Archive for February 2016

Tech Giants Take the Reigns

Google may like to portray itself has a garage-based startup that took flight through non-conformist work ethics and an altruistic devotion to the spreading of knowledge. To some extent, the company has certainly contributed to the wealth of technological advancements the have changed the lives of the underprivileged.

That said, the company has started to become somewhat all-powerful, and it’s worrying a lot of citizens during an election cycle focused on the unjust campaign finance systems that make our democracy feel a lot like an oligarchy, as Bernie Sanders says.

The Center for Responsive Politics recently released that Google spent more money on federal lobbying than any other company since 2012, and that 34 senators and 128 members of the House of Representatives had received a total of almost $300,000 in campaign contributions from the wealthy tech mogul.

tech g2A civil society organization known as Public Citizen warned last November that Google was “amazing greater political power than ever,” after it opened a White-House-sized office in Washington D.C. According to PC, Google ranked first among all corporations in lobbying spending over the first three quarters of 2014 and invested¬†a whopping $18.2 million on federal lobbying in 2015, meaning it invested even more than the powerful trade association of the pharmaceutical industry.

PC states that Google has hired or retained 102 lobbyists since 2014, 81 of which previously held government jobs.

“Meanwhile, a steady stream of Google employees has been appointed to high-ranking government jobs- an individuation of the company’s growing influence in national affairs.”

The revolving door between Google and the US Government is certainly concerning. “Where Google stops and the government starts is hard to tell. They’re backers of Barack Obama and it’s well known in Washington how it’s done,” an antitrust lawyer based in Washington commented. “I’ve heard instances of Google calling the White House to say they’re unhappy about appointments. They don’t just buy off politicians; they buy off the ecosystem, including advocacy groups and think tanks.”¬†Obama famously appointed Megan Smith as chief technology officer last year; Smith is a former vice-president of Google.

According to the Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division’s research director Taylor Lincoln, “Google has essentially responded to concerns about its practices by saying, ‘Just trust us.’ But Google is gaining so much power that regulators may find it difficult to act if it turns out that the public’s trust has been misplaced.”

google v euA lot of controversy regarding Google’s role in the US government boiled over in reaction to the Guardian’s revelation that Google pressured a number of senators and House of Rep members to discourage prominent MEPs in Europe from moving forward in their considerations to break up Google’s online business into separate companies.

Court said of this year’s election: “Google leant their analytics and voter reach to Obama and they’re doing the same to Hillary Clinton. When you control the greatest technology on earth to reach people, Democrats want to be your friends.”

Google’s offering of unrivaled campaigning technology led Precursor president of research Scott Cleland to make the following statement: “The Google influence machine is one we’ve never seen before. It’s the first dominant company in the internet age.”