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Posts Tagged ‘Google Shills’

Must Read by @davidclowery: Google Doxx: Google Funded Groups in 2017 Illegal Doxxing of FCC Chairman — The Trichordist

July 13, 2019 Comments off

Editors note #1 – Over the last year, this blog has been reporting on Google’s apparent use of proxies in an attempt to intimidate members of the EU parliament into voting against the proposed EU Copyright Directive. The Copyright Directive requires social media platforms above a certain size to do more to counter copyright infringement […]

via Google Doxx: Google Funded Groups in 2017 Illegal Doxxing of FCC Chairman — The Trichordist

Silicon Valley “Nonprofits” are Back at the Class Action Trough

January 6, 2013 Comments off

The Facebook “Sponsored Stories” class action settlement has been finalized.  Silicon Valley watchers will  immediately look for the “cy pres” award, which is cash money paid out of the class action settlement to certain “nonprofits” approved by the court.  What we have come to know is that if there is a class action involving a tech company, especially in the Northern District of California (San Francisco), you can bet that the same names will appear to further “outreach” (is that what it’s called?).  The “Sponsored Stories” settlement tells us:

The not-for-profit entities that might receive payment under the Settlement are involved in educational outreach that teaches adults and children how to use social media technologies safely, or are involved in research of social media, with a focus on critical thinking around advertising and commercialization, and particularly with protecting the interests of children. They are: Center for Democracy and Technology, Electronic Frontier Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Joan Ganz Cooney Center, Berkman Center for Internet and Society (Harvard Law School), Information Law Institute (NYU Law School), Berkeley Center for Law and Technology (Berkeley Law School), Center for Internet and Society (Stanford Law School), High Tech Law Institute (Santa Clara University School of Law), Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood, Consumers Federation of America, Consumer Privacy Rights Fund, ConnectSafely.org, and WiredSafety.org.

As Fortune‘s Roger Parloff noted in his prescient article, “Google and Facebook’s New Tactic in Tech Wars“,  Google was called out for this practice in the Google Buzz class action in which it gave money to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology, the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, and Santa Clara University:

[The Electronic Privacy Information Center] and seven other privacy-focused nonprofits objected to their exclusion from the [Court’s initial award order] protesting that the plaintiffs lawyers and Google had, in effect, arranged to give the majority of those funds “to organizations that are currently paid by Google to lobby for or to consult for the company.” (The EFF, CDT, and CIS all reject that characterization of their relationship to Google. They aver, rather, their complete independence, and stress that any corporate donations they accept are “unrestricted” in nature — meaning that they come with no strings attached. [However, none of these groups objected to being characterized as lobbyists for Google at the time they got the Google money, or ever since to my knowledge.]) [My emphasis.]

[The Google Buzz judge] granted EPIC’s request, carving out a $500,000 tranche for it. (At the same time he spontaneously — without prompting from anyone — sliced off another $500,000 piece for an ethics center at Santa Clara University[.])

So as Mr. Parloff noted, certain policy shops get money directly from Big Tech and then they get even more in directed class action settlement payments (none of which was disclosed in the court ordered disclosure in the Oracle v. Google case:

[A]t least half of the [award] recipients in [the Google Buzz and Facebook class action] cases would very likely be getting at least some donations from Google or Facebook this year, whether or not any suit had ever been lodged against them. For instance, the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), which got $500,000 from the Google Buzz cy pres award in 2011, received $340,000 in voluntary contributions from Google the year before. It’s now slated to receive $1 million from the proposed Facebook award, though Facebook has been listed as one of CDT’s leading e-commerce benefactors since at least 2009. Similarly, the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford (CIS), which received $500,000 from the Google Buzz award, had collected $400,000 in voluntary contributions from Google the year before (which amounted to 51 percent of CIS’s total revenue that year). This year CIS will collect $600,000 from Facebook’s Sponsored Stories settlement, if approved. [Not to mention the $2 million that CIS got from Google during Professor Lessig’s tenure at CIS.]

As Andrew Orlowski asked after the Google Buzz payouts: “What do you do when a global corporation pays out millions to the watchdogs that we expect to protect us against it?”

If you are settling into your individual role in the Big Tech oligarchy (or what Eric Schmidt calls the “Gang of Four”) remember that the way the British established the Empire was through a series of steps.  First, they sent in the missionaries.

UPDATE:  Andrew Orlowski made an excellent point about a perversity in the payout structure of the “Sponsored Stories” settlement:

In an annoying loophole, even if all the class-action litigants claim their 10 bucks they still might not stop the payout to the cy-près beneficiaries… If TOO MANY people submit a claim form, and the “number of claims made renders it economically infeasible to pay money to persons who make a timely and valid claim”… then “payment will be made to the not-for-profit organizations identified in Section 7 of this Notice”.

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