back to article Revealed: The revolving door between Google and the US govt – in pictures

A new project to uncover the symbiotic relationship between Google and the US government has uncovered some mind-boggling details. The Campaign for Accountability (CFA) this week launched the first two of its Google Transparency Projects. One of the projects – a visualisation of the revolving door between Google, the White …

  1. Tromos
    Joke

    Don't worry.

    President Trump will build a Washington wall to keep Google out.

    1. Chika

      Re: Don't worry.

      No doubt, but who will pay for it?

      1. Richard Parkin

        Re: Don't worry.

        Google will pay for it and for the doors through it.

  2. Wolfclaw

    So basically, big business, with Google at its head, effectively run the US Of A$$ and tell Obumface what to do to ensure they make massive profits. Anybody surprised ???

  3. h4rm0ny

    Democracy... The very best that money can buy!

    I would guess that a lot of the people going from government TO Google are receiving rewards for favourable actions whilst in government. That's the way it works with Oil and Health Insurance.

    Sergey Brin, how are you feeling these days?

  4. paulc
    Meh

    Microsoft? Apple?

    Why pick on Google, they're all at it...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Microsoft? Apple?

      "Why pick on Google, they're all at it..."

      Doubtless.

      But did the others ever say, at a corporate level, "do no evil" (or "don't be evil")?

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Microsoft? Apple?

        Apple spends far less money lobbying than Google does, and there has been almost no revolving door between Apple and government like there with Google. Microsoft spends more than Apple but less than Google (despite having undergone that whole FTC suit back in the 90s, which is the only reason they started lobbying the government at all) and has seen a bit more revolving door but still nothing compared to Google's.

        A much better comparison to Google's lobbying spend and revolving door is Goldman Sachs.

        1. Bullseyed

          Re: Microsoft? Apple?

          Most of Apple's workers are in Foxconn sweatshops. Not likely to transfer to government. That is the difference between IT and marketing.

          How many Apple folks have become Mad Men? Probably quite a few.

      2. Bullseyed

        Re: Microsoft? Apple?

        Shocking "the government" "Google" are both big companies. You could do the same chart with Google and GE or Google and GM or Google and Apple or Google and Amazon and see lots of people moving all over.

        The number of companies that oversee databases as huge as the ones Google runs are fairly limited. Ergo, there will be a relatively small circle of companies competing for the same resources. For example, one of the leaders on the Microsoft side for their CRM not that long ago quit and went to Salesforce. I'm sure at least one person has quit Salesforce for Microsoft, or Oracle, or SAP, etc.

      3. Yes Me Silver badge

        Re: Microsoft? Apple?

        And why does having a meeting with a government official say ANYTHING about whether the meeting was intended to cause evil, prevent evil, or had nothing to do with evil?

        Why is it odd, or even vaguely odd, that a large and successful company often meets with officials? It would be extremely odd if they didn't.

    2. vgrig_us

      Re: Microsoft? Apple?

      @paulc - "Why pick on Google?" - because this is Orlowski article. Want more balanced view? Look elsewhere.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And I would have got away with it, if not for this meddling EU

    We need to brexit, so that we too can enjoy the freedoms promoted by Google, and its fake grassroots organizations.

  6. Cuddles Silver badge

    former Google staff occupy key posts in areas essential to Google’s

    People with expertise in an area continue to work in that area. Amazing.

    There's absolutely nothing mind-boggling in any way here, since all the information completely lacks context. OK, 22 people who used to work for the White House now work for Google. How many government staff are there in total? How many now work for other companies? What time scale are we looking at anyway? Without some idea of both the scale and how this compares to other companies this is just a meaningless jumble of numbers.

    Of course, some of those numbers are easily available. For example, Google has in the region of 50,000 employees. Over the last decade that means they must have had something like 70-100k in total, depending on churn. And we're supposed to worry that just 60 of them now work in government roles? The government being one of the largest employers in the country, with an obvious need for the same skills and knowledge that tech companies need. I wouldn't be in any way surprised or concerned if that number was an order of magnitude higher.

    Or what about those 5 ex-Google employees who now work at the state department. That would be the state department with 69,000 employees? And only 5 used to work at Google? And we're supposed to be somehow shocked and worried about this? Oh, sorry, that's not actually 5 ex-Google staff anyway, but 5 people who might have had some association with Google at some point including maybe having worked for a law firm used by Google in some capacity.

    And that "associated in some capacity" is even more relevant for the other direction. 171 staff haven't actually left the government to join Google. Since they're including lobbyists, that presumably includes the 81 out of 102 lobbyists hired by Google in 2014 who previously worked for the government. Assuming the trend holds for other years, that means that pretty much the whole category consists of lobbyists and not Google employees at all. And anyone surprised that people with knowledge of government workings are favoured as lobbyists is simply an idiot, since that's the whole bloody point.

    This really is one of the most pathetic attempts at smearing I've ever had the misfortune to see. There are plenty of entirely sensible things Google can be criticised for, such as being one of the biggest spenders on lobbying in the US. But having less than 100 people out of tens of thousands of employees and even more "associates" who happen to get some kind of government job after leaving Google? And hiring lobbyists who actually know what they're doing? With no indication of how it compares to any other company? How can anyone possibly think this is any kind of meaningful "revelation"?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: former Google staff occupy key posts in areas essential to Google’s

      And exactly the same kind of 'logic' can be used in an attempt to justify how many ex Goldman Sachs people are now in positions of power around the world.

      Doesn't make either company or its (ex) employees or supporters decent or moral though.

