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Apple, Amazon, Meta, and Google spend $35M on antitrust lobbying

The news: The combined lobbying spend of Big Tech companies, Apple, Amazon, Meta, and Google has reached $35.5 million so far in 2022. The battle to counter antitrust regulation intensifies as regulatory pressure aims to reduce Big Tech’s market dominance. 

Why this matters: Tech monoliths and their trade groups outspent big pharma at a time when US Congress’ push to regulate Big Tech could be fizzling out, per Axios. In context pharmaceutical companies spent around $16 billion in the same period, per Bloomberg.

  • The legislation that threatens Big Tech’s dominance is the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, co-sponsored by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). If enacted it could provide the necessary parameters to better regulate Big Tech platforms. 
  • Efforts to increase Big Tech regulations are supported by the majority of US adults: 57% said they want increased government regulation, per a February 2021 Gallup poll, up from 48% in 2019.

Apple’s record lobbying spend: The iPhone maker, which faces increasing regulation for its business practices, spent a record $2.5 million lobbying congress in Q1 of 2022, per CNBC. This reflects a 34% increase from the previous quarter for a company that’s historically one of  the lesser spenders among its Big Tech peers.

Amazon funds the Competitiveness Coalition: By donating over $1 million to grassroots advocates for American taxpayers, Amazon is targeting legislation against Big Tech

The CC’s mandate is to counter “the grave threat to US competitiveness as politicians in Washington work to pass a series of dangerous bills that represent nothing more than a power grab and expansion of government.”

Google leans on small businesses to curtail regulatory laws: The search and advertising giant reinforced its anti-regulation agenda through millions of marketers and small business owners by claiming that proposed legislation would make it hard to find their businesses online. 

Meta spent $20 million on lobbying in 2021: Facebook’s parent company and metaverse hopeful spent a record amount on lobbying in 2021 as it faced accusations from a whistleblower as well as a year-end rebranding. Meta was one of the leading lobbying spenders in Washington, surpassing the likes of Lockheed and Boeing, per Politico.

The bigger picture: Expect Big Tech to increase its spending on lobbying, especially toward the end of the year when various regulatory agencies look to push antitrust legislation. 

  • Not only will technology companies increase their lobbying expenditures, they are likely to diversify how their money is spent to evenly spread out pressure on regulators. 
  • The $35 million that Big Tech is collectively spending on lobbying is a drop in the bucket in comparison to regulatory fines, which tend to be in the billions of dollars.