[governance] Accountability group puts Google in same league as big oil and big tobacco

parminder parminder at itforchange.net
Thu Jul 13 06:21:41 EDT 2017

        Google has spent millions funding academic research in the US
        and Europe <https://www.theguardian.com/world/europe-news> to
        try to influence public opinion and policymakers, a watchdog has

        Over the last decade, Google has funded research papers that
        appear to support the technology company’s business interests
        and defend against regulatory challenges such as antitrust and
        anti-piracy, the US-based Campaign for Accountability (CfA)
        said in a report

        “Google uses its immense wealth and power to attempt to
        influence policymakers at every level,” said Daniel Stevens, CfA
        executive director.


        Academics were directly funded by Google in more than half of
        the cases and in the rest of the cases funded indirectly by
        groups or institutions supported by Google, the CfA said.
        Authors, who were paid between $5,000 and $400,000
        (£3,900-£310,000) by Google, did not disclose the source of
        their funding in 66% of all cases, and in 26% of those cases
        directly funded by Google, according to the report.


        “Whenever Google’s bad behaviour is exposed, it invariably
        points the finger at someone else,” said Stevens. “Instead of
        deflecting blame, Google should address its record of academic
        astroturfing, which puts it in the same league as big oil and
        big tobacco


As we know Google has recently been fined $ 2.7 billion for
anti-competitive practices by the EU regulator, which only means that in
all countries that are too weak to take on google (or benefit from its
profits, meaning the US) Google remains in violation of competition (and
many other) laws..... All this Google funded research and advocacy, of
dont regulate the Internet (read, Internet companies), are playing a
dangerous game, seriously compromising public interest.

It is time we declare the honeymoon of civil society and academic love
for digital global corporations over. They are today like big oil
companies -- no doubt the latter provide what is still the main energy
resource that keeps our societies ticking but in the bargain they very
often, and systemically, indulge in stuff that needs academics and NGOs
to be watching against. It is pretty difficult to undertake such
watching while taking considerable money from them. It is a simple
truism, but the digital sector tends to ignore it.


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