In May 2020, Ethical Consumer viewed viewed an article on the Times wesbite, entitled, Boycott tech giants over terror, MPs urge.

The article stated:

"Advertisers should boycott technology companies such as Facebook and Google until they show they are serious about tackling the “scandal” of online terrorist material, MPs said yesterday."

"The abundance of extremist content online was a “disgrace” and had been a key factor in atrocities including the Manchester bombing, the intelligence and security committee concluded."

"Salman Abedi, who killed 22 people at a pop concert at Manchester Arena in May last year, bought ingredients for his bomb on Amazon and watched a YouTube video before he assembled it."

However, as this was aimed only at advertisers, and not a consumer boycott call, this reference is for information only.


Boycott tech giants over terror, MPs urge (9 September 2019)

In May 2020, Ethical Consumer viewed the entry for Alphabet Inc on the website, which was published in the USA by the Centre for Responsive Politics. This stated that in 2020 so far the company and its employees had made $$5,801,471 in political donations. $86.11% of this went to democrats. It also spent $12,660,000 on lobbying in 2019.

83 out of 103 Alphabet Inc lobbyists in 2019 had previously held government jobs.


Open Secrets generic ref 2019 (2 January 2019)

A report by Transparency International (TI) from 24 June 2015 stated that the overwhelming majority of lobby meetings held by European Commissioners and their closest advisers were with representatives of corporate interests.

Google was one of the most active lobbyists at this level, with 29 meetings, and it was also one of the biggest spenders in Brussels, declaring an EU lobby budget of around 3.5 million euros per year. The company had a total of 9 registered lobbyists.

TI added, however, that this information "is just part of the picture", as lobbying information was voluntarily filed, and according to TI, "much of the information... is inaccurate, incomplete or outright meaningless". The European Commission's new transparency provisions covered only the highest ranking top 1% of EU officials and 20% of the registered lobby organisations.


Lobby meetings with EU policy-makers dominated by corporate interests (24 June 2015)

Conservative party leaders, including Chancellor George Osborne, were meeting with Google every three weeks in the run-up to its ‘sweetheart’ deal with the Treasury, the Mirror reported in January 2016.

Chancellor Mr Osborne, policy chief Oliver Letwin and ex-Tory chairman Grant Shapps were among 17 different Tory Ministers to hold face-to-face talks with Google bosses in at least 25 official meetings over the previous two years.

The details come to light as pressure mounts for an investigate into a deal struck between Google and HMRC that sees them paying the equivalent of just 3% in corporation tax on their vast profits in the ten years from 2005.

The Mirror adds that "there is no suggestion any rules were broken, and it is understood the meetings covered a broad range of topics."

However the paper questions the links between the company and the current tax deal as private talks were held every three to four weeks over two year period as the tax deal was being struck.

The paper also lists the following examples of teh closeness between the two organisations

The Tories spent £312,000 on Google adverts in the run-up to the May election. (Labour spent just £371.)

Google chairman Eric Schmidt spent five years as a business adviser to the Prime Minister between 2009 and 2015,

Schmidt also gave the keynote speech at the Tory Party conference last year.

Mr Osborne and Mr Schmidt have penned several joint articles for British newspapers,

Mr Osborne and Mr Schmidt attended the secretive Bilderberg conference together last year.

David Cameron has twice spoken at Google’s own conferences.

Mr Cameron also accepted a £14,000 trip to Google’s HQ in 2007, and met with Google bosses three times after becoming PM.

CCHQ spin doctor Amy Fisher is a former Google press officer, while backbench Tory MP Nigel Huddleston only quit his job with Google last May.


Labour riven again as ruling committee boycotts G4S over links to Israel (26 November 2015)

In May 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed Alphabet's family tree on the corporate information website According to Hoovers the company had holding companies based in Bermuda and Ireland- jursidications which were on Ethical Consumer's tax haven list at the time of writing. The company also had subsidiaries in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore, although these were not considered at high risk of being used for tax avoidance purposes.

According to Google's parent Alphabet's 10K form which was downloaded from the SEC, the company was registered in Delaware. Delaware was at the time of writing considered by Ethical Consumer to be a tax haven jurisidiction. The form contained no country-by-country reporting.

Google had also been heavily criticised by several countries around the world for its tax avoidance methods. This included France who in March 2016 raided its offices following an investigation into its tax affairs.

As a result Google received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for likely use of tax avoidance strategies.


Generic Hoovers ref (2020)

In 2015 the BBC reported that an agreement that would see US tech firm Google pay £130m in UK back taxes was labelled as "derisory" and a "sweetheart deal" by critics.

The payment covered money owed since 2005 and followed a six-year inquiry by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs.

Richard Murphy, from the Fair Tax Mark, estimated Google should be paying £200m every year in Corporation Tax.

He said the figure was based on the firm's declared profit margins and sales in Britain in 2014 of £4.5bn.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Labour's Mr McDonnell called for greater transparency, saying it looked like a "sweetheart deal".
"HMRC seems to have settled for a relatively small amount in comparison with the overall profits that are made by the company in this country. And some of the independent analysts have argued that it should be at least 10 times this amount," he said.
"It looks to me from all the independent analysis that this is relatively trivial in comparison with what should have been paid. In fact one analysis has put the rate down to about 3%, which I think is derisory," he added.

Google paid £20.4m in UK taxes in 2013. The value of its British sales that year was £3.8bn. Google makes most of its UK profits through online advertising.
Google knows that the Diverted Profits Tax (known as the "Google Tax") which came into force last year will mean it will have to pay more to HMRC.
On top of that, the OECD has come up with much stricter international rules for 'Base Erosion and Profit Shifting' or aggressive tax avoidance.
Taxes on profits should soon be paid where the economic activity takes place rather than where the company is domiciled or registered.
Google currently routes its UK sales through Ireland which it will no longer be able to do.
Matt Brittin, head of Google Europe, told the BBC: "Today we announced that we are going to be paying more tax in the UK.
"The rules are changing internationally and the UK government is taking the lead in applying those rules so we'll be changing what we are doing here. We want to ensure that we pay the right amount of tax."

Reference: (25 January 2016)

In an article dated 13 November 2015, Computer Business Review reported that Google was among a number of large corporates to be investigated by EU regulators over its allegedly paying insufficient taxes. This began after documents were exposed by a group of investigative journalists which contained evidence that the company had made secret fiscal deals with Luxembourg which enabled it to pay low taxes.


EU parliament to grill US tech giants on Luxenbourg tax fraud (13 November 2015)