This somehow flew under my radar last week. As you may have noticed, in spite of my constant use of Google, I don’t trust the guys as far as I can throw them. And they’re huge. I think in any other circumstance, the amount of “big brother” stigma that would follow these guys around would be palpable, especially on the left. But Google cares about rare species of birds, so free passes to be creepy all around.
Of course you don’t hear much out of the administration but praise either given the close working relationship they have with the search engine giant, but one thing no one can deny is that they are indeed a gigantic company with their fingers in seemingly every tech pie on earth.
As was the case with Microsoft and AT&T, this makes them ripe for antitrust scrutiny and the FTC predictably obliged by investigating Google. Merits of the FTC’s case aside, something fishy happened last April. Google contributed $25,000 to honor a government official. Coincidentally, the same government official investigating them: Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz.
“It’s a little bit odd that they’re donating to Common Sense Media at the exact same time they’re trying to influence Jon Leibowitz,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group. “It really looks terrible.”
Then, just to make sure that all of the conflict-of-interest comfiness was out in the open, the organization that Google donated to hired Leibowitz’s deputy as a lobbyist. I’m sure none of this means that access has increased for those involved.