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

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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:

John M. Simpson
John M. Simpson
John M. Simpson is an American consumer rights advocate and former journalist. Since 2005, he has worked for Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan nonprofit public interest group, as the lead researcher on Inside Google, the group's effort to educate the public about Google's dominance over the internet and the need for greater online privacy.

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