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Analysis: Lobbyists with government backgrounds hired to help net neutrality

Turns out there are proportionally as many pro-net neutrality lobbyists being hired from government as those on the other sides, according to an analysis by the Sunlight Foundation.

In a blog post today, Sunlight said Google and Microsoft, proponents of net neutrality rules for broadband providers, have hired 112 former government officials to lobby as Congress and the Federal Communications Commission have both pushed new broadband Internet policies.

For the first three months of 2010, seventy-four percent of the lobbyists hired by both Google and Microsoft have previous experience in government, according to data obtained from the Center for Responsive Politics and lobbyist disclosure forms. This is a very similar number when compared to the percentage of former government officials hired to lobby for the top six telecommunications organizations.

The report follows an analysis of telecom and cable company lobbying on net neutrality by the nonprofit group focused on government transparency.

To be sure, Google is a strong backer of net neutrality and the corporate face of the policy push by the FCC and Obama administration. Microsoft is, too, but has been a bit more nuanced in its position over the past year, warning that regulation shouldn't go too far.

By Cecilia Kang  |  July 2, 2010; 2:30 PM ET
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It is probably misleading to name these lobbyists by their position on network neutrality. Network neutrality is just one of many regulatory issues that have significance for companies that have a significant business interest in the internet. Not surprisingly companies generally make some effort to influence government policies that have a significant impact on their business. Not surprisingly, companies tend to hire people with some experience that prepares them for their job.

Posted by: dnjake | July 3, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Note Cecilia Kang's biased headline. The lobbyists, she says, were not hired to promote Google's selfish corporate interests but to "help net neutrality." Yet more evidence of her continuing bias toward Google. Kang also fails to do her job as a reporter by failing to note that the Sunlight Foundation has received large contributions from Google and has a Google executive on its advisory board (it has no representatives from any ISP listed as a board member). Thus, it routinely understates Google's lobbying while overstating that of telecommunications companies. Seems to me that the group needs to have some "sunlight" shed on its own doings and relationships!

Posted by: LBrettGlass | July 6, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

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