Last year, the total expenses of Google for lobbying the US government reached a record level as the life under the administration of US President Donald Trump left big tech companies in the spotlight.
Alphabet, the parent company of Google, said that it spent $21.2 million (£16.3 million) on political lobbying costs in the United States in 2018, exceeding its previous all-time high of $18.2 million that was recorded in 2012.
Last Tuesday, Facebook also reported a record level of lobbying costs for the past year reaching $12.6 million.
The chief executives of both companies testified before the authorities of the United States last year, as well as a number of their senior executives, as their policy on fake news, bipartisanship, and political advertisements were questioned.
According to data that were compiled by the independent Centre for Responsive Politics, Google spent $18 million on lobbying in 2017 while Facebook spent $11.5 million.
Microsoft was considered as the third biggest spender at $9.5 million, an increase from the $8.5 million that was recorded in 2017. However, the amount is below its 2013 bill of $10.5 million. On the other hand, Apple spent $6.6 million, a decline from its record of $7.2 million in 2017.
Alphabet disclosed that new topics added to its discussion list in last year’s lobbying efforts which included criminal justice reform, international tax reform, and the technology behind its search engine. Google is among a number of big tech companies that are subject to the current negotiations that surround a so-called digital tax, which Philip Hammond, the chancellor of the United Kingdom, promised to pursue within October’s budget plan.
Meanwhile, Facebook said that “election integrity” was a new discussion topic in the fourth quarter. The social media platform has been subject to intensive scrutiny by politicians and regulators after it was revealed that advertisements on its website had become a channel for distributing fake news and other propaganda during the 2016 Brexit referendum and the presidential elections of the United States of America.