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Google’s Economic Report Is Self-Serving Hype, Consumer Watchdog Says

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Tue, May 25, 2010 at 12:42 pm

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Google’s Economic Report Is Self-Serving Hype, Consumer Watchdog Says

‘Don’t-Be-Evil’ Company Following Classic Corporate Playbook To Deal With Critics

SANTA MONICA, CA — Google, the self-proclaimed “don’t-be-evil” company, is following the classic corporate evil-doer’s playbook as it attempts to quell worldwide outrage over the WiSpy scandal, Consumer Watchdog said today.

The Internet giant’s new report claiming that it generated $54 billion in economic activity last year in the United States, is an an example of classic corporate PR spin to divert justified criticism, Consumer Watchdog said.

“This is what every big corporation does when they are under fire,” said John M. Simpson, consumer advocate with the nonpartisan, nonprofit group. “They divert attention from their wrongdoing and spin a story about their contributions.”

Consumer Watchdog said Google’s economic report relies on cooked accounting that only counts benefits while factoring in none of the very real costs Google places on society.

“What’s the economic cost to the content providers whose material is grabbed without payment or the competitor whose listing is banished to the nether regions of results because of Google’s monopolistic control of search?” asked Simpson. “What’s the cost on society to maintain Google’s extensive network of energy-eating server farms?”

Consumer Watchdog said a meaningful economic report would involve an honest accounting of Google’s net impact with all benefits minus all costs. The report was issued as investigations into WiSpy — in which Google Street View cars gathered communications from private WiFi networks in 30 countries — continued to mount.

Meanwhile, in an effort to focus attention on Google’s activities and make the company more transparent, Consumer Watchdog has launched a new Website, http://InsideGoogle.com, as part of the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization’s Google Privacy and Accountability Project. “We want to open up the black box,” said Simpson.

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Consumer Watchdog, formerly the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is a nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization with offices in Washington, DC and Santa Monica, Ca.  Consumer Watchdog’s website is www.consumerwatchdog.org. Visit our new Google Privacy and Accountability Project website: http://InsideGoogle.com

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This post was written by:

John M. Simpson

- who has written 361 posts on Inside Google.

John M. Simpson is a leading voice on technological privacy and stem cell research issues. His investigations this year of Google’s online privacy practices and book publishing agreements triggered intense media scrutiny and federal interest in the online giant’s business practices. His critique of patents on human embryonic stem cells has been key to expanding the ability of American scientists to conduct stem cell research. He has ensured that California’s taxpayer-funded stem cell research will lead to broadly accessible and affordable medicine and not just government-subsidized profiteering. Prior to joining Consumer Watchdog in 2005, he was executive editor of Tribune Media Services International, a syndication company. Before that, he was deputy editor of USA Today and editor of its international edition. Simpson taught journalism a Dublin City University in Ireland, and consulted for The Irish Times and The Gleaner in Jamaica. He served as president of the World Editors Forum. He holds a B.A. in philosophy from Harpur College of SUNY Binghamton and was a Gannett Fellow at the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies at the University of Hawaii. He has an M.A. in Communication Management from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication.

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