“Google Inc. is moving its Washington office closer to Capitol Hill after spending $18.2 million on lobbying, more than Northrop Grumman Corp. and enough to rank the technology company as the eighth-biggest advocacy spender,” Todd Shields reports for Bloomberg News. “It’s an investment that’s already paying off in increased influence. Google has hired lobbyists and boosted political giving on its way to wins at the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission, and it has entrée to the White House where an employee is helping fix the ailing Obamacare website.”

“Google adopted the tools for gaining influence: campaign cash, attentive lobbyists and friends on both sides of the partisan divide. Last year the Silicon Valley company hired former Republican Representative Susan Molinari to lead its Washington office, and Chairman Eric Schmidt was a high-profile contributor and backer of President Barack Obama’s re-election,” Shields reports. “Google passed two Washington power tests when it escaped an FCC probe in 2012 of improper data collection with a $25,000 fine, and the FTC dropped an antitrust probe in January. Now lobbyists for the company are working on protecting its reputation amid revelations about U.S. spying.”

“Google was ‘outraged’ after a report the NSA intercepted data from its networks, David Drummond, the Mountain View, California-based company’s top lawyer, said in a statement Oct. 31. The incident, detailed by the Washington Post, “underscores the need for urgent reform,” Drummond said,” Shields reports. “Google is asking Congress for the ability to publicly release how often technology companies turn over customer data in response to government orders. Companies joining in the push to provide more transparency to its customers include Facebook Inc., Apple Inc., Microsoft and AOL Inc… ‘They have caught up’ after a slow start in Washington, John Feehery, a former Republican leadership aide in the House, said in an interview. ‘From their reputational standpoints, they have to be strong in condemning NSA. They can’t be seen as puppets.'”

Shields reports, “Google joined Red Hat Inc., Oracle Corp. and other technology companies contributing computer engineers and programmers to help the Obama administration fix the U.S. health-insurance exchange website created under the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. A Google worker on leave is participating.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]

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