Following up on my earlier post about Beyond Google and Evil, I just came across this article from the Wall Street Journal on one of Google’s detractors, Consumer Watchdog. Believe it or not, Google went after their funding!
…In January, Consumer Watchdog circulated a press release alleging a “rumored” lobbying effort by Google to enable it to sell personal medical data stored on its Google Health service. Simpson said the organization merely wanted to examine whether Google was trying to avoid new regulation under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, which guards the confidentiality of patient data.
But Google was incensed. “That’s when Bob Boorstin went ballistic,” Simpson said, referring to Google’s director of corporate and policy communications in Washington.
Simpson defended the use of hearsay to make public allegations, arguing that it was appropriate for an advocate. “I don’t see any obligation in particular to call up the other guy and get his side of the story,” he said, adding, “We don’t lie, but we put out the facts we think are interesting.”
Google, however, was prompted to take the unusual step of asking the Rose Foundation to reassess its funding for Consumer Watchdog.
“In 17 years as a grant maker, that’s never happened to me before,” the Rose Foundation’s Little said. “Nothing Google has done has discouraged us from follow-up funding” for Consumer Watchdog, Little said, though no decisions have yet been made. He added, “Google would be much better off engaging with them.”
If you are proposing products that would put individuals’ health records online, you have to be ready for some criticism. But Google responded by trying to shut down Watchdog, and by trying to link Watchdog to Microsoft! (Microsoft is not linked to Watchdog.) Way to go, Google. That’s a standard PR tactic. I wonder whether it is good or evil.
In a sense, Watchdog did have the right intuition about Google. Google health is all about capturing the DTC drug advertising market away from the TV networks. Just imagine the types of targeting that will be possible when you’ve decided to upload your health information to Google!