The Google Lobby: More Powerful Than You Think

Of course, they're still playing catch-up with big telecom firms

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There's a new power player in Washington and it's hiring some of the most expensive lobbying firms in town. Google, the search giant hell-bent on organizing the world's information, also wants a big say in the nation's politics. The company spent $1.38 million on lobbying in the first quarter—a 57 percent increase from last year. What's the Mountain View-based company up to?

  • This Company Means Business! writes David Goldman at CNN Money: "Google is barnstorming the nation's capital... The company employs 30 staffers in Washington and turns to some of the biggest names in lobbying, including the Podesta Group, Dutko Worldwide and McBee Strategic Consulting, for outside help... Google's government influence also reaches into the White House. Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt was one of the first and biggest supporters of Barack Obama's 2008 campaign, appearing in a 30-minute campaign advertisement and donating $25,000 out of his own pocket for inauguration ceremonies. Obama appointed Schmidt to the administration's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
  • Google Wants to Expand Even More, writes Leena Rao at TechCrunch: "Google is facing a timely challenge over its $750 million acquisition of mobile ad network AdMob. It’s safe to assume that the search giant is probably allocating considerable lobbying efforts towards influencing lawmakers to approve the deal, which is in jeopardy if the FTC blocks the acquisition. In fact, in the filing, one of the lobbying activities Google discloses is towards the 'Regulation of online advertising; privacy and competition issues surrounding online advertising' and 'Openness and competition in the online services market.'"
  • Google's Fighting the Net Neutrality Wars, writes Jonathan Salent at BusinessWeek: "The company has urged the FCC to bar companies that offer Internet access, such as Philadelphia-based Comcast Corp. and Dallas-based AT&T Inc., from favoring some content providers over others. The FCC is considering a policy, known as net neutrality, which would prevent companies from favoring some content and from blocking or slowing the services of other companies."
  • They've Really Got Their Hands Dirty, writes Alexei Oreskovic at Reuters: "The lobbying was directed at numerous government bodies and agencies including the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Commerce Department and the Federal Trade Commission, according to the filings. Google also lobbied the Executive Office of the President about international freedom of expression and censorship, as well as general export control issues, according to the records."
  • Google's Not That Powerful, says Art Brodsky, a Net neutrality advocate: "Google is like an ant compared to the guys that it is going up against. The telecom companies have been around for 100 years. People think of Google as this big colossus, and it is, but in Washington, they're really not yet."
  • Look on the Bright Side, writes Doug Caverly at Web Pro News: "Google might be able to argue that it isn't just out to make money, though.  Other parts of the document name specific lobbying issues, and they include innocuous-sounding topics like 'renewable energies,' 'health information technology,' and 'encouraging accessibility of public sector information.'"
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