EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

05.04.09

Did Microsoft Hire Consumer Watchdog to Attack Google?

Posted in Google, Marketing, Microsoft at 8:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

French bulldog
Rent a bulldog

Summary: A look beneath the surface reveals that ConsumerWatchdog.org is “the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights”, which is affiliated with/derived from Grassroots Enterprise, a Washington/SF-based AstroTurfer for hire

FOR A verifiable fact, Microsoft is the biggest lobbying monster in its area. Someone has just informed us that ConsumerWatchdog.org is apparently a lobby used by Microsoft (mostly to attack Google), so we decided to investigate this. Having already found some Microsoft-backed anti-Google lobbies in the past [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], we took a look at this latest company’s background and dug a lot deeper. Let’s see what ConsumerWatchdog.org says about Microsoft and what ConsumerWatchdog.org has to say about Google. What a striking difference.

Looking at ConsumerWatchdog.org using enhanced tools (the likes of them sometimes use services like DomainsByProxy.com), we find the following record:


Domain ID:D863261-LROR
Domain Name:CONSUMERWATCHDOG.ORG
Created On:03-Jun-1997 04:00:00 UTC
Last Updated On:07-Jun-2008 00:26:36 UTC
Expiration Date:02-Jun-2010 04:00:00 UTC
Sponsoring Registrar:GoDaddy.com, Inc. (R91-LROR)
Status:CLIENT DELETE PROHIBITED
Status:CLIENT RENEW PROHIBITED
Status:CLIENT TRANSFER PROHIBITED
Status:CLIENT UPDATE PROHIBITED
Registrant ID:GODA-044511122
Registrant Name:Doug Heller
Registrant Organization:Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rig
Registrant Street1:1750 Ocean Park Blvd.
Registrant Street2:Ste 200
Registrant Street3:
Registrant City:Santa Monica
Registrant State/Province:California
Registrant Postal Code:90405
Registrant Country:US
Registrant Phone:+1.3103920522
Registrant Phone Ext.:
Registrant FAX:
Registrant FAX Ext.:
Registrant Email:webmaster@consumerwatchdog.org
Admin ID:GODA-244511122
Admin Name:Doug Heller
Admin Organization:Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rig
Admin Street1:1750 Ocean Park Blvd.
Admin Street2:Ste 200
Admin Street3:
Admin City:Santa Monica
Admin State/Province:California
Admin Postal Code:90405
Admin Country:US
Admin Phone:+1.3103920522
Admin Phone Ext.:
Admin FAX:
Admin FAX Ext.:
Admin Email:doug@consumerwatchdog.org
Tech ID:GODA-144511122
Tech Name:Domain Direct
Tech Organization:TUCOWS.com Inc.
Tech Street1:96 Mowat Avenue
Tech Street2:
Tech Street3:
Tech City:Toronto
Tech State/Province:Ontario
Tech Postal Code:M6K3M1
Tech Country:CA
Tech Phone:+1.4165350123
Tech Phone Ext.:
Tech FAX:+1.4165315584
Tech FAX Ext.:
Tech Email:dnstech@domaindirect.com
Name Server:NS1.GRASSROOTS.COM
Name Server:NS2.GRASSROOTS.COM

See that last bit? It’s important. Consumerwatchdog.org is linked to Grassroots.com, which is Grassroots Enterprise.

Grassroots Enterprise is not about grassroots. It’s about AstroTurfing. Sourcewatch wrote:

According to the company’s web site, Grassroots Enterprise, Inc., led by its CEO, John Hlinko, “combines online technology and communications strategy to help our clients achieve their public affairs objectives. Our proprietary technology Grassroots Multiplier® uses the Internet to centralize and simplify the recruitment, management, and mobilization of our clients’ supporters – employees, members, customers, vendors and other stakeholders who can grow into a long-term asset to our clients’ business.”

It’s a business. It hires people to do jobs for companies (clients).

