Reporting from Washington — Another inauguration took place in Washington this week — Google Inc. officially became a political power player.
In October, Google was only hours from being sued by the Justice Department as a Web-search monopolist. Today, less than three years after it made its first Washington hire, the Internet giant is poised to capitalize on its backing of President Obama and pursue its agenda in the nation’s capital.
Google’s executives and employees overwhelmingly supported Obama’s candidacy, contributing more money than all but three companies or universities. And only DreamWorks employees gave more toward inauguration festivities.
Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt campaigned for Obama and was one of four Googlers on his transition team. He is now as likely as any corporate chieftain to get his calls to the White House returned.
At the top of the company’s policy priorities are two that consumer advocates largely champion. First, it wants to expand high-speed Internet access so people can use its Web services more often. It also is pushing for so-called network neutrality: prohibitions on telecommunications companies charging websites for faster delivery of their content.
“Google is not just a benign corporate entity. It has a variety of special interests,” said Jeff Chester, the executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, who has sparred with Google over data-privacy issues. “They’re in a great position to push their agenda through with the support of the president and the Democrats in Congress.”
How predictable. A company thrives due to freedom. Serving their neighbor. Once in a position of success they turn to the guns of government to push out and keep out competition and ease the aspects of the free market that get in their way.