Stanford Promises Not to Use Google Money for Privacy Research
J Thoendell stashed this in Tech
Stanford University recently declared that it will not use money from Google to fund privacy research at its Center for Internet and Society, according to a legal filing made by the school.
"Since 2013, Google funding is specifically designated not [to] be used for CIS's privacy work," the university said in the court filing, found by ProPublica in documents filed in an unrelated lawsuit.
Stanford's Center for Internet and Society has long been generously funded by Google, but the center's privacy research has proved damaging to the search giant in the past two years. Two years ago a researcher at the center helped uncover Google privacy violations that led to the company paying a record $22.5 million fine.
Stanford and Google both said that the change in funding was unrelated to the previous research. But some academics said that Stanford's promise not to use Google money for privacy research is problematic.
"It's such an etiquette breach, it tells you something is really sensitive here," said James Grimmelmann, a University of Maryland law professor who specializes in Internet law and online privacy. "It's fairly unusual and kind of glaring to have that kind of a condition."
Like most universities, Stanford has a policy that does not allow employees to "take money for academic research (or anything else) with strings attached. All donors to the Center agree to give their funds as unrestricted gifts."
Barring work on specific subjects is generally frowned upon, particularly because research that starts in one area can naturally lead to other topics.
"To do research honorably, you have to follow where the data lead," said Cary Nelson, former president of the American Association of University Professors. "You have to have the freedom to follow those leads." Asked if he would work under such conditions, Nelson was curt: "No."
not cool all around.