While surfing my usual news sources last night, I stumbled upon some exciting news. According to Technology Daily, Google has hired Alan Davidson to open their Washington DC lobbying and policy shop. This is the best news I’ve heard in ages!
I’ve known Alan for many years and appeared on many panels with him. He is one of the smartest, kindest, and most thoughtful people you will ever run across — definitely a rare breed in Washington DC policy circles! His blend of high-tech knowledge, legal and policy acumen, and his innate nature as an all-around ‘nice guy’ is just exactly the kind of leadership that Google very much needs in Washington.
I have criticized Google on a number of occasions, mostly for their apparent lack of foresight on many privacy-related matters. But I’ve also defended Google when I thought they were being unfairly lambasted. Indeed, during the whole Gmail frenzy, I spoke out in Google’s defense, and even schlepped to Sacramento to meet with Senator Figueroa’s staff to discuss my concerns about their bill and its impact on Google’s service.
Like too many businesses in Silicon Valley (or Sillycon Valley as I like to call it), Google has been slow to get its footing in the policy arena. But it’s definitely making up for lost time by hiring Alan. Congrats to both Alan and to Google!
According to a report today by CNet’s Declan McCullagh, documents obtained from the Department of Homeland Security indicate how much difficulty the department’s CPO has had in getting to the bottom of privacy problems at the agency. Declan’s report says that DHS CPO Nuala O’Connor Kelly (who I’ve known and been terribly fond of ever since her days at DoubleClick) was trying to investigate the release of passenger records by JetBlue, but kept running into a brick wall… named Carol DiBattiste! ChoicePoint seems to have chosen well, particularly if its goal is to avoid taking responsibility for privacy problems.
The contrast between Google’s choice of Alan Davidson and ChoicePoint’s selection of Carol DiBattiste couldn’t be more stark. I can tell you where my money is when it comes to which company will successfully navigate its way through future privacy-related minefields.