As the midterm election looms, tech companies are ramping up lobbying efforts in Washington. Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Twitter have spent more the past two years than in any other two year period, according to a Fox Business investigation.
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The reason? Big tech may be in the cross hairs of regulators. For years Wall Street has borne the brunt of lawmakers’ scorn, but bank officials tell Fox Business they believe Silicon Valley, rather than Wall Street, will become enemy number one in D.C.
The existential threat of increased regulation could be a real problem for the business models of top tech firms like Google, Twitter, and Facebook that rely largely on collecting user data to make money by selling ads. And if the markets are any indication, investors are already feeling skittish about stricter rules—this has been tech’s worst month since November 2008.
Tech companies have also become a target of both GOP and DNC lawmakers over privacy concerns following multiple data breaches, the collection of personal information, and the spread of fake news.
Conservatives criticize the firms for a liberal bias while democrats are up in arms over privacy concerns. This year, representatives from top firms, including Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Twitter, have all made forays to Washington to testify about their companies’ practices in high profile hearings.
The U.S. may be taking a cue from the European Union which launched strict rules on data protection and privacy for everyone in the E.U. The U.K. also recently launched a digital sales tax exclusively on tech firms.
Tech firms are hoping regardless of who takes the House and the Senate that their lobbying efforts will be enough to sway regulators to act favorably toward them.
Google spent $35.1 million lobbying in 2017 and 2018, Amazon spent $23.6 million in the same period, Facebook $21.3 million, Apple $12.2 million and Twitter $1.3 million.
Each of these firms spent more on lobbying in the past two year period than any other.