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. The Attacks on the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Have Lost Momentum and the Patent Microcosm Begrudgingly Gives Up

    The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), reaffirmed by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) and now the Supreme Court as well, carries on preventing frivolous lawsuits; options for stopping PTAB have nearly been exhausted and it shows



  2. Software Patenting and Successful Litigation a Very Difficult Task Under 35 U.S.C. § 101

    Using loads of misleading terms or buzzwords such as "AI" the patent microcosm continues its software patents pursuits; but that's mostly failing, especially when courts come to assess pertinent claims made in the patents



  3. António Campinos Will Push Toward a France-Based Unified Patent Court (UPC)

    Frenchmen at EPO will try hard to bring momentum if not force to the Unified Patent Court; facts, however, aren't on their side (unlike Team UPC, which was always on Team Battistelli's side)



  4. In Apple v Samsung Patents That Should Never Have Been Granted May Result in a Billion Dollars in 'Damages'

    A roundup of news about Apple and its patent cases (especially Apple v Samsung), including Intel's role trying to intervene in Qualcomm v Apple



  5. Links 20/5/2018: KDevelop 5.2.2 and 5.2.3, FreeBSD 11.2 Beta 2

    Links for the day



  6. Aurélien Pétiaud's ILO Case (EPO Appeal) an Early Sign That ILO Protects Abusers and Power, Not Workers

    A famous EPO ‘disciplinary’ case is recalled; it’s another one of those EPO-leaning rulings from AT-ILO, which not only praises Battistelli amid very serious abuses but also lies on his behalf, leaving workers with no real access to justice but a mere illusion thereof



  7. LOT Network is a Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

    Another reminder that the "LOT" is a whole lot more than it claims to be and in effect a reinforcer of the status quo



  8. 'Nokification' in Hong Kong and China (PRC)

    Chinese firms that are struggling resort to patent litigation, in effect repeating the same misguided trajectories which became so notorious in Western nations because they act as a form of taxation, discouraging actual innovation



  9. CIPU is Amplifying Misleading Propaganda From the Chamber of Commerce

    Another lobbying event is set up to alarm lawmakers and officials, telling them that the US dropped from first to twelfth using some dodgy yardstick which favours patent extremists



  10. Patent Law Firms That Profit From Software Patent Applications and Lawsuits Still 'Pull a Berkheimer' to Attract Business in Vain

    The Alice-inspired (Supreme Court) 35 U.S.C. § 101 remains unchanged, but the patent microcosm endlessly mentions a months-old decision from a lower court (than the Supreme Court) to 'sell' the impression that everything is changing and software patents have just found their 'teeth' again



  11. A Year After TC Heartland the Patent Microcosm is Trying to 'Dilute' This Supreme Court's Decision or Work Around It

    IAM, Patent Docs, Managing IP and Patently-O want more litigation (especially somewhere like the Eastern District of Texas), so in an effort to twist TC Heartland they latch onto ZTE and BigCommerce cases



  12. Microsoft Attacks the Vulnerable Using Software Patents in Order to Maintain Fear and Give the Perception of Microsoft 'Safety'

    The latest patent lawsuits from Microsoft and its patent trolls (which it financially backs); these are aimed at feeble and vulnerable rivals of Microsoft



  13. Links 19/5/2018: Mesa 18.0.4 and Vim 8.1

    Links for the day



  14. Système Battistelli (ENArque) at the EPO is Inspired by Système Lamy in Saint-Germain-en Laye

    Has the political culture of Battistelli's hometown in France contaminated the governance of the EPO?



  15. In Australia the Productivity Commission Decides/Guides Patent Law

    IP Australia, the patent office of Australia, considers abolishing "innovation patents" but has not done so yet (pending consultation)



  16. Fishy Things Noticed Ahead of the Passage of a Lot of EPO Budget (Applicants' Money) to Battistelli's Other (and Simultaneous) Employer

    Observations and odd facts regarding the affairs of the council in St Germain; it certainly looks like Battistelli as deputy mayor and the mayor (Arnaud Péricard) are attempting to hide something



  17. Links 18/5/2018: AsteroidOS 1.0 Released, More Snyk/Black Duck FUD

    Links for the day



  18. Today's EPO Financially Rewards Abuses and Violations of the Law

    Battistelli shredded the European Patent Convention (EPC) to pieces and he is being rewarded for it, perpetuating a pattern of abuses (and much worse) being rewarded by the European Patent Organisation



  19. So-Called 'System Battistelli' is Destroying the EPO, Warn Insiders

    Low-quality patent grants by the EPO are a road to nowhere but a litigious climate in Europe and an unattractive EPO



  20. Rise in Patent Trolls' Activity in Germany Noted Amid Declining Patent Quality at the EPO

    The UPC would turn Europe into some sort of litigation ‘super-state’ — one in which national patent laws are overridden by some central, immune-from-the-law bureaucracy like the EPO; but thankfully the UPC continues its slow collapse



  21. EPO's Battistelli Taking Days Off Work for Political 'Duties' (Parties) in His French Theatre Where He'll Bring Buckets of EPO Budget (EPO Stakeholders' Money)

    More tales from Saint-Germain-en-Laye...



  22. Links 16/5/2018: Cockpit 168, GCompris 0.91, DHCP Bug

    Links for the day



  23. The EPO's 'Inventor Award' Scam: Part III

    An addendum to the "inventor of the year" affair, namely the case of Remmal



  24. Apple and Microsoft Are Still Suing Companies -- Using Patents of Course -- Which 'Dare' Compete (by Leveraging GNU/Linux)

    The vanity of proprietary software giants — as the latest news serves to reveal — targeting companies with patent lawsuits, both directly and indirectly



  25. The Anti-PTAB (Patent Quality), Anti-§ 101 Lobby is Losing Its Mind and It Has Become Amusing to Observe

    The rants about the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), the courts and even the law itself have reached laughable levels; this reveals that the real agenda of patent maximalists is endless litigation and their methods boil down to those of an angry mob, not legal professionals



  26. EPO Has Become Overzealous About Software Patents, Probably More So Than Almost Anywhere Else

    The promotion of an extreme patent regime in Europe continues unabated; whether it succeeds or not depends on what EPO examiners and citizens of Europe can do



  27. Links 15/5/2018: Black Duck's Latest FUD and the EFF's EFFail FUD Debunked Further

    Links for the day



  28. Xiaomi, Samsung, TCL and Others Demonstrate That in a World With an Abundance of Stupid Patents Like Design Patents Nobody is Safe

    The "Cult of Patents" (typically a cabal of law firms looking to have everything on the planet patented) has created a battlefield in the mobile world; every company, once it gets big enough, faces a lot of patent lawsuits and dying companies resort to using whatever is in their "portfolio" to destroy everyone else inside the courtroom (or demand 'protection' money to avert lawsuits)



  29. A Google-Centric and Google-Led Patent Pool Won't Protect GNU/Linux But Merely 'Normalise' Software Patents

    Patent pools, which are basically the wrong solution to a very clear problem, continue to expand and promote themselves; the real solution, however, is elimination of abstract patents, notably software patents



  30. The Patent Microcosm is Still Looking for Ways to Bypass CAFC/PTAB Invalidation of Many US Patents

    In pursuit of patent maximalism (i.e. a status quo wherein US patents — no matter their age — are presumed valid and beyond scrutiny) pundits resort to new angles or attack vectors, ranging from the bottom (IPRs) to the top (Supreme Court)


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