John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Google Searching for D.C. Astroturfing Expert…Um…“Federal Policy Outreach Manager"

“Google is not a conventional company,” wrote founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in a letter to investors ahead of its quirky Dutch auction IPO in 2004. “We do not intend to become one.”

Except when it comes to wielding power in Washington. In that case, the champion of the unorthodox is as conventional as they come.

In other words: It’s politics as usual.

To wit, this recruitment ad spotted by the sharp-eyed Politico Web site. Google’s searching for a “Federal Policy Outreach Manager,” which as best I can tell is Google’s euphemism for Director of Astroturfing.

From the job description:

As a Federal Policy Outreach Manager, you will handle our federal public policy team’s outreach to industry trade groups, think tanks, advocacy groups and other influential people and organizations. You will work closely with these entities to solicit input and design and communicate Google’s public policy positions, with the aim of advancing sound public policy positions for the Internet and its users.

Note that “Google’s public policy positions” and “sound public policy positions for the Internet and its users” are, in the company’s estimation, one and the same. Although I imagine regulators and consumer advocates might disagree with that equivalency on certain “key issue areas” like privacy, competition, advertising and net neutrality, among other things.

But that’s incidental to the larger picture here, which is this: Google lost its political innocence a long time ago, and it’s now just as much a part of the Washington establishment as the rivals it once criticized for political predation.

Recall any rumors about Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer in the running for the next Secretary of Commerce?

Didn’t think so.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik