President Obama's reelection was a triumph of Big Data, technological innovation, and precision targeting over the usual gravity of an incumbent president with a record of economic failure. This was facilitated by largest data trove in the world, Google, lending talent, expertise, and quite possibly data to the cause. Now Google CEO Eric Schmidt is being rumored as a potential Commerce Secretary or even Treasury Secretary - the top economic policy position - in Obama's second term. That's probably far-fetched, but the close relationship between the administration and Google deserves scrutiny.
Obama reportedly met Google CEO Eric Schmidt for the first time in a 2007 campaign event at Google's headquarters. That was the event where Obama famously said: "I will take a backseat to no one in my commitment to Net Neutrality." It was music to Schmidt's ears, because net neutrality regulations were the company's top rent-seeking priority: a legal guarantee they could continue to consume a massive portion of consumer broadband capacity without being asked to pay for it.
The idea of regulating the Internet was basically dead on arrival in Congress, but Obama's close friend Julius Genachowski jammed it through on dubious legal grounds on a 3-to-2 party-line vote at the Federal Communications Commission. The order is likely to be struck down in court next year.
Google's top lobbyist, Andrew McLoughlin, was installed as the top tech policy staffer in the White House, where he proceeded to breach ethics rules by maintaining regular contact with his former Google colleagues and conducting his official business from a Gmail account. Ironically, his misconduct came to light because of one of Google's many privacy failures, a bug that accidentally revealed private information on Google Buzz.
Schmidt also reportedly pressed the Obama campaign, through economic adviser Jason Furman, to make a major push into green jobs, a sidelight business of Google's. We know how poorly that turned out, with new bankruptcies and scandals breaking every week or so.
There are other reasons to be wary of Google, which has largely built its business by expropriating other people's property, monetizing it, and then settling if caught.
It was that way from the beginning, when Sergey Brin and Larry Page wrote: "advertising funded search engines will be inherently biased towards the advertisers and away from the needs of the consumers" - but then proceeded to pilfer patented search ad technology from GoTo. They eventually settled for over $300 million with Yahoo, which had acquired GoTo's intellectual property.
Phil Kerpen is president of American Commitment, a columnist on Fox News Opinion, chairman of the Internet Freedom Coalition, and author of the 2011 book Democracy Denied.
American Commitment is dedicated to restoring and protecting America’s core commitment to free markets, economic growth, Constitutionally-limited government, property rights, and individual freedom.
Washingtonian magazine named Mr. Kerpen to their "Guest List" in 2008 and The Hill newspaper named Mr. Kerpen a "Top Grassroots Lobbyist" in 2011.
Mr. Kerpen's op-eds have run in newspapers across the country and he is a frequent radio and television commentator on economic growth issues.
Prior to joining American Commitment, Mr. Kerpen served as vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity. Mr. Kerpen has also previously worked as an analyst and researcher for the Free Enterprise Fund, the Club for Growth, and the Cato Institute.
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Mr. Kerpen currently resides in Washington, D.C. with his wife Joanna and their daughter Lilly.