Google: Hmm, this government regulation stuff looks important. Let's stick some more lobbyists on that

Ad giant plans reshuffle to focus on privacy, anti-trust – reports


Facing down an increased interest in tech regulation, Google is said to be rejigging its global lobbying efforts and upping its focus on privacy and competition.

The search and ad giant might not have garnered quite the column inches that Facebook and its oblivious boss Mark Zuckerberg has – but it is still in lawmakers' crosshairs.

It was handed a €50m fine by the French data protection agency last month for failing to gain valid consent for ads personalisation, is facing complaints in three EU countries over its ad-auction systems and is under fire for its creepy location tracking.

Competition authorities in the US, UK and Europe, meanwhile, have been asked to probe its dominant position in the ad world and beyond, and a handful of EU governments are in the process of implementing digital sales taxes.

So it should, perhaps, be of little surprise that the firm has plans to reorganise its internal structures and target its lobbying powers more directly at governments.

According to Axois, which said it had seen an internal email to this effect, the firm's recently appointed head of public policy and government affairs Karan Bhatia – who had spent the previous decade at GE, and before that worked in the US government – sent an email to staff explaining the changes.

"Our increased responsibilities, the heightened public focus on tech and the growth of our business are placing greater demands on Google than ever before, and those demands will only increase," he is reported to have said.

It will see the public policy team renamed "government affairs and public policy", which Bhatia reportedly said was to reflect that the firm is "increasingly focused on the government stakeholders critical to Google's operations and regulating the next generations of technology".

The reorganisation will see more staff working in a central group that looks at sweeping issues like privacy or anti-trust rather than on products or regions. Separate groups will work on regional and product issues.

"This reorganization restructures our function to better meet those demands and to successfully engage with governments and other stakeholders," the email is said to have stated.

Rumours of a shakeup were first reported in January, with Bloomberg saying Bhatia had circulated an empty org chart that had only his name at the top – implying all positions were subject to change and prompting unease from staffers.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment. ®

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