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Google Leads Among Consumer Tech Companies Lobbying Congress

Soulskill posted about 9 months ago | from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.

Google 65

Nerval's Lobster writes "Google is still the tech company that spends most lavishly to make its influence known in Washington, D.C., according to a report analyzing the lobbying activity of technology firms. Using data from disclosure forms filed with the Clerk of the House of Representatives, the oversight group Consumer Watchdog added up the efforts of tech-company representatives to get in front of lawmakers and state their employers' case. Facebook's spending on lobbying rose 47 percent between 2012 and 2013, from $980,000 during the third quarter of 2012 to 1.4 million during 2013. Microsoft also boosted its spending by 20 percent, from $1.9 million in 2012 to $2.2 million during the third quarter of this year. Google cut its spending on lobbyists, but still spent $3.4 million during the third quarter – three times what Facebook spent during the same quarter. Apple's lobbying efforts shot up 111 percent between the third quarter of 2012 and 2013, but still amounted to only $970,000 this year. Cisco Systems spent $890,000; IBM spent $1.18 million; Intel spent $980,000 and Oracle spent $1.36 million. Though telecommunications firms are in a separate category, Google still outspent Verizon (down 2 percent, to $3.04 million) and Verizon Wireless (up 19 percent, to $1.2 million). It was trumped by AT&T (up 23 percent, to $4.3 million)."

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Bribes (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45218239)

And I thought bribes were illegal.

Re:Bribes (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45218305)

The worst is that Congress is extorting them more than being bribed by them. Listen to the Planet Money episode.

Re:Bribes (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 9 months ago | (#45218447)

Wag the dog. Unseen brokers, consultants, and accountants that skim off money traveling both directions are who direct the action. Google leads the tech companies. Who spends the most overall?

Pharmaceuticals/Health Products...

Insurance...

Well... big surprise there.. Big year coming up for those dudes...

Spending your money on lobbying is perfectly fine, but fuck these politicians being a yes man to them. There's no extortion. Everybody's doing this crap by free choice with full 'consent of the governed'.

Re:Bribes (1)

mc6809e (214243) | about 9 months ago | (#45218619)

It's not just congress. A company is 50% less likely to be prosecuted by the Justice Department if they make a donation to the DNC.

Re:Bribes (2)

slick7 (1703596) | about 9 months ago | (#45219853)

It's not just congress. A company is 50% less likely to be prosecuted by the Justice Department if they make a donation to the DNC.

Hence the need for the separation of Corporate and State. If corporations want the same rights as persons, then they should be goverened by the same rules equally. Yes, yes I know some believe themselves more equal than others. BOVINE SCAT!

Re:Bribes (1)

slash.jit (2893213) | about 9 months ago | (#45222969)

They were.. but corporations bribed the congress to make it legal.

Re:Bribes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45224051)

This behavior from Google and a other corporate lobbyists is frightening. A lobby made up of paying members is one thing (Unions, NRA, NARP, etc.). But lobbies sponsored by mega corporations and billionaires scare the hell out of me.

lobbying is bullshit (4, Insightful)

Nyder (754090) | about 9 months ago | (#45218303)

Lobbying should be outlawed, because it's doesn't fairly represent the people. Laws shouldn't be introduced or passed because a lot of money is throw at the law makers.

Problem is, if Google doesn't spend the money, then the other companies that are spending the money are going to be heard, not Google.

Bullshit system that needs to be outlawed.

Re:lobbying is bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45218329)

Turns out congressmen prefer money over constituents.

Who knew?

What I want to know is if there was ever a time when duty trumped dollars.

Re:lobbying is bullshit (1)

Austrian Anarchy (3010653) | about 9 months ago | (#45218617)

Turns out congressmen prefer money over constituents.

Who knew?

What I want to know is if there was ever a time when duty trumped dollars.

Apple's lobbying efforts shot up 111 percent between the third quarter of 2012 and 2013, but still amounted to only $970,000 this year.

Looks like they better get back to their old pace 1990s before they get hauled back into Congress for actually paying some taxes. Ever notice that when one of these firms cuts back on the lobbying, they have to go see the principle live on C-SPAN?

Re:lobbying is bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45220245)

Well, isn't this a great time to line them up and shoot them with your guns? Isn't that the whole point of you having them? What are you waiting for?
Your country is sick and its people even more so. I'm sorry for you.

