Mountain View Voice

News - January 28, 2011

Consumer group blasts Google in report

by Daniel DeBolt

In an investigative report released Monday, Consumer Watchdog takes aim at Mountain View based Google's relationship with the federal government.

The California-based group's report paints a picture of a federal government increasingly dependent on Google, which has over $40 million in government contracts, most of which are with the Pentagon. The report says many of the contracts were practically handed to Google or that Google was given unfair advantages, sometimes by officials who apparently support company. The Pentagon and security agencies seek sophisticated versions of Google Earth, while the Obama administration set the stage, allegedly unfairly to competitors, for Google's cloud computing applications to spread throughout federal agencies, despite "well-documented" privacy issues, the report said, quoting concerns from officials.

The consumer group calls for a congressional hearing on Google's relationship with the executive branch of the federal government in a Jan. 24 letter to U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa of Southern California. Issa is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The group wants Google's former CEO Eric Schmidt to testify under oath in a hearing on the various concerns.

The group also criticizes Google for the "Wi-spy" scandal in which Google's Street View cars recorded private data from wireless networks in dozens of countries.

"This is the largest wire-tapping scandal in world history by one of America's biggest and most powerful corporations, yet there has not been a single hearing on Capitol Hill," the group writes in the letter to Issa.

Also questioned is Google's secretive relationship with the National Security Administration, which has the power to force Google to give up the private information of its users.

A Google spokesperson would not answer specific questions about the report, but said, "this is just the latest in a long list of press stunts from an organization that admits to working closely with our competitors."

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