Attendees at a controversial closed-door policy summit this week at Google headquarters included representatives from a broad section of think tanks and policy shops on the center-left, according to a document obtained by the Prospect. A former Democratic FCC Commissioner and numerous members of consumer, civil rights, and human rights organizations participated in the summit.
The get-together was held at Google’s Mountain View headquarters, and the tech giant promised it would be the first of a “series of quarterly policy and product summits.” Top Google lobbyists Karan Bhatia and Mark Isakowitz spoke at the event, as well as other company officials, about products like search, advertising, and artificial intelligence, according to Axios.
Through conferences like this, Google, whose reputation has suffered in Washington amid a backlash against the power and dominance of Big Tech, can play the influence game without technically engaging in lobbying. By bringing together groups that have the ear of policymakers and can present themselves as a nominally independent voice, Google can implant—even if subconsciously—its viewpoints on a host of policy topics. It’s a lobbying event masquerading as a conference, in other words, and could prove more fruitful than direct lobbying.
Many taxpayer supported K-12 school districts use Google services, including Madison.