Google spent millions influencing academic research, according to watchdog

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"Googleplex", Google Headquarters, Mountain View, California.

The US-based Campaign for Accountability (CfA) has outed Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) for spending millions funding academic research in order to influence policies and public opinion.

For as long as the past ten years, the tech giant has been financing research in the US and Europe in order to sway private interests. According to Google, this report is “highly misleading”.

Daniel Stevens, the CfA executive director, said: “Google uses its immense wealth and power to attempt to influence policymakers at every level. At a minimum, regulators should be aware that the allegedly independent legal and academic work on which they rely has been brought to them by Google.”

Included in the list of research papers that Google may have influenced are institutions such as Stanford, Harvard, MIT, Oxford and Edinburgh.

The CfA identified 329 research papers published between 2005 and 2017 that were funded by Google, with hopes to sway public opinion.

According to the report, academics were directly funded between $5,000 and $400,000 by the tech company in more than half of the cases. The rest of the cases were funded by groups or institutions that are supported by Google.

“Our support for the principles underlying an open internet is shared by many academics and institutions who have a long history of undertaking research on these topics – across important areas like copyright, patents, and free expression,” said the director of public policy Leslie Miller. “We provide support to help them undertake further research, and to raise awareness of their ideas.”

Miller added that it was ironic of the CfA accusing the tech giant, when the CfA itself has not exposed many of its financial backers.

“Whenever Google’s bad behaviour is exposed, it invariably points the finger at someone else. Instead of deflecting blame, Google should address its record of academic astroturfing, which puts it in the same league as big oil and big tobacco.” said Stevens, from the CfA.

Google made the news yesterday for ducking a large fine from the French authorities surrounding tax.