According to Wikipedia, “Consumer Watchdog (USA), [is] an organization which advocates for taxpayer and consumer interests in the United States,” but it also states that it is “formerly the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights.” So they change names; that’s what companies and lobbies typically do when they get exposed or absorb a bad reputation. It’s a well known and basic strategy in PR.

Oiaohm found out that the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (aka Consumerwatchdog.org) even has a subsite on Grassroots.com. Why is this not surprising? They probably just try to escape the obvious affiliation which would be damaging to their credibility. Lobbyists tend to have multiple umbrellas, which make them runaway targets. See for example Jonathan Zuck, who seems to have turned ATL into ACT after it had been exposed massively (think about fake letters from dead people).

Going back to Grassroots Enterprise, watch just what they boast about:

Are you ready to get your volunteers and members to mobilize the vote for you in 2008?

With the Grassroots Multiplier℠ PhoneTheVote application, they can actually be mobile as they mobilize. This innovative alternative to traditional phonebanks gives your activists and volunteers the ability to carry a powerful political application right in their pocket!

Grassroots Multiplier℠ PhoneTheVote takes the traditional phone bank into the web 2.0 generation by empowering your stakeholders to log on and make phone calls on your behalf — for get out the vote efforts, fundraising, grassroots mobilization, or just for rapid dissemination of information.

With Grassroots Multiplier℠ PhoneTheVote your volunteer callers can be directed to make calls wherever they are need — by geographic location, demographic, political affiliation, or any number of categories. Your volunteers can also be given dynamically generated “just-in-time” customized phone scripts to maximize their impact. And best of all, the information that the volunteers collect is feed into a central database in real time.

They brag about AstroTurfing patents/trademarks, just like the ones from Waggener Edstrom. How deep can this really go?

Microsoft AstroTurf stories:

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

8 Comments

  1. Doug Heller said,

    May 4, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    Gravatar

    Please see http://www.consumerwatchdog.org for our 20+year record. As you will see, our consumer advocacy work has saved consumers over $60 billion on auto insurance alone. We’ve also won patient rights laws and fought electricity deregulation and attempts to bail out utilities with ratepayer money.

    As for Grassroots Enterprise, that company is our website host. We pay them for their server space and to use their webpage templates in order to build our site. We are no more “affiliated with/derived from” them than we are with our telephone service provider Verizon or Apple Computer, which sold us some iMacs.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Hi,

    Please see http://www.consumerwatchdog.org for our 20+year record. As you will see, our consumer advocacy work has saved consumers over $60 billion on auto insurance alone. We’ve also won patient rights laws and fought electricity deregulation and attempts to bail out utilities with ratepayer money.

    This does not address the subject of this post however. I also hear about ACT “helping small businesses, yadda yadda…”

    As for Grassroots Enterprise, that company is our website host. We pay them for their server space and to use their webpage templates in order to build our site. We are no more “affiliated with/derived from” them than we are with our telephone service provider Verizon or Apple Computer, which sold us some iMacs.

    I was unable to find a products/services page in Grassroots.com, but this one seems like the equivalent section:

    http://www.grassroots.com/what/

    Are they also doing hosting? I can’t find any information about that. How many companies do they provide hosting for? Where can one sign up?

    Shane Coyle Reply:

    Firstly, as always, thank you to Mr Heller for stopping by and contributing to the discussion. Clarifications are always welcome.

    I just checked out that grassroots.com/what link and I can’t help but feel like I need a shower, I’m just not sure they make water hot enough to make me feel clean again.


    # Engaging them over time via a variety of online communication techniques, including, of course, email (***this is the step most people leave out, but it’s the most critical)
    # Monitor the online universe — news sites, blogs, the social media, etc. — to figure out how our client or its issues are being perceived, and actively shape that perception.
    # Create and execute online programs that drive stakeholders to join our client’s campaign (through paid advertising, buzz building, viral marketing and earned media)
    # Work with our 50-state field network to find “grasstops” influentials — individuals with unique relationships in key markets that we can leverage
    # Build in-depth behavioral profile of each stakeholder, and identify mavens (or Multipliers) in the mix
    # Spur stakeholders to take action we want, measure results in real real-time, and adjust the campaign as necessary

    Perhaps a new name is in order for grassroots.com, since Astroturf hasn’t any roots that I’m aware of.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    When someone pays you to just attack something you don’t even care about, then it’s even worse than AstroTurfing. The non-technical term is “attack dog”, I suspect.

