Google Accused Of Using US Congressmen To Lobby Against EU Antitrust Case

Editorial / Google / Tech

Politics is a dirty game and like it or not, all big companies play the game to their advantage. I use Google products, I like Google products, but it is plain to me that the company isn’t as clean as it would like to present itself. Does Google do a lot of good things? Of course they do. But they’re also involved in a lot of questionable activities that go against their “Don’t Be Evil” mantra. British news outlet The Guardian is revealing today that Google has been lobbying US congressmen to lobby for Google in the EU to get the antitrust case against them dropped.

An investigation by the Guardian into Google’s multifaceted lobbying campaign in Europe has uncovered fresh details of its activities and methods. Based on documents obtained under a freedom of information request and a series of interviews with EU officials, MEPs and Brussels lobbyists, the investigation has also found:

*Google’s co-founder and CEO Larry Page met the then European commission chief privately in California in spring 2014 and raised the antitrust case despite being warned by EU officials that it would be inappropriate to do so.

*Officials and lawmakers in Brussels say they have witnessed a significant expansion of Google lobbying efforts over the past 18 months as the company faces increased scrutiny of its business activities in Europe.

*Google has employed several former EU officials as in-house lobbyists, and has funded European thinktanks and university research favourable to its position as part of its broader campaign.

Both Democratic and Republican senators and congressmen have sent letters to the EU urging the dropping of the case against Google. The Guardian has copies of some of those letters which can be viewed below.

House of Reps

In another letter, the US House judiciary committee wrote to MEPs concerning the antitrust case against Google. The committee’s chairman, Bob Goodlatte, said the committee was “troubled to learn” some MEPs were “encouraging antitrust enforcement efforts that appear to be motivated by politics” that would ultimately undermine free markets.

Google has consistently donated to Goodlatte’s election campaigns, while members on the judiciary committee that he chairs collectively received more than $200,000 (£133,000) from the company during the 2014 election cycle.

Google declined to comment on the letters or its ties to the committee, including the fact one of its senior lawyers in Washington had joined the firm straight from the judiciary committee where he served as an antitrust counsel to its Republican members. A spokeswoman for the committee did not respond to the Guardian’s requests for comment.

It’s pretty clear that Google feels threatened by the EU case against them. Enlisting members of congress from both sides of the aisle speaks volumes. Of course there are two sides to the argument against Google: Are they really violating antitrust laws? Are they really so big that they’re controlling that much of the search market in the EU? The EU felt strongly enough about these issues to bring this case against the company. What this story confirms is Google’s money play in Washington and the influence they hold over both parties. There’s nothing inherently bad about lobbying in Washington, that’s what politics is, but when companies make it seem they’re above that then use the same tactics to pull themselves out of a bind. It stinks. You can read the full Guardian investigation at the link below.

  Source: The Guardian
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