Re:lobbying is bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45220743)

Because all that justification for a "well-regulated militia" and the possible need to overthrow and oppressive government is bullshit, it's only ever been "i want a gun because it makes me feel tough". Even the justification of being able to fight back in a potential mass shooting situation is bullshit, how many times has a mass shooter been shot by a regular citizen? None, because it's just another bullshit attempt to justify this want for guns.

The Waters Are Muddy (3, Insightful)

TheSwift (2714953) | about 9 months ago | (#45218391)

While I agree with you, I can't blame these mega-corporations. Lawmakers have a tendency to pass laws that would crush private industries unless they intervened. My guess is that most of this money isn't spent trying to push some agenda, they're simply trying to protect their business from meddlesome lawmakers.

We'll need a government that doesn't screw with the private industry before the private industry agrees to stop screwing with the government.

Re:The Waters Are Muddy (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 9 months ago | (#45218615)

Lawmakers have a tendency to pass laws that would crush private industries unless they intervened.

Which explains why, in the 1950's and 60's for example, when spending on lobbyists was a fraction of what it is today, the economy was destroyed by laws that crushed private industries. Or was it one of the biggest growth period in our country's history? I forget. Screw it - ideological assumptions trump facts.

Google is vulnerable to legislation ... (4, Insightful)

perpenso (1613749) | about 9 months ago | (#45218853)

Which explains why, in the 1950's and 60's for example, when spending on lobbyists was a fraction of what it is today, the economy was destroyed by laws that crushed private industries. Or was it one of the biggest growth period in our country's history? I forget. Screw it - ideological assumptions trump facts.

Those companies that you referred to generally made money by manufacturing products and selling them for a profit. That is not what Google does. It sells its hardware products at around cost (ex Nexus). It gives away its software (ex Android). It makes money off of services, in particular targeted advertising based on its monitoring of users (Search, Gmail, etc).

Google's business is **highly** vulnerable to potential legislation. Public sentiment is running a bit high against corporate (and gov't) "snooping" on individuals. Any restrictions on how a company can monitor or collect information on consumers could be quite harmful to Google's revenue. It makes great business sense to be in DC to head off or steer such "privacy" legislation in a manner that preserves Google's ability to monitor users.

Re:Google is vulnerable to legislation ... (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about 9 months ago | (#45221319)

tl;dr productive businesses are less vulnerable to reasonable legislation.

Couldn't agree more.

Re:Google is vulnerable to legislation ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45230015)

Because Google's business model is something worth protecting....

Re:The Waters Are Muddy (2)

deathcloset (626704) | about 9 months ago | (#45218681)

Please stop muddying the water. Here, I have some sonar.

Ping.

Reply: I don't agree with you on any of your points, I think even in principle. You could be mistaken, I could be mistaken or you could be a very elegant troll. Regardless here is my reply.

Lawmakers passed anti-monopoly laws without lobbyists. Lobbyists always spend money pushing an agenda, that's the definition of a lobbyist: They are trying to get lawmakers to meddle to protect their business. A government that doesn't screw with the private industry creates an unregulated private industry. I think that lack of regulation in the private industry results in bad outcomes. I think there are historical examples supporting this.

Re:The Waters Are Muddy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45221497)

Lawmakers passed "anti-monopoly" laws to crush unions at the behest of big business. The Sherman Act was compromised from the start.

Re:The Waters Are Muddy (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 9 months ago | (#45226705)

Lawmakers have a tendency to pass laws that would crush private industries unless they intervened.

Can you give some examples? And remember, we're talking Federal government here, not state or local. And if your examples include keeping food products safe, the environment clean, ensuring a safe workplace, etc, I say tough shit. If you can't obey the law and stay in business, you're in the wrong damned business.

Re:lobbying is bullshit (5, Interesting)

dmbasso (1052166) | about 9 months ago | (#45218443)

Bullshit system that needs to be outlawed.

Do your part: http://www.wolf-pac.com/ [wolf-pac.com]

Re:lobbying is bullshit (4, Insightful)

Austrian Anarchy (3010653) | about 9 months ago | (#45218587)

Lobbying should be outlawed, because it's doesn't fairly represent the people. Laws shouldn't be introduced or passed because a lot of money is throw at the law makers.

Problem is, if Google doesn't spend the money, then the other companies that are spending the money are going to be heard, not Google.

Bullshit system that needs to be outlawed.

