Internet search engine giant Google has poured out $9.7 million on lobbying U.S. lawmakers and regulators in 2011, according to Google's latest bill in U.S. Senate Office of Public Records.
It nearly doubles the expenditure of $5.2 million in 2010, due its entanglement in sensitive issues such as antitrust violation and online privacy.
The government has been intensifying its investigation on Google's business practice and tactics and it touched a peak in 2011. A Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing called "The Power of Google: Serving Consumers or Threatening Competition?" was held in Capitol Hill on Sept. 21, 2011.
It is known that Google has added several lobbying firms in Washington office in last summer. No wonder, the bill from US House clerk's office unveils a sudden rise in Google's fourth-quarter lobbying outgoings. Especially Google's online advertisement, which contributes most of its $38 billion annual revenue, is reportedly a pivotal part for fourth-quarter lobbying expense.
The Google case has reflected on the antitrust case of Microsoft Corp., whose once dominant Windows operating system made the company struggle against the U.S. Justice Department. Compared to those times, Microsoft now spends much less on lobbying than Google, with a bill of $7.3 million total in 2011.
The world's biggest Internet search giant has been under the fed scanner for some time. The government has been receiving complaints on Google's dominance of search market and abuse of its power to push down competitors. The Consumer Watchdog has also called out Google's 'don't be evil' business practice "hypocritic". Though Google spends a tremendous amount for lobbying behind, outwardly, it tries to show that it operates at a higher moral standard than other companies.
"They've decided to play the corrupt corporate cash and carry Washington (game) like many firms such as Microsoft have long done," John Simpson, a consumer advocate for Consumer Watchdog, told CNet. "What sets them apart, though, is they still hold themselves out to be different from the rest."
Besides Google (no.1) and Microsoft (no.2), all other tech giants such as HP, Oracle and IBM were ranked in the top 5 position with the highest lobbying expenditure to lobbyists, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
The young but powerful Facebook has joined the lobbying race with $1.35 million in expense.