Google spent $16.5 million on lobbying as it fended off antitrust probe


The Federal Trade Commission closed its nearly two-year investigation into Google earlier this month. The commission decided to take no action on the most significant issue in the case: whether Google manipulates its search results to ensure that its own services appear above the products of rivals.

Google's competitors, including Microsoft, argued that the government should step in to prevent Google from using its dominant search engine to kill off competition in other markets. Google said it designed its search engine to provide users with the best results.

Microsoft spent $8.09 million on lobbying in 2012 and $2.43 million in the fourth quarter. Microsoft disclosed that in addition to competition issues, it lobbied on cybersecurity, high-skilled immigration, email privacy legislation and other issues.

Another top policy issue for Google is online privacy. Lawmakers and regulators have expressed concern about how the company handles its users' personal information.

The company said it lobbied U.S. officials to preserve Internet freedom as part of negotiations over an international telecommunications treaty last year. 

Google also lobbied on immigration, education, cloud computing, tax issues and "autonomous vehicle technology." Google is developing a self-driving car, but government regulations currently prevent its use on public roads.

Facebook revealed on Wednesday that it spent $4 million on lobbying in 2012.