An influential tech industry watchdog group that has received millions of dollars from Google has been silent on the internet giant’s recent fight to circumvent Federal Communications Commission restrictions on data collection.
The Center for Democracy and Technology, a consumer watchdog group with outsized influence in Washington, took in $2.5 million from Google between 2010 and 2014, according to tax records. The donations amounted to more than double the amount contributed by any other company during the same period.
Although the CDT has been a vocal critic of privacy infringements by internet companies, it has stayed out of a recent debate over Google’s data mining practices.
Critics argue that Google’s funding for the CDT and other industry watchdogs has essentially turned these groups into an extension of the company’s lobbying efforts and stifled debate about Google’s heavy reliance on data collection. They say the problem has become more obvious as Google fights against privacy regulations for its proposed set-top television box.
“Google spreads money around, not just to politicians, but also think tanks and watchdog groups,” said Anne Weismann, executive director of the Campaign for Accountability, a corporate ethics group. “Undoubtedly, this generosity tempers potential criticism.”
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