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Consumer Watchdog Files White House FOIA Request For Ex-Googler’s Email

White House Internet Policy Chief Andrew McLaughlin’s “Buzz” Profile Showed Continued Ties To Internet Giant

Google on Ulitzer

Consumer Watchdog  filed a Freedom of Information Act request today with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy seeking copies of email between Internet Policy chief Andrew McLaughlin and his former employer, Google Inc.

The nonpartisan, nonprofit consumer group made the request after an online publication printed an article showing that McLaughlin's "Buzz" profile revealed that many of his most frequent email correspondents were Google employees. Before being appointed the OSTP's Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Internet Policy, McLaughlin was Google's head of Global Public Policy, its top global lobbyist.



Consumer Watchdog opposed McLaughlin's appointment by President Obama saying that it violated the intent of the Administration's ethics rules meant to end the revolving door between lobbyists and the executive branch.

"The appointment was troubling when it was announced, but signs that McLaughlin is continuing a cozy relationship with his former employer while serving in the top White House Internet policy job are even more disconcerting," said John M. Simpson, consumer advocate for Consumer Watchdog. "The public has a right to see exactly what sort of messages have been exchanged with his former employer and colleagues."

Consumer Watchdog's FOIA request seeks "access to and copies of all electronic mail communications between Office of Science and Technology Policy Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Internet Policy Andrew McLaughlin and officers and employees of Google Inc. and its contracted lobbyists and representatives...

"Include electronic mail records from Mr. McLaughlin's OSTP address [email protected], his Gmail address and other e-mail addresses he has used as an official of the OSTP."

Read Consumer Watchdog's FOIA request here.

Ironically, McLaughlin's apparent continued ties to Google were revealed because of the Internet giant's lack of concern about consumers' privacy.  When Google first launched its new social networking service, Buzz, as part of its popular Gmail application, users' profiles publicly revealed their most frequent contacts as the default mode.  In the face of consumer backlash, including a pending formal complaint to the Federal Trade Commission, Google has since modified Buzz's privacy controls.

"Maybe now that Google's own privacy and that of a  former executive have been been compromised, the company will finally understand that privacy matters to consumers," said Simpson.

Read the online article from Andrew Breitbart's Big Government describing McLaughlin's frequent email contacts here.

Read Consumer Watchdog's original joint letter with the Center for Digital Democracy opposing McLaughlin's appointment here.

Consumer Watchdog, formerly the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is a nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization with offices in Washington, DC, and Santa Monica, CA. 
Website is www.consumerwatchdog.org.

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