More dollars were poured into the Beltway from technology companies in the first quarter of 2012. As shown through previous lobbying spends, each quarter, Facebook and Google continue to spend more and more on lobbying efforts in Washington D.C. In the most recent disclosure reports filed in the U.S. Senate’s lobbying database, both of the companies hit all time highs in terms of lobbying dollars.
Google’s lobbying spend hit an all-time high again this quarter, with spending coming in at a whopping $5.03 million, tripling its spend from the same period a year ago. Last quarter, Google spent $3.76 million on lawmakers. Microsoft only spent $1.8 million on lobbying for the quarter. In 2011, Google spent $9.7 million on lobbying, and has already surpassed half of that spend in this past quarter alone.
So what issues are Google pushing in D.C.? This past quarter, Google’s lobbying strategy focused on SOPA, patent reform, data privacy and accountability, online advertising regulation, intellectual property and trademark issues, cyber security and online privacy, renewable energy, freedom of expression and censorship, immigration reform and the Startup Visa Act, science, technology and math education, free trade, broadband access, freedom of expression and intellectual property in international trade agreements, “openness and competition in the online services market,” cloud computing, tax reform, internet standards of service and more. In fact, this quarter brought the most variety of issues Google has publicly tackled in Washington D.C. so far.
We know Google had been ramping up lobbying spend with the SOPA issues from earlier this year. Antitrust and consumer privacy are also areas where Google has faced scrutiny from the government. And Google recently named former congresswoman Susan Molinari as head of the search giant’s Washington office, signaling a more experienced presence in the Beltway to navigate through many of these regulatory issues.
Ahead of its IPO in May, Facebook has been doubling down on lobbying efforts. The social network spent $650,000 on lobbying in Q1 2012, up from $230,000 in the same quarter last year. From the fourth quarter 2011 to the first quarter 2012, Facebook increased spending by $200,000. Last year alone, Facebook spent a little over $1 million on lobbying and has already spent nearly half of that in the first quarter.
Policy areas of focus for Facebook this year include global regulation of software companies and restrictions on internet access by foreign governments; internet privacy regulations, do not track issues, discussion of location-based services; education regarding Facebook’s tag suggest features, patent reform, online safety measures, education regarding online advertising, immigration, cyber security, and lobbying for Oregon power and water needs to support high-tech growth and investment in Oregon (Facebook opened a new, energy-efficient data center in Oregon last April).
Facebook has faced regulatory scrutiny around privacy, and we know the network must be lobbying hard for patent reform regulation in light of its recent legal issues with Yahoo. And as the company prepares to enter the public markets, Facebook has been ramping up fundraising through a new political action committee.
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