Google is heavily integrated with the US White House, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange recently said, but analyst Daniel Castro told Radio Sputnik that although the tech giant’s relationship with Washington is at times “symbiotic” there is nothing “nefarious” about it.
Google has turned into a “traditional US state power,” Assange stated, pointing to the fact that the company’s former CEO Eric Schmidt is now heading the Pentagon innovation board. The whistleblower made the remarks at the International Media Forum “New Era of Journalism: Farewell to Mainstream.”
A report released by the Campaign for Accountability as part of its Google Transparency Project earlier this year appears to confirm that the company enjoys a special relationship with Washington. The non-profit examined White House visitor logs. Google’s top executives, employees and representatives of associated entities visited the White House 427 times from January 2009 through October 31, 2015.
The Campaign for Accountability focused on what it referred to as “intimate gatherings,” including one-one-one meetings between Google execs and key White House officials or small group meetings, as opposed to large-scale events like state dinners or conferences. The meetings covered “surprisingly wide” range of topics, including national security and foreign policy among other things.
“The company’s top ranks have enjoyed frequent and direct contact with the top echelons of the Obama White House,” the non-profit detailed, describing Google’s access to the Obama administration as “extraordinary.”
These finding prompted the Campaign for Accountability to question Obama’s commitment to limit the influence of lobbyists in his administration.
“While the lobbyists and industries they represent may have changed, the influence of one company, Google, has arguably only deepened during Obama’s eight years in office,” the non-profit asserted.
Some experts don’t think that the Silicon Valley giant used these meetings as a lobbying opportunity.
Google “does not have any unique influence within the White House or any particular campaign,” Daniel Castro noted, referring to Assange’s comments. The WikiLeaks founder also said that Google was directly engaged with Hillary Clinton’s elections campaign.
Vice President of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation maintained that the meetings were more about experience sharing.
“People look towards the companies like Google because of the fact that it is able to do things that are very challenging for other companies,” Castro noted. “They kind of look to this company as a way of” determining how they can become more innovative and how they can replicate Google’s success.
“I think this is where you see a sometimes symbiotic relationship, but it is not one that is in any way nefarious,” the analyst said. There is not a lot of evidence that Google has received special treatment from US leadership, he added.
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