We all know that Google is powerful–but a new Politico story goes into a bit more detail about how powerful. As for the why behind the company’s new D.C. office, located “within walking distance of Capitol Hill”:
“The company has hired an army of lobbyists from coast to coast as it seeks to protect its self-driving cars, computer-mounted glasses and other emerging technologies from new rules and restrictions”
It’s not all Washington for Google, though: the company’s aim is to use congressmen and other representatives to help fight various regulations in locales around the country.
One of the company’s spokespeople tells Politico:
“Technology issues are a big part of current policy discussions…It’s important to be part of those discussions and to help policymakers understand new technologies.”
This may feel out of sync for a brand dedicated to doing no evil, but based on the Supreme Court’s recent demonstration of its (lack of) tech prowess in the Aereo case, we can sympathize. Still, when Google spends millions to both teach lawmakers and support candidates it likes on the state and federal levels, things get a bit complicated.
For instance, Google wants to exert its influence in order to change laws so it can move forward with Google Fiber, which will theoretically bring “ultrafast, gigabit-speed Internet” to all in surrounding areas. But first, laws must change to give the company easier access to the infrastructure. Google also had to lobby states to allow for testing of its driverless cars.
Last year, the company spent millions to fight a law that would have prohibited education software providers from “processing student data for commercial purposes.”
Like Uber and Airbnb, Google is growing more politically active in order to support its own goals. Of course many would argue, as the “sharing economy” companies do, that such “disruptive” businesses simply want to achieve universal gains for everyone. Certain parties will vehemently disagree.
Also: remember that this is politics in a country dominated by two parties designed to never align with one another on anything. The black eyes will come with time.