"But are those tech reps getting too much access to politicians and future leaders? Jed Kim talks with Daniel Stevens, executive director of the Campaign for Accountability, a nonprofit watchdog group in Washington, D.C. He asked him what's in it for the tech companies. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation."
On December 10, 2018, CfA released a new report, Quitting Google, showing it is virtually impossible to avoid Google’s omnipresent tracking despite the company’s claims that “competition is just a click away.” In conjunction with the report, CfA released a new browser extension that alerts users when Google products are tracking them online.
"And the Google Transparency Project, run by the non-profit Campaign for Accountability, and The Wall Street Journal have publicized the extravagant number of intellectual property law academics funded by Google in Europe and the Americas. According to the Journal’s reporting, for instance, Google has provided financing for hundreds of research papers defending it from regulatory incursion or other costs."
"The Campaign for Accountability, a nonprofit watchdog organization, released a report in August explaining companies such as Facebook and Google embed employees in political campaigns to inform campaign strategy."
On September 12, 2018, CfA Executive Director Daniel Stevens discussed Google’s influence in Washington with Tucker Carlson on his Fox News show, Tucker Carlson Tonight.
"Foreign propaganda from Russia and Iran spreading on Google's platform is also a concern for lawmakers. In July, Google rolled out stricter policies for political ads. Yet watchdog group Campaign for Accountability found it could still buy ads with a Google AdWords account it set up using the name and details of a notorious Russian propaganda group -- ads it paid for with rubles."
"'There's an empty chair next to you from Google, they're not here today. Maybe it's because they're arrogant,' said Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) blasting the search engine. Rubio then referenced a recent report showing how the group Campaign for Accountability was able to pose as the Russian troll farm Internet Research Agency and set up political advertising on Google’s ad network."
On Wednesday, September 5, 2018, the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee held a hearing on foreign influence campaigns' use of social media platforms. Several senators criticized Google for not attending the hearing, while Facebook and Twitter sent top executives. Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) cited CfA's research in their criticisms of Google, specifically CfA's successful effort to pose as a Russian troll farm to buy Google ads.
“Google has admitted it’s trying to stop this activity when it comes to issue ads but its clear there’s a huge gap in their policing of this content,” Stevens told BuzzFeed News. “It feels like a flagrant abdication of responsibility and it’s in-line with the trend we see from Google — they're very hesitant to crack down on things that are a threat to their business model.”
On September 4, 2018, CfA released a report documenting how CfA bought politically divisive ads on Google using Russian rubles and a Russian IP address. CfA posed as the infamous Russian troll farm, the Internet Research Agency (IRA), and bought ads using similar language and the same images that the IRA deployed during its 2016 influence campaign. The ads ran on major U.S. media websites and their YouTube channels.