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    Washington Post: Google tries its hand at influence in Washington

    The Washington Post takes an in-depth look at Google’s efforts to lobby in Washington, D.C. The online services giant has been facing some privacy problems, among other things.

    Google, a once-scrappy Silicon Valley search company that is valued at more than $150 billion, is building an unconventional presence in Washington, with connections to think tanks, education sessions on high-tech issues for legislative staff members and charitable efforts on behalf of high-profile causes. […]

    An antitrust inquiry into Google’s $750 million bid to buy mobile ad firm AdMob was resolved Friday when the FTC allowed it to move forward. But the company still faces questions about its efforts to digitize books and how its board of directors interlocks with that of other Silicon Valley giants. The FTC has opened an investigation into privacy issues related to Google Street View vans capturing data from WiFi networks, and lawmakers and consumer groups have called on the FTC to look into privacy issues related to Google’s Buzz social-networking application.

    Google built its $23.7 billion-a-year online advertising empire on the public trust engendered by its maverick, environmentally conscious “do no evil” PhD founders. But their style hasn’t always been a good match for Washington. […]

    Last year, Google spent $4 million on lobbying, 50 times as much as it did in 2003, when it first turned its attention to Washington. Google’s spending is still significantly lower than its main adversaries’ lobbying tabs: $6.7 million for Microsoft and $14.7 million for AT&T. But it’s more than double what Amazon, Yahoo and eBay spent. […]

    [Google’s] team has sought to charm Washington with a strategy of what it calls “thought leadership.”

    Googlers say that the company has a long-term view of its lobbying and that its goal is to serve as a resource for legislators and government officials who have tech questions. Google often describes itself as a company that is a think tank or a think tank that is a company.

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