Next week we will continue discussion of the Department of Justice [sic] ruling on 100% licensing and partial withdrawals from the songwriter’s point of view. Participants will be songwriters Michelle Lewis and Kay Hanley of Songwriters of North America, David Lowery and Chris Castle. Watch this space for links to the podcast when it is completed, probably August […]
Thanks to the Google Transparency Project, we know that Google’s capture of the Antitrust Division of the Justice [sic] Department is not just about Google’s hatred of the music business–we’re all just roadkill on the Information Superhighway.
That’s the important thing to remember–it’s not just us. Google is shamelessly using its lobbying clout in the White House to advance its corporate agenda. The question must be asked–why do they get away with it? What is the quid for the pro quo?
Google executives and nonprofits they funded dominated US delegation. Company maneuvered behind scenes with White House to derail State Department diplomatic effort
Newly-uncovered emails show Google used its deep connections in the Obama White House to mold U.S. policy at a United Nations-sponsored international telecommunications conference with big implications for its bottom line.
Before, during, and after the event, Google officials met and spoke with White House officials to coordinate their strategies for obtaining the company’s policy goals, the emails show. Behind the scenes, the company even pressed its contacts at the White House to quash an effort by the U.S. State Department to forge a compromise deal with other nations in defiance of the company’s wishes.
Google chairman Eric Schmidt — who had played an important role in President Obama’s re-election campaign the previous month — even called the office of Hillary Clinton, then-secretary of state, to lobby her on the issue.
On December 11, 2012, Google’s head of international relations, Ross LaJeunesse, emailed the White House internet advisor, David Edelman to express concern about the State Department and WCIT-12 delegate Ambassador Terry Kramer reaching a deal:
Edelman replied the next afternoon on December 12 2012: “I understand that Eric [Schmidt] personally called Secretary Clinton’s office, which was an impressive show of force.”
An hour later, LaJeunesse responded, “hey, i don’t mess around…”
The emails offer a rare glimpse inside a White House being heavily lobbied by a company with which it has unusually close relations. They offer more evidence of the cozy relationship between Google and the Obama White House, showing officials working in tandem with Google employees to secure Google’s preferred policy outcomes at the 2012 Dubai World Conference on International Telecommunications, or WCIT-12 for short.
Imagine what we would find if anyone could ever get access to Renata Hesse’s government emails?
Google’s influence machine extends beyond its courtship of politicians and government officials. A new analysis by Campaign for Accountability shows academics and experts funded by Google have played a major role at academic and government conferences, debating some of the company’s core issues, such as privacy and antitrust laws. Nearly all of them failed to disclose their financial ties to conference attendees. [Download this report as a PDF]
CfA compiled information on participants at three major policy conferences held this year about privacy and antitrust issues that ostensibly were organized to “bring together a diverse group of stakeholders.”[i] In fact, CfA found that many of the speakers at the conferences—arranged by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), George Mason University (GMU), and Princeton University—had financial ties to Google.
- More than half of the speakers at the FTC’s PrivacyCon (22 of 41) were funded by Google, either directly through grants or indirectly through their institutions.
- More than half of the research papers presented at PrivacyCon (11 of 19) had an author with financial ties to Google.[ii] Only one disclosed the Google funding.[iii]
- Four of five speakers at George Mason University’s panel on the global antitrust investigations of Google received funding from Google.[iv]
- Five of seven panelists at Princeton University’s broadband privacy workshop received support from Google.[v]
A review of the conferences found that the Google-funded academics are playing an outsized role in the debate over the US government’s policy on internet privacy, a rapidly evolving area and an existential issue for Google. They are also often at the epicenter of policy research on antitrust issues in the age of digital platforms, another issue in which Google has a major stake.
In June 2011, Google had a problem. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had opened multiple investigations into whether the tech giant illegally favored its own shopping and travel sites in search engine queries; restricted advertisers from running ads on competing sites; and copied rival search engines’ results.
To fight this threat, Google turned to a key third-party validator: academia, and in particular one university with a long history as an advocate for corporate interests.
From the beginning of the FTC investigation through the end of 2013, Google gave George Mason University’s Law and Economics Center (LEC) $762,000 in donations, confirmed by cancelled checks obtained in a public records request. In exchange, the LEC issued numerous studies supporting Google’s position that they committed no legal violations, and hosted conferences on the same issues where Google representatives suggested speakers and invitees.
A professor at George Mason and author of many pro-Google studies, Joshua Wright, even later became an FTC Commissioner.