Citizen Google Launches Public Policy Blog

Google wants to go beyond discussing its latest tools and products with blog readers — the search engine giant is eager to share its corporate viewpoint with public policy makers.

The company launched a new blog this week to provide information and thought processes from inside Google headquarters to policy makers around the world, said Andrew McLaughlin, Google’s director of public policy and government affairs. The blog aims to discuss policies that “foster free expression, promote economic growth, expand access to information, enable innovation and protect consumers,” he said.

A Two-Way Street

Google’s many existing blogs have typically leaned on technical topics: the Checkout tool, the Mashup Editor and analytics. They also have served as avenues through which Google informs the public about corporate affairs.

The public policy blog differentiates itself by inviting outsider comments — a feature many of the other Google blogs do not. This is to foster that oft-invoked communication companies say they want with their customers, according to McLaughlin. However, the customers this particular blog seeks to serve do not comprise all Google users. Rather, the blog is aimed at those who make public policy, including “legislators, ministers, governors, city councilmembers, regulators and the staffers who support them,” McLaughlin noted.

Dialogue Begins

Already, a number of those involved in corporate public policy issues have come forward to welcome the blog. Among them are a Verizon staffer working on that company’s policy blog, an Iowa healthcare advocacy worker and the policy coordinator for Canadian policy group CLUE.

A number of controversial issues also have been raised in the two dozen comments posted so far. They include Google’s practice of storing historical information on users’ searches, the company’s cooperation with the Chinese government in filtering Internet information available to searches initiated by people in that country, and the implications of Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick.

That’s what the company is looking for, Google spokesperson Adam Kovacevich told TechNewsWorld. “We absolutely expect people to be blunt and honest and take issue with what we’re doing,” he said.

Will a deluge come with the opening of the floodgates? Perhaps so, he conceded. Google’s long-term goal is to open more of the company’s blogs to two-way interaction with users. The limitation, he noted, has been staffing and the “person power” necessary to monitor comments and follow conversations in so many different forums.

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