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Oracle, Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook Blow Even More Cash on Lobbying (theregister.co.uk) 73

An anonymous reader shares a report: American tech giants have ramped up the amount of cash they spend on lobbying US lawmakers to get their own way, yet again. As congressmen consider regulating organizations from Facebook to Google, and mull antitrust crackdowns against Amazon, said corporations have responded by flinging more dosh at the problem. The money is spent on, ahem, holding meetings between company execs and politicians so that businesses can push their agenda and swing decisions in their favor, which may not be in the interests of the people who elected said politicians. Facebook's $2.85m for the third quarter of the year -- disclosed this week as required by law -- is beaten only by the amount it spent in the first quarter: $3.21m. In its second quarter, it blew $2.38m. Overall, Facebook's lobbying bills for 2017 looks set to smash the $9.85m it spent in 2015 and the $8.7m in 2016. The social network is being investigated by both halves of Congress for its role in the Russian propaganda campaign during the US presidential election, and this month has been on a huge PR campaign in the capital. Likewise Amazon spent its highest ever amount on professional lobbyists -- both individuals and companies that book face time with lawmakers and their staff where they press the company's viewpoints. Amazon spent $3.41m in the third quarter, up from $3.21m for the second quarter -- which was also a record spend for the company. Apple has already blown past the $4.67m in spent in 2016 -- which was then its highest-ever spending. So far in 2017, the iPhone maker has spent $5.46m bending lawmakers' ears. Google spent less in the third quarter of the year to the wallet-busting Q2 spend of $5.93m, but it still spent $4.17m -- higher than its average spend of $4.0m per quarter over the past five years. But perhaps the most notable increase in spending has come from Oracle, which spent a whopping $3.82m on lobbying in the third quarter: double what it normally spends.
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Oracle, Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook Blow Even More Cash on Lobbying

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  • by sehlat ( 180760 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2017 @07:08PM (#55427181)

    After all, we have the best government money can buy.

    • That's because bribes somehow have been made explicitly legal in the US.

      The fix was tried in Poland in the interwar period: a law promulgated in Dz.U. 1921 nr.30 poz.177 (earlier version: Dz.U. 1920 nr.11 poz.61) said: Art.2: An official, guilty of accepting a gift or another material benefit, or a promise thereof, [a detailed list that TL;DR says "relevant to duties"], shall be punished by death by shooting.

      A "campaign donation" is obviously a material benefit. No-show employment for mucho $$$s after the

    • by Pseudonym ( 62607 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2017 @07:43PM (#55427317)

      Oracle, Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook Wisely Invest Even More Cash on Lobbying

      FTFY

    • After all, we have the best government money can buy.

      Sure - just ask Hillary [beforeitsnews.com]!

      Oh wait.

    • I'll surmise that that they're spending twice the amount precisely because it now takes more effort to push legislation past a Trump presidency. The FANG corporation are in a desperate "use-it-or-lose-it" mode; where as they must spend more money to keep the H1Bs spigot open. Otherwise, profits will go down (because now they will have to actually compete for US talent with will raise salaries for these workers) and leave them with less funding on lobbying.

      In case you haven't figured it out, we will soon b

    • Funny how Google gets railed for being monopolist of passive search and FaceBook, who is tracking you on and off thier site, gets a pass on collecting reams of data and then unethically playing games by testing your mood based on the change in your feed--which they dictate. they need opened up so that competitors can easily siphon off thier users without friction so that they have some type of competition. I'm thinking the new Etherium-based social media solutions that guarantee privacy and user control l

  • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2017 @07:10PM (#55427193)

    This is a real nice company you've got here. Sure would be a shame if something happened to it!

    They are all smart enough to learn from Microsoft's mistake. Bribe the bastards, even if you don't want anything from them. Otherwise their eyes will fall on you.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 24, 2017 @07:29PM (#55427261)

      Google now spends more on lobbying than any other company including those in the energy or banking sectors.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by youngone ( 975102 )

        Google now spends more on lobbying than any other company including those in the energy or banking sectors.

        That's because they're smart, and they know how the US government works. (As others have pointed out here).
        It's nice to know how much it is costing, but there is nothing ordinary US voters can do about it, because the system is set up to work this way.

    • Why is this modded funny? Cancer is not funny.

  • Money is power, and there's no other way to regulate that kind of power besides taking some of it away.
    • Wouldn't by your own logic (not that I agree with it) that action give the government even more power? I'll take a corporation I can ignore (anyone forcing you to use Apple, Google, Facebook, or Amazon?), over a government that has a legal monopoly on violent force any day of the week. As horrific as corporate actions have been throughout history, none have even come close to the heinous shit that governments have been able to do when given too much power. Even religion is far beyond corporations when it co
      • by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2017 @08:03PM (#55427401) Homepage

        As horrific as corporate actions have been throughout history, none have even come close to the heinous shit that governments have been able to do when given too much power.

