InfoShot: US Tech Firms Lobbying Spend

To Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Tobacco and Big Banking, you can now add Big Tech. Paul Harris, Guardian

As tech becomes an ever-more important part of everyday life, the issue of politics inevitably rears its head; the legality of drones, NSA-fallout and privacy issues, tax dodging. The bigger these tech companies get the more they feel they need to influence the powers that be; just look at the rise of tech-centric lobbying groups such as Mark Zuckerberg’s Fwd.us.

According to Open Secrets, 2013 was a record year for computer and internet company spending on lobbying: $141 million. Looking at the figures, 2014 looks set to match and probably beat that figure, with $71.8 million spent in the first two quarters of the year.

The latest lobbying data shows Google is the biggest tech spender of the last couple of years; $14 million year and $9 million already in 2014.  Though the search engine spent slightly less last year than it did in 2012, 2014 will be a record year if it continues spending at its current rate. Facebook is becoming a bigger player each year, and has nearly matched its 2013 spending already - $6.4 million last year and just under $5 million this year already. 2014 has already seen Facebook, Apple Yahoo!, Google and Amazon set new records for their lobbying spend per quarter.

Of course not all tech companies are into spending millions. McAfee’s spending, although relatively low, has been increasing for several years. Rackspace has minimal spending, as do Salesforce, Symantec, Autodesk, Twitter, LinkedIn, which are all generally below $1 million. The likes of F5, Dropbox, Snapchat, Flexera are yet to spend even $100,000 in one year. Some even seem to be losing interest; though never very high, the spending of CA, Iron Mountain, Red Hat and NetApp have been declining for several years.

While living in a democracy means it’s fairly easy to get this kind of data, shouldn’t companies we interact with everyday be more transparent about spending vast sums of money in trying to influence governments?



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