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Chairman's statement

When the UK first proposed a high level event on the Internet, the initial agenda emphased cybercrime. Instead, the London Conference on Cyberspace in the Queen Elizabeth Conference Hall over the past two days focused on the net’s liberating power.

Representatives of 60 nations gathered. The guest list included many champions of freedom of expression - both government officials and on-the-ground activists. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, Yemeni blogger Atiaf Al-Wazir, and Estonian President Toomas Ilves stressed how the Internet promotes freedom, allowing the individual to speak out in new, powerful ways.

The Estonian President recounted how his country suffered a massive cyberattack in 2007. Instead of responding by shutting down the net, he encouraged his country to strengthen its embrace of the digital world. Estonians last year used the Internet to cast their ballots in parliamentary elections.

Much of the talk at the conference centered on the Net’s economic benefits. On the screens in the main hall, slides showed figures from the Boston Consulting Group’s Internet impact study showing that the digital economy now accounts for 7% of the UK’s GDP and is predicted to rise to 10% by 2015. Full disclosure: Google sponsored these reports. Separately, McKinsey presented a new report on the impact of the Internet on economic growth.

Of course, the conference also discussed the challenges of Internet security. A day before the conference opened, the intelligence agency GCHQ warned that cyberattacks on the UK were at "disturbing" levels.

But UK Foreign Minister William Hague spoke out foremost about freedom. “Nothing would be more fatal or self-defeating than the heavy hand of state control on the Internet, which only thrives because of the talent of individuals and of industry within an open market for ideas and innovation," he said. Hague warned against “state-imposed barriers to trade, commerce and the free flow of information and ideas”.

The UK conference organisers plan to hold follow-up meetings. “We will develop into the 'London Agenda' - an inclusive and focused approach to help us realise the enormous potential cyberspace offers for a more prosperous, safe and open networked world," the UK Foreign Minister concluded. At Google, we are hopeful that supporters of a free and open Internet will continue to speak out.

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The Internet has brought about great changes in the way people think about and access information, entertainment and news. This has also meant significant changes in how information is produced, not least in the news industry, which in recent years, has faced significant financial pressures as traditional business models evolve with technological advances.

Google is committed to partnering with news organisations and developing new technologies that support journalism and quality content online. In February of this year, we launched One Pass, a tool that enables publishers to charge for their material online or in mobile apps and manage subscriptions. Google News is a constantly evolving product which gives publishers control over their content, drives users to their sites and enables them to experiment with new ways of earning revenue.

On September 29th at 18:00, Madhav Chinnappa, head of Google’s strategic partnerships with European news publishers, will be in Brussels for a special news-focused Google TechTalk. He’ll give his vision of how online news is developing - and outline how Google is working with the news industry as it transitions to the digital world. We look forward to seeing you there!

Madhav Chinnappa joined Google in 2010 to focus on Google News in Europe as part of the Google Strategic Partnerships team. Madhav has worked in the news industry since 1994 - first in the launch team of Associated Press Television (APTV), then in M&A at United News & Media. He subsequently spent over 9 years at BBC News, most recently as Head of Business Development & Rights.

When: Thursday, September 29th 18.00-19.30 CET
Where: Google Brussels | Chaussée d'Etterbeek 180 | 1040 Brussels [Map]
Registration: Sign up here
Need another reason to come? There will be delicious, Googley refreshments

About our Tech Talks: Ever wondered how exactly Google is tackling the big technology problems that the online world faces? Want to take a look behind the curtain of our engineering operations and learn from the people who actually work on the Google products and services day-in, day-out? Here's your chance: The Google Brussels TechTalks.