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Google tries its hand at influence in Washington

In the paper today

By Ariana Eunjung Cha and Cecilia Kang

When someone as influential as Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV requests your presence at a hearing, Washington insiders know it's more of a summons than an invitation.

So for two hours on the morning of April 29, Microsoft, Facebook, the Federal Trade Commission, and experts from academia, think tanks and privacy groups dutifully came to answer questions about children's online privacy.

But another invitee, Google, the biggest online company of all, was a no-show.

Over the past year, Google's critics have expressed concern about the company's growing influence in Washington -- its close ties to the Obama administration and the millions it spends on lobbying. Last week, the nation's deputy chief technology officer, Andrew McLaughlin, was reprimanded for continuing to e-mail with his former Google colleagues about issues related to his White House duties.

On the ground in the nation's capital, though, Google's reputation is more that of a scatterbrained graduate student than of a political operative.

Read here for the full story.

By Cecilia Kang  |  May 26, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  Antitrust , Apple , DOJ , FTC , Google  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Facebook to unveil simplified privacy settings Wednesday
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How misleading! In this article, Cecilia Kang -- who lobbies for Google in print daily -- portrays the company as it wishes to be portrayed, rather than as it actually is. She attempts to present it as bumbling rather than cunning, having relatively little influence rather than inordinate influence.

Both are false. The fact is that Google has lobbyists working full time within both the White House (the Administration appears to have broken its pledge not to hire lobbyists in the case of Google, which gave millions of dollars to its campaign, transition team, and inauguration) and the FCC, as well as half a dozen lobbying groups which claim to be "public interest" groups but in fact lobby for Google. (These include Free Press, the New America Foundation, Public Knowledge, Media Access Project, Future of Music Coalition, Open Internet Coalition, and more.) At any event vaguely related to telecommunications policy, there will always be at least one Google lobbyist -- often masquerading as a "public interest" policy expert -- present; Google sees to it. And even within the press, we have Cecilia Kang pushing Google's corporate agenda every day in this paper. (Note that the editorial page takes a much more fact-based view of telecommunications policy, while Kang gushes about Google and gives its lobbyists free publicity and free ink.) Kang's blatant violations of journalistic ethics have not been acted upon by the Post, and should be; they're an embarrassment to the paper.

Google is pulling a lot of strings in DC, and is spending a lot more than $4M a year. That $4M figure only includes the expenses that are required to be reported by Federal lobbying law, and is no more than 20% of what Google spends altogether. Google's lobbying expenditures dwarf those of any of the large telecomm companies, which is no surprise; it has multibillion dollar, worldwide monopolies on key Internet products and services. You won't hear this from Cecilia, though, because Google provides ads that appear in her blog.

Posted by: LBrettGlass | May 26, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

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