Google, Amazon spend millions lobbying in 2021

The U.S. Capitol building and American flag. Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg/TNS

Technology giants, including Google and Amazon.com, spent millions on lobbying in the first quarter of 2021 as they face heightened scrutiny from Democrats and Republicans over alleged anticompetitive practices.

Google spent $2.7 million on federal lobbying in the three months ending March 31, according to disclosures filed with Congress. That’s a 49% increase from the same period a year earlier, and comes as the company has been steadily increasing its Washington investments after a two-year decline.

Amazon boosted its lobbying spending by 11% in the quarter to $4.8 million, a company record. The Seattle-based company said it lobbied on a wide range of topics, from logistics to cloud-computing and a communications satellite program, reflecting its sprawling business interests.

For years, Amazon had only a small presence in Washington, geared toward lobbying on sales and internet taxes issues. That changed as Amazon grew into one of the world’s largest companies and brought on former Obama press secretary Jay Carney to run its public policy and communications unit.

“Our Washington, D.C., team is focused on ensuring we are advocating on issues that are important to policy makers, our employees and our customers,” said Maxine Tagay, an Amazon spokeswoman.

Facebook and Apple cut back on lobbying spending in the first three months. Facebook spent just under $4.8 million on its Washington influence operation — a nearly 9% drop from the first quarter of 2020. Apple spent about $1.5 million, down more than 32% from a year earlier, according to the disclosures. Facebook, which has faced an onslaught of threats from Washington, declined to comment on the decline.

The Federal Trade Commission and dozens of state attorneys-general sued Facebook last year for allegedly abusing its online dominance in a case that seeks to unwind its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp. The cases represent the biggest regulatory attack against Facebook in the company’s history.

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