Questions Raised Over Google’s Government Access

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Newspapers have suggested that Google could have too much influence with the British Government

The relationship between the search engine giant Google and the British government has been questioned by the Sunday Times newspaper.

The newspaper used a Freedom of Information request to discover that Google has managed to  secure more than 20 meetings in the last year with senior politicians.

This reportedly includes the likes of Prime Minister David Cameron and the Chancellor George Osborne, as well as Downing Street advisers including Steve Hilton.

Hilton is director of strategy for David Cameron and is also married to a senior Google executive.

Multiple Contacts

Meanwhile according to the Daily Telegraph, Communications Minister Ed Vaizey also apparently arranged a meeting between Mid-Bedfordshire MP Nadine Dorries and Google, to discuss allegedly illegal content in a website that attacked her competence.

Google’s Chairman Eric Schmidt, is also a member of the Prime Minister’s Advisory Council where he acts as an adviser on business to the UK government. This is despite the fact that Google has been accused of allegedly avoiding £3 billion in taxes in the UK.

The Times reportedly asked Google about the frequency of its meetings with the UK government which it said amounted to unfair access.

Google responded with the following statement. “We talk to governments around the world whenever a proposed legislation would affect our users.”

Copyright Changes

This refers of course to the proposed legislation put forward in the Hargreaves Report, which was published in May. That report said the UK’s IP framework is unsuitable for the digital age and must be updated.

Google is apparently backing the revising of the UK’s copyright laws and those regulations governing intellectual property. It is also said to be campaigning for a “fair use” approach, although this was rejected by the Hargreaves review.

Google meanwhile has faced pressure in the past after it was accused of occupying a virtual monopoly position in the search engine sector.

In April 2010 for example, the Consumer Watchdog asked the US Department of Justice to sue Google and suggested it should break up Google into several companies.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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