Hockenberry: Y'know, we described this set of disclosures of various government's requests of Google to limit or change or possibly disclose information to the governments, as evidence of a pretty historic encounter between a multinational corporation and the nation states of the world. Do you at Google see it that way, to the extent that maybe you even have your own foreign policy?
Wong: I don't know that I would describe it as a foreign policy, the tool that we launched recently, which does in fact show around the world for... from Google's perspective the types of requests we've received from governments to either remove data or ask for user information. We've actually been talking about this for over a year about how to be more transparent with users about what government activity is going on in terms of the internet. And so, for us, this was really about transparency for users, transparency really for global policy makers. To think about how we are governing what is a global platform.
Hockenberry: And you're trying to be neutral as you project this transparency and respond to these decisions, but I’m wondering how you categorize them. A takedown order from, y'know, Mr. Joe Citizen who's offended by something they see on YouTube, a takedown request from a company which says no, that's libel, or intellectual property infringement, and a government which says, "we have a takedown request." I mean, is the government's request different, is it an international incident compared with some of these others or is it all customer service as far as you're concerned?
Wong: I think it depends very much on the nature of the takedown request, and you're right, this page that we launched is really very focused on what is the government action, but in some cases really, what the government brings to our attention, they bring it almost just like a user. So they may be sending us a request that says "Hey, there's some content up there which is pornography" or it might be hate speech, and it may well violate the policies of our product anyway, and so just like any user we would take that down. It' is only when the request that comes from the government actually... the content is in line with our policies, doesn't violate any U.S. laws, and so we need to do a more narrow analysis on whether it violates the law in that country and whether we are bound by that law.
Hockenberry: On the China situation the issue was raised, okay, if freedom of speech comes in conflict with the actual business model at Google, at least, the corporation would have us believe, we go down on the side of Freedom of Speech. Is that really true?
Wong: It is... it is because it's very consistent with our mission, which is to make the world's information universally accessible and useful. And I have to say that, in leaving China we did so with some regret because we really believed that we made great progress in the four years that we were there. We were the first search engine in China to actually include a notice when we had to remove results because of Government requirements, and that transparency for users is now an industry standard in China and we think that's great. We also... I was recently reading a survey that was done by the journal, Nature, that said that in a poll among scientists in China, over 80% of them were using Google because Google was a comprehensive index for them to do the kind of research they wanted to do. And so, I really do feel like we made a great deal of progress. Having said that, our experience, particularly in the last year, was that there was a trajectory of increased censorship that was no longer consistent with our ability to do business in accordance with our mission and our principles.
Hockenberry: Well, you describe the business model of Google and also this sense of developing standards, the ubiquity of Google, of course, is part of the reason you are developing these standards as you proceed down this path, are you comfortable with being the author of a lot of these standards, are you worried at Google that the whole thing's going to be re-written by governments at some point in the future and that everything you've done will be part of the early days of this sort of internet epic that we're in?
Wong: I do feel that we are in the early days, if you think about the history of major media like print or radio or TV...
Hockenberry: We've heard of those.
Wong: (Laughing) ...we're only about 12 years into the history of the internet, right? So this is early days, and I think our hope as a company is that we are an active participant in how we shape the future. I do hope that more companies and governments come to the table to have this discussion. As you can see from that map that we launched this week, there are so many players trying to decide what can other folks say on the internet, and we... if we are going to continue as a platform that is globally available, and I think that's the real promise of the internet, is to have a communications platform for people across the world, then we actually as a global society have to come to terms with how we'll deal with each other.
Hockenberry: Well then, Nicole Wong, Vice President of Google, I wonder if you're personally frustrated by the sort of politics associated with this new Supreme Court nomination that's coming up, focused on again, abortion and litmus tests and all of these politics when maybe, the questions should be all about this domain of international law?
Wong: Oh I think that we have to deal with this at many levels. Obviously, I hope that a wise choice is made for our own government...
Hockenberry: So what would you ask the nominee?
Wong: That's a great question. I guess ... I’m not sure that the nominee necessarily has to have a view on the global politics of this; I do think that the nominee's perspective on the free flow of information is an important one.
Hockenberry: You would endorse free flow of information, open-source, and law in that domain, as opposed to the other?
Wong: For the U.S. Supreme Court that's probably the reach of their jurisdiction.
Hockenberry: Alright - I thank you for indulging me there to push you into taking a position for the company but we understand the issue is certainly significant to the company regardless of where you actually come down on a nominee. Nicole Wong, thank you so much.