Tech giants spent record sums on lobbying in 2017

Tech giants spent record sums on lobbying in 2017
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The five biggest tech companies in the U.S. collectively spent nearly $60 million on federal lobbying in 2017.

Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft combined spent a record $58 million on advocacy in Washington during a year in which the sector was heavily scrutinized over its size and influence.

Google led the pack, spending $18 million lobbying on everything from copyright law to wind power to internet privacy — up from $15.4 million in 2016. The internet giant also advocated on antitrust issues as it was hit with a record $2.9 billion fine from the European Union for favoring its own comparison shopping service in its search results.

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Last year also saw record sums spent by Apple ($7.1 million), Amazon ($12.8 million) and Facebook ($11.5 million). Meanwhile, Microsoft’s yearly lobbying expenditures declined slightly, from $8.7 million in 2016 to $8.5 million in 2017.

The companies lobbied on some of the same issues last year, including privacy, immigration and trade.

Google and Facebook have been facing scrutiny from lawmakers over whether their platforms enabled the spread of misinformation from the Russian government during the 2016 presidential race. Last year, they both testified before Congress on what they were doing to combat foreign election interference.

According to their disclosure filings, the five companies all lobbied on congressional efforts to cut into the legal protections internet platforms have against liability from content posted by third parties. A pair of bills in the House and Senate are aimed at making it easier to go after internet companies that enable online sex trafficking — an issue that has polarized the industry, with some worried that the legislation could hurt startups and freedom of speech online.

Perhaps the biggest lobbying win for the industry came with Republicans’ tax overhaul at the end of last year, which slashed the corporate rate and eased the burden on the country’s wealthiest.

Apple announced last week that it would be making a one-time $38 billion tax payment on its assets overseas.