Overnight Tech: Amazon boosts lobbying spending

LEDE: Amazon's lobbying spending shot up last year.

The company's spending in 2015 was up 91 percent, going from $4.74 million in 2014 to around $9 million last year. In the last three months of the year, it spent almost a million dollars more than in the previous quarter.


It's reflective of just how many businesses the Seattle-based company is in these days. Beyond its core e-commerce offering, the company is developing drones, has built a robust cloud computing business and is doing its best to challenge Netflix.

All of that brings them closer to Washington. They lobbied the FCC on online video issues, the Federal Aviation Administration on drones and Congress on a whole host of issues.

The company declined to comment on its spending.

ALSO GROWING: Uber is ramping up its lobbying in Washington, according to a review of their disclosure forms. It's not surprising, since the on-demand economy, and the ride-hailing space in particular, are receiving more federal attention than they were a year ago. Twitter also saw an increase in its spending. The company hired its first outside lobbyists in 2015.

SPENDING FLAT AT BIGGER FIRMS: At Google, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook spending levels just barely increased or decreased. Congress will be less active as the election draws closer this year, and many of the big fights for tech companies -- like net neutrality and surveillance reform -- weren't active all the way until the end of the year. Read our full report here.

FBI TOOK OVER CHILD PORN SITE, DIDN'T IMMEDIATELY TAKE IT DOWN: The FBI took control of a child pornography website on the dark web last year, but allowed it to continue operating for about two weeks in an attempt to catch more people trafficking in the explicit images, according to USA Today. More than 100,000 users visited the site during the time the FBI ran the site. It is not the first time the FBI has used the controversial practice. The first known operation came in 2012.

GROUP RELEASES BROADBAND PRIVACY REPORT: A day after nearly 60 groups sent a letter urging the FCC to adopt strong Internet privacy rules, the Open Technology Institute came out with a more detailed report explaining the information that Internet service providers can obtain from their customers and recommendations for the protections that should be in place.

THE ORIGIN STORY OF FACEBOOK'S FREE BASICS: Buzzfeed produced a comprehensive profile of Facebook's Free Basics program, the controversial offering in India and other emerging countries that gives individuals limited access to the social network and some other sites without counting against customer smartphone data caps. The program has its origins in a 2010 idea, which was aimed at growing the social network.

MEANWHILE, FIGHT OVER PROGRAM RAMPS UP IN INDIA: The Wall Street Journal reports that hundreds shows up at a discussion hosted by India's telecom regulator over whether the program violates net neutrality. It comes weeks after the regulator told Facebook's local partner to stop offering the services while it evaluated the program.



A group of Senate Republicans on Thursday expressed concern that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is setting the nation's Internet speed benchmark artificially high in order to justify more regulation.

European Union privacy regulators are considering freezing any U.S.-EU data transfers under existing laws, putting more pressure on negotiators to reach a deal on transatlantic data transfers, Reuters reports.

Trade groups, companies and public interest groups are among the members of a coalition that launched on Thursday to pressure regulators reviewing Charter Communications's proposed purchase of Time Warner Cable.

National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers on Thursday insisted "encryption is foundational to the future."

While a California lawmaker has introduced a bill that would ban smartphones with unbreakable encryption.


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