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FTC Attorney Joins Microsoft 123

Posted by samzenpus
from the stacking-the-deck dept.
inode_buddha writes "Randall Long, a senior attorney who led several antitrust investigations against Google, has been hired by Microsoft. From the article: 'The software giant told the Wall Street Journal yesterday that it hired Randall Long, an official at the FTC's Bureau of Competition. When he joins the software giant at the end of the month, Long will head up Microsoft's regulatory affairs division in Washington. Long was involved in FTC reviews of Google's acquisitions of both DoubleClick and AdMob. According to the Journal's unnamed sources, Long was especially outspoken about Google's AdMob acquisition, saying that the FTC should challenge the deal. His reservations were eventually set aside and the deal was approved in 2010.'"
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FTC Attorney Joins Microsoft

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  • Graft (Score:5, Informative)

    by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@NOsPam.hotmail.com> on Sunday March 04, 2012 @09:25PM (#39243437) Journal
    There are places in the world where this would be illegal.
    • Re:Graft (Score:5, Insightful)

      by unreadepitaph (1537383) on Sunday March 04, 2012 @09:28PM (#39243453)
      They just don't even try to hide it anymore, do they.
      • The only part they're hiding is that he worked for M$ from the start. Now he just gets a title and salary.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The only part they're hiding is that he worked for M$ from the start. Now he just gets a title and salary.

          Interesting thing about MS in this context is that they (Bill Gates) a long time ago first wanted nothing to do with Washington or politics at all, unlike most large companies they did not fund or lobby, and Gates was described as openly indifferent to politicians, even when accused, which pissed Washington off. Many who followed this closely commented that Microsoft most likely got a harder antitrust treatment than they otherwise would have because of distancing themselves from politics+money this way - an

      • by shentino (1139071)

        They don't hide it anymore because they don't need to anymore.

    • Re:Graft (Score:5, Insightful)

      by icebike (68054) * on Sunday March 04, 2012 @09:49PM (#39243557)

      Well the US is not one of those places. People are pretty much free to quit one job and take another. Joining government might be harder.

      In fact the only place I'm aware of an outright ban is France [wikipedia.org], where a three year waiting period must lapse before quitting government and joining the private sector. How one feeds himself and is family during this three years is not explained.

      Other jurisdictions may impose restrictions via NDAs, and there are rules about defense contractor hiring, but only into specific jobs (procurement specialists can't join sales teams upon leaving government).

      Besides... He's a lawyer.
      Anything he did for the FTC is Attorney Client privileged, and we know Attorneys never violate that now don't we?. *cough*.

      • Re:Graft (Score:5, Informative)

        by Seraphim1982 (813899) on Sunday March 04, 2012 @10:15PM (#39243697)

        Well the US is not one of those places. People are pretty much free to quit one job and take another.

        Not necessarily. As a random example, if you're an FAA safety inspector you have to wait two years before you can be hired by an airline for a job that involves interacting with the FAA.
        http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_generic.jsp?channel=mro&id=news/avd/2011/08/30/04.xml [aviationweek.com]

      • by shentino (1139071)

        Come to think of it, if he uses any information from the FTC to aid MS he'd be violating it and be up for disciplinary action from the DC bar association.

        In practice, they're in on it.

      • by Ihmhi (1206036)

        Honestly, it'd be worth the money to pay former government officials a lifetime pension at their salary rate and bar them from working anywhere in the private sector. Write a book, do some speaking, whatever. Join the board of directors of an airline and you were at the top of the FAA? Fuck no.

      • How a politician feeds himself? From having his pay continued. The president of Germany for instance gets payed his full salary for the rest of his live. Serve 4 years, get payed for 40 and counting. Serve a month and get payed for 40. Get thrown out and get payed.

        Do you really think politicians loose their income when they loose office? You are a moron.

        • by Frohboy (78614)

          Who brought up the word "politician" (before you)?

          The grandparent (and the referenced French law) talk about people "working in government" (i.e. bureaucrats + politicians, but the bureaucrats far outnumber the politicians).

