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article imageGoogle, Facebook, and Amazon spent $48 million lobbying in 2018

By Ken Hanly     Jan 23, 2019 in Internet
Google, Facebook and Amazon spent record amounts lobbying U.S. lawmakers last year, according to recently reported filings. This did not prevent them from being criticized by lawmakers.
The record lobbying expenditures
Altogether, the three large firms spent over $48 million last year on lobbying. The year was filled with congressional hearings about company actions but little concrete progress by lawmakers although they are putting pressure on the U.S. tech giants.
Individual company expenditures
The government disclosure form filled out for Google can be found here. Google spent $21.2 million on lobbying last year the most of the three companies. The previous record was $18 million spent in 2017. The money was spent on a huge array of topics including: online ad regulations, privacy and data security issues, data breaches, cybersecurity, global trade and tariffs, immigration, the opioid crisis, and policies on controversial content.
Facebook spent $12.6 million last year. $2.83 million was spent in the final quarter. The total is up from around $11.5 million spent the year before. Facebook also spent its money on a variety of issues including: cybersecurity, encryption, data privacy and online advertising transparency. The fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal no doubt helped to make these issues a priority.
From looking at their yearly review one would not know that there were many issues that Facebook faced: "Facebook left a few things out its year in review — a lot. The social network’s list includes events like the Royal Wedding, the World Cup, the Super Bowl, and International Women’s Day, but seems to omit more Facebook’s involvement with things like genocide, election interference, privacy violations, data breaches, executive malfeasance, and conspiracy theories. Basically, Facebook wants you to know that positive global events did happen this year, and people talked about them on Facebook."
Amazon also set a new spending record of $14.2 million last year. This exceeded the $12.8 million it spent the year before. It spent $3.71 in the final quarter. The issues it dealt with included: postal reform, cloud computing, the Internet of Things and data privacy. This last issue fit in with the fact that Amazon sells smart home products and also face the criticism advanced by Trump and others that Amazon is negatively impacting the U.S. Postal Service.
To round out the spending Apple spent $6.6 million and Microsoft $9.5 million — both expenditures down from 2017.
Pressure on the three by government is likely to remain in 2019
Often moved by public complaints, the US government is likely to maintain pressure on the three giants and others during 2019.
A recent article questions whether online companies bear the same degree of responsibility for protecting client's data as required by professionals such as doctors or lawyers: "A new bill introduced by Senate Democrats on Wednesday says the answer is 'Yes,' that some online companies should bear a comparable level of responsibility for the control and protection of Americans’ private data. Because ultimately, the argument goes, Mark Zuckerberg should have a similar level of responsibility to protect your data as your doctor does."
In other areas too large corporations spend millions on lobbying as shown on the appended video on pharmaceutical company lobbying.
More about Gooogle, Facebook, Amazon, Lobbying in the US
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