The first quarter of 2015 has seen Google’s lobbying budget soar.
According to reports by a non-profit group Maplight, Google’s lobbying budget has shot up by 43 percent, going up from $3.82 million to $5.47 million. Google is the only tech company among the top 5 spenders. The Chamber of Commerce of the USA spent $13.8 on lobbying followed by National Association of Realtors ($7,700,000). While American Medical Association spent $6,720,000 and U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform spent just a little over Google with $5,440,000.
Maplight defines lobbying totals as, “money paid by an organization to each lobbying firm or services on all issues.” The fear of big lobbying budgets is that it will capture Congress and thereby policymaking. As John Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s privacy project director put it, “policymaking now is all about the big bucks, not big ideas.” It is for this reason that Google’s lobbying spending is being looked at with suspicion.
The last time Google’s lobbying budget was close to the current amount was in 2012 when the tech giant spent $5.03 million on lobbying. At that time Goole was under the scanner, it was facing an antitrust investigation by the Federal Trade Commission.
Currently, Google finds itself embroiled in controversy but this time in the European Union. It has been reported that the European Commission has charged the company with, “improperly using its dominance in the search market to promote its shopping service, at the expense of rival tech companies.” There is also another investigation being carried out into its mobile operating system, Android.” It is believed that the high lobbying is because Google is keen to garner U.S. support for it’s position in the European Union. It is also believed that this will ensure that a similar investigation doesn’t occur in the United States.
John Gruber, writing for DaringFireball has a different take. He writes,”Looking at these numbers, what strikes me is how low these sums are. $5.5 million is almost nothing to Google. Nothing. They reported $14 billion in profit last year. That means they spent 0.04 percent of their profit on lobbying here in the U.S. The scale is just whacked: a few million dollars means nothing to big companies like Comcast, Apple, and Google, but it means a lot in terms of political influence.”
Google’s influence however isn’t restricted to politics, they have dominance in entertainment, health, economy and lives.