Google’s Sundar Pichai testifies before the House Judiciary Committee, as seen via YouTube on a laptop in Washington, DC on July 29, 2020.
Carolyn Van Houten | The Washington Post | Getty Images
Google increased lobbying spending in the third quarter and Facebook has surpassed its Big Tech peers as regulators and lawmakers ready to go public with their findings on alleged violations of antitrust laws.
Google spent more than $ 1.9 million on lobbying in the third quarter of this year, an increase of 14.2% from the previous quarter. Facebook spent $ 4.9 million, an increase of 1.5% from the previous quarter.
In recent months, Google has faced major exposure in Washington as a result of antitrust investigations into its activities. Tuesday the The Justice Department sued Google, alleging that it had maintained an illegal monopoly of its research activity through exclusion contracts aimed at cutting competitors off distribution.
In July, CEO Sundar Pichai testified before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust Laws alongside the CEOs of Amazon, Apple and Facebook. The subcommittee later found out that everyone holds monopoly power and makes recommendations to reform antitrust laws and even go so far as to dismantle businesses, which Congress does not have the power to do on its own.
Each of the companies that faced the subcommittee increased their lobbying spending during the quarter, although Google recovered to the greatest extent.
Here’s the breakdown of Big Tech’s lobbying spending in Q3:
- Facebook: $ 4.9 million, up 1.5% from last quarter
- Amazon: $ 4.4 million, up 0.7%
- Google: $ 1.9 million, up 14.2%
- Microsoft: $ 1.9 million, down 35.4%
- Apple: $ 1.6 million, up 5.4%
The combined lobbying spending of the five tech giants fell just 0.04% to $ 14.7 million.
Microsoft was the only tech giant to cut spending in the quarter. It’s also the only one that has managed to avoid much of the technical scrutiny that its peers have had to undergo from regulators in recent years.
Each company lobbied on a variety of issues. Public lobbying files only show the topics they have addressed, not which side they are on.
The five companies have lobbied on a variety of competition issues and issues related to consumer privacy or federal privacy legislation. Most companies outside of Google have been lobbying on issues related to the Covid-19 response.
Most companies, with the exception of Amazon, have lobbied the WIN IT Act, a bipartisan bill to tie the legal shield of technology (Article 230) to certain standards to prevent the sexual exploitation of children. Tech industry groups have criticized the bill as a way to undermine encryption standards, although its most controversial aspects have been watered down by amendments.
Amazon, Facebook, and Google have lobbied over encryption issues.
An Amazon spokesperson said in a statement, “Amazon provides a wide range of products and services to our customers and we are always looking for ways to innovate on their behalf. Our team in Washington, DC strives to ensuring that we stand up for issues that are important to our customers, employees and policy makers. “
The other companies cited in this article did not respond or comment.
Other tech companies also increased their spending in the third quarter. ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns social media app TikTok, spent 46% more this quarter compared to last at $ 730,000. The company has embarked on a legal battle with the Trump administration for its attempts to ban TikTok on national security grounds. He lobbied a congressional bill to ban the application of government machinery.
UberSpending fell about 5% this quarter to $ 540,000, but Lyft ‘its increased by almost 38% to reach $ 730,000. The two were engaged in a California Attorney General’s lawsuit over their classification of drivers as employees. They each lobbied the federal government on labor issues related to independent contractors or construction workers, among others.
“Lyft believes it is important to engage with the political system in order to advocate for issues that reflect our values and that impact both our pilots and our drivers,” a Lyft spokesperson said in a statement.