There have been some folks in the press who have repeatedly pointed out Google CEO Eric Schmidt's close relationship with President Obama to suggest that Google should be "protected" from government regulation. However, there's little to suggest that's necessarily the case. Plenty of folks who feel strongly anti-Google have close relationships with the administration as well. And, as Bloomberg notes, Obama's nominee for antitrust chief, Christine Varney, has recently described Google as a likely antitrust problem, noting the company "has acquired a monopoly in Internet online advertising." Of course, that's wrong on many levels (it doesn't have anything close to a monopoly in online ads), but this should at least serve as evidence that reports of Google's "control" over the administration isn't nearly as strong as some have been suggesting.
In a welcome Web 2.0 twist, our friends at the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee have posted video or audio content for every keynote and panel of their annual tech policy-pallooza. The whole lot is the organization's Facebook page.
Below is Skype President Josh Silverman and Congressman Bob Goodlatte talking next generation communications and policy in a keynote chat...
The TLF has the scoop on possible Republican names for the FCC vacancy.... Two former Bush administration officials (David Gross, ambassador for international communications and information policy; and Meredith Baker, former acting assistant secretary of commerce for telecommunications and information policy) were welcome additions to many tech policy related events and conferences in recent years. (I'm sure that they did other stuff, too).
The Business Software Alliance said the senator "has the potential to be an outstanding Secretary of Commerce." The Information Technology Industry Council said: "He has been a strong proponent of opening overseas markets to U.S. exports, he backed a permanent R&D tax credit and has voted favorably on litigation reform."
Gregg has been a friend of the business community, receiving a cumulative score of 88 percent in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's most recent congressional scorecard. (By comparison, Obama received a 42 percent rating, and Vice President Joe Biden a mere 35 percent.) On CNET's 2008 scorecard that rated a broader range of votes including ones relating to gambling and wiretaps, Gregg received a 50 percent.
He has been a champion of eliminating any limits on H-1B "guest worker" visas, telling Microsoft's Bill Gates in 2007 that he "agreed 100 percent" that there should be no limits on them. Gregg acknowledged that his colleagues would not be inclined to support such a radical proposal; he introduced legislation last year raising the limit on H-1B "guest worker" visas from 65,000 to 115,000 and the advanced-degree exemption to 30,000 visas for the next three years.
Currently, the DC Google fascination cycle is in the throes of wondering if the company is setting itself up for an Icarus-like fall for having the CEO stand too close to the President (repeatedly), or whether it is now an increasingly sober Beltway player who is engineering the game the way it was meant to be played (i.e, getting a think tank to play that ever so helpful "third-party" role).
Regardless of where you stand, you can't help but be impressed of what impact that Google has had on the communications landscape in such a relatively short amount of time. And, the policy side of this work falls under Whitt's purview. (The billions spent on the business side doesn't hurt either).
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