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FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR

Reading the FOIA releases of the Andrew McLaughlin Emails II

Continuing from Part I, we are reading the emails of White House Deputy CTO Andrew McLaughlin to see if he’s been acting inappropriately as an agent of Google from his job working for the people.

Despite close cooperation with Google “evangelist” Vint Cerf, McLaughlin laughably claims on September 4 that “I keep a very strict line between myself and Google (and Googlers).” Clearly he only does so in public, where people can see.

Oh look, it’s Vint Cerf instructing Obama administration officials on September 15. He’s telling them that the administration and Google must “work out” the vetting of nominees for what appears to be the National Medal of Science. Why is Google vetting a national award? Were McLaughlin and other Google employees instrumental in getting Google that role? These questions need answered.

Another one for a laugh: On September 23, Cerf and McLaughlin share a laugh over This WSJ article calling out McLaughlin for possibly giving Google undue influence over the Obama administration’s Internet policy. Are they really that unaware of how bad this would look to an outsider?

At the end of September we get a couple of new names. J. Beckwith “Becky” Burr of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP was trying to set up meetings with McLaughlin as well as Susan Crawford of the National Economic Council. The topic appears to be FTC privacy regulations. It’s not immediately obvious from the emails, but this now could be a case of one of Google’s lawyers trying to influence the FTC. Burr, a known privacy lawyer who also works with the IGF-USA, counsels and represents clients before the FTC and has had Google as a client, per chambersandpartners.com.

It’s hard to know the specifics of what was going on between the FTC, Google, Becky Burr, and Andrew McLaughlin without being well-versed in the doings of the FTC, and probably having a law student plug in some Lexis searches. I’ve been following the FCC not the FTC, and have no law background, so I’m at the end of my rope here. I hope Darrell Issa can check into this.

And now back to Vint Cerf. If we had any doubt left as to whether Google is a cheerleader for Obama, we see Cerf and McLaughlin crowing about the President’s Nobel Peace Prize, and seriously comparing it with Secretary Chu’s which was earned with actual work. Again, nothing serious here, but it’s indicative of the mindset of these people involved. Google and Obama are sitting in a tree, as the schoolyard taunt goes.

But to close off the first batch of emails, and this second installment of my series on these emails, we see loomings of what’s to come. McLaughin forwards himself an email from Alan Davidson, Director of US Public Policy for Google, crowing about a joint statement from Verizon and Google about, you guessed it, Net Neutrality. It’s a public statement posted on Google’s Public Policy Blog, so no harm there, but McLaughlin was clearly interested in it.

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