Google hires 12 lobby firms in wake of FTC probe

Fri Jul 1, 2011 3:13pm EDT

* Lobbying on antitrust, privacy, other issues

* Previously hired six other lobbying firms

By Diane Bartz

WASHINGTON, July 1 (Reuters) - Search giant Google Inc (GOOG.O), facing a broad antitrust probe into its business practices, has hired 12 lobbying firms, a spokeswoman from the company said on Friday.

The Federal Trade Commission, which investigates violations of antitrust law, is expected to look into complaints that Google's search results favor the company's other services, among other issues. Google, which runs an estimated 69 percent of Web searches worldwide, can make or break a company depending on its search ranking.

The 12 newly hired lobbying companies are Akin, Gump; Bingham; Capitol Legislative Strategies; Chesapeake Group; Crossroad Strategies; Gephardt Group; Holland & Knight; Normandy Group; Prime Policy; The First Group; The Madison Group; and The Raben Group.

"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," the spokeswoman said.

Google, which has an office in Washington, previously hired six other lobbying firms: Crowell Strategies, Dutko Worldwide, Franklin Square Group, McBee Strategic Consulting, Podesta Group, and RB Murphy & Associates, according to government filings.

The firms will be working on the FTC investigation as well as on several other issues that Google is interested in, the spokeswoman said.

Government filings show Google has lobbied on issues as disparate as copyright, taxes, cybersecurity, privacy and patent reform.

Veteran antitrust regulators say hiring lobbyists will not affect the FTC's investigation.

"I don't think it matters, quite frankly," said Robert Doyle, at the law firm Doyle, Barlow and Mazard PLLC. "I don't care who they hire or how many they hire. Having spent 20 years at the FTC, I know the staff will look at this fairly, honestly and objectively." (Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Tim Dobbyn and John Wallace)

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