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Google Muscles In On D.C.

Just in case you thought that Google didn't have grand ambitions, consider this: Yahoo and Microsoft aren't big enough targets for the search giant. Now it has the federal government in its cross-hairs.
Google announced yesterday that it had opened a lobbying office in D.C. Its stated aim: to influence copyright and telecom laws.

It's obvious why it's targeting copyright laws --- its Google Print project is being sued for massive copyright infringement, and the company will certainly lobby Congress to pass laws allowing it to continue the project.

But why should Google care about telecom? The most likely reason: It wants to make sure that Congress doesn't pass laws outlawing cities and towns from launching their own wireless networks. Google is bidding to provide free WiFi for San Francisco. Most likely that's just a test bed for a national free WiFi service. If Congress outlaws municipal WiFi, that'll make it harder for Google to realize its ambitions.

There are plenty of other regulatory issues Google will want its hands in. So far the company has done a remarkable job developing new technologies, and exploiting them for profit. But it's about to find out that politics is a whole lot tougher than TCP/IP, HTTP, or any other technology with which it's wrangled.