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Google Whacked For Political Secrecy

Official wants Eric Schmidt and company to be more open about electioneering activities.

Its supposed reversal on net neutrality isn't the only controversy dogging Google—now it's drawing heat for practices around campaign contributions.

New York City public advocate Bill de Blasio slammed the company on Thursday for using its treasury money to back candidates and for not fully disclosing direct and indirect contributions.

"You can find almost anything using Google, except for its own political spending," said de Blasio, who noted that most of the search giant's tech industry peers, including Dell, Microsoft, eBay, and Hewlett-Packard, have voluntarily adopted policies against using corporate treasury dollars for political purposes.

To promote his cause, de Blasio created an online video titled "Searching For Transparency," in which he slams Google's clandestine spending.

de Blasio's campaign comes in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling in January that overturned previous restrictions on corporate contributions to political campaigns. In light of the ruling, de Blasio wants companies to be transparent about where their dollars are going. He noted that Google spent $4 million on lobbying in 2009, 50 times the amount it spent in 2003.

"This increased spending comes as investigations by the Federal Trade Commission and Attorneys General from several states are raising questions about how Google may have improperly collected people's private information through their unsecured wireless networks while collecting data for its Street View feature," de Blasio's office said.

de Blasio is urging Congress to pass the Disclose Act, which would require companies to disclose their involvement political ads while prohibiting them from funding certain types of candidate promotions.

Google, meanwhile, continues to fend off criticism that it's reversed its long-time advocacy of network neutrality following a series of closed-doors meetings with Verizon.

Network neutrality advocates say all Internet traffic should be equal, while opponents say carriers should have the right to charge more for bandwidth-hogging content like movies and games and faster delivery speeds.

Google officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

 

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