Facing an antitrust investigation and ongoing congressional scrutiny, Google announced on Friday that it is hiring 12 new lobbying firms.
“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,” a Google representative said in a statement. The hires escalate the company's Washington efforts and may demonstrate just how seriously the search giant is taking recent criticism.
The new firms on Google’s payroll are: Akin, Gump; Bingham; Capitol Legislative Strategies; Chesapeake Group; Crossroads Strategies; Gephardt Group; Holland & Knight; Normandy Group; Prime Policy; The First Group; The Madison Group; and The Raben Group. The companies are not yet registered, according to Google, but will be in coming days.
The Federal Trade Commission launched an antitrust probe into Google’s business practices last week, and the company is in a face-off with the Senate Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights subcommittee, which has called for testimony from top Google executives. So far, the Internet company has only offered to send lower-level representatives.
And complaints are coming in from all sides.
"Over time, complaints have increased regarding Google's anticompetitive behavior, in particular the use of its market power in search to push consumers to its own services. The time has come to seriously look into this issue," Rep. Albio Sires, D-N.J., said when the FTC investigation was revealed.
But Google has already started to push back, citing support from other Internet companies and antitrust experts.
“While the FTC may know things we don't, there is thus far no evidence in the public domain that Google is guilty of violations similar to those of which Microsoft was convicted a dozen years ago,” Tom Lenard and Paul Rubin of the Technology Policy Institute, wrote in a post on Forbes.com.