By Quandary Peak Research
In April 2016, the Campaign for Accountability (CfA) launched the Google Transparency Project (GTP), aimed at creating an online resource for the public to explore the relationship between Google and the government—and the impact of this relationship on American lives. In a statement, CfA Executive Director Anne Weisman said, “Google has long been a strong advocate of transparency in government, business, and even users’ private lives. It has not, however, been transparent about its own dealings with the government.” While other issues targeted by the CfA appear to have a more industry-wide spotlight, the Google Transparency Project focuses specifically on Google’s relationship with the government and its influence on public policy.
Major reports released by the GTP thus far examine the scope of Google’s access to the White House during Obama’s presidency as well as the suggested ‘revolving door’ shared between Google employees and those of the White House. Data compiled in the reports is accessible for public review and is accompanied by analysis from the CfA.
On the surface, this effort seems like it would be cut-and-dry in the public’s interest. Google is the second largest company in the world by market capitalization (second only to Apple Inc.), and it spent over $16 million on lobbying in 2014. Not a meaningful number to Google, but certainty a meaningful number in the lobbying world. $16 million in 2014 puts Google just below Comcast and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America in lobbying dollars spent.
Knowing what goes on in the lobbying world and between government and business is critical, but the GTP has a transparency problem of its own. As Fortune’s Jeff John Roberts noted back in April, “The folks running the Google Transparency Project won’t say who is paying for it, which is odd […]