          Was Randall Long elected to his position at the FTC? No? So, he's not a politician. He's a former bureaucrat. Sure, many bureaucracies have generous pension plans, but they tend to be linked to the number of years served. Thus, your "serve a month and get payed for 40" example is complet

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          payed his full salary... payed for 40 and counting... payed for 40. Get thrown out and get payed. Do you really think politicians loose their income when they loose office? You are a moron.

          There's a saying about glass houses and stones. It's not very smart to misspell a four letter word (paid) and misuse a word ("Loose" means "set free", you meant "lose") and then call someone else a moron and an idiot.

      • by mvdwege (243851)

        Wikipedia gives the link to the actual text of the law; it sounds very reasonable in fact. According to my reading, and giving a simplified translation, the French do not forbid moving from government to the private sector, they forbid taking a job in an enterprise that you were previously overseeing.

        Of course, the question is why would Wikipedia summarise the law that badly? Although perhaps that may not be so surprising, given the largely 'teenage libertarian' nature of the editors.

      • Well the US is not one of those places. People are pretty much free to quit one job and take another. Joining government might be harder.

        In fact the only place I'm aware of an outright ban is France [wikipedia.org], where a three year waiting period must lapse before quitting government and joining the private sector. How one feeds himself and is family during this three years is not explained.

        That's because the Wikipedia article provides an over-generalized incorrect summary (although, it does provide a direct link to the French law [legifrance.gouv.fr], so it was easy for me to find the problem -- so it's still better than most newspapers or traditional encyclopedias in that regard).

        The 3-year ban only applies to the industry the government employee was supposed to be supervising/regulating, and even then, my own interpretation is incomplete, because it goes into much greater details than that, and provides for som

      • by sir-gold (949031)

        How one feeds himself and is family during this three years is not explained.

        Simple, you just live off all the bribes and free dinner coupons you collected during your time as a government employee.

    • Re:Graft (Score:5, Informative)

      by Trepidity (597) <.delirium-slashdot. .at. .hackish.org.> on Sunday March 04, 2012 @09:50PM (#39243563)

      The U.S. has some rules as well. Since fairly recently [wikipedia.org], federal politicians and high-level employees are restricted from working as lobbyists in their former areas for 1-2 years after leaving federal employment. However it doesn't look like the job Randall Long was high enough up to be covered (it's also not entirely clear if his new job constitutes lobbying, or if he's heading some sort of litigation group instead).

      • by Sarten-X (1102295)

        But this is wrong! It's completely unacceptable for any employee of the government to act like a human, and remember contacts after leaving a job! Like any simple automaton, his understanding of how regulatory processes work and knowledge of who has what influences should be completely erased, leaving a blank slate equivalent to any poli-sci entry-level candidate.

        The fact that his prejudices align with the hiring company's only further illustrates that he could never have been prejudiced on his own, but mus

  • What was his reason for leaving the FTC? Is it that Google has been investigated fully and even submitted to a 20 year partnership with the FTC so there was nothing left for him to do, and for making messes with Google he couldn't work there, so he applied for a job with Google's nearest competitor?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jrumney (197329)

      What was his reason for leaving the FTC?

      Perhaps he wanted an employer who would agree with his distrust of Google.

      • Re:Job over? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@NOsPam.hotmail.com> on Sunday March 04, 2012 @10:09PM (#39243657) Journal
        Perhaps he had a prior arrangement with Google's competitor to develop distrust, in exchange for a well-paid sinecure once he was done.
        • Re:Job over? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by paiute (550198) on Sunday March 04, 2012 @10:13PM (#39243683)

          Perhaps he had a prior arrangement with Google's competitor to develop distrust, in exchange for a well-paid sinecure once he was done.

          "Never write if you can speak; never speak if you can nod; never nod if you can wink." - Martin Lomasney

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            Since Martin Michael Lomasney (December 3, 1859 -August 12, 1933) was a Massachusetts politician, fuck him and everything he ever said or wrote, including the drivel you quoted.

