Google top spender on lobbying in US; Amazon, Facebook also on record high: Report

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Washington, June 10 (IANS) Tech giant Google spent $21.7 million on lobbying efforts last year to influence lawmakers as the government and regulators sought great scrutiny from tech companies related to users’ privacy and unfair market practices.

According to a CNBC report on Sunday, Google has been the top spender on lobbying for two consecutive years.

“Amazon and Facebook also reached record levels of lobbying expenditures in 2018,” said the report, quoting the Centre for Responsive Politics.

Amazon spent $14.4 million on lobbying while Facebook spent $12.6 million. Microsoft spent $9.6 million and Apple $6.68 million in 2018.

In a stern warning to tech giants earlier this month, the US House’s anti-trust committee opened probes into Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon and other firms to determine if they prevent competition and hurt consumers.

“The open Internet has delivered enormous benefits to Americans, including a surge of economic opportunity, massive investment, and new pathways for education online,” House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler was quoted as saying.

“But there is growing evidence that a handful of gatekeepers have come to capture control over key arteries of online commerce, content, and communications,” he added.

According to The New York Times, the Department of Justice (DoJ) will handle Apple and Google while the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will take on Facebook and Amazon.

“Silicon Valley has faced fierce criticism in recent years over disinformation, privacy breaches and the misuse of data. President Trump regularly criticises the power of the companies, as do several Democrats running for president,” said the report.

Facebook is already under investigation by the US FTC over its handling of user data. The social networking platform is expecting a fine of up to $5 billion.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the FTC previously closed an investigation of Google without taking action but now the DOJ will take another look into Google’s practices in Search and other areas.

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