Report: Google criticized for its "intensive" use of NDA with cities when building data centers



Last week, technology criticism was centered on the withdrawal of Amazon from New York for its head office after local complaints about tax breaks. Today, a new report examines Google's use of non-disclosure agreements when building data centers in the United States.

As a service company offering everything from research to email, video streaming and advertising, it is essential that Google maintain a strong infrastructure. To this end, Google has announced new facilities and new expansion projects in the United States for 2019 this week.

the Washington Post We describe today how "the level of privacy surrounding Google's data center transactions is unusual". Google and other companies often have cities sign non-disclosure agreements that prohibit local officials from revealing details.

Activist groups claim that this prevents residents from expressing their opinion on how local resources are used until it is too late. For example, in Midlothian, Texas, the news that a data center was in development only appeared when the city gave more than $ 10 million in tax breaks.

It was only after the official approval of the project, two months later, that Google was behind the project. According to FOIA's requests to WaPoGoogle also makes heavy use of its affiliates with "separate names".

Sometimes Google has created several subsidiaries, with separate names, to handle different aspects of the negotiations for the same site, according to the documents. In Midlothian, for example, Google created Sharka to negotiate the tax abatement and site plans, and used a separate Delaware company, Jet Stream LLC, to negotiate the purchase of land with a private owner.

Google claims that this secrecy is due to the critical nature of the data centers and the ability for competitors to "draw sensible conclusions about the technology of the company" from the use of the data. water and energy. However, this again results in society keeping "publicly relevant information out of sight" at the expense of the local population.

Lenoir, North Carolina, where Google announced in 2007 the construction of a data center, agreed to treat as trade secret the information relating to energy and water consumption , the number of workers to be employed by the data center and the amount of capital that the company would have. invest, according to the documents. Tapaha Dynamics LLC, a subsidiary of Google, then decided to exempt these trade secrets from the transparency laws that allow citizens to make requests for public information.

The intensive use of the water required for the air conditioning of the installations is a critical point. In South Carolina, locals feared the data center would "become a threat to the community's water supply." Washington Post The report is available here.


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