Google Accused Of Funding Researchers To Provide Evidence That Defends Its Interests

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Google's links with and support for academia and research are well known, but over the last few days there have been suggestions that this connection is not so altruistic.The Wall Street Journal and the Campaign for Accountability have claimed that the Mountain View Corporation has used its influence and money to produce research that supports its research and policy goals.

The Wall Street Journal, which is part of Rupert Murdoch's media corporation, accused more than a dozen academics of having accepted money from Google, without disclosing it. In a report for the Google Transparency Project, the Campaign for Accountability discovered 329 research papers on policy that were directly or indirectly funded by Google. The report claims that 26 percent of the academics directly funded by Google did not disclose this fact.

“The 329 Google-funded articles that we identified were cited nearly 6,000 times in more than 4,700 unique articles. Overall, our analysis suggests that Google is using its sponsorship of academic research, not to advance knowledge and understanding, but as an extension of its public relations and influence machine,” claims the report.

It didn’t take Google long to reply to the accusations. Director of public policy, Leslie Miller, calls the report highly misleading. She cites how the report links to Google any work supported by any organization that Google belongs or has ever donated vto, with the Computer & Communication Industry Association cited as an example.

Google points out how several researchers singled out by the Campaign for Accountability actually wrote papers criticizing themes like antitrust, net neutrality, and privacy.

Miller also argues that the company has strict requirements when it comes to disclosure of their funding and the policy program is available online for people to see the lobbying activities by Google on federal and state governments. The availability of the record, she claims, shows how transparent the company is.

“The irony of discussing disclosures and transparency with the “Campaign for Accountability” is that this group consistently refuses to name its corporate funders,” Miller writes in a blog post.

“We’re proud of our programs and their integrity. The “Campaign for Accountability” and its funders are, clearly, not proud of theirs.”

One of the known funders of the Campaign for Accountability is Oracle, which at the time the project started was in a legal dispute with Google that ultimately ruled in favor of the Mountain View company.

Campaign for Accountability executive director, Daniel Stevens, has released a statement in response to Miller’s post, doubling down on the accusations, however, it doesn't really address any of the points Miller has raised.


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