Google on Wednesday recommended to its shareholders that they vote against a proposal calling for new policies to protect internet freedoms.
The world’s biggest internet company gave no explanation in an SEC filing why it opposed the proposal, which is being put forward by The New York state pension funds, one of the biggest investors in the US, at its annual meeting in May.
The group has submitted an identical proposal for consideration at Google rival Yahoo’s annual meeting in June.
The New York comptroller’s office is the trustee for pension funds worth around $100bn, holding 487,000 Google shares worth around $230m and more than $100m in Yahoo stock. It has engaged in shareholder activism in the past – pressuring Halliburton to divest its business in Iran as well as pressuring Coca-Cola to allow an investigation of violence at its bottling plants in Colombia.
A Google spokesman said on Wednesday the company had nothing more to add.
The SEC filing also detailed compensation for Google’s top executives in 2006. Eric Schmidt, chief executive and co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page each drew $1 each in salary. However, Mr Schmidt received $533,000 in compensation for his “personal security”.
Mr Schmidt, Mr Brin and Mr Page hold Google shares worth $5bn, $13.5bn and $13.8bn respectively and made $2bn collectively in stock sales last year.
Both Google and Yahoo have been criticised for co-operating with authorities in China. Google agreed to restrict information available through its search service, while Yahoo gave the government details about a user who was later arrested and jailed.
The proposal says political censorship of the internet threatens the integrity and viability of the industry itself. US technology companies have failed to develop adequate standards to conduct business with authoritarian governments while protecting human rights, the proposal said.
Google said on Wednesday that its online video service YouTube had been blocked in Thailand after it refused a government request to take down a video that was viewed as insulting the monarchy.
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