Google is opening an office in Washington DC, in an attempt to extend its influence on public policy and lawmakers to lobby against the opposition it is facing from established players to its new services.
In another sign of the seven-year-old company's growing maturity, Google said it had appointed Alan Davidson, a veteran thinker and advocate on technology issues, as the first member of its Washington team.
Davidson was previously associate director of the Center for Democracy and Technology, a non-profit Washington-based pressure group promoting civil liberties and human rights on the internet.
He led internet free expression and digital copyright projects and has worked on issues such as broadband access and internet standard-setting.
His interests intersect with Google's current concerns — the company is facing opposition from publishers' associations and a class action lawsuit by authors over its interpretation of copyright laws as it scans and digitises books under its Google Print Library Project.
It is also beginning to compete with telecommunications operators by launching an internet voice call service and bidding to provide wireless broadband access for San Francisco.
Davidson was unavailable for comment but, in a note in Google's official blog, Andrew McLaughlin, senior policy counsel, said policymaking and regulatory activity in Washington seemed to affect Google and its users more every day.
"It's important to be involved – to participate in the policy process and contribute to the debates that inform it. So we've opened up a shop there," he wrote. "Our mission boils down to this: defend the internet as a free and open platform for information, communication and innovation."
McLaughlin said other debates Google was engaged in included privacy and spyware, trademark dilution, patent law reform and voice-over-internet-protocol regulation.