      1. ratfox Silver badge

        Re: former Google staff occupy key posts in areas essential to Google’s

        In itself, he number of people jumping from one to the other is not very meaningful. I understand that there are thousands of employees who have left Google for Facebook, and Facebook for Google. Google and Facebook are still at each other's throats, and I doubt that anybody suspects the allegiance of people who switch.

        Even when people in high position switch, it doesn't always turn the way you'd expect. Tom Wheeler used to be a cable company CEO, he switched to head of the FCC, and he is a goddamn pain for the cable companies today. In fact, he is acting exactly as if he was working for Google; go figure.

        But Obama was always friendly with Google. If I remember correctly, they were doing analytics work for him on his campaign trail. I guess we only need to wait for Obama to get a seat on Google's board.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: former Google staff occupy key posts in areas essential to Google’s

          After Civis Analytics worked on the Healthcare.gov website, it emerged that personal data was being sent to “to advertising and Web analytics sites”, including Google.

          This is perhaps the most "interesting" tidbit. What was/is being sent and what's being done with it? Was it test data or live data from real people?

      2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: former Google staff occupy key posts in areas essential to Google’s

        And exactly the same kind of 'logic' can be used in an attempt to justify how many ex Goldman Sachs people are now in positions of power around the world.

        Ditto McKinsey and Company.

        Mind you, the UK McKinseyite was William "Tory Boy/14 pints" Hague.

        1. Bullseyed

          Re: former Google staff occupy key posts in areas essential to Google’s

          Ditto for Deloitte, GM, IBM, etc.

          I have a theory about all of this... I will call it "6 degrees of separation". I think it may catch on.

      3. Bullseyed

        Re: former Google staff occupy key posts in areas essential to Google’s

        Luckily publically questioning the morals of another is itself immoral, so pot, kettle, etc.

    2. vgrig_us

      Re: former Google staff occupy key posts in areas essential to Google’s

      @Cuddles - i stopped trying to fight Orlowski's FUD, i suggest you stop wasting your time too...

      Look, again: " Electronic Frontier Foundation ... as receiving Google cash"! It's been pointed out to him repeatedly that EFF got that cash as part of settlement in Google Buzz privacy class action suit.

      His gems also include: "How can you tell Jimbo is lying? His lips are moving", that's Jimmy Wales, Wikimedia Foundation...

      Doubt this comment will make it through - my last 5 comments to Orlowski story were taken down.

      How's this guy still employed by Reg?

      1. toughluck

        Re: former Google staff occupy key posts in areas essential to Google’s

        @vgrig_us: Hey, look. Your post still hasn't been taken down. I don't know what you wrote in your last 5 comments, but I very rarely see comments deleted by moderators that didn't merit taking down.

        Ignoring your comment about Wales, which is completely beside the point here, let me offer a different angle: If ten thousand programmers leave Google to work in the government (or vice versa), it doesn't matter at all. They were never in a position to obtain significant benefits from the other party, such as a job offer for services rendered while working for their then current employer.

        However, if an executive, lobbyist, high level legal counsel, etc., goes to work in the other party, this is suspect precisely because that job offer may have been an illegal deal. There may be no supporting evidence, it may even be a false accusation, but there are laws against this because the suspicions alone are enough to question true motives. Smaller companies ran into trouble only on the basis of unconfirmed suspicion, whereas Google is free to do as they please.

        1. vgrig_us

          Re: former Google staff occupy key posts in areas essential to Google’s

          @toughluck - yeah, just wait for it: someone a Reg is asleep... here is the example of posts taken down...

          "yep - my post got deleted to... strange - happens only to my comments to Orlowski stories. :-P"

          "so, that's your excuse for removing my post? "particularly sticky legal story" - you mean the part where Orlowski implied Google and EFF support under-age prostitution?"

          yep - those two were taken down... as was this one...

          "Another day - another 2 Orlowski FUD articles : the other one is so bad it has comments turned off...

          BTW - if you want to read something useful on freedom of panorama or moron Mississippi AG: read techdirt... or ars... Don't read Orlowski: he hasn't yet met a copyright he doesn't love...

          Seriously - what does it take to get kicked out of theregister staff?"

        2. vgrig_us

          Re: former Google staff occupy key posts in areas essential to Google’s

          @ toughluck

          and downright lying about EFF? and comment about Wales is not beside the point - goes to credibility (or lack of) of the author...

          1. toughluck

            Re: former Google staff occupy key posts in areas essential to Google’s

            Hey look, your post still hasn't been taken down. 7 days and counting. Not even quoting the allegedly deleted posts has caused them to be taken down.

      2. Aedile

        Re: former Google staff occupy key posts in areas essential to Google’s

        I agree with your assessment. It is obvious he dislikes Google, fair use, and net neutrality. He is certainly entitled to his opinion but it almost seems like all his articles should be filed under an op-ed section. At this point I can read an article title and with a 99% accuracy predict if he is the author or not.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh go on then!

    Let's be evil, because that's where the money is.

  8. Joe Drunk
    Pint

    The second image

    Very Spirograph-y. Just counting the hours till Pub O'clock like the lot of you!

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Let's see that for the British government. After all this is the UK end of El Reg

    What, you can't

    It's secret?

    There's a shocker.

    you could also do one for the big 5 accountancy firms and HMRC "secondments."

  11. Mikel

    So what?

    The government needs to know how technology can improve government and efficiency. Where better to get that know-how than Google?

  12. bluest.one

    The USA is a corporatocracy. Democracy there is just a child's fairytale and a figleaf to hide the awfulness.

  13. nilfs2
    Megaphone

    A private comapany has decision power on the US government

    In other breaking news, the war against terror is all about oil.

  14. Adrian Midgley 1

    Run it on Jeremy Hunt

    And the queue to buy bits of NHS, please.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019