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The Hill: Google hiring 12 lobbying firms as FTC readies antitrust probe

-By Gautham Nagesh

July 1, 2011- Google said Friday it will hire a dozen new lobbying firms in a sign the search giant is taking the Federal Trade Commission’s upcoming antitrust investigation seriously.

“We have a strong story to tell about our business and we’ve sought out the best talent we can find to help tell it,” said a Google spokesperson via email.

News broke last week that the FTC has subpoenaed documents for an upcoming investigation into whether Google has abused its dominance of the search market, the first broad antitrust probe of the firm. In response Google has retained a host of Washington lobbying firms to give lawmakers their view on issues such as privacy, copyright enforcement and competition in the search market.

The firms in question are Akin, Gump; Bingham; Capitol Legislative Strategies; Chesapeake Group; Crossroads Strategies; Gephardt Group; Holland & Knight; Normandy Group; Prime Policy; The First Group; The Madison Group; and the Raben Group.

Most of the firms have yet to register on behalf of Google, but will do so in the coming days. Google has drawn scrutiny recently on a host of issues, which helps explain the lobbying blitz.

Privacy concerns have taken center stage since the Street View WiFi spying incident last year, in which Google vehicles downloaded personal information from unencrypted wireless networks. A federal judge ruled this week that Google could be liable for the incident under the Wiretap Act.

The firm is frequently mentioned during the ongoing legislative debate over online privacy and behavioral advertising, due to Google’s huge online ad business.

Google has drawn criticism from lawmakers on copyright enforcement, with some stakeholders accusing the search giant of profiting off ads placed on sites that host pirated content.



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