Google Prepares To Hold Another D.C. Talk

    June 5, 2009

Sometimes, Google and the government get along; one week from today, for example, Google will host a gathering in Washington, D.C. to discuss national security and Web 2.0.  Relationships don’t always proceed smoothly, however, and two consumer watchdog groups have asked the president to decide against hiring a certain Googler.

Let’s start with the more congenial affair.  Google D.C. Talks are held on a regular basis to explore tech’s place in modern government.  All sorts of people show up to these free events, and men from the U.S. Army and the C.I.A. have actually agreed to be panelists this time around.  Nifty, right?

Google DC Talks

Still, it might not do to have Google and the government get too buddy-buddy, which is why Consumer Watchdog and the Center for Digital Democracy are protesting the appointment of Andrew McLaughlin, Google’s Director of Global Public Policy, as Deputy Chief Technology Officer in the White House.

In an open letter to President Obama, representatives of the two organizations recently wrote, "Mr. McLaughlin’s appointment, we believe, must be evaluated in the context of the strong ethical rules your administration has implemented to end the revolving door between lobbyists and the executive branch.  Given Mr. McLaughlin’s role over the years at Google, and most recently his position with its political action committee, any post at the White House would violate the intent of your executive order."

The awkwardness of the situation’s also been exacerbated due to the focus of various antitrust probes on Google.