Internet search company Google Inc. has registered in-house lobbyists for the first time since establishing a Washington office in 2005.
Up until this year, Google only had been using several outside lobbying firms, including King & Spalding LLP and the Podesta Group, to represent its federal policy interests.
Technology companies in general have been slow to recognize the need to lobby Capitol Hill, experts said, and they also spend less than other heavily regulated industries, such as oil and gas, telecommunications and drug makers.
"We've expanded our presence because there are an increasing number of issues being debated in Washington that are of concern to our users," said Adam Kovacevich, a spokesman for Google, which spent $580,000 in first six months of 2007 to lobby the federal government.
He cited several issues that prompted the company to register in-house lobbyists this year, including privacy, online child safety and "Net neutrality," the principle that all Internet sites should be equally accessible to any Web user.
Google lobbied in the first six months of the year for regulatory approval of its proposed acquisition of online advertising company DoubleClick Inc., increasing the number of visas for high-tech foreign workers and other issues, according to a disclosure form posted online Monday by the Senate's public records office.
Google also is considering bidding in a federal auction of wireless airwaves early next year. The company said it may bid at least $4.6 billion.
The Mountain View, Calif.-based company lobbied the Federal Communications Commission, U.S. Trade Representative's office, Federal Trade Commission and State Department.
Among its newly registered lobbyists are: Alan Davidson, Google's senior policy counsel who started the Washington office; Rick Whitt, the company's media and telecommunications counsel; Johanna Shelton, former counsel to the House Energy and Commerce Committee; and Pablo Chavez, who was chief counsel to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
Under a federal law enacted in 1995, lobbyists are required to disclose activities that could influence members of the executive and legislative branches. They must register with Congress within 45 days of being hired or engaging in lobbying.