Then you need to have a Constitution adjustment, since it is more properly called a redress of grievances. What we as citizens need to do is hold those elected responsible for just how they address the redress.

Re:lobbying is bullshit (2)

Kelson (129150) | about 9 months ago | (#45218669)

Problem is, if Google doesn't spend the money, then the other companies that are spending the money are going to be heard, not Google.

Exactly. One of the big things to come out of the fight against SOPA was the realization that Silicon Valley needed to step up the lobbying if they were going to avoid being stepped on by Hollywood's lobbying.

Re:lobbying is bullshit (2)

FuzzNugget (2840687) | about 9 months ago | (#45218821)

Will never happen. The gravy train has too much momentum to stop. Too many US politicians are so corrupt and hard-headed that America will never get something passed like Canada's Federal Accountability Act, which bans any amount of lobbying that could affect the political process.

Re:lobbying is bullshit (2)

postglock (917809) | about 9 months ago | (#45218837)

It's really a logical conclusion of capitalism. We throw money at these corporations, and their amount of representation is proportional to our monetary endorsement.

Re:lobbying is bullshit (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about 9 months ago | (#45221323)

Think of how much worse things would end up under libertarianism, which starts with a strong power vacuum.

Re:lobbying is bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45218985)

Let's start a lobby for the Bill of Rights--not just for two or three of them, but for all of them and the Constitution of the United States.

Organisations like the EFF, NRA and ACLU, including other less notable ones, while retaining their Independence, should also come together as Chapters of a Super PAC for the People.

Re:lobbying is bullshit (2, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 9 months ago | (#45219391)

Flat out prohibition rarely works. In this case, it definitely would fail. Legislators absolutely must meet and talk with people to get information. The alternative is a nightmare. Can you imagine if congress were to start legislating on the tech industry WITHOUT talking to techheads?

It's like lawyers: there are bad corrupt ones AND good ones who are necessary. The bad ones give them all a bad name, but they are critical. Not all are the high-powered meet and schmooze and blackmail and funnel bribery to corrupt politicians. With formal lobbyists it can be regulated, bad lobbyists could theoretically be jailed or banned. And most important, there should be a record, it should all be out in the open. Obviously, that's a lofty goal that is ignored when it shouldn't be.

At the very least, realize that money has always ALWAYS found influence in government, in every government, in every system tried. You can't stop it with a simple law like "no lobbyists." You can only make sure its out in the open and potentially corruption can be identified and rooted out with the ballot box or impeachment.

Re:lobbying is bullshit (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 9 months ago | (#45224049)

At the very least, realize that money has always ALWAYS found influence in government, in every government, in every system tried. You can't stop it with a simple law like "no lobbyists." You can only make sure its out in the open and potentially corruption can be identified and rooted out with the ballot box or impeachment.

Or you dilute lobbying power. Bring back the 1-in-30,000 rule. Don't worry about fat pay - pay 'em based on the mean, median or mode of the area they represent. And modern technology means they don't have to be in DC at all - they can work their entire careers from an office in their area.

Thus they are more accessible to people, the political donations that the people they represent means they're more powerful, and lobbying 5000+ is a lot harder. Spending $10M achieves a lot when you only need to convince under 200 people. $10M doesn't go so far for 5000-odd. And arranging that many people to meet and greet is practically impossible to get in the same room.

Re:lobbying is bullshit (2)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 9 months ago | (#45220065)

> Lobbying should be outlawed, because it's doesn't fairly represent the people

Oh silly, young little one.

The purpose of power is to get yourself in the way of people who want to get business done, so they will pay you to get back out of the way.

"For the people" is fraudulent hot air designed, meme-style, to get you behind those who seize power, so they can get in the way of your businessmen betters, to get the businessmen to pay them to get back out of the way.

This parsimonious explanation needs no additional entities to provide a complete description of political reality.

Re:lobbying is bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45220713)

"For the people" is fraudulent hot air designed, meme-style, to get you behind those who seize power, so they can get in the way of your businessmen betters, to get the businessmen to pay them to get back out of the way.

["]A government of everyone, by everyone, for everyone.["] Language expresses ideas. Involved dialog about ones intention doesn't trump what actually will happen; it's a wait and see. Happy now, asshat.

Facebook's constribution is misleading - (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45218361)

Lest we forget, Zuckerberg started his own PAC - Forward.us which I'm sure does no lobbying that would benefit Facebook... like increasing the number of H1Bs...