            I do NOT like politicians, I would not take their advice. EVER. Why not just quote Charles Manson? He's almost as bad as a politician.

            • by paiute (550198)

              Since Martin Michael Lomasney (December 3, 1859 -August 12, 1933) was a Massachusetts politician, fuck him and everything he ever said or wrote, including the drivel you quoted.

              I do NOT like politicians, I would not take their advice. EVER. Why not just quote Charles Manson? He's almost as bad as a politician.

              The Lomasney quote is usually taken as an indictment of the behavior of machine bosses and their corrupt behavior. Your interpretation of it as an attempt at sound advice is novel.

        • perhaps he was never really working for the FTC to begin with, in fact, I dont even believe that this man exists!
          • Re:tin foil (Score:4, Insightful)

            by RazorSharp (1418697) on Monday March 05, 2012 @01:46AM (#39244697)

            perhaps he was never really working for the FTC to begin with, in fact, I dont even believe that this man exists!

            It's easy to dismiss a lot of concerns as paranoia. That's an easy, cheap-shot retort around here. But sometimes suspecting conspiracy is more logical than believing governments/corporations/lawyers at face value.

            If I said, "I suspect the Russian elections were unfair," would you shoot back with that same old tin-foil retort?

            This hire looks like a duck, it waddles like a duck, and it quacks like a duck. As far as I'm concerned, it's a duck unless someone can prove to me it's an ugly swan. This guy has used his position in government to help Microsoft - whether it was agreed upon or coordinated or whathaveyou is irrelevant because accepting money from them looks shady and is ethically questionable. It looks like graft, the money moves hands like graft, and if money could talk then it would sound like graft, too. I don't consider myself paranoid, just cynical. Especially when Microsoft and the government are involved.

            • by ganjadude (952775)
              it seems as if my attempt at comedy has failed. Clearly it looks as if there will be some potential ethical violations, if they arent in writing they are in reason.
    • It's not like Google is going to be trustworthy for the next 20 years... It just means they have an agreement with the FTC to settle everything they have done so far.
    • Re:Job over? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by phrostie (121428) on Sunday March 04, 2012 @10:07PM (#39243647)

      I suspect he's been working for M$ for a while now.

      it's just official now.

    • by ulricr (2486278)
      better money, better benifits, better position, perhaps moving out of washington? who can tell really.

      No one said he was a on a personal cruisade against google just because he worked on that. he's a laywer and an expert in that domain.
      • No one said he was a on a personal cruisade against google just because he worked on that. he's a laywer and an expert in that domain.

        Not a personal crusade, but surely he has inside knowledge the acquired while working for the FTC that Microsoft (and others) don't have access to. Well, Microsoft does now.

        • by Sir_Sri (199544)

          That's a pretty big assumption. And it assumes that the information he would have is valuable.

          He's almost certainly not the first FTC person ever hired by microsoft, directly or indirectly. They probably already know the inner workings of the FTC. The question is whether or he specifically has knowledge of a business plans from google that could damage them somehow, but benefit MS.

          More likely he merely adds more man hours to their access to the FTC and their ability to do the proper paper work in the pro

  • by Anonymous Coward
    MS and now the gov. are just as corrupt as ever. The US is just falling apart. We have become just like any other nation, rather than being the beacon of hope.
    • by AK Marc (707885)
      Ever since Bush Jr, we've been the beacon of dope.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Hate to piss on your deluded exceptionalism, but -

      We have always been just like every other nation, since the very inception of the United States.

  • Microsoft has been beaten up over anti-competitive / anti-trust practices many times in many jurisdictions. Someone with Longs's experience will be highly valuable for both offense against Google and defense on future claims against them. (Could anyone name all the other big PC OS/application vendors that have identifiable market share for generic PC OS sales? . . . . chrip . . . . chirp [youtube.com] . . . )

    • I wonder if it ever occurred to Microsoft that one solution would be to not abuse its market position. You know, at least pretend that they're incurable evil sociopaths.

