Guest essay by Eric Worrall
According to The Guardian, Google is financing climate skeptic organizations like the Competitive Enterprise Institute, in direct contradiction to their stated public position on climate change.
Revealed: Google made large contributions to climate change deniers
Stephanie Kirchgaessnerin Washington
Fri 11 Oct 2019 17.00 AEDT
Firm’s public calls for climate action contrast with backing for conservative thinktanks
The obscure law that explains why Google backs climate deniers
Google has made “substantial” contributions to some of the most notorious climate deniers in Washington despite its insistence that it supports political action on the climate crisis.
The list includes the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a conservative policy group that was instrumental in convincing the Trump administration to abandon the Paris agreement and has criticised the White House for not dismantling more environmental rules.
Google has defended its contributions, saying that its “collaboration” with organisations such as CEI “does not mean we endorse the organisations’ entire agenda”.
It donates to such groups, people close to the company say, to try to influence conservative lawmakers, and – most importantly – to help finance the deregulatory agenda the groups espouse.
A spokesperson for Google said it sponsored organisations from across the political spectrum that advocate for “strong technology policies”.
“We’re hardly alone among companies that contribute to organisations while strongly disagreeing with them on climate policy,” the spokesperson said. Amazon has, like Google, also sponsored a CEI gala, according to a programme for the event reported in the New York Times.
The Guardian published another story on the same day which suggests Google is worried about maintaining their Section 230 legal immunity, the law which protects Google and other large internet providers from being sued if a user publishes something defamatory on a Google website.
Why are Google and friends so worried about their legal position, that they would fund right wing libertarian climate skeptics?
In my opinion tech giants have good reasons to worry. Leading Democrats like Elizabeth Warren have been talking up plans to hammer big tech companies with anti-trust laws.
Elizabeth Warren is not the only left wing figure attacking tech companies. The recent New York Times article which compared allowing free speech to allowing carbon pollution also blamed big tech companies for allowing the rise of populists. The NYT suggested “remedy” was the creation of a government funded rival to Facebook, and implementation of legal changes to increase private tech giant’s exposure to legal liability for content published using their services, to give the new government social media organization an overwhelming competitive advantage.
At first glance this overt Democrat hostility towards tech giants whose CEOs went above and beyond to support Hillary Clinton might seem inexplicable.
But there seems to be a widespread belief that tech giants did not do enough to stop Russia allegedly meddling in the 2016 election. The revelation that Google is supporting groups which are broadly opposed to the Democrat agenda will do nothing to heal this rift.
It is not just the left who have been turning up the heat on Google. Conservatives and climate skeptics have criticised Google for their alleged efforts to play favourites, promoting the very people who have now turned on them.
Google have very few friends right now, a mess of their own making. One of the few organizations which is standing up for Google’s right to exist is the right wing libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute.