SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Alphabet Incs Google is trying to plug a record of public control around the world by overhauling how the policy office operates, with an emphasis on having policy and senior executives building relationships with governments, people familiar with The case, said this week.
FILE PHOTO: The Google logo appears outside the corporate offices of New York, USA, June 4, 2019. REUTERS / Brendan McDermid
The negative attention to Google's power and its data collection practices can damage its public image and force expensive business changes.
Google's global politics office had gone year-round without major strategy protection until Karan Bhatia was hired in June of June from General Electric Co., where he also led government affairs and politics.
In his first year, he added "governmental affairs" to the entity's name before "public policy" to stress white paper writing, revised reporting lines, and began cutting a list of contract lobbyists, eight of the people said.
The Movement aims to get Google's own devices, including cloud computing, consumer hardware, and YouTube – along with each unit's leading executives – to take a greater role in lobbying issues that affect them and set the company up to a similarly challenging regulatory environment. Threats in different parts of the world, sources said.
In Washington, lawmakers have long raised concerns about Google's leaders, not engaging enough to tackle their concerns or personally weigh in on political discussions, according to lobbyists. The problem attracted attention in September last year when senators pointed out an empty seat for Google at an intelligence committee's hearing on election integrity after the firm refused to send a senior leader to testify.
The empty seat blender, like Google's Washington leadership, finally acknowledged it, and a number of political defeats on issues such as copyright in Europe and censorship in Asia have given Bhatia a wide opening for bringing change, sources said. Google's CEO, Sundar Pichai, has traveled to Washington every quarter since Bhatia joined, including a meeting with President Donald Trump.
The company refused to comment on this story. Proponents have refused several requests to interview Bhatia since he employees.
Bhatia's centralized policy design through a set of "expert centers", each focusing on a specific problem such as data security rules, competition law or economic policy, sources said.
Google's guidelines have been organized regionally, a follow-up to the company's gradual expansion into new countries. But different regions with limited coordination each had their own design to make suggestions to address the same concern.
Under Bhatia, the regional teams focus more on interacting with lawmakers and regulators out of the office, sources said.
The four regional heads reporting to Bhatia include Ted Osius for Asia Pacific and Doron Avni for Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Russia. US Canada and Europe leaders have not been called.
Also reporting to Bhatia is Leslie Miller, who oversees the expert sessions, and Wilson White, who oversees teams focusing on passing on insights to YouTube, Google Cloud, and other business entities.
MORE INTERNAL INVOLVEMENT
Getting Pichai and his product leaders to be more involved has been a challenge over the years because Pichai has been reluctant to engage with government decision-makers on a core duty, people say, unlike the CEOs like Apple. Incs Tim Cook and General Motors Cos Mary Barra.
Bhatia may end up drawing product leaders for government by having individual Google units employ lobbying directly in the future, sources say.
He has already started resetting lobby contracts. Google recently fired a long-standing lobbying campaign in Europe and has threatened to release as many as 20 of its US lobbying operations from the 26 it worked with last year, sources said.
An American company said it was told that the last day was June 30, while three others said they were waiting for words from Google. Everyone refused to be named because they were not authorized to comment on their client.
The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, referring to non-named sources, that Google has fired six US lobbying operations, which together made up about half of the $ 20 million local lobbying budget.
Reporting of Paresh Dave in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Brad Haynes in Sao Paulo and Foo Yun Chee in Brussels; Editing by Greg Mitchell and Leslie Adler