    • by openfrog (897716) on Sunday March 04, 2012 @10:25PM (#39243747)

      Little mystery indeed,

      We have been joking here on Slashdot about a famous outburst of chair throwing, and about Steve Ballmer yelling that he was fucking going to kill Google. He, however, was not joking.

      Microsoft has been beaten up over anti-competitive / anti-trust practices many times in many jurisdictions.

      And when he uttered that famous sentence, in what way do you think Ballmer was dreaming of killing a company having earned respect among web users and having as a motto "Don't be evil", if not in pulling Google down in the dirty pool of consumer hate Microsoft was drowning itself? Has anyone not noticed the intense PR campaign-war that has been waged against Google since then, even on Slashdot, and the intense sock-puppeting and shilling each time a Google story comes up?

    • by lwriemen (763666)

      Microsoft has been beaten up over anti-competitive / anti-trust practices many times in many jurisdictions.

      Not "beaten up", convicted. The only people who have been beaten up are all the competition that were manhandled over the years. Microsoft is still has an applications barrier to entry and is still changing file formats to try to keep it's monopoly intact.

      The findings of fact in the USA anti-trust trial really detail things nicely, if you want an education on why they were convicted and why people hold such hard feelings towards them.

  • by jeffb (2.718) (1189693) on Sunday March 04, 2012 @10:04PM (#39243629)

    IANAL, so I have no idea how likely this is, but -- is it possible that he's seen sealed testimony or other privileged information that could be damaging to Google, and would otherwise not be directly accessible to Microsoft?

    • is it possible that he's seen sealed testimony or other privileged information that could be damaging to Google, and would otherwise not be directly accessible to Microsoft?

      Absolutely.

    • by sir-gold (949031)
      not only is it possible, it's almost certain that he saw privileged info, and the only thing stopping him from sharing that info with MS is the threat of a lawsuit from Google (which would get quietly settled out of court)
  • Revolving door (Score:4, Interesting)

    by thue (121682) on Sunday March 04, 2012 @10:28PM (#39243751) Homepage

    From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revolving_door_(politics) [wikipedia.org] :

    In politics, the "revolving door" is the movement of personnel between roles as legislators and regulators and the industries affected by the legislation and regulation. In some cases the roles are performed in sequence but in certain circumstances may be performed at the same time. Political analysts claim that an unhealthy relationship can develop between the private sector and government, based on the granting of reciprocated privileges to the detriment of the nation and can lead to regulatory capture.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 04, 2012 @10:47PM (#39243849)

    Microsoft internal document

    “Working behind the scenes to orchestrate “independent” praise of our technology, and damnation of the enemy’s, is a key evangelism function during the Slog. “Independent” analyst’s report should be issued, praising your technology and damning the competitors (or ignoring them). “Independent” consultants should write columns and articles, give conference presentations and moderate stacked panels, all on our behalf (and setting them up as experts in the new technology, available for just $200/hour). “Independent” academic sources should be cultivated and quoted (and research money granted). “Independent” courseware providers should start profiting from their early involvement in our technology. Every possible source of leverage should be sought and turned to our advantage.”

    http://techrights.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/comes-3096.pdf

    How not to win friends and influence people
    Mar 2nd 2012

    The bland-sounding ICOMP [ Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace] is openly funded by Microsoft (among others), whose search engine, Bing, competes with Google's. ICOMP’s homepage is littered with attacks on the search giant: “Google’s new privacy policy: unlawful and unfair”; “Google caught with its hands in the cookie jar”; “‘Unfair and unwise’: Google implements new privacy policy despite calls to delay”. Burson-Marsteller acts as the secretariat for ICOMP. Readers may remember the outfit from past flops such as the campaign against Google on behalf of Facebook.

    http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2012/03/microsoft-v-google

    • by devent (1627873)
      I must still laught everytime I read the word "Bing". Actually my mental image is like someone is smacking someone on the head and it goes "bing".
  • Microsoft these days because it sure seems like they have been bulking up in the lawyer side for a number of years.

