As pressure mounts on Google, its top lobbyist steps down

Alan Davidson, who started the Web giant's lobbying efforts six-and-a-half years ago, plans to leave his job to pursue "other opportunities."

With regulatory scrutiny of Google growing, its top Washington lobbyist is stepping down, according to an e-mail he sent to contacts today.

Alan Davidson, who launched Google's lobbying efforts six-and-a-half years ago, plans to leave later this month.

"It's been a remarkable experience--and a very exciting and intense time--but I'm ready for a new challenge," Davidson said in the e-mail provided by Google. "After six and half years, I've decided it's the right moment for me to leave my current role at the company. Starting later this month, I will be taking a sabbatical to explore other opportunities."

The National Journal first obtained the e-mail and broke the news.

During Davidson's tenure, Google has become a target for regulators and lawmakers, worried about its growing influence on the Web and new markets that it's entered. The Senate Judiciary Committee grilled Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt in September over questions about abusing that power. The company has also come under fire over privacy concerns. And in August, the company paid $500 million to settle claims with the Justice Department over accepting ads from rogue online Canadian pharmacies in violation of federal law.

"When we started the office, I knew that we couldn't affect the major policy debates of the day alone," Davidson wrote in the mail to his contacts. "It has only been in partnership with so many of you that we have been able to make progress on many of the great issues affecting the Internet."

Google hasn't said when or with whom it will replace Davidson.

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