The March 10th issue of the Economist includes a half-page ad from Google, with this bold header:
Google is searching for leaders for our European public policy and government affairs team.
Google wants to set up positions in London, Paris, Brussels, Hamburg/Berlin, Dublin, Rome/Milan, Madrid, Amsterdam, Stockholm, and Warsaw. According to the ad:
Key issues you will champion include privacy; freedom of expression; copyrights; competition and security; regulation of online content, advertising and technology.
As Ars Technica points out, this isn’t coming out of thin air. Google has encountered domain name troubles, trademark struggles, and fair use obstacles in several European countries. Perhaps being the 800-lb. gorilla of the Internet doesn’t mean you couldn’t use a little extra help. Europe seems to be butting heads with the American titans of the Internet these days. Microsoft has already shelled out huge fines to the EU, and now faces the specter of further fines based on the theory that the company’s communications protocols aren’t innovative enough to warrant royalties. Apple’s FairPlay DRM is being challenged by several European countries, who seem unimpressed with Steve Jobs’ call to end music DRM. It looks like Professors Goldsmith and Wu were right in Who Controls the Internet? As China builds its own walled-off SinoNet, Europe is getting more concerned about the influence of the American Internet goliaths. As the Internet matures, it is becoming more fractured and more complex. Technological prowess and lofty ambitions, it seems, are no longer enough. These days you need a lobbyist in Madrid.In