President Obama plans to appoint Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist to the National Science Board, the news organization Politico reported Wednesday afternoon.
The elevation of Vint Cerf, who has worked at the Internet behemoth since 2005, was announced Wednesday.
His appointment adds to the ranks of Google officials serving in advisory roles to the Obama administration.
Google’s Chairman, Eric Schmidt, has acted as a campaign and policy advisor to Obama, serving on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. He was also rumored to be a contender for the role of Treasury Secretary following Tim Geithner’s departure.
Links between Google and Obama also have a financial component, with Google employees having donated over $730,000 to the President’s re-election effort. The next-nearest recipient of Google dollars was Rep. Ron Paul, to whom Google personnel donated just over $40,000.
Google recently emerged from a Federal Trade Commission investigation with what some observers have charged was a remarkably light penalty, given what they view as the Obama administration’s general aggressiveness and hostility towards business. Conservative activist Phil Kerpen called the resolution of the matter “a disturbing triumph of Washington influence peddling, lobbying, and campaign politics. In a word: cronyism.”
In another FTC investigation, in which it was determined that Google had violated its users’ privacy in contravention of the terms of the company’s contract with users, the Internet behemoth also managed to have the FTC bar Google users adversely affected by Google’s actions from launching a class-action suit against the company for what critics charged was blatant spying.
Cerf’s position should not involve him in any future FTC matters. However, it will undoubtedly be read by many in Washington power circles as further evidence of coziness between the Obama administration and one of the country’s biggest and most controversial companies.