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July 20, 2016

Google Critic Reportedly Linked to Gates- and Hewlett-Funded Nonprofit

Click here for a correction and update of this post based on new reporting by SiliconBeat.

A nonprofit advocacy group that has been critical of Google’s ties to federal agencies and policy making is affiliated with a charitable fund that receives significant financial backing from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, according to SiliconBeat.

The tech-news site reports that the Campaign for Accountability is a project of the New Venture Fund, which helps major grant makers launch and run programs in education, health, and other areas. New Venture has received $94 million from the Gates Foundation since 2014, as well $17 million from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

The Campaign for Accountability launched a “Google Transparency Project” in April with a report on what it characterized as a revolving door between the tech giant and the federal government. On Tuesday the campaign issued a report suggesting that Google is funding academics to exert behind-the-scenes influence on the debate over internet privacy.

The organization’s website does not disclose its link to New Venture, which SiliconBeat said it uncovered by making a nominal donation to the campaign. An official with the advocacy group declined to identify donors or say whether it gets money from companies that compete with Google, as does Microsoft, which Bill Gates co-founded. The article says there is no indication the Gates or Hewlett foundations knew an entity they funded was attacking Google.