I wonder... (3, Interesting)

jcbarlow (166225) | about 9 months ago | (#45218385)

if Google is really the one spending the most. Could it be that they are just doing so more transparently than most, rather than obfuscating their lobbying by way of various third parties? I have no real knowledge of the specifics of what they're doing but it seems to be Google's style to be somewhat less sneaky than their peers.

Re:I wonder... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45218481)

Typical slashdotter reaction! Google CANNOT be evil, even though the facts have repeatedly proved otherwise.

Consumer Watchdog = Microsoft (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | about 9 months ago | (#45224139)

It has been very well established that Microsoft is the "man behind the curtain" of several organizations that lobby congress. In fact, Consumer Watchdog may be another MS puppet.

In Defense of Google, Or Why Consumer Watchdog is Full of It
http://www.wired.com/business/2010/09/in-defense-of-google/

Re:I wonder... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45218789)

Wow.... Googles lobbying even reach here

If you can't beat them, join them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45218399)

We need someone to lobby against laws like CISPA. I would be saddened if Google wasn't at the top of the list.

Don't be Evil? (2)

hedgemage (934558) | about 9 months ago | (#45218469)

Remember when that was the Google mantra? Are they still trying or have they been worn down by the system? Is lobbying inherently evil as some posters state, or is there a good way to do it? If you think lobbying is without a high ground, then consider the case of one of the oldest continuously existing lobbying groups. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FCNL [wikipedia.org]

Re:Don't be Evil? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45218577)

Yeah, remember when Google was a two man project for Columbia University.

Shit changes

Don't Buy Evil (1)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about 9 months ago | (#45218601)

It's "Don't Be Evil." No one said anything about "Don't Buy Evil."

Re:Don't be Evil? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45218903)

Yea that Mantra is right up there with "we come in peace...shoot to kill"

Re:Don't be Evil? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45220727)

Yea that Mantra is right up there with "we come in peace...shoot to kill"

There's also, "How to Serve Man ... It's a cook book!"

Re:Don't be Evil? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45219187)

Evil really depends on what they are paying for now doesn't it?

Are they paying to try and keep the internet open so their market place is still open (IE Net Neutrality) and only paying to counteract those paying to close it down or are they paying for something equally fucked up.

Remember, they are still stuck using the system they are in, no matter how fucked up it is, and if they don't play by the rules till they change, they lose.

Re:Don't be Evil? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45219985)

>Remember when that was the Google mantra?

And if that lobbying is against the NSA and their intrusive programs???

Re:Don't be Evil? (1)

Svartormr (692822) | about 9 months ago | (#45220351)

Remember when that was the Google mantra? Are they still trying or have they been worn down by the system?

No, it's all a state of mind. With that motto, by definition all things Google does aren't evil, of course.

crowded-sourced counter-lobbying (2)

StripedCow (776465) | about 9 months ago | (#45218489)

Why don't we start a counter-lobbying service, that is funded by the crowd?

Something like kickstarter, but for lobbying.

Kickstarter (4, Interesting)

tuppe666 (904118) | about 9 months ago | (#45218523)

I know this is a a bash Google article *sigh* (personally I quite shocked at how cheap Apple is...maybe not), but is anyone really shocked at how small the amounts are. Ignoring the fact that these amounts are peanuts to these companies; a few million protecting literally trillions in cash!? These amounts are smaller than many kickstarters. How about a kickstarter lobby congress for real tax laws, buy local hardware in government institutions, hell its cheap enough to have a open source or even better open standards mandated. I am going to stop there as mind is suddenly filling itself with ideas both ridiculous and nefarious. no pants fridays...and nuke france.

Re:Kickstarter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45218581)

I know this is a a bash Google article *sigh* (personally I quite shocked at how cheap Apple is...maybe not), but is anyone really shocked at how small the amounts are. Ignoring the fact that these amounts are peanuts to these companies; a few million protecting literally trillions in cash!?

That's why it works. If it took 50% of their net profit to defend the other 50%, nobody would play with the robber barons. Now, slide a few million into the pockets of Barry and his cronies?

Whatever, man, it's only a few mil. Cost of doing business.

