Digital Editorial

Google, lobbying or corruption? [October 9, 2023]

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This question may seem provocative, but it has to be asked! In fact, the American digital giants, but not only, have benefited from a tolerance in relation to other sectors of the economy that has enabled them to create consortia that trust entire sections, if not all, of the digital economy, putting them not only in a quasi-monopoly situation, but also enabling them to amass a financial power that many states would envy…

On the one hand, this financial power enables them to have battalions of specialized lawyers who can thwart and turn to their advantage any protective and regulatory legislation, ultimately having the effect of asphyxiating small players, which is obviously not the initial objective…

The second use is indecent marketing and lobbying power, which is more akin to legal corruption than anything else. For example, do you think it’s normal for Google to invite parliamentary assistants to an afterwork session to introduce them to artificial intelligence? Petits fours and free drinks in the hope of gaining privileged access to our MPs… Of course, the event is organized by a marketing consultancy and held on Google’s premises, with a Google speaker presenting Google’s vision of the use of AI (to my knowledge, such an afterwork was held on September 27, or at least invitations were sent out…).

I think these practices should be regulated! Not only can they have an impact on legislation regulating digital technology, which is already a cause for concern in itself, but we also have to worry about the impact on the public procurement of potential prescribers…

Faced with these questions, other important sectors such as healthcare have found an answer that I find relevant, since it concerns the anti-cadau and transparency law that applies to healthcare professionals. I know that some will find the parallel far-fetched, but I would find it perfectly normal for any marketing operation targeting civil servants, national representatives or their collaborators, as well as the government or their collaborators, to be traced and made public.

As in the Transparency and Health Act, any so-called “opportunity lunch” with one of these categories will be prohibited. All meals, funding for congresses and events (such as afterwork parties) must be declared by the company, on pain of a substantial fine, and all information must be published on a government website (along the lines of the Transparence Santé website). This will make it possible to look at the decisions and votes made by members of parliament, based on the links of interest they may have had with this or that company. This principle could be extended to other industrial sectors, who knows?

I’m curious to hear your thoughts and reflections on this attack to undermine the defense of our interests as citizens, because we’re not just consumers… And what do you think of the proposed solution? Hopefully, one or more of our elected representatives will take up this issue!

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