    And this after how many years of them hiring Linux experts only to use them against Linux? I don't see anything different about them hiring government people who showed signs of disliking Google to the point of attempting to block their business operations. Microsoft's high priority business method has always been to block and destabilize their competition over and above besting them in the mar
    • by cbhacking (979169)

      Actually, their Legal and Corporate Affairs group took a significant hit (much worse than engineering) in the layoffs during the 2008 recession. This could (I make no claim whatsoever that it *is*, though) be as simple as them hiring back up to strength with people they expect to be useful to them.

      Microsoft still has tons of Dev/SDET/PM positions open; many more than legal positions, going by their hiring website. I have no idea what the delta in ratio is, though, or how many of each are currently (or were

    • by Sir_Sri (199544)

      Maybe it seems like they've been bulking up on lawyers because /. covers lawyers more than developers, and because developers that work for microsoft get almost no individual press for their work.

      That's in part because MS doesn't let you sell your code on the side, and in part because you work for Microsoft, as part of a team, and externally the team gets credit. You may be clearly listed as part of a team, and credited for the team, but mostly we only see one point person for a team (who blogs or gives ta

      • by Locutus (9039)
        true although it would seem that with some change in size of department, one would see some result in the market. ie more legal maneuvers or more product releases or updates. Sure isn't possible to figure it out as a private corporation, they don't have to or want to give that kind of info out.

        it was nothing more than a 'wouldn't it be nice if we could tell what the ratio was and what changes to it have been over the years'.

        LoB
        • by Sir_Sri (199544)

          They seem to have a much bigger product lineup than they used to. Windows isn't just a kernel, it's a whole software suite, and windows 8 seems like it's a lot of development time. The whole azure/cloud service thing, and all of the overhead that goes with that is a lot of work, the security products etc. Even add in .net, silverlight, skydrive, their server stuff, that's a lot more than the company did 15 years ago.

          Admittedly, I look at software through the lens of the game business, but to make a piece

          • by Locutus (9039)
            I agree with most of what you said but I laughed when you mentioned lots of development time fussing over details. Not that it ins't true but the recent crash of Azure's Management Console over leap year was too recent. Design and/or code reviews anyone?

            they have always used the same methods to "take over the world" only with their monopoly on DOS based PCs, they could bring Windows in, then MS Office, Internet Explorer, etc. The PC was "the world" back then and they controlled it. Thanks to the iPod and t
        • by ulricr (2486278)
          Microsoft has 90,000 employes, so hireling a few more lawyers wouldn't move the needle, IMHO. it would be smarter if you asked for the legal or lobbying budget compared to r and d! it's already known they largely got screwed because they were not politically savvy in the 90s, and rectified that after.
          • by Locutus (9039)
            yes, that was what I was looking for, how much one new lawyer changed the ratio. What?

            Loved that part about Microsoft getting screwed in the 90s because they were not politically savvy.

            LoB
  • He may be getting on payroll now, but _just maybe_ the employer contribution to his 401(k) has started long ago :-) His employment by MS can also be a sign of his lack of success; if he were that valuable as an ambassador to MS interests he could have stayed in his former position :-)

  • There are a lot of people who like movie style conspiracies with brown envelops and shady agreements in back rooms. This is not likely to be the case. It is more a case of "us knowns us". The old boys network. Right thinking people hiring right thinking people.

    The president of the dutch national bank was questioned after the crisis about this mis-handling of it all. He still referred to the people who saw the crisis coming as doom-sayers and his advisers and himself who didn't see it as the knowledable econ

    • It is more a case of "us knowns us". The old boys network.

      That is still corruption. Anything other than an arms-length transaction is corruption.

      Does not matter the actually mechanisms that are used to communicate. It just like organized crime. If the Godfather says "we have a problem in Miami, I need you to take care of" that is really no different than conspiering to commit murder.

      Lets not kid ourselves about this. If MS said to Long: "we may have a lucrative position for you at MS, and by the way, how do you feel about these google practises?" Then it's exactl

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