Big Tech Lobby

How Silicon Valley became a major power in Washington

According to Bloomberg, American tech companies spend millions of dollar on Washington lobbying, trying to influence

  • regulation of new industries, such as drones;
  • agenda on taxation and migration;
  • their own reputation — by quietly resolving conflicts with the authorities.

Below, you will find information on how Amazon, Google, Facebook and Airbnb attempt to upend American legislation.

Contents:

Amazon

In the last five years, Amazon’s spendings on lobbying increased by 400% — the most out of all the companies analyzed by Bloomberg. During that time, Amazon itself, constantly entering new markets, experienced tremendous growth.

Targets: Senate, NASA, Department of Justice, CIA, US Postal Service

Issues: postal service, infrastructure, drones, taxation, cloud computing


Among notable cases are:

Obtaining long term CIA and Pentagon contracts for cloud computing service. Amazon also promotes purchasing newer software among state entities.

Mitigating regulation on drones. After a few years of negotiations authorities cancelled the rule that required drones to remain in sight of a human during commercial flights.

Taking part in drafting a bill on interaction between artists and streaming services.

Reaching an agreement with Postal serivce that allowed Amazon parcels to be delivered even on Sundays.

Other big deals include:
Amazon
Ties to Washington helped Amazon improve its image. Former known as the destroyer of small businesses, now the company represents a major employer and a marketplace for local producers.
Read more on Amazon lobbying on Bloomberg

to menu ↑

Google

In 2017 Google spent $18.1 million lobbying its interests — far more than others.

Targets: Federal Trade Commission, Federal Communications Commission, Department of Justice, Senate and House of Representatives

Issues: privacy, cybersecurity, migration policy, drones, biotech

Google
In 2013 Google, while under an anti-trust investigation, lobbied the Federal Trade Commission. Since then, the company has expanded its presense in Washington and started influencing migration policies — a sensitive topic for a company that hires plenty of foreigners.
Read more on Google lobbying on Bloomberg

to menu ↑

Facebook

The social network has been steadily raising its lobbying expenditures, which in 2017 reached $11.5 million.

Targets: United States Marine Corps, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, United States Agency for International Development, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Issues: national security, infrastructure

Facebook
After 2012 IPO, Facebook focused on defense entities, which were at the time drafting rules on accessing user data for investigations.
In 2014 the company went into drones regulation. Facebook offered using them to provide internet on emergency sites and to enhance weather forecasts.
Read more on Facebook lobbying on Bloomberg

to menu ↑

Airbnb

Airbnb’s expenses to advance its interests are one of the smallest among the Big Tech.

Targets: Senate and House of Representatives, State Department, National Security Council

Issues: Sanctions against Cuba

Airbnb
Airbnb was directly affected by Donald Trump bold plans — among other radical measures, he proposed to ban Americans from taking Cuba vacations. Thanks to Airbnb efforts, the ban only affected hotels and let the company untouched.
Read more on Airbnb lobbying on Bloomberg

to menu ↑

Conclusion

As big companies often are first movers in emerging industries, they have the power to influence rules in these markets. Therefore, if Facebook or Google pay extra attention to a certain market, it may indicate that it will soon change.
Conversely, changing legislation may preceed a big player moving in the market — as in the case with Amazon and commercial drones.


Also published on Medium.