Google, Facebook Spend Record Amount on Lobbying as Authorities Intensified Scrutiny in 2018

As 2018 saw many tech companies including Facebook, Google in the middle of Data Privacy related scandals, these tech giants have hiked spending on their lobbying efforts as revealed by the recent filings. According to the recently filed documents, Microsoft, Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook collectively spent $64 million on lobbying the US government in 2018.  Leaders from most of these companies appeared before Congress to answer the questions from lawmakers and defend their practices.

Search giant Google spent record amount on lobbying in the tech sector with $21 million spending. This is higher than $18 million spent in 2017. Google CEO Sundar Pichai in December last year appeared on the Capitol Hill for defending the company mired in controversies regarding the mishandling of user’s private data.

E-commerce giant and one of the largest corporations in the world, Amazon has spent $14 million to influence government policy in 2018. The company’s CEO Jeff Bezos who is also the owner of The Washington Post is a frequent target of President Donald Trump. The concerns regarding Amazon include the use of data collected by its Alexa device. The issues related to Amazon includes its plan to enter healthcare along with food safety and drug prices which were discussed with the FDA.

Facebook, the social network company attracted scrutiny after the revelations that the Russians used the platform for influencing the 2016 Presidential elections and leak of users private data to political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica. According to the company’s filing, it spent $13 million on lobbying. Redmond, Washington based company Microsoft spent $9.5 million on lobbying. Microsoft may be the only company who managed to stay out of spotlight from the government authorities.

Apple, World’s biggest conglomerate, spent lesser on lobbying efforts in 2018. The company spent $7 million in 2017 and $6 million in 2018. Apple CEO Tim Cook has been very vocal on the issue of user’s data privacy and warned users that their data can be ‘weaponized’ against them with military efficiency in a speech in October 2018.

Twitter, popular social media platform spent the least amount on lobbying among all the huge technology corporations. The company spent just more than $1 million on lobbying. Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey appeared before the US Congress along with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in September 2018. He admitted that there is huge scope in some areas for improving its user experience.

Author: Sudip Saha

Sudip Saha is one of the leading tech consultants in APAC, having served at key positions in leading IT consulting firms. He has extensively written about the commercial viability and impact of next-generation technologies, most notably AI, IoT, and Big Data. Sudip’s forte lies in offering a nuanced analysis on the key developments in the tech landscape. A reputed thought-leader, his views have been published in leading publications, including CIO, ZD Net, Economic Times, and The Economist