Schmidt to gov't scrutiny: Bring it on

Despite two formal government investigations into its business dealings in recent weeks--one over its book search settlement and the other into antitrust issues stemming from its shared directorate with Apple--Google and its CEO Eric Schmidt remain steadfast. Specifically, Schmidt says he has no intention of stepping down from Apple's board and that the recent hot government spotlight is making no dent in Google's overall business plans.

Speaking before the company's annual meeting yesterday, Schmidt said he hadn't even considered stepping down from Apple's board to appease the FTC. According to Reuters:

Schmidt said he did not consider Google and Apple to be primary competitors, and that he recuses himself when competitive issues are discussed. Google General Counsel Kent Walker confirmed media reports that the company is "in pending" discussions with the FTC concerning their two shared directors. But he said the law provides a safe harbor for mutual shareholders in cases where there is no overlapping revenue.

So much for Google caving to avoid a legal inquiry. And in fact, Schmidt was a bit defiant in the face of the oncoming regulatory onslaught, saying that Google is well aware of the increased scrutiny, but that it doesn't plan to change its business plans at all as a result. As he said:

"What is changed is that we are more careful about when and how we do things which are going to raise concerns of any party. But it hasn't prevented us from doing them."

So while Google knows its success and size invite regulatory interest, it's just fine with that, thank you. As long as it treads carefully, Schmidt and company see no problems on the horizon. But the key word there is "carefully." Sometimes adopting a "bring it on" attitude can backfire spectacularly.

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