What’s that saying? Oh yeah-
“Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely”
Apparently, our “do no evil” company (Google), is turning to the dark side with the recent revelation that Bob Boorstin, Google’s director of policy communications, sent an email to a charity group (Rose Foundation) asking them not to donate funds to Consumer Watchdog, a patient’s rights advocacy organization that had accused Google last month of lobbying Congress for the right to sell patient’s medical records. Boorstin asked the Rose Foundation in the email to “consider whether there might be better groups in which to place your trust and resources.”
The Center for Digital Democracy chimed in on this as well, with executive director Jeff Chester stating-
“Google’s letter sends a strong message to the foundation world that they shouldn’t support groups that question the company.”
Associate director Lillie Coney of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) said she was “speechless” that Google would attempt to cut off a group’s funding. Um…yeah, no kidding.
This came to light when the Rose foundation replied to Boorstin’s request (demand, threat, whatever…) and CC’ed Consumer Watchdog President Jamie Court, who publicized it earlier this week. Boorstin (who worked as Clinton’s national security speechwriter, and was once a reporter for the New York Times) gave a half hearted apology for sending the email, prefaced with a long-winded comment about how Consumer Watchdog’s allegations are baseless and were only thrown out there to attract media attention. Google vehemently denied the claim on their corporate policy blog.
Hmmm….so Google’s brilliant solution was to strong arm or coerce a charity organization?!
I thought it would be interesting to see what else Boorstin has said in the past that may give us insight into how his mind works, and I came across this-a discussion from Bob about the effects of the internet on politics. Here’s just a FEW snippets of what he said, from June 2008:
- Internet means that anyone is free to publish the truth as they see it.
- The Internet offers new ways to break the monopoly on information…..faster and easier now to catch both politicians and governments when they make mistakes or try to cover things up – and hold them accountable.
- Users of the Internet – are not shy. Now about 113 million blogs. (wonder how many of those will be mentioning you this week.)
- The Internet has helped create new political voices and networks –Nowhere more clear than in the United States with the Obama campaign – fundraising, volunteers, and dissemination of message.
- trend – the Internet has created the potential for a fundamental shift in power.
- trend – one of the biggest impacts of the growth of the Internet is a loss of control among traditional institutions of power.
- and in the “Freedom of Expression as a Security Issue” workshop held in Paris at the UN Internet Governance Forum, November 2007 – Boorstin “stressed that his company always tries to maximize freedom of expression for all users…”
….except those that criticize us.(i said that.)
Read more about the story here: Publications Google Tries To Kibosh Funding Of Critic 02/25/2009