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Consumer Watchdog Sends Issa’s Oversight Committee Google Report Showing Inappropriate Relationship with Obama Administration

Calls For Hearings And CEO Schmidt To Testify Under Oath

SANTA MONICA, Calif. Jan. 24, 2011 Darrell Issa

Caribbean Eric Schmidt Cannes

Eric Schmidt

Jamie Court John M. Simpson

"An investigation by the committee of Google’s relationship to the Administration is particularly timely now in light of the way the Federal Trade Commission closed its probe of the Wi-Spy incident, and the Department of Justice’s current review of the pending acquisition of ITA Software."

Read the full report here:

http://insidegoogle.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/GOOGGovfinal012411.pdf

Read the letter to Rep. Issa here:

http://insidegoogle.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/LtrIssa012411final.pdf

Lost in the Cloud: Google and the U.S. Government,

  • Google’s close ties with the Obama White House have raised concerns about possible special treatment or conflicts of interest at the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, the Federal Communications Commission and NASA.
  • Officials at both DHS and the FCC have raised pointed concerns about weak privacy protections in Google products and whether Google’s well-documented difficulties with privacy protection could create big problems for federal agencies that use its services. Nonetheless no-bid contracts have been given to Google.
  • A secretive relationship with the National Security Agency. The search giant has a legitimate need to cooperate with the government’s mammoth and secretive code breaking agency in its efforts to defend the integrity of US computer networks. But NSA also has legal power to force Google to hand over the private information of its users. How Google executives handle this potentially conflicted relationship is largely unknown: neither Google nor the NSA are talking.

One of the most visible signs of Google’s clout, the report said, is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Moffett Airfield, near Google’s world headquarters. When a deal between NASA and top Google executives to use the base was first disclosed in 2007, it called for only four jets to use the base.

But newly released government records show that the Google executive fleet has now grown to six jets and two helicopters, while at least 40 Google employees hold security badges at the base and all of the planes are supplied with Department of Defense jet fuel.

While the deal was originally struck between Google and NASA in the name of scientific research by the Google fleet, NASA documents show that precious little research has occurred. According to a set of emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, a fighter jet bought by Google executives in 2008 to perform the research was still being reviewed for air-worthiness in mid-2010.

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"Our report only reveals only part of the picture," said the letter to Issa asking for an investigation. "The House Oversight & Government Reform Committee has subpoena power if necessary. We urge you to use all the tools at the committee’s disposal to reveal the extent of Google’s influence on the government and how the Internet giant has unfairly benefited."

Consumer Watchdog’s letter also noted:

"Several executive agencies have responded in a severely guarded and limited fashion to Freedom of Information Act requests on significant issues involving Google that the public deserves to know more about.

"In addition, there has been insufficient federal action on Google’s ‘Wi-Spy’ debacle in which its Street View cars gathered private data from Wi-Fi networks in more than 30 countries.

Eric Schmidt

Consumer Watchdog has been working to protect consumers’ online privacy rights and educate them about the issues through its Inside Google Project. The goal has been to convince Google of the social and economic importance of giving consumers control over their online lives. By persuading Google, the Internet’s leading company, to adopt adequate guarantees, its policies could become the gold standard for privacy for the industry, potentially improving the performance of the entire online sector.

Consumer Watchdog Washington, DC Santa Monica, Ca. www.consumerwatchdog.org . Visit our Inside Google Project Website at http://insidegoogle.com .

SOURCE Consumer Watchdog

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