OVERNIGHT TECH: Silicon Valley spends big on lobbying

THE LEDE: Spending on lobbying was up at many major Silicon Valley companies last quarter.

Quarterly disclosure reports showed beefed up lobbying at many major firms, as the industry continues to grow its presence in Washington. Immigration, cybersecurity, surveillance reform and trade issues were all top for many companies.

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Google spent a total of $3.94 million this quarter, a $600,000 boost from the same period last year. The Mountain View, Calif., giant has one of the most expansive lists of interests in Washington, including everything from the regulation of online advertising to surveillance reform to wind power and drone laws.

Though third quarter spending was $1.35 million less than the previous quarter, the company has been steadily ramping up its lobbying presence in Washington.

Facebook spent more than $1 million more this quarter than the same period last year — $2.45 million compared to 2013’s $1.44 million. Immigration, cybersecurity and surveillance reform were all key issues on the list.

Yahoo ticked up its spending from $630,000 a year ago this period to $730,000 this quarter, and Amazon bumped its K Street cash up to $1.18 million, a $400,000 increase from last year, focusing on online video, online sales tax and drone issues, among others. Apple posted $1.01 million in spending this quarter, a $31,000 increase from the same quarter last year.

Microsoft actually bucked the trend, dropping $1.66 million this quarter compared to $2.23 million the same time last year.

Many telecom companies, in the midst of seeking regulatory approval for a pair of multi-billion dollar mergers, also spent some big bills.

Comcast padded K Street’s wallet by $4.23 million in the last three months, a $250,000 increase from last year, though actually a $220,000 drop from the second quarter. The company is deep in the thick of a regulatory review of its proposed merger with Time Warner Cable, which spent $1.8 million this quarter — a $160,000 drop from last year.

AT&T spent $3.47 million, an $830,000 drop from last year. Its merger partner, DirecTV, spent $640,000, a slight increase from last year.

 

Marc Andreessen backs AT&T-DirecTV merger: Venture capitalist icon Marc Andreessen wants the FCC to approve AT&T’s $49 billion purchase of DirecTV. The Andreessen Horowitz co-founder told the agency in a comment last Thursday the deal would lead to the better broadband infrastructure “necessary for the United states to maintain its leadership in the area of Internet technology.”

“For innovation to continue, technology companies and consumers must have broadband infrastructure that continues to evolve and deliver the capabilities necessary to support all of the innovation occurring at the edge,” he wrote

 

So do Mark Cuban, other venture capital firms: AXS TV Chairman Mark Cuban — who might be better known as the outspoken owner of the Dallas Mavericks and a serial startup investor — earlier this month also came out in favor of the merger, echoing many of Andreessen’s points.

“In combining broadband, mobile, and video services, the merger will make it easier for consumers to access content at the time and on the screen of their choice, whether it be movies, television, information, or Dallas Mavericks games,” he wrote.

Venture capital firms Sequoia and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers shared the sentiment in a similar comment last week. The merger will advance innovation by building better networks and giving people better broadband, the firms’ Jim Goetz and Ted Schlein wrote in a joint comment. 

 

Political preferences on Facebook: Individuals who are consistently conservative are two times more likely than the average person to see political opinions on Facebook that are similar to their own, according to a Pew Research survey released Tuesday.

Forty-seven percent of consistent conservatives said Facebook posts they see are mostly in line with their own views, compared to 23 percent of people overall who say that. Thirty-seven percent of consistently liberal people say the same. However, consistent liberals are much more likely than any other group (44 percent) to block someone on social media if they disagree with the person's politics.

 

Hatch scolds Dem approach on immigration: Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTrump gambles in push for drug import proposal Biden's role in Anita Hill hearings defended by witness not allowed to testify 'Congress' worst tax idea ever'? Hardly. MORE (R-Utah) on Tuesday chastised Democrats for their "all-or-nothing approach" to immigration reform. During a speech in Utah, he called on President Obama and Democrats next year to support individual elements of reform that have bipartisan support, including changes to the high-tech H-1B visa system, important for hiring at technology companies. He made the plea in what was the only overtly partisan section of his speech outlining the GOP's technology agenda for the next Congress.

Hatch was a supporter of the Senate's comprehensive immigration bill passed last year, which has stalled in the House. He said voting on portions of the bill that have broad support will "help pave the way for additional and more far-reaching reforms in the future."

 

"A terrible idea:" Hatch, a long opponent of net neutrality, once again called it a flawed concept on Tuesday as the Federal Communications Commission prepares new rules. The FCC's rules, which forbid Internet service providers from blocking or slowing service to particular websites, were struck down earlier this year and are being rewritten to withstand future legal challenges.  

"Net neutrality is a terrible idea. The last thing we need is government telling ISPs how to carve up bandwidth. Keep the Internet free and it will continue to drive our economy forward," he said.

 

White House website anniversary: The Washington Post takes readers on a tour of the first White House website, which went live 20 years ago. The site, which has been preserved by the National Archives, contains a welcome message from then-Vice President Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreSeveral factors have hindered 'next up' presidential candidates in recent years Montana Gov. Bullock enters presidential race Bullock hires senior staffers ahead of likely presidential run MORE, but the link to then-President Clinton's message is broken. The post points out a number of other features that seem archaic by today's standards.

 

ECPA turns 28: The Electronic Communications Privacy Act became law 28 years ago Tuesday, which reformers say should be a sign that change is needed. “Twenty-eight is old enough,” Katie McAuliffe, the executive director of Americans for Tax Reform’s Digital Liberty project said in a statement. The law allows officials to obtain people’s email and other data without a warrant as long as it has been stored online for at least 180 days.

“Americans have lived for far too long with inadequate protections of their private online communications,” added Center for Democracy and Technology senior counsel Greg Nojeim. “On this 28th anniversary, it is even more apparent that ECPA is outdated and only grows more so with each passing day.”

 

ON TAP:

At 9 a.m., Privacy and Civil Liberties oversight Board Chairman David Medine will talk about his group’s analysis of a foreign surveillance law at the top of a National Institute of Standards and Technology meeting.

Microsoft is holding an event on cybersecurity for state and local governments starting at noon.

At 2:30, the Brookings Institute will hold a panel on the history of revisions to the Communications Act of 1934. Former FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell will join.

At 3 p.m. the Atlantic Council holds a discussion on the landscape of cyber threats, which features Tom Corcoran, an adviser on the House Intelligence Committee.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

A top National Security Agency official has suspended his part-time work for his former boss’s new company amid public scrutiny on the potential conflict of interest.

Hillary Clinton praised Sen. Mark UdallMark Emery UdallDenver Post editorial board says Gardner endorsement was 'mistake' Gardner gets latest Democratic challenge from former state senator Setting the record straight about No Labels MORE (D-Colo.), a leading critic of the National Security Agency, for his work on intelligence reform during a campaign stop Tuesday.

Two weeks before Election Day, the Federal Communications Commission wants campaigns to know not to abuse voters with robocalls.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) on Tuesday outlined his priorities for technology legislation in the next Congress — keying in on patent and immigration reform, as well as updates to email privacy protections.

The Federal Trade Commission appointed a new chief technologist who previously worked as a security advisor and technical expert at The Washington Post, co-authoring some stories based on leaks by Edward Snowden.

 

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