According to a report by the Campaign for Accountability, Google has paid researchers that produced papers and projects painting Google in a positive light, including at least one who did not disclose that he had received any funding from them.
Paul Heald, a professor from the University of Illinois, was only one out of “more than a dozen” who had accepted money from Google, according to the report published in the Wall Street Journal. It is unclear at this time whether the payments had any tangible effect on any of the academic’s results. One potential reason for the funding would be to help sway court decisions in Google’s favor — with “expert analysis” to back them up, Google could perhaps try to wriggle its way out of costly legal battles and fines, such as the recent record $2.7 billion fine handed down by the European Union in an anti-trust case.
Google told CNBC that they have “maintained strong relations with universities and research institutes,” ever since it was created from the minds of ex-students of Stanford’s Computer Science Department, and that they have “always valued their independence and integrity.” They went on to explain that they are “happy to support academic researchers across computer science and policy topics, including copyright, free expression and surveillance, and to help amplify voices that support the principles of an open internet.”
In a blog post, Leslie Miller, Google’s director of public policy, addressed the charges put against the company:
Today the Campaign for Accountability released a report about our funding of academic research. It claims to list hundreds of papers we’ve “in some way funded.” The report is highly misleading. For example, the report attributes to Google any work that was supported by any organization to which we belong or have ever donated (such as CCIA)…
[Moreover], the researchers and institutions to whom we award research grants will often publish research with which we disagree. In fact, many of the academics listed by the Campaign for Accountability have criticized Google and our policy positions heavily on a variety of topics.
Miller went on to suggest that perhaps the Campaign for Aaccountability was not the most reliable of sources when it came to analyzing Google’s work:
The irony of discussing disclosures and transparency with the “Campaign for Accountability” is that this group consistently refuses to name its corporate funders. And those backers won’t ‘fess up either. The one funder the world does know about is Oracle, which is running a well-documented lobbying campaign against us… Oracle is not alone—you can easily find similar activity by companies and organizations funded by our competitors, like AT&T, the MPAA, ICOMP, FairSearch and dozens more; including hundreds of pieces directly targeting Google. We’re proud of our programs and their integrity. The “Campaign for Accountability” and its funders are, clearly, not proud of theirs.