The five biggest tech companies in the US together spent almost $60m on lobbying officials in the US government in 2017, new records show.
Google was the biggest spender of all, hitting a new record for the search company. It lobbied on everything from copyright law and internet privacy to wind farms.
State records show that Google spent $18 million in 2017, while Amazon’s lobbying outlay was almost $13 million during the year. Facebook spent $11.5m, Microsoft spent $8.5 million and Apple spent more than $7 million in total.
The surge in lobbying came as tech giants faced scrutiny from Washington over Russia’s use of their social media networks to influence the 2016 election.
Google, Facebook and Twitter have admitted their users were exposed to ads, fake news reports and fraudulent social media posts emanating from Russia.
Executives from these three companies were grilled in Congress in 2017 on the Russian activities and pledged to improve their content screening before the 2018 mid-term elections.
Google’s spending included lobbying on a bill that attempts to curb online sex trafficking and opposition to the Federal Communications Commission’s move to scrap net neutrality.
Amazon lobbied on tax laws for online sales, government procurement and regulations of drone deliveries.