garrigue Masaryk is featured.
Tomas Garrigue Masaryk
Enjoy the exhibitions from the other Czech partner museums:


Along with the new Czech museum exhibits, we also launched new Street View imagery, including interiors of museums. Our launch event took place in the Decorative Arts Museum’s library.
The entrance to the Decorative Arts Museum Library
Launching the new exhibits
The venue will be closed soon due to reconstruction of its historical building - but it will remain visible and visitable online.

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At a time when racism is on the rise in Europe, reportedly reaching its worst level since the 1980s, it is more more important than ever to stand up against scapegoating of migrants and minorities. Two initiatives highlight our commitment to tolerance.

In Germany, we kicked off a new edition this month of the YouTube 361 Grad Respekt combating social exclusion and (cyber-)bullying. This YouTube youth competition runs five video camps across the country, helping students script and shoot videos. You can also participate from home using a webcam or make a video with your smartphone or tablet. Tell us all what makes you strong, talk about your experiences, give others courage, and inspire and motivate them to submit their own statement about showing more respect. Share the video and upload here.


Submissions from the five video camps will be presented one by one on www.youtube.de/361grad until September. Keep checking the channel. After only two days live, the site had received more than 500,000 views!

In Hungary, we’re well into our second year of an exciting program called WeAreOpen. It’s rallying cry is: "Being open is not only the right thing to do, but it's also worth it." To date, more than 750 companies, communities and organisations, big and small, have signed up in support. This year’s version launched in March with a social media campaign to counter hate speech. Musicians, actors, celebrities, and Internet users (including students, doctors and teachers) shared their own experiences, taking a stand against prejudice, showing support for Roma, lesbians, gays, Jews and handicapped. Their videos have received more than 200,000 views on YouTube.

At July’s Budapest Pride march, WeAreOpen supplied an army of colorful balloons and invited everyone to join. The march was live streamed the on YouTube and more than 20,000 watched it live.

This year's WeAreOpen 2014 features research from the Gemius consulting firm about diversity and tolerance at the workplace. It found that more than half of Hungarian employees have already encountered negative discrimination.

The virus of hatred, unfortunately, will not vanish. 361 Grad Respekt, WeAreOpen and many more initiatives promoting tolerance are urgently needed.

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On Sunday, Germany won their fourth world championship, and, over the course of the last month, the world watched them do it—in Brazil, in bars and living rooms around the world, on their phones and laptops and tablets. This World Cup was the most digital, most connected, and most searched global event we've seen to date. There were more than 2.1 billion tournament-related searches on Google, many of which we shared on our trends hub.

Looking at the trends from each match, you’ll see some topics that you’d expect to catch the world’s attention, such as top players and highly-anticipated matches. But who would have guessed that there were 10x more searches in the U.S. for the World Cup than for the NBA Playoffs? Or that Clint Dempsey, American soccer star who also has a rap single, had 2x more search interest than Jay-Z? Or that after Ángel di María's divine goal against Switzerland, he netted 4x more global searches than his fellow countryman, Pope Francis?


Mexico’s Guillermo Ochoa was the most searched goalie in the tournament, but Tim Howard’s heroics could hardly be forgotten. German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer not only snagged third place in search, but took home the 2014 Golden Glove award and a World Cup championship to boot.



The Germany vs. Brazil semifinal was the most searched match throughout the tournament, leaving many people around the world asking, “What is the biggest win in World Cup history?” Meanwhile, some countries were ready to move on to the next opportunity: after the third place game, Brazilians searched more for “World Cup 2018” than for the final game between Argentina and Germany.



No World Cup would be complete without a few surprises—and the creative people of the web were ready to weigh in. Uruguay's Luis Suarez was the most searched player meme, and at the time of the Uruguay-Italy game, there were 20x more searches globally for “Suarez Bite” than for snake, spider, tick, fly, dog and mosquito bites combined.

And if a search Dream Team was created, you’d see these 11 players strutting their stuff on the field. While German star Mario Götze didn’t make this list, he was a favorite on search. Even before his goal won it all in the final, he attracted 4x more search attention than Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen, who presented Germany with the championship trophy.

Beyond the impressive stats on the field, we’ve got some numbers of our own to share:

Our team watched 107+ hours of football (we didn’t even need a water break!) and spent 250+ hours bringing you regular insights from our first ever World Cup trends hub. We hope you enjoyed the excitement of the tournament as much as we did, and for more trends, visit google.com/worldcup or check out our Google+ album.

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In May, the Court of Justice of the European Union established a “right to be forgotten." Today, we published an op-ed by David Drummond, senior vice president of corporate development and chief legal officer, in the U.K.'s The Guardian, Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, France's Le Figaro and Spain's El Pais, discussing the ruling and our response. We're republishing the op-ed in full below. -Ed.