Re:Kickstarter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45219311)

I also had the same thought. "consumers" are used to complain, endless posting and rants how governement is broken, etc. Why don't we just stop wasting time an (ad)use the system as it is to get what we want? I think it's a great idea and could possibly work well, if not it at least makes the news (imagine 2 millions raised by chunks of 30$ for a particular issue in a couple of months? At least the first of such campaign would definitively make the nightly news and put the issue in the spotlight. Ideally, you start with a lowball issue that is in the realm of possible, to get some momentum going and "prove" that this can work.. than you move to something a bit bigger, etc.. until you reach campaign financing and lobbying reform, where all hell breaks lose :)

let's do it ! :)

Re:Kickstarter (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about 9 months ago | (#45221293)

If you start that project, you have my support.

The problem, however, is that you are lobbying publicly, and if it gets big enough, surely the press will be watching too. So nobody in congress would be able to actually accept your dollars. In fact, I suspect that those people will even be driven to the "other side".

Re:Kickstarter (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about 9 months ago | (#45221361)

1. These aren't one-off payments;

2. This is just the amount declared;

3. Remember that executive salaries are so high because golfing buddies sit on each others' boards and set their wages. It's not about what you do but who you golf with;

4. If you really want to start this arms race, you'll lose.

Don't play the game - change the rules.

Re:Kickstarter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45223263)

Does it hurt you to see these bash Google articles. I love how you even manage to get a subtle dig against apple.

Oh Tuppe! You're a legendary shill!

Scaled please? (4, Interesting)

redelm (54142) | about 9 months ago | (#45218573)

How about some results scaled by sales or by total assets? Google is big, so should spend the most.

Re:Scaled please? (5, Informative)

RuffMasterD (3398975) | about 9 months ago | (#45219423)

As a percentage of market capitalisation these sums are really small, and very similar. These companies probably spend more on toilet paper each quarter. Except Apple, like someone else said, they are surprisingly cheap.

Company, Market Cap (B), 3Qtr spending (M), Lobby Ratio
Google, $344.65 $3.40, 0.00099%
Facebook, $126.39, $1.40, 0.00111%
Microsoft, $282.26, $2.20, 0.00078%
Apple, $476.92, $0.97, 0.00020%
Cisco, $119.83, $0.89, 0.00074%
IBM, $192.54, $1.18, 0.00061%
Intel, $118.22, $0.98, 0.00083%
Oracle, $151.92, $1.36, 0.00090%

Re:Scaled please? (1)

redelm (54142) | about 9 months ago | (#45221801)

Thank you. Market cap may not be a perfect deflator as it ignores debt (important for banks & utilities) but is 'way better than no size deflator.

Consumer tech? (1, Troll)

FuzzNugget (2840687) | about 9 months ago | (#45218611)

Remind me, who are Google's "consumers" again?

Re:Consumer tech? (1)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about 9 months ago | (#45218655)

Turn off adblock. See all those company names that appear when you surf now? Those are the "consumers" of Google's product (i.e. data on you). Well, they and the NSA.

Re:Consumer tech? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45219081)

In capitalist USA, Google consumes you.

Oh that's good news (1)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | about 9 months ago | (#45218895)

(sarcasm on) Because of course they're big on that whole not being evil thing. How horrible would it be if a company that was ok with evil went full bore on bribery. Of course we can take their word for it. (sarcasm off)

Microsoft should have lobbied back then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45219901)

Microsoft might also have avoided monopoly lawsuits if it lobbied like Google?

Re:Microsoft should have lobbied back then... (2)

Beeftopia (1846720) | about 9 months ago | (#45219965)

Timeline of the anti-trust case: [wired.com]

"May 18, 1998: The big day. The U.S. Justice Department and 20 state attorneys general file an antitrust suit against Microsoft, charging the company with abusing its market power to thwart competition, including Netscape.

September 6, 2001: U.S. Justice Department says it no longer seeks the breakup of Microsoft and wants to find a quick remedy in the antitrust case. "

Timeline of Microsoft political donations. [opensecrets.org]

To make its influence known... (1)

hawkingradiation (1526209) | about 9 months ago | (#45219933)

"Google is still the tech company that spends most lavishly to make its influence known in Washington, D.C." - you mean like laying fibre optic cables, introducing a new type of laptop, spending money "lavishly" on a new search algorithm...Yes Google sure is "making its influence known." Not arguing that Google has increased its lobbying, but maybe they came to a stark realization or sorts.

What are they lobbying for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45219995)

So, what are they lobbying for?

Google Leads .. Lobbying congress (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 9 months ago | (#45221083)

Well it's lucky they're not evil then ... oh wait!
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