Ten years ago, Google executives rarely spoke to Congress. Amazon employed just two of its own registered lobbyists in Washington. And Facebook had only recently graduated to a real office after running its D.C. operation out of an employee’s living room.
Since then, though, these technology companies have evolved into some of the most potent political forces in the nation’s capital, a Washington Post analysis of new federal records reveals, with just seven tech giants accounting for nearly half a billion dollars in lobbying over the past decade.
The data — culled from the companies’ required filings to the government, including new reports made public late Tuesday — tells the story of a sector that increasingly has tapped its deep pockets to beat back regulatory threats and boost its bottom line. Despite actions by companies that exposed users’ personal information and left democratic elections in digital disarray, Congress has not adopted new laws to limit the industry — a reality some critics attribute in part to Silicon Valley’s evolving lobbying prowess.
“These companies, because they are so large, have tremendous economic power and tremendous political power,” said Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.), who is leading the House in an antitrust investigation of big tech companies. “And they’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars to try to protect the status quo.” [Continue reading…]