After regulators announced plans to put Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon under the microscope on Monday, the tech giants doubled down on a defensive strategy: lobbying lawmakers.
The 4 behemoths of Big Tech spent a combined $55m lobbying in Washington last year — 2x what they spent in 2016. Now, it looks like they’re gearing up to burn an even bigger pile o’ cash.
Big Tech’s legion of loyal lobbyists
In the first quarter of this year, 238 people were registered to lobby for tech’s Big 4, and 75% of them once worked in government or on political campaigns. In typical lobbying fashion, many of them worked for the very politicians they are now paid to influence.
Since politicians on both sides of the aisle are calling for the breakup of Big Tech, the surest path to safety for tech giants is to spend and schmooze as widely as possible.
Who to trust and who to anti-trust…?
Some connections between tech and government officials are very direct: The head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division used to work as a contract lobbyist for Google.
Also, last month, the Internet Association — which represents tech companies including Facebook, Google, and Amazon — awarded its “Internet Freedom Award” to Ivanka Trump.
Other efforts by Big Tech to influence policy are less direct: Facebook, Google, and other tech giants funnel oodles of cash into think tanks across the political spectrum.
Big Tech joins the Big Lobbying Club
Antitrust arguments against Big Tech likely won’t go away any time soon.
Now, Big Tech’s lobbying machine will likely join Big Auto, Big Banks, and Big Military Contractors in lobbying’s Big Leagues — and stick around Washington for years to come.