Watchdog Demands Transparency on Google’s Million Dollar Lobbying

Tue, Feb 1, 2011 at 11:13 am

    Search Giant Comes Over All Shy, For Once

    Google has been called on to give greater transparency to its lobbying in Washington following its refusal to release details from a presentation that seeks to persuade governmental policy makers and regulators of its compliance to competitiveness rules.

    Consumer Watchdog, which describes itself as a nonprofit, nonpartisan, consumer advocacy organization, has called for the 89-page presentation, which will be shown during a forthcoming meeting, to be made public.

    Google has decided that instead of handing out slides as well as showing them, as is the norm,  it will allow people to view only on a Google-monitored, Google tracked shared drive so that the company is able to see who accesses the document, how long they spend reading, when, and even where.

    Anyone thinking that Google is coming across as a paranoid, totalitarian digital overlord is unlikely to have their fears quelled.  It was only last week that an English MP warned of a homogenised world of ‘Google-everything’ following earlier news that the search giant has a near monopoly on the search market.

    It is rather strange that, after the controversy of the Peeping Tom Road Tour that was the Wi-Spy scandal, Google is coming over all shy when the public wants to know.

    “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.”

    Last year Consumer Watchdog, as part of its Inside Google project, was able to obtain a leaked copy of the documents and then point out inaccuracies, but this time round Google is trying to be a bit more savvy with its information handling.

    “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.”

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

    TechEye has highlighted how the mega corp has been developing top level links with the UK government and listed Google’s ties with the US’ federal government.

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