Search and Tech Giants Named to Help Government Set Policy




potus-sealTechCrunch reports that Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt and Microsoft’s chief research and strategy officer, Craig Mundie have been named to President’s Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). The council is designed to help the President and Vice President form policy related to science, technology, and innovation.

The council has an impressive roster of people associated with major academic and research organizations

The group is co-chaired by John Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Eric Lander, Director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and one of the principal leaders of the Human Genome Project; and Harold Varmus, President and CEO of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, former head of the National Institutes of Health and a Nobel laureate.

I checked out the press release regarding the announcement of these appointments to see what other corporations were present on the council. Google and Microsoft are the only two. I realize that it is important for the private sector to be represented. It is worth noting, however, that the private sector representatives on this council that will be helping set public policy are leaders in two technology giants that many already feel have garnered unfair advantages that stifle competition. Also important to note is that prior PCAST members have included Michael Dell so this is not a precedent setting move, just an interesting one.

In all honesty, I have no idea what could actually be accomplished through this type of group regarding a company’s opportunity to gain further advantage and influence. It is interesting, however, that there appears to be little hiding the fact that people like Schmidt, who campaigned hard for the President, are now being ‘rewarded’. The difference between this appointment and people like Dell, is that Google has lately been under more serious government scrutiny with regard to data privacy concerns. You can connect the dots if you wish.

So what impact can this have to us Internet marketing types? That is definitely a ‘to be determined’. As Google expands further into services that are not directly related to search like health information and other areas where privacy concerns are being raised it does seem curious that their position with the US government is getting a little more cozy. I am not a conspiracy theorist by any means but I, like many of you, can observe and wonder what might happen.