Google, Apple, Amazon spend record amounts on lobbying

Latest filings show increasing spending by some tech heavyweights in Washington, D.C.

Google, Apple and Amazon.com spent record amounts in the first quarter attempting to influence U.S. politicians and policy.

Google, which was already the biggest tech lobbyist in Washington, D.C., spent $5.47 million in the first three months of the year, according to a report filed with the Senate Office of Public Records.

That made it the fifth biggest federal lobbyist across all industries during the quarter, according to an analysis by Maplight.

Google has been steadily increasing the amount it spends to influence the course of policy and law on a range of issues. Since mid-2011, it has spent on average at least a million dollars each month in areas both central to its business, such as online advertising and security, and tangential to it, such as international tax reform and drone technology.

Apple spent $1.24 million in Washington in the first quarter, beating its previous record spend of $1.19 million in the fourth quarter last year. Its eight lobbyists covered areas including digital textbooks, international trade, patents and copyright, and workplace diversity.

Amazon's lobbying bill jumped to a record $1.91 million, up 14 percent on the previous quarter. Issues close to its corporate heart include data breach notifications, postal reform, cloud security and skilled immigrant workers.

Silicon Valley has been gradually finding its voice in Washington over the last few years, as regulators begin to tackle issues related to the digital economy and tech companies move into business areas that are already regulated.

But not all big tech companies spent more money last quarter.

Facebook cut its spending to $2.44 million, down 12 percent from a year earlier, and Microsoft spent $1.89 million, down 9 percent.

Blackberry spent no money at all on federal lobbying last quarter. The company, which is battling declining market share and trying to cut costs, had spent over half a million dollars in each of several recent quarters.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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