The Google Governance Campaign was established in December 2013 to campaign for better corporate behaviour by Google in the UK.

We are not anti-Google. We use Google. We like many aspects of its service. But we do not like two key aspects of its activities:

1. Privacy

People in Britain have a right to privacy. We don’t expect someone to follow us through shops in order to monitor what we look at and what we like in order to profit from targeting us with tailored advertising. Yet this is what Google does. When browsing online, most people don’t use “private browsing” functionality but when they do, they don’t expect Google to ignore their wishes and use tracking cooking to spy on them. Yet this is what Google has had to admit it has done. Why should gift surprises, special occasions or personal matters be ruined or revealed to others? One of our members lost the pleasure of his marriage proposal because his future wife saw that he’d been looking at engagement rings online. Not acceptable.

It gets worse. Google now has a suite of products (many great by the way) but all of which pull your data together in a big file. Big data it’s called, and it’s worth a lot of dollars. Do you really want a private organisation holding a big file of information about you? How do you know it won’t be sold to other organisations or obtained by governments in the future? We take the view that it is unacceptable to pool this data and hold it indefinitely. We intend to press the British Information Commissioner (ICO), the regulator who is supposed to protect our interests here, to take action.

2. Taxation

If you profit in this country, you need to pay a fair amount of tax in this country. Google is builidng a massive headquarter building at Kings Cross in London. It clearly is doing this because it has a lot of staff here, making money for the organisation. Last year, they paid just £37million in tax for a turnover in 2011 of £395million. That’s a tax rate of less than 10%. Yet Britain’s base corporate tax rate is 20%. How can it be that Google didn’t pay the at least £42million extra that it morally should contribute to the society in which it profited? We aim to find out.

This campaign focussed on these two aspects and nothing else. We don’t want to bring down Google – heck, as if we could. We just want Google to remember us, the people who use its services, to remember we deserve a little better. Google – you can end this campaign at any time.