Innovation always comes at a cost, even for America's tech giants. According to disclosure forms for the first quarter of this year, Uber increased its federal lobbying expenditures by nearly 130%.
The ride-hailing company spent $320,000 lobbying Congress in the first months of 2016 on issues including transportation access and the so called "on-demand economy." Uber previously spent $140,000 in the fourth quarter of 2015, which, at the time, was it's record. Google led the tech industry by spending nearly $4 million, and was the 6th biggest spender of any corporation.
Facebook and Amazon were not far behind, rounding out the top 20 corporate lobbying charts. Facebook spent $2.8 million and was the 19th highest spending company; Amazon spent $2.7 million and ranked 20th.
In addition to the White House and Congress, Facebook lobbied the Justice Department, the Department of State, and the Commerce Department on issues ranging from international tax policy, cybersecurity and terrorism, and immigration.
Amazon's ambition to launch a drone delivery service was evident in the company's disclosure forms, where the issues listed included unmanned aerial vehicles, drone cargo, and drone privacy. Amazon has lobbied the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Trade Commission, as well as the Commerce Department. DJI, the world's largest drone manufacturer, also lobbied the FAA and Congress on drone legislation, spending $80,000 in the first quarter.
For several years, tech industry heavyweights have gone toe-to-toe with multinational pharmaceuticals, heavy duty weapons manufacturers, and incumbent telecommunications companies as the nation's most enterprising lobbyists.
Microsoft spent $2 million, down from its record highs in the mid 2000s, following years of antitrust regulatory wrangling.
Twitter matched its previous spending record set last quarter at $170,000. The company lobbied the president and Congress on a bundle of tech policy issues, including NSA surveillance, net neutrality, and encryption.
Part of Apple's $1.1 million in expenditures was used to lobby the Justice Department and the president on encryption, though perhaps it wasn't enough, as the company finds itself in a divisive legal battle with the FBI and federal prosecutors over locked iPhones and government access to secure communications.
The top spender overall was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which allocated almost $16 million lobbying Congress and federal agencies.
Hamza Shaban is a technology policy reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Hamza Shaban at Hamza.Shaban@buzzfeed.com.
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