Google 'backed' thinktank that criticised ACCC findings

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Beware 'thinktanks' with high-sounding names. A US-based group which attacked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's report on tech giants' use of market power has been outed as a recipient of Google funding.

Following a New York Times report last week that the Global Antitrust Institute - which last year presented a 24-page condemnation of the ACCC's preliminary findings - the Guardian has also confirmed that Google is a donor to the institute. The Times had also reported that Australian officials had been wined and dined during a trip to California "mostly paid for by the institute".

In its report, the Global Antitrust Institute criticised "systematic shortcomings" in the ACCC report, which recommended new regulation to improve competition, reduce damage to traditional media, and better protect consumers. In its submission, the GAI argued the ACCC's preliminary findings were "problematic", lacked relevant evidence and research and appeared "to abandon solutions and concepts focused on the welfare of consumers and to [favour] rent-seeking by various interest groups", it reported.

"Given the systematic shortcomings in the evidence gathered and presented, we believe the recommendations should be reconsidered in drafting the Final Report."

The Guardian says it has separately confirmed that Google is a donor to the institute and acknowledges donations to the George Mason University of which the institute was originally a part.

"The Guardian is not suggesting the authors of the submission were directly influenced by the Google donations, only that they were not disclosed," it says.

The ACCC said it was aware of GAI links to Google, adding that parties making public submissions were encouraged to disclose "any relevant financial ties".

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