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Optical/IP

Google Goes to Wonkytown

Not content to watch from the Left Coast, search engine giant and telecom hopeful Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) has opened its own advocacy office in Washington D.C.

Google made the move public late last week with a posting at its Internet blog site. “Our mission in Washington boils down to this: Defend the Internet as a free and open platform for information, communication and innovation,” writes Google attorney Andrew McLaughlin. (See Google's Own Private Internet.)

The new office, Google says, will represent the company on policy issues like Net neutrality, copyrights and fair use, intermediary liability, privacy, spyware, trademark dilution, patent law reform, and VOIP regulation.

Google would not release the street address of the new office, but said it is about one mile from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Google's main man in the new office is Alan Davidson, former associate director at the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT). CDT is a non-profit public interest group concerned with influencing lawmakers on Internet-related policy issues.

Davidson has been working on Google's behalf for several months. Recently, he and others from Google met with Sen. Joe Barton (R-Texas) and his staff to discuss the Senator’s much-talked-about “re-tooling” of the Telecom Act. (See New Telecom Bill Draws Raves.)

“Our primary interest in this proposed legislation is to preserve the highly successful, open, end-to-end nature of the Internet,” Davidson says in an email to Light Reading.

“We have been promoting network neutrality to ensure our users can access whatever content or applications they want, and that broadband carriers can't unfairly discriminate against those who use competing services.”

Google has for months been moving to extend its business beyond the popular search engine and ad sales. The company has entered the telecom arena with plans to deploy a large core transport network, and with its new Google Talk product, which includes a voice-over-IP application. (See LR: Google Global Network, Google's Own Private Internet, and Google Talks the Talk.)

As Google’s product set grows, so do the number of tech policy areas that could directly affect the company’s bottom line. But Davidson denies Google's telecom aspirations are what drove the company to open its Washington office.

"No, there are a wide range of issues that affect our users," Davidson says, "related to a number of our services."

— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading

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