UK Prime Minister David Cameron is to appoint Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, to a new council of business leaders which will advise the government on business and economic matters, effectively giving Google and other big companies a say in how the country is run.
The surprise news is said to be scheduled for a public announcement tomorrow when Cameron reveals the plans behind the 20 strong council, which will include not only Google but a number of other big names like pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, alcoholic drinks firm Diageo, and leading UK telco BT.
The link between Google and world governments has been on the cards before, with many raising concerns about the close ties between Obama’s government and Schmidt, but until now there has not been an official appointment of the search giant to a council by the UK government.
In the past there have been some ties, such as one of Cameron’s advisors, Steve Hilton, being married to Google’s vice-president of Global Communications and Public Affairs, Rachel Whetstone, not to mention Cameron’s appearance at the Google Zeitgeist conference in San Francisco in 2007.
However, none of these add up to advising government on how to do its job, which raises serious questions about these companies potentially offering advise that is only in their interests. While the government is obviously keen to stimulate the economy and encourage more businesses to operate within the UK, many will be suspicious about Google and others whispering words of wisdom in Cameron’s ear.