Google accused of 'bias' in research funds

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Google said it had a long tradition of funding academic research, because it was started in Stanford University

A campaign group has accused Google of using its deep pockets to fund academic research that backs its own agenda.

The Campaign for Accountability identified 329 research papers published between 2005 and 2017 on public policies that were indirectly or directly funded by the search giant.

Google hit back saying the group refused to name its own corporate funders.

It added that it valued researchers’ “independence and integrity”.

The Campaign for Accountability runs a series of projects, including one named The Google Transparency Project, which aims to expose the practices of the search giant.

CfA executive director Daniel Stevens said: “Google uses its immense wealth and power to attempt to influence policy makers at every level. At a minimum, regulators should be aware that the allegedly independent legal and academic work on which they rely has been brought to them by Google.”

Mr Stevens continued: “What’s good for Google is not necessarily good for the country. Google-funded academics should disclose the source of their funding to ensure their work is evaluated in context and the government makes decisions that benefit all Americans, not just Google employees and stockholders.”

The report found that a number of Google-funded studies were spiked during periods when the search giant’s business model was under threat from regulators.

It said that they “often blur the line between academic research and paid advocacy”.

In a statement, Google said in response: “Ever since Google was born out of Stanford’s Computer Science department, we’ve maintained strong relations with universities and research institutes.

“We’re 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.

“And unlike our competitors who fund the Campaign for Accountability, we expect and require our grantees to disclose their funding.”

In a detailed blogpost on the issue, the firm said that it was ironic that the CfA refused to name its own corporate funders.

“The one funder the world does know about is Oracle, which is running a well-documented lobbying campaign against us,” it wrote.

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