A US WATCHDOG has accused Google of funding academic research to try to influence public opinion and policymakers.
Campaign for Accountability (CfA), a Washington-based non-profit that recently launched the Google Transparency Project, said in a report that the company has thrown money at research papers in the US and Europe that appear to support its business interests, covering topics including antitrust, privacy, net neutrality, patents, and copyright.
"Google uses its immense wealth and power to attempt to influence policymakers at every level," said Daniel Stevens, CfA executive director. "At a minimum, regulators should be aware that the allegedly independent legal and academic work on which they rely has been brought to them by Google."
CfA claims that 329 papers published between 2005 and 2017 on public policy matters relevant to Google were in "some way" funded by the company, and alleges that authors of the papers - who were paid between $5,000 and $400,000 - did not disclose the source of their funding in 66 per cent of all cases.
Google has been quick to deny the accusations, and has slammed the CfA's report as "highly misleading".
In a blog post, Google's director of public policy Leslie Miller said that the CfA had inflated numbers by attributing funding to Google when it actually came from associations to which Google.
She also said it was ironic that the CfA talked about transparency given that the watchdog's only known backer is Oracle.
"The irony of discussing disclosures and transparency with the Campaign for Accountability is that this group consistently refuses to name its corporate funders. And those backers won't 'fess up either," wrote Miller.
"The one funder the world does know about is Oracle, which is running a well-documented lobbying campaign against us. In its own name and through proxies, Oracle has funded many hundreds of articles, research papers, symposia and reports.
"Oracle is not alone. You can easily find similar activity by companies and organisations funded by our competitors, like AT&T, the MPAA, ICOMP, FairSearch and dozens more, including hundreds of pieces directly targeting Google." µ
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