Via InsideGoogle.com I've come across the Andrew McLaughlin emails released via FOIA requests (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3). I'd meant to make a 5 part series of my reading through them for signs that McLaughlin was inappropriately acting as an agent of Google from his job as White House CTO (which is an accusation that Darrell Issa is not letting drop quietly, internal slap on the write to McLaughlin or not, and is in fact expanding beyond McLaughlin). This will be a four part series this week though. We're starting on Tuesday instead of Monday because life got in the way. Unlike some of my opposition, my advocacy on technical matters is not funded.
Anyway, let's begin.
We find early on in Part I that McLaughlin was receiving contact initiated by Google's Vint Cerf and copied to two other Google individuals. Cerf is an Google employee and paid to be an "evangelist." I guess that's what you want to call a lobbyist when you don't want it to sound like anything Barack Obama ran against. This first contact I'm seeing was on July 28, 2009, which McLaughlin agreed to follow up with that afternoon, even sending his mobile phone number to Cerf to use in addition to his office number. Cerf wanted to talk about ICANN.
A few short months after the exchange with Cerf, the Commerce Department published an MoU with ICANN [Link Fixed - NS] declaring a plan to transfer more power over the Internet's DNS system from our government to ICANN. Google has been active in the DNS space, most notably with its public DNS service, which is probably worth its cost to them in data mining opportunities.
On August 13, interestingly enough Cerf appears again in McLaughlin's inbox, promoting a need for "innovation journalism," a concept promoted by David Nordfors at Stanford. Cerf claimed was necessary to do things like promote specific political agendas: "An uninformed democracy leads to poor quality decisions, especially those put into the hands of the public. Some of the raucus [sic] debates about health care reform can be traced to misinformation, disinformation, urban legends, and a variety of other information impairments, by way of example.... it seems to me that you, collectively, represent some of the best minds in the Obama administration who are grappling explicitly or implicity with the role of innovation in American society and might find it informative to learn more about David's program at Stanford." So Google is lobbying the White House to alter journalism in America? Why, that sounds just like the agenda of the neo-Marxists at Free Press. Fascinating.
Cerf seems to actively keep McLaughlin informed about his priorities, because shortly after he's also pinging McLaughlin about the Internet Governance Forum, which Cerf wanted to support in direct opposition to the (Red) Chinese government, an entity Google has had its own disputes with recently.
And wow, on August 16 McLaughlin hints (with Cerf's "that would be SOOOOOOO nice!" approval) that the US Government under Obama (for "8 years" in opposition to "the past 8", getting ahead of ourselves are we?) would show "engagement, appreciation, respect, and vigor" toward ICANN and the IGF. Global governance of the Internet where previously there was US guardianship of freedom. Google asks for it, and McLaughlin delivered.
I hope Darrell Issa looks into the role Google has with the IGF, how it influenced the decision to farm out more control of the DNS system to ICANN, and whether it is proper for the White House CTO to be working so closely with Google on these matters.