Facebook, Amazon, Apple pick up spending on lobbying

Google still outstrips some of the key tech companies

Apple, Facebook and Amazon.com have increased their expenses on trying to influence U.S. politicians and policy at the federal level, but Google still outstrips them in spending though it reduced expenditure in the second quarter.

Amazon's spending on lobbying increased by 103 percent to a record US$2.15 million in the second quarter of 2015, according to data collated by advocacy group Consumer Watchdog from filings by the company. Facebook's expense rose to $2.69 million in the quarter, up 27 percent from $2.12 million in the second quarter of 2014. The social networking company outstripped its first quarter spending of $2.44 million by 10 percent.

Google's spending on federal lobbying was at $4.62 million a little lower than the $5.1 million it spent in the first quarter of 2015 and the $5.29 million it spent in the second quarter of 2014.

The money was spent by tech companies to lobby the government on a variety of issues, such as privacy, net neutrality, protecting children and online safety, copyright issues, information sharing on cybersecurity issues, and the transfer of control of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) from the U.S. to a multi-stakeholder process, according to filings to the clerk of the House of Representatives and the secretary of the Senate.

Some companies also spent on lobbying in connection with various legislation that affected them such as the USA Freedom Act and the Innovation Act.

Apple spent $1.23 million in the second quarter of 2015, a 42 percent increase from $840,000 in the second quarter of 2014. IBM's lobbying expenses were $1.81 million in the second quarter of 2015, a 7 percent increase from $1.69 million in the same quarter in 2014, while that of Intel was $1.29 million in the second quarter of 2015, a 66 percent increase from $779,000 in the second quarter last year.

Oracle spent $1.73 million in the second quarter of 2015, a 18 percent increase from $1.46 million in the same quarter last year, while Yahoo's expenses went down in the second quarter by 5 percent to $730,000 from the same quarter a year earlier.

Microsoft, which once led tech companies in their expenditure on lobbying, has trimmed its expenditures again. It spent $2.24 million in the second quarter of 2015 compared to $2.34 million in the same period of 2014, down by 4 percent, according to Consumer Watchdog.

"The massive amounts these companies are spending demonstrates how policymaking is now about who has the big bucks rather than who has the big ideas," John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's Privacy Project director said in a statement Monday.

Telecommunications companies also spent large sums on lobbying, with AT&T spending $4.10 million in the second quarter of 2015, up by 7 percent from $3.82 million in the same quarter of 2014. Verizon spent $3.08 million in the quarter, down by 11 percent from the second quarter in 2014.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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