        You might want to read up a bit. Start by searching for something called "East India Company." From there you might try "United Fruit Company." There are other examples.

        • by swillden ( 191260 ) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Tuesday October 24, 2017 @10:05PM (#55427735) Homepage Journal

          As horrific as corporate actions have been throughout history, none have even come close to the heinous shit that governments have been able to do when given too much power.

          You might want to read up a bit. Start by searching for something called "East India Company." From there you might try "United Fruit Company." There are other examples.

          And then you can look up Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Soviet Union, Mao's China, Chiang Kai Shek's China, Leopold II's Congo Free State, the Empire of Japan, Pol Pot's Cambodia, Young Turk's Ottomon Empire... I'll stop now, but I could go on. The total butcher's bill of the list I gave is somewhere north of 100 million people murdered.

          I'm not particularly anti-government, but nothing in human history remotely compares to the death toll of government gone bad -- even when you only look at how many of their own people they killed, ignoring war! Religion can't hold a candle to political ideology for murderousness, and corporations aren't even in the same zip code.

          Any concentration of power should be watched, and most definitely includes corporations, but government needs the most scrutiny of all because governments are both far larger and wealthier than any corporation and especially because governments are specifically empowered and authorized to use deadly force. Some corporations have gotten away with nasty shit, including pre-meditated murder, but nothing at all like what governments have done.

          • but nobody seems to want to ask how many people the capitalistic oligarchy has killed. We've been blowing civilians away left and right since Sept 11th in the name of terrorism. And that's before you start counting folks starved, poisoned and otherwise maimed and killed.

            Oh, and you assume if Hitler and Stalin went away that everything would be honky dory. It wouldn't. Do you not know what a power vacuum is? Hint, it's not a new kind of Dyson.
            • by gDLL ( 1413289 )
              Do you know what economy vacuum is ? Hint, it's a kind of famine.
            • by Anonymous Coward

              You keep hearing that argument for a simple reason: IT'S TRUE

              And damn near every person on that list from recent times is a leftist.

              Just one Communist, homophobic executioner probably killed more people than all your "people the capitalistic oligarchy has killed".

              Yeah, I'm talking about Che Guevera - the homophobic, mass-murdering Communist.

              And he's just one, and small potatoes for a leftist mass murderer at that.

              Hell, how many people have simply starved to death in Venezuela recently because of the glorio

          • @Swilden

            Pointing fingers at The Government, or The State, is a popular argument, especially in the US, but I'm not at all convinced.

            Where you talk about "concentration of power" in government's hands that goes wrong I see the sum-total of pervasive actions by individuals as the root cause, with a Government merely being set up to codify and channel the momentum caused and made inevitable by the free will and decisions of millions.

            Take the issue of introducing African slaves into the West Indies now. S

        • by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2017 @10:20PM (#55427765)

          Start by searching for something called "East India Company."

          Which had a government granted monopoly.

          • Start by searching for something called "East India Company."

            Which had a government granted monopoly.

            What's most relevant about these "companies" is not that they were granted a government monopoly on a given kind of trade, but that the government extended them the right to borrow their monopoly on force. Imagine jackbooted Coca-Cola stormtroopers or elite squads of KFC Commandos marching in the streets.

          • by PCM2 ( 4486 )

            Which had a government granted monopoly.

            When you account for half the world's trade, you don't need a government to grant you shit.

        • You might want to read up a bit. Start by searching for something called "The Kulaks" From there you might try "Stalin" or "Mao" or "Hitler". There are other examples.

      • Or, make "lobbying" aka graft, illegal like it is in most other places. You can't have an effective government that can't regulate private industry at all. And that is basically what it would take to stop graft....
      • unless I'm a member of the ruling elite I have no say in what mega-corps do. Yes, government can devolve into oligarchy, but if your problem is oligarchy then why would you support the oligarchy in order to prevent the oligarchy?

        Put another way, I don't care if the jack boot on my neck is a privately owned jack boot or a public jack boot. I would prefer not to have a jack boot on my neck.

        And no, the Shareholders won't clamor for that. They make their money off 'investing', e.g. skimming 50-70% off t
      • by Whibla ( 210729 )

        As horrific as corporate actions have been throughout history, none have even come close to the heinous shit that governments have been able to do when given too much power

        Tetra Ethyl Lead.

        The long terms effects of this on (developed) world populations was almost incalculable. A poster below mentions 100 million dead in wars. While this is clearly horrific I'd suggest that was a drop in the ocean, compared to the physiological and psychological effects, subsequent and consequential violence, and early deaths caused by this pollutant.

        A pollutant used, not because it was the only thing that would do the job but, because it was patentable.

