Amazon and Facebook have both smashed quarterly lobbying records Tuesday amidst rising interest in regulating and using antitrust laws against America’s largest technology companies.
Facebook and Amazon both spent roughly $4 million on lobbying in the second quarter of 2019, which serves as the first time either company spent that much on influencing Congress.
In contrast, Google spent only $2.9 million in the second quarter, which amounts to the least it spent on lobbying since 2011. Google recently ended its relationships with at least 17 lobbyists at six different lobbying firms as Karan Bhatia, the search engine’s global policy chief, moves to reorganize its lobbying approach. Apple only spent $1.8 million in the second quarter.
The surge in big tech spending arises as Congress and federal regulators have become increasingly interested in regulating big tech. The Democrat-led House Judiciary Committee has held hearings on antitrust in big tech, and populist senators such as Sens. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) have proposed to crack down on Internet censorship and big tech’s abuse of Americans’ privacy.
Sen. Blackburn also announced a task force to investigate big tech’s collection of Americans’ private data and competition in the big tech markets.
The FTC reportedly fined Facebook $5 billion for violating Americans’ privacy through the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
The latest lobbying reports show that Facebook and Amazon, and to some degree, Google and Apple, have amassed a more lobbying army in Congress amidst rising interest in regulating big tech.
The four technology giants spent a combined $55 million on lobbying in 2018, doubling their previous record $27.4 million spent in 2016.
Big Tech’s rapidly growing influence puts these companies at relative parity with traditional lobbying powerhouses such as the defense, automobile, and banking industries.
Silicon Valley’s influence even extends to some conservative groups, such as Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), the R Street Institute, and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which often fight regulation of big tech firms and receive donations from Google and Facebook.
Sheila Krumholz, the executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, told the New York Times that these companies have ramped up their lobbying efforts.
Krumholz said, “They are no longer upstarts dipping a toe in lobbying. They have both feet in.”