Home > Uncategorized > Mission Creep-y: @Public_Citizen Report Shows Google Uses Its Data Dominance to Become the Most Politically Powerful Corporation in the World

Mission Creep-y: @Public_Citizen Report Shows Google Uses Its Data Dominance to Become the Most Politically Powerful Corporation in the World

November 13, 2014

The venerable Public Citizen organization has released a very scary report about Google’s political contributions and influence called “Mission Creep-y: Google Is Quietly Becoming One of the Nation’s Most Powerful Political Forces While Expanding Its Information-Collection Empire”  (get a free copy here).

The mind boggling amount of data that Google collects on anyone who touches their services from YouTube to search, Gmail to Google+, Google Apps for Education to Nest can easily be turned to Google’s advantage and the advantage of any candidate the company chooses to back.  And as the report proves, Google’s “soft power” allows it to influence elected officials–“Google’s soft power allows it to have its way with policy makers and other elites.”

Political spending is just one way Google influences policy makers. Another is through what has been termed “soft” power.327 Through having employees enter high positions in the federal government, hosting events for elites, and funding and supporting a diverse array of non-profits, Google accrues influence in ways that are much less visible and less regulated than through conventional lobbying and electioneering expenditures.

The phenomenon of former government employees becoming lobbyist for industries and businesses is commonly called the “revolving door.” Somewhat less publicized is the “reverse revolving door,” in which industry officials take positions in the government. These positions are typically in the highest echelons of government, often for relatively short-term appointed positions.

Many of the White House’s most prominent tech-related positions in recent years have been filled by former Google executives and employees.

As we noted in “Government Capture and Google’s Crony Capitalism Assault on America,” the list of Google employees in the executive branch is long and distinguished.  Here’s a handful:

President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology: Eric Schmidt (call sign “Uncle Sugar”)

Director of Google Ideas (and co-author with Uncle Sugar of The New Digital Age): Jared Cohen (formerly a member of the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff and as an advisor to Condoleezza Rice and later Hillary Clinton).

Director of United States Patent and Trademark Office: Michelle Lee (formerly Google’s Head of Patents and Patent Strategy)

U.S. Chief Technology Officer: Megan Smith (formerly at Google[x])

Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer: Alexander Macgillivray (formerly Google’s point man on orphan works)

Director of Google Advanced Technology and Projects Group: Regina Dugan (former director of DARPA)

Director of U.S. Digital Service aka savior of Healthcare.gov (in case you couldn’t tell): Mikey Dickerson (former Site Reliability Manager at Google)

Special Assistant to Chairman, FCC: Sagar Doshi (Google Product Specialist)

YouTube Global Communications and Public Affairs Manager:  Chelsea Maugham (former U.S. State Dept. Chief of Staff)

Google Lobbyist: Katherine Oyama (former Associate Counsel to Vice President Joseph Biden)

Google Head of Global Development Initiatives: Sonal Shah (Advisory Board Member, Obama-Biden Transition Project)

Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer (White House): Nicole Wong (former Google Vice President & Deputy General Counsel)

And then there are dozens if not hundreds of former Hill staffers now working for Google’s DC shillery.

How does Google get away with it?

Google also has been adding to its soft power by courting influential national figures, such as by hosting an elite, unpublicized Google conference at a Sicilian resort, nicknamed by “the Davos of the summer” by a reporter for The New York Times. Google declined to comment to the Times on the exclusive summit, also known as “the Camp,” which attracted executives from politically active companies like Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Spanish banking giant Santander, as well as prominent members of the media, including Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington, and investors and technology luminaries.

Google also earns a kind of soft political power from the nonprofits it funds through in- kind donations in the form of advertising, customized YouTube channels and website analytics, as well as funding fellowships for the groups.

This is a very well written and researched report by a highly credible organization that has devoted itself to the public interest for a very long time (since 1971).  Public Citizen doesn’t participate in political activities or endorse candidates, accepts no government or corporate money and relies on funding from a 300,000 membership and foundation grants.
I strongly recommend that anyone in the music business that touches Google read at least one section: Combining User Information Collected by Different Products.  It is through combining data harvested from all of Google’s products including search and YouTube that Google has achieved data dominance–control over so much data that no one can catch up to them.  And Google’s privacy policy expressly allows them to do it and the policy applies to all Google products.

One of those products is YouTube.  If you do business with YouTube, drive traffic to YouTube or post videos on YouTube or embed videos from YouTube then you are helping Google create data profiles on your fans including children.  Data profiles they combine with other data on those individuals collected from other places.

If you participate in Google’s Music Key product, then not only will they collect this data from users, they will be able to tie it to credit cards, mobile phones or Google accounts and combine that with all the other data it has collected on these individuals and identify them by name.

Face it–this is way beyond beyond “boxers or briefs.”  It’s way beyond letting MTV build a business on our backs. How much more dangerous do these people have to get before you wake up?

Think about that.

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