According to Bloomberg Politics, “Google outspent its tech rivals in lobbying in 2017, as Facebook Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Apple Inc. set company records for the year, federal disclosures show.” The increase in tech lobbying has faced a fair amount of backlash, however, the tech companies are attempting to capitalize on “a tax overhaul and regulatory rollback in President Donald Trump’s first year in office.”
Although companies are upping their lobbying spending for financial gain, lawmakers continue to scrutinize “the companies over questions including Russia’s use of their platforms to try to influence the 2016 election, the disclosures show.” Facebook, Google, and Twitter all acknowledge that their users were exposed to Russian ads, fake news reports and “fraudulent social media posts.” The three companies testified in front of Congress in October, and have pledged to improve their “content screening techniques before the 2018 midterm elections.” During the fourth quarter of 2017, “Google also beat our all other companies, spending more than $4.6 million, although some trade groups and think tanks spent significantly more during the period.” Amazon spent $13 million in 2017, and more than $3.3 million in the fourth quarter. Amazon also faced criticism from President Trump because their owner, Jeff Bezos, also owns the Washington Post.
Another significant issue for internet tech companies in 2017 and 2018 is net neutrality. Google opposed the bill, whereas Comcast and AT&T lobbied in favor of the Federal Communications Commission’s rescinding of open internet rules. At the same time, AT&T was battling for its merger with Time Warner Inc. AT&T also fought for Trump’s tax bill and spent more than $3.6 million.
Tech companies also lobbied on immigration and taxes. “Apple spent more than $7 million during the year.”