On Thursday night, President Barack Obama managed to secure what many of his colleagues were not: face time with Google CEO, Eric Schmidt.
Consumer Watchdog, one of the more harshest critics of Google’s dominance on the Internet, said it was “inappropriate” for the president to meet Schmidt in private while the search engine giant is being scrutinized by various U.S. government departments.
“The president ought not meet behind closed doors with business leaders like this,” said Consumer Watchdog director John Simpson. “There should, at a minimum, be a pool of reporters present.” he said.
“Given the state of the economy, I’m concerned whenever any business leaders have special access to the President.”
On Wednesday, Google and Yahoo failed to appear before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on website seizure options. Following the hearing, the Senate is expected to pass a bill that would make search engines responsible for censoring search results and advertisements from websites selling pirated goods. The bill would also empower the Department of Justice to order ISPs, search engines, online ad networks, and others to shut down such “rogue” websites, reports say. Google’s absence from the hearing was widely criticized.
But the Senate isn’t the only group questioning Google’s practices. The search giant is also being reviewed by the Department of Justice for its proposed $700 million acquisition of ITA, which the travel industry fears will create a monopoly.
And then there’s the Wi-Spy controversy. This week Senators John Barrow (D-Ga.) and Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) wrote a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski urging the agency to investigate Google’s ‘Wi-Spying’ incidents. Last spring, Google Streetview Cars were caught collecting unauthorized data over unencrypted Wi-Fi networks in the U.K. Government agencies and browser companies proposed a Do Not Track bill in December which would allow consumers to opt out of being tracked online for advertising purposes.