Washington's passion for Google cools


If it is true - as many believe - that the political elite in Washington have been engaged in a love affair with Google since Barack Obama's campaign for the White House, then it is also true that the US president is now beginning to notice some wrinkles and warts on his beloved.

Although the faltering economic recovery has taken center stage in Washington ahead of November's midterm elections, Google this week appeared to have created some fresh problems for the administration. The news that Google had struck a deal with Verizon, the US telecoms group, over how the companies will manage Internet traffic was seen by many in Washington as a lethal blow to attempts by the White House to fulfill a campaign promise to a key subset of voters: the active and vocal "netizens" who support the passage of net neutrality legislation, a law that would ensure that all Internet traffic be treated equally. The details of the deal have yet to be announced but are expected to contain provisions that are at odds with the administration's position.

Now, industry insiders on Capitol Hill and at the Federal Communications Commission are questioning Google's motives for an apparent about-face on its position as one of the most powerful advocates of net neutrality. The move has at least temporarily diminished the standing of FCC Chairman Genachowski. He is facing intense criticism from rank-and-file Democrats on Capitol Hill who object to his plan to issue tough new regulations of the broadband industry, a move that was seen as heavily supportive of Google. Now that the search company has made its own arrangements, Chairman Genachowski is not expected to move ahead with the plan, although the FCC says "all options are on the table".

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