The House and Senate lobbying numbers dropped early this morning, and the 2017 totals show an industry ramping up its influencing powers. Together, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple spent more than $50 million. Here are the top lines:
- Google spent $18 million to influence a range of issues, including autonomous driving legislation and the lobby against new online advertising regulations. The company spent just over $15 million in 2016.
- Amazon spent $12.8 million–almost four times its 2013 total–to lobby Congress and federal agencies on an array of issues, including delivery drones and online sales tax. (The Supreme Court plans to hear a pivotal case on state online sales tax later this year.)
- Facebook spent about $11.5 million–a 20% increase over 2016–to influence lawmakers on issues relating to Russian’s use of its platform to meddle in the 2016 election, and to fight the impression that it’s a publisher rather than a neutral internet platform.
- Apple spent $7 million to educate lawmakers on the importance of strong encryption, and on tax reform and immigration.
The tech industry has traditionally sought a hands-off policy from federal regulators, but that approach has become increasingly impractical as the internet underpins a growing share of the economy. Still, the tech industry spends far less on lobbying than other industries like pharmaceuticals, insurance, and energy.