Google critic ousted from Google-backed think tank

A scholar from a think tank that has received millions of dollars from Google says he was ousted because Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt was unhappy with his take on Google getting hit with an EU antitrust fine.

That’s what Barry Lynn, a senior fellow who led the New America Foundation’s Open Markets initiative, told the New York Times. But foundation President Anne-Marie Slaughter tweeted a statement Wednesday morning disputing that.

“Today’s New York Times story alleges that Google lobbied New America to expel the open markets program because of this press release,” she said. “I want to be clear: this claim is absolutely false.”

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The press release Slaughter referred to was published in June, after the European Commission levied a $2.7 billion fine against Google after concluding it favored its comparison-shopping service over others. Lynn congratulated European regulators.

“Google’s market power is one of the most critical challenges for competition policymakers in the world today,” Lynn wrote in a statement posted on New America’s website. And he didn’t stop there.

“We call upon U.S. enforcers, including the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice, and states attorneys general, to build upon this important precedent, both in respect to Google and to other dominant platform monopolists including Amazon,” he added.

Lynn’s Open Markets team has found other funding and will be spun out of the foundation, the Times reported. Slaughter said in her statement that she had been working for the past two months with Lynn to spin out the Open Markets initiative, but that “his repeated refusal to adhere to New America’s standards of openness and institutional collegiality” led to his termination. (The full statement is at the bottom of this post.)

Lynn, a journalist, is a prominent critic of monopolies. In February, he wrote a piece in the Atlantic titled “America’s Monopolies Are Holding Back the Economy.” In it, he blamed Google and Facebook for driving news publishers out of business because they account for 80 percent of ad revenue.

According to the New York Times, New America has received $21 million from Google, Schmidt and Schmidt’s foundation. New America’s website lists Google, Eric and Wendy Schmidt and the Schmidt Family Foundation among its $1 million-plus funders for 2016-2017, along with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Ford and others.

Schmidt was said to have complained about Lynn’s June post to Slaughter, who then told Lynn that he was “imperiling the institution as a whole,” the New York Times reported.

Lynn told the Times that “Google is very aggressive in throwing its money around Washington and Brussels, and then pulling the strings. People are so afraid of Google now.”

When reached Wednesday morning, Google spokeswoman Riva Sciuto sent the following statement: “We support hundreds of organizations that promote a free and open Internet, greater access to information, and increased opportunity. We don’t agree with every group 100% of the time, and while we sometimes respectfully disagree, we respect each group’s independence, personnel decisions, and policy perspectives.”

Much has been written about Google’s growing power and its ability to influence those who question its dominance. Last month, the Wall Street Journal reported that Google engages in stealth lobbying, in which it pays academics to write research papers that the company can use to try to fight against regulations that threaten it. That’s on top of the millions of dollars it spends on lobbying in Washington each quarter.

Back to the EU’s fine against Google: The company reportedly turned in its response Tuesday, the deadline to detail its proposal to end the behavior that the regulators found to violate antitrust law.



Photo by AFP/Getty Images


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  • hoapres

    Google announces today that all employees need to take the pledge

    I pledge of allegiance to the Google Logo, and to the search engine for which it stands, one world searchable by Google, divisible, with servitude and injustice for all.

  • hoapres

    Google should just be allowed to do whatever it wants in San Jose and let’s just dissolve the city government.

    If you live in San Jose then you are screwed because Google is taking it over. We may as well just let Google run everything including the city government because as we all know, Google can run San Jose better than the city government.