Google’s new policy boss will tackle everything from AI anxiety to antitrust

Alphabet Inc’s Google announced Thursday it tapped General Electric Co global affairs chief Karan Bhatia to become its next head of policy. Google wants Bhatia to craft the search giant’s public policy strategy on a wide range of issues including artificial intelligence and job creation. His first focus will be dealing with a regulatory backlash that includes antitrust investigations and new digital-privacy rules. Bhatia’s position has been vacant since last September, when Caroline Atkinson, a former Obama official, stepped down. Google sought candidates from both major political parties to fill it.

A former deputy US trade representative under President George W Bush, Bhatia joins a company with a liberal reputation. Former Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt helped Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential effort, and Google has clashed with the Trump administration over immigration, while conservative lawmakers often criticize the company for bias.

“We’re thrilled to hire someone with Karan’s impressive experience in global policy,” Kent Walker, Google’s senior vice president of global affairs and chief legal officer, said in a statement. “He’s a widely respected leader who will work with our teams to advocate for policies that encourage growth and innovation.”

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