Thursday, 31 August 2017 08:29

Google-funded think-tank sacks critic of... Google Featured

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The New America Foundation, a think-tank which received large infusions of funds from Google, sacked the head of its Open Markets group after he cheered the European Union for hitting the search firm with a fine of US$2.7 billion in June.

Barry Lynn, who was in charge of the Open Markets division, was asked to leave the organisation by the chief executive of the think-tank, Anne-Marie Slaughter, according to a report in The New York Times.

The report said the Foundation, set up in 1999, had received more than US$21 million from Google, Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt and his family's foundation.

Lynn told the NYT that soon after he had posted a statement praising the EU move against Google, Schmidt made his displeasure known to Slaughter.

The statement was pulled from the Foundation's website but reappeared a few hours later. The Foundation, which has a main conference room called "Eric Schmidt Ideas Lab", was said to be worried whether Google would pull its funding as a result of the Lynn statement. About 200 people work for the Foundation.

But a few days later, the report said, Slaughter called Lynn to her office after telling him via email, "the time has come for Open Markets and New America to part ways".

While Slaughter told Lynn that the decision was not based on his work, she accused him of "imperilling the institution as a whole".

Lynn said: “Google is very aggressive in throwing its money around Washington and Brussels, and then pulling the strings. People are so afraid of Google now.”

A Google spokesperson Riva Sciuto told the paper: "We don’t agree with every group 100 percent of the time, and while we sometimes respectfully disagree, we respect each group’s independence, personnel decisions and policy perspectives."

New America’s executive vice-president Tyra Mariani and Sciuto said Google was continuing to pour money into the Foundation.

After the NYT article was put online, Slaughter claimed in a tweet that it was false. But she did not cite any errors either in the tweet, or in a statement issued to the newspaper.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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