The Google Government in 2008

    December 29, 2008
    Chris Crum

It has been a big year for Google in a number of capacities. The company constantly begins new projects, and many are ones that have a tremendous impact on users’ lives. Whether that be something as simple as allowing video chat in Gmail, tracking the flu virus, or helping to educate the young.

Government is one area in particular in which Google has had a big year, as Alan Davidson, Google’s Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs is kind enough to highlight for us. He writes:

When I first joined Google in 2005, we didn’t have a permanent office in D.C., which made for a quasi-nomadic lifestyle. So take it from me, it was great to welcome everyone to the grand opening of our permanent Washington office in January. Since then we’ve welcomed literally thousands of guests – from state finalists and regional Doodle4Google winners to Hispanic College Fund scholars – for dozens of events large and small. (Not to be outdone, the Federal division of Google’s Enterprise Sales group moved into their own new office in nearby Reston, VA this year.)

Our new space has been the perfect place to host "Google D.C. Talks," our series of panel discussions on technology policy for the broader Washington community. Topics have ranged from the state of the Internet economy to digital natives, and in November we launched a three-part series of "Talks" focusing on the 2009 technology policy agenda.

Google has been involved with the Federal Communications Commission. The company helped trigger two key openness conditions in open applications and devices. They also had to deal with the Department of Justice over the infamous advertising deal with Yahoo that was not to be.

Then there was the election. Yahoo News may have been the top site on Election Day, but in all the time leading up to it, Google-owned YouTube was a huge destination for people turning to find coverage (not to mention, Google’s search engine). In fact, the election has often been referred to as the "YouTube Election." Barack Obama has even begun broadcasting weekly addresses to the nation via YouTube. YouTube also had people "video their vote" on Election Day.

Video Your Vote

Google offered a variety of tools around election time, such as one that showed voters where to go to cast their ballots, In Quotes, which lets users compare quotes from the candidates based on specific topics, and others. Googlers Eric Schmidt and Vint Cerf were also openly endorsing Obama.

Google In Quotes

Googlers also had a presence on Capitol Hill as Davidson notes: "Larry hit Capitol Hill in May and September to push for "white spaces," and in November Eric talked about the economy and clean energy. And several Googlers testified before Congress this year on issues like small business, privacy, free expression, competition, and energy efficiency: David Fischer, Jane Horvath, Nicole Wong, David Drummond, and Dan Reicher."

It is interesting to see a company like Google be involved with so many different aspects of politics and our government. The idea no doubt makes some people uneasy, particularly those concerned about things like Google Maps Street View. I wonder what 2009 has in store.