November 16, 2014

Some facts Google doesn't pop up on your screen

Public Citizen A new Public Citizen report, “Mission Creep-y,” explores Google’s accruing power, both in terms of personal data collection, and federal and state government influence, raising the question of whether it could become too powerful to be held accountable.

Key findings about Google’s growing political power:
  • Over the first three quarters of 2014, Google ranked first among all corporations in lobbying spending, according to, and is on pace to spend $18.2 million on federal lobbying this year. In fact, it has spent $1 million more on lobbying than PhRMA, the powerful trade association of the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Since 2012, no company has spent more money on federal lobbying than Google.
  • Of 102 lobbyists the company has hired or retained in 2014, 81 previously held government jobs. Meanwhile, a steady stream of Google employees has been appointed to high-ranking government jobs – an indication of the company’s growing influence in national affairs.
  • Google’s political action committee spent $1.61 million this year, according to Federal Election Commission records. That surpasses, for the first time, PAC expenditures by Wall Street bank Goldman Sachs.
  • Google funds about 140 trade associations and other nonprofits across the ideological spectrum – including some working in issue areas relevant to Google’s practices on privacy, political spending, antitrust and more.
Key findings about Google’s information gathering:
  • Along with its ongoing development of revolutionary new technologies such as Google Glass and self-driving cars, Google spent more money on acquisitions than Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp., Facebook, Amazon and Yahoo combined in 2012 and 2013. New technologies acquired by Google allow it to collect information from the air, inside the home, people’s bodies, and more.
  • Next to Google, according to privacy experts, only the NSA may have more information about more people. Google’s mass collection of information makes it a treasure trove for agencies such as the NSA — to which it is legally bound to satisfy most information requests — and to hackers and rogue employees.
  • Google has come under scrutiny from the Federal Trade Commission on several occasions, including racking up the commission’s largest civil penalty ever, $22.5 million, in a settlement over Google bypassing Safari browser settings to track users.
  • A recent survey by Survata found that Americans are more concerned about Google’s information-collection practices than those of the U.S. National Security Agency

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