27 Nov 2012, James Dohnert, V3
Google spent more on US lobbying efforts than any other technology firm in America, according to statistics from the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP).
Google reportedly outpaced Microsoft in lobbyist spending by $14.3m over 2012, more than $7m than the Redmond software maker. The search giant spent its funds lobbying the US government on patent, antitrust, and telecommunications issues.
According to Nick Nyhart, chief executive and president of non-profit campaign reform group The Public Campaign, tech firms have started to spend like the oil companies and banks before them.
Nyhart told V3 that as Silicon Valley has become more profitable, they've also become more influential in Washington.
"As the tech companies have grown, and eat up a larger amount of the country's GDP, they moved to the kind of activities that the oil companies, the banks, and the pharmaceutical companies have done for years," said Nyhart.
"And that is to protect their interests and advocate the policies that help their bottom line."
Google spent some of its lobbying funds this year on the Stop Internet Piracy Act (SOPA). The search giant opposed the bill because it believed it would excessively stifle internet freedoms.
According to the CRP's statistics, Google also spent lobbying dollars on copyright issues and antitrust concerns.
Lobbying the US government has been a growing source of spending for tech firms in recent years. Last year, computer and internet firms spent over $126.8m on lobbying. In 2010, those same companies spent $122.9m lobbying governmental officials.
While Nyhart sees lobbying efforts in the tech industry growing for years to come, he also thinks theirs hope for change.
"Some tech industry members view old money dominating the tech industry as bad for innovation. So their is a pro-innovation argument that if you have only large companies creating public policy, that goes with their interests, you won't create a helpful environment for innovation," said Nyhart.
"Theirs hope, and in the end it will take millions of people to fight billions of dollars in campaign politics."