Google's top lawyer, Kent Walker, has just been promoted to run Global Affairs at the company. Walker has been with Google for quite some time, and recently served as general counsel within the company. His official title now is senior vice president of global affairs. In this new role, he will be overseeing Google's policy, legal, trust and safety and corporate philanthropy teams. This move is likely in response to the number of lawsuits and antitrust probes that Google – and other tech companies – have been involved in lately. Walker will also be representing Google publicly on a few other broader issues including the future of work, artificial intelligence and the role of tech companies in society.
This move is important, because Google, along with other tech giants like Facebook and Twitter, have all been summoned to Capital Hill in recent years, to discuss data privacy. The European Union has also been eye-balling Google lately, and recently slapped its biggest fine on the company, for anti-competition abuse on its Android platform, at $5 billion. So moving its long-time, and top lawyer, into the head of global affairs is a good move for Google, and it should allow the company to better prepare itself for these legal troubles.
While Google is announcing this move today, Walker has actually been in this role for a few months, doing many of the day-to-day duties already. So the transition won't be a tough one for Walker. Google also noted that the position of general counsel has not yet been filled. It's currently unclear whether the company will promote another lawyer that is already within the company to that position, or look to hire another lawyer to take over Walker's previous role. Google does typically promote from within, whenever possible. Walker will now be leading a larger team of lawyers at Google, which include Karan Bhatia who is Google's head of policy, and Jacquelline Fuller who runs the philanthropy arm of Google, google.org.