“Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it…. We don’t need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you're thinking about.”
Those chilling words, spoken in 2010 by Google's Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, kick off a new 70-page report from the Public Citizen’s Congress Watch (PCCW), detailing how "Google is quietly becoming one of the nation’s most powerful political forces while expanding its information-collection empire." PCCW is a Washington-based non-profit focused on consumer interests.
The complex relationships between the company, the public, and political interests are outlined in the report, which is worth a thorough read on its own.
The report's findings are updated through the 2014 midterm campaign season, which, according to the numbers, marked a turning point in Google's political involvement.
"[Google] spent more on  campaign contributions than Wall Street bank Goldman Sachs, which the Center for Responsive Politics ranks as the second biggest all-time 'heavy hitter' among corporations for its use of money to influence policy and elections," says the report.
Aside from the actual amounts that Google is spending on politics, the report also finds that there is a lack of transparency in the money it spends. Other companies, such as Microsoft, have considerable transparency mechanisms in place. Google does not, the report says.
The company also comes in as the corporation disclosing the highest dollar amount spent in federal lobbying, apart from the campaigns.
Other sections of the report outline contain titles such as "Examples of Google violating the public trust" and "Google has sought to stifle the public's ability to opt out of being monitored."
"While Google provides ostensibly free programs to hundreds of millions of people around the world, it is also amassing power in ways that are important to note," reads the conclusion of the report. "There may be no limit to the amount of information Google seeks to collect about its users, or the political activity it will undertake to protect and expand its markets, even when consumers are wary of its new technologies."
“Technology issues are a big part of the current policy discussion in Washington and will be for a long time," a Google spokesperson told Fusion in an email about the report's focus on the company's lobbying efforts. "We think it is important to be part of that discussion and to help policymakers understand our business and the work we do to keep the Internet open and to encourage economic opportunity.”
This post was updated at 1:15 on Nov. 14, 2014 with comment from Google.
Daniel Rivero is a producer/reporter for Fusion who focuses on police and justice issues. He also skateboards, does a bunch of arts related things on his off time, and likes Cuban coffee.