Each quarter, Facebook and Google continue to spend more and more on lobbying efforts in Washington D.C. As evidenced by 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 $2.38 million, nearly doubling its spend from the same period a year ago. Last quarter, Google spent $2.08 million on lawmakers. The search giant spent a total of $5.2 million in lobbying last year, and with this quarter’s tally has already passed last year’s spend with $5.8 million in the first three quarters of 2011.
This past quarter, Google’s lobbying strategy focused on patent reform, data privacy, The American Jobs Act, freedom of expression and intellectual property in international trade agreements, online advertising regulation, intellectual property and trademark issues, cyber security and online privacy, renewable energy, freedom of expression and censorship, “openness and competition in the online services market,” cloud computing, tax reform, free trade, and broadband access.
Former CEO and current Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt has been spending more time in the Beltway, helping with government relations, and with the anti-trust probe. Schmidt actually testified before Congress in September.
Patents are another major issued for Google, and over the past year have become a significant issue for the company. And Google must surely be lobbying for the approval of its $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola.
According to Consumer Watchdog, Google issued this statement about its increased lobbying spend: “We want to help policy makers understand our business and the work we do to keep the Internet open, to encourage innovation and to create economic opportunity. Lobbying is part of that process.”
Facebook, whose spend in the Beltway is small compared to Google, still shelled out $360,000 in lobbying efforts this past quarter, which is more than what the social network spend on lobbying in the entire year of 2010. In fact, Facebook tripled lobbying spend from the same quarter in 2010. And Facebook will spend well over $1 million in 2011.
Policy areas of focus for Facebook this year include global regulation of software companies and restrictions on internet access by foreign governments; patent reform, online safety measures, internet privacy regulations, freedom of expression on the Internet; discussion of location-based services, cyber security, discussing House, Senate, and Government rules to allow more Government and Congressional offices to access social media to engage with citizens, 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 in April.
It’s no secret that Facebook is deepening its ties with D.C., hiring more influential lobbyists, and even partnering with the current administration on policy issues. In September, Facebook has also filed to form its own political action committee, which will allow the company make direct contributions to candidates and parties, and spend unlimited sums bankrolling secondary efforts like independent ad campaigns.
Considering how both Facebook and Google’s lobbying spend has steadily grown from last year, it’s clear that both companies have a lot at stake in the hands of regulators, whether that be patent reform, privacy regulation, online safety or even antitrust issues.
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