This is disturbing.
Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple are behind an increase in funding to four of Washington’s most prestigious research groups: the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Center for a New American Security, Brookings and the Hudson Institute.Thats a small drop in the ocean for these companies
Total donations from Big Tech companies to the four think-tanks have risen from at least $625,000 in 2017-18 to at least $1.2mn in 2019-20, according to a Financial Times analysis of financial disclosures. These figures could be as high as $1.2mn in 2017-18 to $2.7mn in 2019-20.
I am surprised that these small amounts for “research” for hire find a mention. The companies have billions in revenue, and this represents the legal costs or “administrative” costs. The crux of the argument is “national security” and the threat of “China”. How does this matter for healthcare?
It does. Big tech is amassing its monopolistic power through concentration of “distribution” and heavy marketing spends to make the “products desirable”. They never solved a problem, but represented an “evolution” of technology and consumer electronics. Their influence correlated with the size and “creation of investor wealth”. Their imminent foray in healthcare represents chipping of influence at the edges and pushing for “interoperable standards” through regulation by using “citizen groups”, teary-eyed human-impact stories, “patient-first” initiatives and “non-profits” through eventual swaying of public opinion around “privacy”. The research policies serve as an ammunition to further their agenda by giving a halo of “respectability”.
Last month, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act passed through the Senate committee stage, despite a vigorous lobbying effort against it by the companies affected. The bill would stop tech groups from using their platforms to give preferential treatment to their own products. Some of the people affiliated with the foreign policy think-tanks have been vociferous defenders of Big Tech recently, including 12 former top national security officials who signed a letter last September urging Congress to stop working on bills designed to toughen antitrust enforcement.
Issues around geopolitics and national security is not the express focus of this blog. However, it still begs the attention – is innovation in healthcare going to be tied to national security, as well? They might push that too.
Why are think-tanks important?
Here’s an answer:
Bruce Freed, president of the Washington-based Center for Political Accountability, which argues for stricter tech regulations, said: “Funding think-tanks is a great way to influence experts and help shape the political conversation in a way that helps you.
There’s good money and post-retirement career benefits of being in the administration and learning to navigate the bureaucracy.