According to new data from the House and Senate lobbying records in the United States, tech giants, including Apple, Microsoft, and Google, among others spent a combined $50 million fighting for - and sometimes opposing - new regulations put forth by the Trump administration. Celebrating its first anniversary, it had somewhat of a busy year, with tax reform being pushed through, and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act (DACA) going the way of the Dodo.
The biggest spender of the year among these companies was Google. According to a report published by ReCode, it dedicated over $18 million lobbying the U.S. government. Most of this was aimed at new regulations targeting the way content and advertisements appeared on sites like YouTube. Facebook also spent a record amount on lobbying compared to prior years, dedicating around $11.5 million fighting measures to hold social media companies liable for so-called Russian interference during the 2016 U.S. election.
The aforementioned regulations - which Twitter is fighting against as well - aim to hold social media companies accountable, as sex trafficking and political meddling reportedly reached a boiling point on their respective platforms. Twitter recently notified users on its platform if they inadvertently followed or retweeted accounts known for Russian propaganda and Facebook publicly admitted its role in 'corroding democracy'.
Apple, on the other hand, spent around $7 million lobbying on issues such as immigration and encryption. It was joined by Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft in an attempt to revive DACA. The program, which was scrapped by President Donald Trump, aimed to give 'dreamers' the right to remain in the U.S., after being brought into the country illegally by their parents. It was also part of the reason for the recent government shutdown, as Democrats fought for the future of the program to some extent.
However, most of these companies fought against the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) repeal of the Net Neutrality rules. The Chairman of the commission, Ajit Pai - who was the mastermind behind the repeal - remained a staunch critic of social media companies, claiming that they threaten a free and open internet, in addition to spreading harassment and vitriol. The United States Senate, on the other hand, is reportedly moving towards a vote to nullify the repeal.
One thing that benefited these companies, however, was tax reform. It reduced the tax bills for corporate America by quite a margin. Apple has announced that it will use the additional funds, reinvesting it back into the United States. Other companies, including AT&T, announced that they would increase the minimum wages of employees, and offer one-time bonuses.