When you search online, there’s an unwritten assumption that you’ll get an instant answer, as well as additional information if you need to dig deeper. This is all possible because of two decades worth of investment and innovation by many different companies. Today, however, search engines across Europe face a new challenge—one we’ve had just two months to get our heads around. That challenge is figuring out what information we must deliberately omit from our results, following a new ruling from the European Court of Justice.

In the past we’ve restricted the removals we make from search to a very short list. It includes information deemed illegal by a court, such as defamation, pirated content (once we’re notified by the rights holder), malware, personal information such as bank details, child sexual abuse imagery and other things prohibited by local law (like material that glorifies Nazism in Germany).

We’ve taken this approach because, as article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

But the European Court 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. These are, of course, very vague and subjective tests. The court also decided that search engines don’t qualify for a “journalistic exception.” This means that The Guardian could have an article on its website about an individual that’s perfectly legal, but we might not legally be able to show links to it in our results when you search for that person’s name. It’s a bit like saying the book can stay in the library, it just cannot be included in the library’s card catalogue.

It’s for these reasons that we disagree with the ruling. That said, we obviously respect the court’s authority and are doing our very best to comply quickly and responsibly. It’s a huge task as we’ve had over 70,000 take-down requests covering 250,000 webpages since May. So we now have a team of people individually reviewing each application, in most cases with limited information and almost no context.

The examples we’ve seen so far highlight the difficult value judgments search engines and European society now face: former politicians wanting posts removed that criticize their policies in office; serious, violent criminals asking for articles about their crimes to be deleted; bad reviews for professionals like architects and teachers; comments that people have written themselves (and now regret). In each case, someone wants the information hidden, while others might argue it should be out in the open.

When it comes to determining what’s in the the public interest, we’re taking into account a number of factors. These include whether: the information relates to a politician, celebrity, or other public figure; if the material comes from a reputable news source, and how recent it is; whether it involves political speech; questions of professional conduct that might be relevant to consumers; the involvement of criminal convictions that are not yet “spent”; and if the information is being published by a government. But these will always be difficult and debatable judgments.

We’re also doing our best to be transparent about removals: for example, we’re informing websites when one of their pages has been removed. But we cannot be specific about why we have removed the information because that could violate the individual’s privacy rights under the court's decision.

Of course, only two months in, our process is still very much a work in progress. It’s why we incorrectly removed links to some articles last week (they have since been reinstated). But the good news is that the ongoing, active debate that’s happening will inform the development of our principles, policies and practices—in particular about how to balance one person’s right to privacy with another’s right to know.

That’s why we've also set up an advisory council of experts, the final membership of which we're announcing today. These external experts from the worlds of academia, the media, data protection, civil society and the tech sector are serving as independent advisors to Google. The council will be asking for evidence and recommendations from different groups, and will hold public meetings this autumn across Europe to examine these issues more deeply. Its public report will include recommendations for particularly difficult removal requests (like criminal convictions); thoughts on the implications of the court’s decision for European Internet users, news publishers, search engines and others; and procedural steps that could improve accountability and transparency for websites and citizens.

The issues here at stake are important and difficult, but we’re committed to complying with the court’s decision. Indeed it's hard not to empathize with some of the requests we've seen—from the man who asked that we not show a news article saying he had been questioned in connection with a crime (he’s able to demonstrate that he was never charged) to the mother who requested that we remove news articles for her daughter’s name as she had been the victim of abuse. It’s a complex issue, with no easy answers. So a robust debate is both welcome and necessary, as, on this issue at least, no search engine has an instant or perfect answer.

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Wander through the excellent Science Museum in London, and you’ll see inventions that transformed history. Like Puffing Billy, one of the world’s first steam locomotives; or Charles Babbage’s difference engine, a Victorian predecessor to the modern computer; or penicillin, the wonder drug that revolutionized the treatment of disease. These marvels from the past still influence our lives today, and are tangible examples of how fearless exploration and entrepreneurship can literally change the world.

To help support the next generation of European entrepreneurs, today Google Ventures is launching a new venture fund, with initial funding of $100 million. Our goal is simple: we want to invest in the best ideas from the best European entrepreneurs, and help them bring those ideas to life.

When we launched Google Ventures in 2009, we set out to be a very different type of venture fund. Startups need more than just capital to succeed: they also benefit from engineering support, design expertise, and guidance with recruiting, marketing and product management. Five years later, we’re working with more than 250 portfolio companies, tackling challenges across a host of industries. For example, the team at Flatiron Health is improving the way doctors and patients approach cancer care, SynapDx is developing a blood test for the early detection of Autism in children, and Clean Power Finance is making solar energy affordable for homeowners.

We believe Europe’s startup scene has enormous potential. We’ve seen compelling new companies emerge from places like London, Paris, Berlin, the Nordic region and beyond—SoundCloud, Spotify, Supercell and many others.

We can’t predict the kinds of inventions the Science Museum might showcase 10+ years from now, but we do know European startups will be essential to this future, and we can’t wait to see what they create.