Ten of the largest technology companies in the US spent more than $61 million lobbying Washington in 2013, according to an analysis of records filed by Consumer Watchdog earlier this week. The firms, including Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook, used the money in attempts to guide the government's hand on issues such as privacy, data security, and advertising.
The $61 million used for lobbying between the ten companies is an increase of 16 percent since 2012, in which they spent a collective $52.78 million. 2013's biggest spender remained Google, but the $14.06 million the search giant put towards Washington was actually a decrease in outlay of 14.7 percent from the previous year, when it was the target of an antitrust investigation. The firm's lobbying costs looked to be trending upwards at the end of 2013: after a decrease in relative third quarter spending, Google's fourth quarter expenses rose from $3.35 million to $3.98 million.
Seven of the ten companies on the list increased their lobbying spend from 2012 to 2013
Seven of the ten companies on the list increased their spending on lobbying. Microsoft increased its budget 30 percent from 2012, spending $10.49 million last year. Amazon was up 38.3 percent to $3.46 million, IBM leaped 45.6 percent to $7.06 million, while Yahoo's one percent increase pushed its spending to $2.78 million. Facebook and Apple had the largest rises in lobby spending: the former was up 61.2 percent to $6.43 million, while the latter jumped almost 72 percent to $3.37 million.
The increase in lobbying spend comes as the United States' largest technology companies increase their political efforts. Among the group, Facebook has been particularly active. In April last year, Mark Zuckerberg launched FWD.us with other Silicon Valley executives to push for immigration reform. In November, the Facebook CEO took his political advocacy to ABC's This Week, discussing NSA surveillance and directly criticizing the government's Healthcare.gov. Addressing the rise in lobbying spend, Consumer Watchdog's Privacy Project Director John M. Simpson said "policymaking in Washington is all about how much money you can throw around." He sees the upward trend continuing. "These tech guys are increasingly willing to spend whatever it takes to buy what they want."