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Consumer Watchdog Calls On Google To End Secrecy As Lobbying Hits $5.2 Million

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Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 2:10 pm

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Consumer Watchdog Calls On Google To End Secrecy As Lobbying Hits $5.2 Million

SANTA MONICA, CA — Consumer Watchdog today called on Google to end the secrecy surrounding its lobbying efforts in Washington after the Internet giant refused to release an 89-page presentation it is showing to policymakers and regulators in the nation’s capital.

The call came as the Internet giant’s lobbying spending soared to $5.2 million in 2010 from $4.03 million in 2009.

“Google hypocritically calls for openness and transparency for everyone else, but refuses to hold itself to the same standard,” said John M. Simpson, director of Consumer Watchdog’s Inside Google project. “I asked for a copy of the presentation and was refused.”

Google apparently is keeping tight control of who sees its latest propaganda presentation, which tries to make the case that its practices are not anticompetitive. Instead of handing out the slides or emailing them, it is hosting the presentation on a Google-monitored, Google-tracked share drive so that Google executives can see who accesses the document, how long they spend reading it, and when, and even where.

Last year when whistleblowers provided Consumer Watchdog with Google slide decks, the group was able to make them public and point out the inaccuracies.  Apparently, Google doesn’t want Consumer Watchdog – or others – to point out once more where the company may be misleading people.

“Obviously Google is afraid of debate,” said Simpson. “In Google’s world, you only get the ‘truth’ Google wants to give you, when and how and where Google wants to give it to you. Transparency applies to everyone else.”

Consumer Watchdog called on any courageous whistleblower who obtains access the 89-page document to share it with the the nonprofit, nonpartisan group so it can be made public.

Last week Consumer Watchdog released a satirical video lampooning CEO Eric Schmidt’s privacy gaffes to underscore the need for Congressional hearings in to the Wi-Spy scandal, in which Google’s Street View cars gathered private data from wireless networks in 30 countries. The video is available on the Internet here:

Consumer Watchdog has been working to protect consumers’ online privacy rights and educate them about the issues through its Inside Google Project. The goal has been to convince Google of the social and economic importance of giving consumers control over their online lives. By persuading Google, the Internet’s leading company, to adopt adequate guarantees, its policies could become the gold standard for privacy for the industry, potentially improving the performance of the entire online sector.

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Consumer Watchdog, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization with offices in Washington, DC and Santa Monica, Ca.  Consumer Watchdog’s website is Visit our new Google Privacy and Accountability Project website:

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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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