Google spent $5 million on government lobbying last quarter

According to Google's government-filed lobbying report, the company spent $5.03 million on government lobbying last quarter, Q1 2012, a substantial increase compared to the $3.76 million it spent in lobbying the previous quarter, Q4 2011. The most recent quarter encompasses spending on government lobbying activities from Jan. 1 to March 31.

The report, which can be seen here, indicates that Google spent its money lobbying on issues related to the "regulation of online advertising" and "privacy and competition issues in online advertising." While Google is best-known for its search engine, it is also the world's largest online advertising company, and its advertising revenue makes up the overwhelming majority of its total annual revenue. In 2011, for instance, the company's advertising revenue accounted for $36.5 billion of the company's $37.9 billion overall revenue

According to Lance Whitney of CNET, who broke the story, Google primarily spent its lobbying money on two issues: H.R. 1389 - Global Online Freedom Act of 2011 and H.Con.Res. 114. The former bill was created to prevent U.S. companies from working with governments who use the Internet for censorship and surveillance, and the latter resolution stated that the U.S. Congress should be a proponent of a global, open Internet. Additionally, Google also spent money on lobbying efforts related to SOPA and CISPA.

Google's government lobbying total for the quarter outpaced the majority of technology companies, according to Whitney. Apple only spent $500,000 on government lobbying in the same quarter, while Microsoft spent $1.72 million. Of technology companies, only AT&T outspent Google in government lobbying last quarter, spending $6.84 million.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

ZX Spectrum designers meet again after 30 years

Next Story

More Office 15 images leak after the Technical Preview gets updated

14 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

Ooooo 5 million... wow. Such a huge number. Thank Neowin for your failed attempt at bashing Google.

How dare they lobby congress to not pass SOPA and ACTA. Tsk-tsk, shame on them. While I disagree with lobbying, this is one instance where it's useful. A company paying to take away rights and freedoms - and an even larger company paying to stop it. But again, how dare Google interfere with classic American back-room politics.

"what does lobbying mean?..."

Probably not any different from what goes on with any government anywhere in the world -- powerful people & industries etc. influence what governments do, what regulations they put in place, what laws they write & so on. In the US however we put a name to it, added a bunch of regulations that are supposed to rein in, control that portion of influence peddling that happens in full view, in the daylight rather than in closed back rooms so-to-speak. This has advantages -- politicians can tax the industry, & they can point to it, saying things like I won't talk to lobbyists, while on the way to some back room meeting. Lobbying is only a subset of efforts to influence the US gov -- e.g. I don't know that the MPAA hired former Senator Dodd for his biz skills -- & I'd imagine the whole notion of naming this subset: "Lobbying", might seem a bit quaint, or perhaps even odd, in other parts of the world.

US politicians are for the most part pros at getting elected, at PR & that sort of thing, but relatively few are expert (or even skilled) in any other disciplines or fields that might benefit their work in Congress for example. Put in the best possible light, Lobbyists simply teach them, educate office holders on issues effecting an industry they represent -- you have all sorts of industry & trade groups that not only advertise to improve their public image, but do their best to educate those with the power to effect policy & legislation, and that's Lobbying. But as I said, that's put in the best possible light.

TO get reelected politicians like to point to things they've accomplished, but actually doing something requires a fair amount of both expertise & effort -- to save them the trouble lobbyists have been known to actually write what then became law &/or policy. Common sense tells you those laws & policies benefit the lobbyist's interests [far] more than the people. There's also the matter of credibility... If 3 people tell you something completely different, which advice do you follow? Given the choice, would you eat at a restaurant recommended by your best friend or a total stranger? You could try both & make up your own mind, but that involves some risk, while taking time, effort, & money. That's why lobbyists want to be every politician's best friend, & it's also why former government officials often become lobbyists, or get hired by companies pursuing government contracts &/or hoping to influence laws & policy. And as you'd expect lobbyists sometimes cross the line, buying more than lunch or dinner, though at the federal level most try to avoid actually paying for a politician's good will, which if you're caught gets you prison time -- IMO it's more like maintaining a mistress vs. paying a call girl, where both *might be* considered morally wrong, but only the latter is illegal ['least in most of the US].

"... a cigarettes company might put a load of money into research which will conclude that smoking can reduce some form of cancer, which they will try and use to influence policy."

Not disagreeing really, I think that sort of thing is more just good PR... Where it would tie into lobbying is by giving say a Senator public cover, a way to explain to voters why that Senator supported whatever legislation, all the while hoping the trips to Barbados, the campaign donations, the nice jobs to relatives etc. all goes unnoticed.

mr lefleur said,
what does lobbying mean? who do you pay and how does it help your company, not American so please help

I'm not sure of the subtle differences (if any?) between the US and the UK, but generally it means a company influences the government either directly, or through a third party e.g. a "think tank". By influence I mean "strongly presents their case" with research etc. It's not inherently "bad", but it can be quite unethical, and it almost borders on bribery in some cases I'm sure. For example, a cigarettes company might put a load of money into research which will conclude that smoking can reduce some form of cancer, which they will try and use to influence policy.

SuperHans said,

I'm not sure of the subtle differences (if any?) between the US and the UK, but generally it means a company influences the government either directly, or through a third party e.g. a "think tank". By influence I mean "strongly presents their case" with research etc. It's not inherently "bad", but it can be quite unethical, and it almost borders on bribery in some cases I'm sure. For example, a cigarettes company might put a load of money into research which will conclude that smoking can reduce some form of cancer, which they will try and use to influence policy.


thanks man!!

Apple must have done more, under the table if it does not show up here, because they always escape government scrunity, which is amazing given their blatant monopolistic and anti-competive practices, but Google only has to put one Cookie wrong in their implementation of a product and they are in deep ****.

When Apple has a privacy issue in their products (eg: Apps uploading Contacts without permission, Keeping a location history) the government don't care.

no-sweat said,
Lobbying should be illegal

Agreed. Lobbying has done more harm than good for the country. Politicians cannot serve two masters without compromising on the principles they swore to honor.

that number seems small for a quarter of lobbying... our company spends about a million a quarter on lobbying for laws and changes to them... and we are no where near the size of google in service or revenue

neufuse said,
that number seems small for a quarter of lobbying... our company spends about a million a quarter on lobbying for laws and changes to them... and we are no where near the size of google in service or revenue

That seems like a pretty large amount to be spending on government lobbying if the company isn't a decent size. If you're in the healthcare or oil industry that may make sense, though.

Here's a list of 2011's largest spenders on government lobbying (the figures are for the full year, not a single quarter): http://www.opensecrets.org/lob...owYear=2011&indexType=s

Anthony Tosie said,

That seems like a pretty large amount to be spending on government lobbying if the company isn't a decent size. If you're in the healthcare or oil industry that may make sense, though.

Here's a list of 2011's largest spenders on government lobbying (the figures are for the full year, not a single quarter): http://www.opensecrets.org/lob...owYear=2011&indexType=s

Wow! Really a list of the Best in Show....................

Anthony Tosie said,

That seems like a pretty large amount to be spending on government lobbying if the company isn't a decent size. If you're in the healthcare or oil industry that may make sense, though.

Here's a list of 2011's largest spenders on government lobbying (the figures are for the full year, not a single quarter): http://www.opensecrets.org/lob...owYear=2011&indexType=s

we are in healthcare and insurance so that kind of a skew in it, but internet policy is a huge topic too on capital hill