Google and Facebook ramp up lobbying spend

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Google and Facebook are pouring money into Washington, spending record amounts on lobbying last year.

Google spent $16.48 million on lobbying in 2012, up 70 percent on the previous year. While its fourth quarter spending dipped 11 percent to $3.35 million, it's still the top tech lobbyist by quite some way.

Meanwhile, Facebook upped its spend by even more. The figure for the whole of 2012 was $3.99 million, up 196 percent on 2011. In the fourth quarter, it spent more than $1 million for the first time, at $1.4 million. That's more than three times what it spent in the same quarter last year.

"Google and Facebook would have you believe that they are different from other corporations," says John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's Privacy Project director. "They are not. They are following the corrupt corporate tradition in Washington: buying what you want."

In this case, what Facebook wants seems to be an easier ride over its privacy practices. It attempted to influence legislators on Do Not Track laws, for example, and is clearly concerned about privacy issues arising from its big push in mobile advertising.

Lobbying spending by other internet giants also rose, though not to the same degree. Microsoft, for example, spent $2.43 million in the fourth quarter, up 29.3 percent from $1.88 million. For 2012 as a whole, Microsoft spent $8.09 million, a 10.2 percent increase from $7.34 million.

Verizon increased its spending in the fourth quarter by 7.7 percent to $3.48 million. For the entire year, however, spending fell 6.6 percent to $14.66 million.

AT&T, too, cut back. Its 2012 lobbying spending was $17.45 million, a 13.8 percent decrease on 2011. For the fourth quarter it spent $3.4 million, down 19.8 percent from the year before.

Meanwhile, Amazon's quarterly lobbying spend declined 11.6 percent from to $610,000, though it was up 12.6 percent for the year at million.
Apple spent $540,000 in the fourth quarter, an increase of 20 percent from the previous year. Its annual spend was $1.97 million, down 13 percent from 2011.

The clerk of the House of Representative's lobbying expenditure database is here.