  2. Doug Heller said,

    May 4, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Gravatar

    As you will see from the reporting on our battle with Google, it is funded with a grant from the privacy rights oriented Rose Foundation, based in California. At one point, Google contacted that charitable foundation trying to defund us. Here’s more on that from Congressional Quarterly: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/corporateering/articles/?storyId=25070 and a detailed rundown from my colleague: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/corporateering/articles/?storyId=25152

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    As you will see from the reporting on our battle with Google, it is funded with a grant from the privacy rights oriented Rose Foundation, based in California.

    So it’s true that you are basically hired as a gun against Google. What’s in it for them?

    I notice that you also avoid my questions, which seems like a diversion tactic.

  3. Eruaran said,

    May 5, 2009 at 10:32 am

    Gravatar

    Sorry Doug, but your website is so outrageously biased that it is impossible to take you seriously. I find it extraordinary that an alleged “consumer watchdog” has so much time for attacking Google that a search for “Microsoft” on your website delivers up *not* articles that might in any way at all relate to Microsoft’s ongoing harms to competitors and consumers alike, but rather it delivers up a veritable catwalk of articles which attack Google.

    Even some of the most notorious Microsoft boosting sellouts can to a better job at the appearance of impartiality.

    And Grassroots Enterprise is not something that any reputable consumer watchdog group would want their name in any way associated with, purely for the sake of credibility.

    As someone who works in this industry daily and all too frequently sees and experiences the fruits of Microsoft’s anticompetitive activities I for one have no time for diplomacy with people like you who so mendaciously ignore the biggest elephant in the room.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    This elephant is getting less big today.

What Else is New


  1. Links 20/7/2014: Jolla in India, Mega Censored in Italy

    Links for the day



  2. Longtime Mono Booster Joins Microsoft-linked Xamarin

    Jo Shields almost joins Microsoft, settling instead for its proxy, Xamarin



  3. Linux Foundation Welcomes Patent Aggressor Red Bend Software

    The Linux Foundation's AllSeen Alliance welcomes as a member a company that uses software patents to sue Free/Open Source software



  4. Matt Levy From Patent Progress (and CCIA) Does Not Really Want Patent Progress

    Matthew ('Matt') Levy moved into a foe of patent progress last year, but he still runs a site calls Patent Progress, in which he diverts all attention to patent trolls (as large corporations such as Microsoft like to do)



  5. Attacking FOSS by Ignoring/Overlooking Issues With Proprietary Software

    The biasing strategy which continues to be used to demonise Free/Open Source software (FOSS) along with some new examples



  6. Links 19/7/2014: CRUX 3.1 is Out, CyanogenMod Competes With Google Now

    Links for the day



  7. Microsoft's Massive Layoffs Go Far Beyond Nokia; Nokia's Android Phones Axed by Microsoft's Elop

    Microsoft's rapid demise and permanent exit from Nokia's last remaining Linux platform (after Microsoft had killed two more)



  8. Patents on Software Already Being Invalidated in Courts Owing to SCOTUS Ruling on 'Abstract' Patents

    The Federal Circuit Appeals Court has just "invalidated a software patent for being overly abstract," says a patents expert



  9. OpenSUSE 'Community' is Crumbling, AttachMSFT Killed SUSE's Potential (Except as Microsoft Tax)

    Not much too see in the land of SUSE and Attachmate, or formerly the company known as Novell



  10. Links 18/7/2014: Slackware Turns 21, Spotify Switches to Ubuntu

    Links for the day



  11. Links 16/7/2014: Manjaro 0.8.10 Third Update, SIA Migrates to Red Hat

    Links for the day



  12. Microsoft's Latest Round of Massive/Bulk/Large-scale Layoffs

    Microsoft boosters are preparing 'damage control' pieces ahead of massive layoffs at Microsoft



