Amazon and Facebook set records in annual spending lobbying Washington amid scrutiny

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Amazon, Facebook, Google and four other tech giants spent more than $65 million last year lobbying the U.S. government, according to disclosures filed on Thursday.

Facebook and Amazon spent the most amounts in history lobbying Washington, shelling out a combined $38.2 million, the report shows. A record-breaking amount of $19.7 million was spent by Facebook, which is $3 million more than its 2019 spending of $16.7 million.

Amazon followed with $18.5 million spent in 2020 – a 15% increase from $16.1 million it shelled out in 2019.

Apple reported paying $6.7 million in 2020. This was below its $7.4 million spent in 2019. Google spent $8.7 million last year, much lower from its peak of $21.7 million back in 2018, before the search giant reorganized its lobbying effortsNetflix disclosed spending just $750,000 in 2020, down from its 2015 peak of $1.3 million.

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The big Tech companies have come under close scrutiny in recent months from the U.S. lawmakers’ and regulators with multiple lawsuits filed against Facebook and Google last year by the U.S Justice department over various allegations.

The disclosures show that Facebook lobbied on issues such as internet privacy, election security, worker visas and freedom of expression, while Amazon lobbied on issues ranging from postal reform to unmanned aerial vehicles, and from payment processing to autonomous vehicles and the annual defense bill.

“There’s a lot of concern with how tech companies are handling disinformation, there’s a lot of concern about the ways tech companies are handling privacy,” said Michael Beckel, the research director for Issue One, which advocates for an overhaul of the country’s campaign finance and ethics laws. “There’s a lot of policymakers and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle [that] are giving the tech industry more scrutiny. And with that increased scrutiny comes a desire to spend more on lobbying and make sure your side of the story is heard.”

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Along with Apple, Microsoft, Twitter and Uber, the seven tech giants and their subsidiaries combined spent $64.9 million in 2020, the records show.