Google Blitzes Capitol Hill

Lets Page give Congress a talkin-to

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It must be Google week in Washington because representatives from the company were involved in at least three separate policy discussions. Fortunately, for the most part, the search company’s lobbying efforts didn’t seem entirely self-serving, unlike some other major corporations and their help-us-make-more-money demands.

Co-founder Larry Page did most of the talking, presumably taking on that grownup role CEO Eric Schmidt recently talked about. The last time a co-founder popped into Washington, Sergey Brin found out he should probably make an appointment and that if you want to talk to Ted Stevens you need to procure a series of tubes, a dump truck, and a get-out-of-federal-indictment free card.

After responding to Rep. Joe Barton’s (R-TX) 24 privacy questions, Page spoke to other key lawmakers like House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) about opening up the white spaces serving as buffers between the soon to be turned over spectrum.

Saying the white spaces could be used to provide "Wifi on steroids," Page argued that opening up unused spectrum to unlicensed devices could help expand broadband access. He also reassured lawmakers it could be done without interfering with wireless microphones or TV signals, a sore spot among both microphone manufacturers and the National Association of Broadcasters.

"Part of why I’m here is I don’t want people to be misled by people who have interests. I’m really bothered by that," Page said, before reminding them what a "huge opportunity" it would be Google if broadband connectivity could be increased. "For us, that translates into more revenues…. If you have 10 percent more connectivity in the U.S. that’s 10 percent more revenue for us and that’s a big number. The more available broadband is and the lower the cost, we make more money," he said.

Well, at least he’s honest and more competition in the wireless space can be a positive side effect for the public. Video of Page’s thoughts on white space usage can be seen at the New America Foundation website.

Meanwhile, in another part of the Marble City, Google’s Deputy General Counsel Nicole Wong testified before Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law about freedom of expression and corporate responsibilities when it comes to doing business in repressive countries—China, for example.

Google once defended its business in China by arguing it had to abide by foreign law in order to operate there, and called on the US government to incorporate anti-censorship measures in trade agreements with other countries instead of pressuring international businesses.

Wong and Google went into more detail for the Senate Judiciary Committee, lobbying not just for anti-censorship measures in trade negotiations, but also for strengthening the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by encouraging countries to ratify it, for appointing an Ambassador-At-Large for Internet Freedom, and for promoting free expression as part of foreign aid.

Wong’s testimony is below:

Google Blitzes Capitol Hill
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