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Google Government The Almighty Buck

Google Leads Among Consumer Tech Companies Lobbying Congress 65

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.
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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Google Leads Among Consumer Tech Companies Lobbying Congress

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  • Bribes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 23, 2013 @05:31PM (#45218239)

    And I thought bribes were illegal.

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

      • by mc6809e (214243)

        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.

        • by slick7 (1703596)

          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!

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

  • by Nyder (754090) on Wednesday October 23, 2013 @05:38PM (#45218303) Journal

    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.

    • by TheSwift (2714953) on Wednesday October 23, 2013 @05:48PM (#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.

      • 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.

        • by perpenso (1613749) on Wednesday October 23, 2013 @06:40PM (#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.

      • 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 priva

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        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.

    • by dmbasso (1052166) on Wednesday October 23, 2013 @05:54PM (#45218443)

      Bullshit system that needs to be outlawed.

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

    • by Austrian Anarchy (3010653) on Wednesday October 23, 2013 @06:11PM (#45218587) Homepage Journal

      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.

    • by Kelson (129150)

      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.

    • 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.

    • by postglock (917809)
      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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by interkin3tic (1469267)
      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 bri
      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        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 mea

    • > 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 addi

  • by Anonymous Coward

    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... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jcbarlow (166225) on Wednesday October 23, 2013 @05:47PM (#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.
  • by hedgemage (934558) on Wednesday October 23, 2013 @05:56PM (#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]
    • It's "Don't Be Evil." No one said anything about "Don't Buy Evil."
    • by Anonymous Coward

      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.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      >Remember when that was the Google mantra?

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

    • by Svartormr (692822)

      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.

  • by StripedCow (776465) on Wednesday October 23, 2013 @05:59PM (#45218489)

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

    Something like kickstarter, but for lobbying.

  • Kickstarter (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tuppe666 (904118) on Wednesday October 23, 2013 @06:04PM (#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.

    • 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".

    • 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.

  • Scaled please? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by redelm (54142) on Wednesday October 23, 2013 @06:10PM (#45218573) Homepage

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

    • Re:Scaled please? (Score:5, Informative)

      by RuffMasterD (3398975) on Wednesday October 23, 2013 @07:51PM (#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%
      • by redelm (54142)

        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.

  • Remind me, who are Google's "consumers" again?
    • 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.
  • (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)
  • .... then the wealthy have more speech than you.

    Both of you bleed red. But you're the one who gets sent to the front.

    OpenSecrets.org - See who's giving & who's getting. [opensecrets.org]

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

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