Yes, when sleeping with the enemy is not enough, it’s time for fear and astroturfing in the UK. The resilient Andrew Orlowski writes in The Register (“Google Orders Spontaneous Support for Parliamentary Motion“) that a former staffer for UK Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and–wait for it–current Google employee sent an email “call to action” to leaders of the UK-based “consumer rights” groups Open Rights Group and Consumer Focus.
MTP readers and followers of Google’s influence on the UK government should not confuse the former staffer, Theo Bertram, with current UK Prime Minister’s aide Steve Hilton. No, no, not the same guy. Steve Hilton is married to Rachel Whetstone, Google’s Senior Vice President, Communications and Public Policy. Different, you see. One actually works for Google and gets the stock options directly, the other is married to someone who works for Google who gets the stock options by marriage. Thank goodness for that, it almost sounded like a conflict of interest there for a minute. Whew. (MTP readers may also remember the discovery of the Creative Commons 2008 Form 990 Schedule B with an interesting list of donors–that’s the Schedule B that these groups never ever ever disclose.)
So Mr. Not Steve Hilton apparently sent an email “call to action” to certain “consumer groups” that I’m so sure that neither Mr. Hilton nor his spouse nor anyone at No. 10 had any idea was going out:
…[T]o rally supporters behind a Parliamentary Early Day Motion in favour of the controversial Hargreaves Review into IP and Growth. Quickly dubbed the ‘Google Review’, the review was launched by Prime Minister David Cameron in November 2010 at Silicon Roundabout, where Cameron cited Google’s difficulties with UK copyright law as the cause for the review. The quote Cameron attributed to Google has never been found, and critics of the review have found the economic basis for the proposed changes to the UK’s copyright laws highly questionable.
Or as some might say complete…well, complete bunk.
So let’s see where this story goes. Good thing the rest of the British press is focused on the influence of an American multinational corporation on the country’s legislative process and screaming it from the headlines. You’d hate to think that only The Register was on the ball, right?
Remember, Mr. Bertram, Bobby put the cash in brown paper bags and he’s practically a saint. If you want to play that game, which you clearly seem to want, that’s how you get it done, son.