Google Goes to Washington

Google has announced that it plans to step up efforts to lobby in Washington, but it says that it would be working on behalf of the technology industry in general rather than in its own best interest.

The search giant will open up an office in the nation's capital, and the first member of its lobbying team will be Alan Davidson, a veteran technology lobbyist and Director at the Center for Democracy and Technology.

"Our mission in Washington boils down to this: Defend the Internet as a free and open platform for information, communication and innovation," Google senior policy counsel Andrew McLaughlin said on Thursday.

McLaughlin gave a sampling of the policy issues Google would work on including net neutrality, copyrights and fair use, and intermediary liability.

One of the issues Google will tackle has become news this week: Level 3 and Cogent Communications are involved in a spat that has made Web sites on each network inaccessible or very slow to users on the opposite network. Google said the government has a responsibility to monitor the Internet so events like this do not occur.

Google will also push for laws that make ISPs and intermediaries liable for the content contained on their servers. Google just indexes the information, the search engine argued, and feels it is not its place to censor information contained throughout the Web. Instead, it will provide tools that help filter out the potentially inappropriate material if the user so desires.

"This is just a taste. We’re also engaged in policy debates over privacy and spyware, trademark dilution, patent law reform, voice-over-Internet-protocol (VOIP) regulation, and more," McLaughlin added. "The Internet policy world is fluid, so our priorities will surely morph over time."

Google will not limit itself to working on behalf of technology in the United States; it also has plans to eventually lobby world governments on technology issues, McLaughlin said.

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