Tech giants pour millions into lobbying efforts

Silicon Valley is putting its collective weight behind the push for immigration reform in hopes of securing passage of legislation that would help companies hire more highly skilled foreign workers who earn degrees in the United States.

Tech companies have spent millions on ad campaigns and events intended to build pressure on lawmakers to act, and top executives are putting their personal wealth into, a lobbying group launched in part by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg that has made immigration reform priority No. 1.

Zuckerberg’s group includes an all-star list of donors, including LinkedIn CEO Reid Hoffman and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, and has made waves by running ads in support of Republicans and Democrats who have backed immigration reform.

On the corporate side, Facebook has been active in lobbying Congress to pass bills that would free up more green cards for highly-skilled workers and increase the annual H-1B visa cap.

The social network company lobbied in the last quarter on the Senate Gang of Eight’s sweeping immigration bill, the tech-friendly I-Squared Act in the Senate, and Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-Calif.) high-skilled immigration bill.

But Facebook, like others in the tech industry, is far from being a one-issue company.

Lobbyists for Facebook are also tracking children’s online privacy rules, reforming an email privacy bill, cybersecurity, corporate tax issues and “interest in Do-Not-Track online legislation,” according to federal forms.

Google’s lobbying team has a similarly broad scope. It worked in the last quarter on regulation of online advertising, cybersecurity, privacy and data security, among other issues.

In addition to lobbying on immigration reform, Microsoft said it lobbied on children’s online privacy rules, software piracy, patents, cybersecurity and tax issues.

Intel, another tech company with a huge stake in the immigration fight, spent $730,000 during the second quarter of 2013, a decrease from the more than $1.1 million it spent during the first three months of the year.


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