Facebook triples its lobbying spending from last year

Google and Facebook upped their lobbying to record levels in the second quarter of the year, public records show.

Facebook spent $960,000 in lobbying from April to June of this year, up from $320,000 during the second quarter of 2011. The company spent $650,000 in the first quarter of 2012, records show.

Google, meanwhile, spent $3.9 million in the second quarter, a notable drop from the record $5 million the search company spent in the first quarter. But the $3.9 million is an increase over the same period last year, when the company spent just over $2 million on lobbying.

Facebook’s record spending on lobbying signals that the newly public company is expanding its footprint in Washington as it faces scrutiny on privacy issues. The site lobbied in the last quarter on issues such as privacy and protecting children's privacy online, online piracy, cybersecurity, market structure and IPO issues.

"Our presence and growth in Washington reflect our commitment to explaining how our service works, the actions we take to protect the more than 900 million people who use our service, the importance of preserving an open Internet, and the value of innovation to our economy," a Facebook spokesman said.



Facebook came under fire this spring for backing the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, a cybersecurity bill that passed the House in April. The site was one of the first Silicon Valley-based companies to come out in support of the measure, and the move took many inside and outside of Washington by surprise. Privacy and civil liberties groups warned the bill would increase the flow of American's personal information to the military and National Security Agency.

Google's lobbying spending was on par with other heavy hitters such as Verizon and Comcast, which both spent nearly $4 million in the second quarter. Like Facebook, Google has faced its own struggles in Washington over its privacy policies. The search company spent its money lobbying on privacy and competition issues in online advertising, IP enforcement, cybersecurity, high-skilled immigration and other issues. 

Amazon and eBay, which are locked in a battle over online sales tax proposals in Congress, both spent money lobbying on the issue last quarter. Amazon spent $690,000 in the second quarter, up slightly from $650,000 from the first quarter, while Ebay spent just over $400,000, a slight decline from the $426,500 spent in the first months of the year. Amazon supports legislation that would empower states to collect taxes immediately on online purchases, no matter where the retailer is based. Currently, states can only collect sales taxes from retailers that have a physical presence in their state. Amazon has argued that it prefers a national standard over dealing with a patchwork of state tax laws, while eBay has said online sales tax proposals will stunt e-commerce and burden taxpayers.

Microsoft spent just over $2 million during the second quarter, while IBM spent $1 million. Apple spent $470,000, down from the $790,000 the company spent during the same period a year ago.

AT&T spent $3.5 million in the second quarter, a notable drop from the $7 million in the first three months of this year.