Google goes to Washington

WASHINGTON - Google has opened a lobbying office in Washington, DC, to keep tabs on federal policies and regulations that could affect the online giant as it expands into new markets and attempts to keep its powerful search engine intact.

Google's first hire in the office is Alan Davidson, a technology law expert and former associate director at the Center for Democracy and Technology. Google wrote in a recent blog posting that its DC office will focus on many issues, including telecommunications law, electronic copyright, and online liability.

"Our mission in Washington boils down to this: Defend the Internet as a free and open platform for information, communication, and innovation," wrote Andrew McLaughlin, Google's senior policy counsel, in the blog entry.

The company plans to engage in policy debates over privacy and spyware, trademark dilution, patent law reform, and voice-over-Internet-protocol regulation. "The Internet policy world is fluid, so our priorities will surely morph over time," McLaughlin wrote.

Google has been making moves into a wide array of new markets. The company announced this summer that it had acquired mobile-phone software firm Android and was getting into the instant messaging and Internet telephony businesses. The company also has invested in Current Communications Group, a company that offers broadband access over power lines.

Meanwhile, one of Google's new businesses, Print for Libraries, is facing a lawsuit from the Authors Guild, which alleges that Google's scanning and digitizing of library books constitutes copyright infringement.

Google officials were unavailable to comment on the company's new DC lobbying operation.

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