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6/3/2009
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Former Google Exec Faces Objections To Deputy CTO Appointment

Two consumer groups object to Andrew McLaughlin's potential appointment, saying it would violate President Obama's ethics guidelines.

The reported appointment of Google's former head of global public policy as federal deputy CTO is being challenged by two consumer groups.

Andrew McLaughlin is slated to become the new deputy CTO, under federal CTO Aneesh Chopra, according to a New York Times report citing two unnamed sources.

Google has acknowledged McLaughlin's departure, but not his destination. The White House has not yet announced plans to appoint McLaughlin.

Nonetheless, the Center for Digital Democracy and Consumer Watchdog on Wednesday asked President Obama in a letter not to complete the rumored pending appointment because doing so would violate the president's ethics guidelines.

"The problem is that [McLaughlin] has been a lobbyist for the biggest digital marketing company in the world, and we believe no special interest connected person should assume a position of vital importance to the country's future," the letter from the two consumer groups states. "It would be just as inappropriate for a lobbyist from Microsoft, Yahoo!, or any similar technology company to be appointed Deputy Chief Technology Officer."

The letter also cites Google's market power as a secondary reason to deny McLaughlin's appointment. "Google's growing influence is already raising profound concern," the letter says. "The Justice Department is weighing antitrust issues relating to the proposed Google Books settlement and the Federal Trade Commission is considering the anti-trust implication of the relationship between Apple and Google directors."

It also mentions privacy issues that arose about the federal government's use of YouTube and the Justice Department's opposition to last year's Google-Yahoo ad partnership.

The Justice Department is also reportedly investigating the hiring practices of certain technology companies including Apple, Genentech, and Google to determine whether they colluded illegally to not poach one another's employees.

Google declined to comment.


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