        If anyone holds the belief that governme

        • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

          Okay, I'm calling BS. TEL was used to boost octane and allow for higher compression/performance. If, as you claim, it was only included due to patent, then other petro companies would have used something else instead of paying those patent fees that they didn't profit from.

          • by Whibla ( 210729 )

            A few seconds research would have saved you the embarrassment.

            From wikipedia [wikipedia.org]: "Midgley discovered that the addition of Tetraethyllead to gasoline prevented "knocking" in internal combustion engines.[4] The company named the substance "Ethyl", avoiding all mention of lead in reports and advertising. Oil companies and automobile manufacturers, especially General Motors which owned the patent jointly filed by Kettering and Midgley, promoted the TEL additive as a superior alternative to ethanol or ethanol-blend

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      Money is power, and there's no other way to regulate that kind of power besides taking some of it away.

      Well, that's kind of an involved solution that will trigger nasty culture war battles. On a smaller scale we can tax lobbying money heavily and better enforce anti-trust.

      We cannot ban lobbying money outright because the GOP-heavy Supreme Court ruled more or less that money is free speech, and thus we have legalized bribery. But, maybe we can at least tax the hell out of lobbying and campaign donations.

      • the ruling elites are fighting it and the working class is losing it. Forget small scales. Bring back 90% marginal rates and the tax structures from the 50s that made pump and dump stocks unprofitable.
  • So were' supposed to be outraged because it's now tech companies? If anything, content operators like facebook could lend some weight to promote net neutrality as they would suffer if it were repealed.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    because it sure as hell isn't theirs, the money they save on avoiding tax is re-invested in US government corruption.

    sorry about your towns infrastructure, Our Cayman Island banks say no.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 24, 2017 @08:18PM (#55427451)

    When my current iPhone is paid for and dies, I will be going to a dumb phone.

    I use Linux on a cheap laptop.

    I use Fastmail, IMHO, the best email provider on the planet. I have nothing to do with the other companies.

    I've been in IT for 20 years and the longer I'm in it, the more I want to go the other way. Society could progress no further technologically and we'd be fine.

    I'm tired of the ever-growing control these companies have. These large companies are consolidating power year after year. I'm tired of being tracked, sold, marketed, whatever.

    • These large companies are consolidating power year after year. I'm tired of being tracked, sold, marketed, whatever.

      The problem is the pursuit of the almighty dollar. Congress is the only group that can change the laws about lobbying, and you can be damned sure they like having that steady stream of money from corporations. The only way to break the cycle is for limits on lobbying and "campaign contributions" to be enacted such that no corporation is able to contribute more than any individual. Until my every constituents voice is just as loud as Google/Facebook/Apple/Amazon/Microsoft, they will only listen to those with

      • by DogDude ( 805747 )
        Yup. It's already too late. Nothing short of a full-out revolutionary war is likely to change the current situation that is legal bribery. Most of our elected officials would have to have the money taken from their cold, dead hands before they'd voluntarily give it up. It's a shame and it's scary, but I personally don't see a way that this problem can be fixed.

        There's a slim possibility that if somehow education were improved, people could nominate and vote for honest people in a few generations, but e
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The real question here is how much is $9.85m in pound feet. Should be about £6.73ft.

  • You must be kidding. Those are numbers in the low millions. You aren't getting very far with that in DC. They are dropping hundreds of millions.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... Russians! rofl.

  • "investigated by both halves of Congress for its role in the Russian propaganda campaign during the US presidential election"
    Considering there still exists not a shred of proof of Russian propaganda or influence over the US election, I find this line to be very misleading.
  • Those amounts are pocket change for those companies, hardly blowing excessive amounts. Its like you or I dropping £1 in the local candidate collection tin at the station.
  • This kind of thing is a cash cow for politicians even if they have no intention of going after the firms. All they have to do is mention the possibility, and the companies will scramble their lobbyists. We need term limits, and we need to get SCOTUS to stop claiming that corporations are people, or this shit will never cease.

  • by p51d007 ( 656414 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2017 @07:54AM (#55429113)
    in DC? Run for political office. But...but...but...their salary is less than $200k per year? How can they get rich if they have to maintain a residence in DC, plus one in their home state? LOL, their "salary" is CHUMP CHANGE compared to the money thrown at them via the lobbyist on K street. One you climb the political ladder and make it to "the big show" is where the REAL money comes into play. Disgusting! All lobbying should be banned, and, anyone caught lobbying, or paying someone, should be publicly executed.
  • Corruption aside, spending more on lobbying seems to be an indication of the maturation of a business in the US. If you look at top spenders [opensecrets.org], the ones mentioned in the article are the youngest of the bunch.

    At some point in its life, a company recognizes that it can get better returns from lobbying than it can from any other investment.

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