  13. Secrecy Allows British Government to be Manipulated by Microsoft for Spyware Behind Closed Doors

    Dependence on malicious software from NSA ally Microsoft is highly dependent, at least in Britain, on government secrecy and vain refusal to comply with Freedom of Information (FOI) requests



  14. Software Patent Applications Already Being Rejected in the US Owing to SCOTUS Ruling, Some Patent Lawyers Are Fuming

    Good news on the software patents front as the USPTO starts rejecting software patent applications, based on patent lawyers' words



  15. Links 15/7/2014: New Plasma, Google Announces Project Zero

    Links for the day



  16. Interest in Free Software Coverage and 9 Months With Tux Machines

    Thoughts about the level of interest in Free/Open Source software (FOSS) and growth of at least some sites that focus on GNU/Linux



  17. White House Backs Away From Appointing Patents Zealot to Top USPTO Position

    Philip Johnson is no longer poised to become the Director of the USPTO, which is basically an establishment that provides protectionism to primarily US-based corporations



  18. Professor James Bessen Presents the Case Against Software Patents After Important SCOTUS Ruling

    The debate about software patents in the Unites States continues, with academia on one side and greedy patent lawyers on the other



  19. Software Patents Demising in the US as Microsoft Patent Attacks on Android/Linux Suffer a Huge Setback

    M-Cam's assessment of Microsoft's bundle of extortion (using software patents) shows toothlessness, irrespective of the SCOTUS decision to effectively annul "abstract" software patents



  20. Links 13/7/2014: KDE Activity Surge

    Links for the day



  21. Pro-Microsoft Spin in Microsoft-Funded News Networks

    The rogue media (misinformation) campaign of Microsoft benefits from networks which have been paid by Microsoft over the years



  22. Cronyism at Play: European Hostility Towards Free/Libre Software Despite Espionage and Moles

    Europe continues to be held hostage with back doors, lock-in, and massive payments to foreign powers, despite evidence that these powers are destructive and hostile



  23. Wirelessly-Controlled Contraceptives and Other Villainous Bill Gates Initiatives

    Remote controls for people's reproductive systems are now in the making and Bill Gates is a prominent investor in the technology



  24. Links 12/7/2014: CrossOver, New Wine

    Links for the day



  25. Links 10/7/2014: LXLE 14.04 in Headlines, Plasma 5

    Links for the day



  26. OpenDocument Format (ODF) Still Alive and Kicking

    Caligra, WebODF and various influential nations' departure from Microsoft Office will help famous projects such as OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice make ODF the only international standard for editable documents exchange



  27. The Effect of Corporate Media Bias: FOSS Demonisation and Microsoft Openwashing

    A set of very recent examples where the corporate press produces FOSS-hostile articles (or pro-Microsoft articles) by citing biased sources of convenience



  28. The NSA's Top (and First) PRISM Partner, Microsoft, Lies to Governments and Businesses as Office Gets Banned in China

    Developments in China reveal that security and privacy threats posed by reliance on Microsoft are so great that a ban becomes inevitable and continues to expand (Microsoft put on more and more block lists and blacklists)



  29. Microsoft's Propaganda Machine Tries to Shift Security Debate Amid Serious Catastrophes

    Observations and analysis of some recent deception in corporate news sites (like Condé Nasty), trying to pretend that Microsoft is secure, that Microsoft is pursuing security, and that FOSS and Android security or privacy are inherently poor



  30. Despite SCOTUS Ruling, Microsoft Still Extorts Companies and Product Buyers Using FAT Software Patents, Latest Victim is Canon

    Canon and Microsoft sign a patent deal which relates to patents on FAT file systems and impacts some of Canon's products, potentially Linux products as well (Canon makes drivers for Linux but does not develop products with Android or GNU/Linux just yet)


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts