Google Looking for Federal Antitrust Lawyer as Privacy Counsel

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2009-07-19 Print this article Print

Is Google preparing to mount a defense against federal antitrust regulators?

The search engine giant, the frequent target of privacy advocates concerned that it collects too much data on consumers with its ad and Web services, is looking to hire a privacy policy counsel for its Washington, D.C. office.

Presumably, this legal eagle would report to, or at least work closely with Google Senior Competition Counsel Dana Wagner, he of Google's new "Competition is a click away," pitch.

To qualify, you'd better have five years working for the U.S. Justice Department or one of the "various branches, agencies and institutions of the U.S. government, particularly the U.S. Congress." Here are the qualifications:

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This is what you'll do:

As a Privacy Policy Counsel, you will handle U.S. federal government relations and public policy issues related to privacy and consumer protection issues in a dynamic and growing business environment. In this role, you will advocate Google's public policy positions in a way that reflects the goals and values of the company. Areas of focus include a deep understanding of privacy law and emerging privacy policy issues especially as they relate to the online world. This role also requires significant experience with congressional committees and federal agencies engaged in privacy policy making.

Translation: You will help cover our butts when your former DOJ, FTC or other antitrust colleagues call us to the carpet for questioning.

The position is not a surprise. With 65 percent of the world's searches under its belt, Google is regularly hounded by consumer advocates for the way it collects data from the millions of people who use its search engine.

Federal Trade Commission officials are also looking at Google CEO Eric Schmidt's seat on Apple's board of directors. Google just told me Schmidt has no current plans to step down from this position.

I'm more surprised Google doesn't have such a position already considering the flack the company receives on Capitol Hill from consumer advocates. Google can't do anything without being scrutinized.

I wonder if this is purely a precautionary measure, or if Google is shoring up its defenses because it is expecting to get hit with something soon. Maybe Google is planning to announce something that will put it further under the microscope for its privacy practices, such as new behavioral targeting measures.

What better way to defeat your enemy than to know its every move?

At the least, a D.C. privacy counsel will be able to talk to regulators in the legalese they're so comfortable with. Note how "a sense of humor" is required, the better to disarm the enemy with laughter and wit.

Politics -- you gotta love 'em. |

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