Google takes new policy approach amid growing global threats

Google’s global policy chief Karan Bhatia. (Bloomberg pic)

WASHINGTON: Alphabet’s Google is reorganising its approach to global policy, including the addition of resources to emerging markets, according to a person familiar with the moves, which come as the internet giant faces new threats and regulations around the world.

In an internal email, the company’s new global policy chief, Karan Bhatia, described the reorganisation as a reaction to policymakers who are increasingly empowered to regulate the company’s core businesses, said the person, who asked not to be identified discussing personnel decisions.

Bhatia, a former deputy US trade representative under Republican President George W Bush, joined Google in June from General Electric.

He is bolstering teams that deal with specific challenges such as antitrust and privacy, while others will focus on particular regions or product lines, the person said.

Axios first reported the reorganisation.

It doesn’t include a replacement for Susan Molinari, Google’s longtime Washington director and a former Republican member of Congress who moved to an advisory position at the end of 2018.

In readying the shifts, Bhatia had circulated an empty organisational chart with his name at the top and blank boxes representing all open positions reporting to him, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News in January.

The gesture prompted staffers to fear for their jobs.

In the US alone, Google must contend with calls for antitrust probes, efforts to pass a national privacy bill, a strict new privacy law from California, criticism from both political parties and the potential for new efforts to make the company and social-media sites responsible for more of the content that users post.

In Europe, Google faces the continent’s new privacy rules and potential antitrust scrutiny of its ad business, as well as a recent directive that requires online platforms to compensate publishers and creators for the content that appears on their websites.

It also faces potential privacy legislation in India and elsewhere.