When it comes to corporate lobbying efforts, Google outspent other major technology firms last year by millions of dollars, and took the top spot among companies more broadly.
Google (now part of parent company Alphabet) spent over $18 million lobbying politicians in 2017, according to federal disclosure records. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, this is the first time a technology company has spent the most on lobbying costs in at least two decades. Google did not return TIME’s request for comment about its lobbying activities.
Facebook spent $11.5 million on lobbying activities in 2017, Amazon spent over $12.8 million, Microsoft spent $8.5 million, and Apple spent $7 million. With the exception of Microsoft (which decreased its lobbying spending by approximately $210,000), these companies all stepped up their spending from 2016 — Facebook increased lobbying spending by nearly $3 million, Apple by $2.3 million, and Amazon by nearly $2 million. The companies’ lobbyists pressed lawmakers and the White House on several issues pertinent to the tech world, including advertising regulations, cybersecurity, free trade and immigration.
Besides Google, AT&T and Boeing are the only other companies among the top ten list of lobbying spenders in 2017, which largely include groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and national associations.
Tech companies’ lobbying spending surge comes as Silicon Valley faces increasing scrutiny on Capitol Hill for everything from their dominance over the online advertising market to their potential impact on the 2016 elections. Facebook in particular has been criticized for failing to stop Russian-linked interests from using the platform to reach voters in the U.S. The company has acknowledged that 10 million Americans saw advertisements linked to Russia, which it has turned over to Congressional investigators. Google, meanwhile, found similarly Russia-linked ads on YouTube.
Executives from Google, Facebook and Twitter appeared on Capitol Hill last fall to testify about Russia’s use of online media to influence American elections. They acknowledged the problems and promised to work to fix the issue, but stopped short of backing legislative steps to better regulate the matter.
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