Google is amassing huge amounts of personal user data while simultaneously accruing big-time political clout, a new report from Public Citizen confirms.
“” (pdf) looks at the ways Google is accumulating political power—through high-powered lobbying and sizable campaign donations—as well as massive amounts of personal information that make the company a “treasure trove for agencies like the NSA.”
“Google is becoming exponentially more powerful in federal and state governments,” said Sam Jewler, author of the report and communications officer for Public Citizen’s U.S. Chamber Watch. “At the same time, it’s pushing boundaries in technology, and it has shown that it can’t always be trusted to do the right thing with people’s information. When we see such massive influence, it raises the question, will regulators and lawmakers be reluctant to rein in Google?”
While the company admittedly provides popular and useful services, Jewler continued, its business model and “history of questionable practices indicate that, if left to its own devices, it may not always do what’s best for the public.”
The report states that Google “is becoming the most prolific political spender among corporations in the United States, while providing less transparency about its activities than many other of its politically active peers.”
Over the first three quarters of 2014, Google ranked first among all corporations in lobbying spending, according to OpenSecrets.org, and is on pace to spend $18.2 million on federal lobbying this year. In fact, it has spent $1 million more on lobbying than PhRMA, the trade association of the pharmaceutical industry. Since 2012, no company has spent more money on federal lobbying than Google.
In addition, the company’s political action committee (PAC) spent $1.61 million this year, according to Federal Election Commission records, surpassing PAC expenditures by Wall Street bank Goldman Sachs.
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