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Google, Amazon, Meta crank up lobbying as Big Tech scrutiny rises

Google, Amazon, and Meta spent tens of millions of dollars lobbying Congress last year as the tech behemoths came under increasing scrutiny from antitrust regulators and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. boosted spending on lobbyists by 27.5% last year to $9.6 million, according to filings. Meta Platforms Inc., which operates Facebook and Instagram, spent an all-time record of $20.1 million on lobbyists while e-commerce retailer Amazon spent around $20.3 million. Both Meta and Amazon increased their lobbying expenditures by 7% compared to 2020. Apple, on the other hand, spent less money to lobby Washington last year. The iPhone manufacturer’s lobbying expenditures from 2021 reached $6.5 million – down from $6.7 million. All four companies have come under criticism for allegedly using anti-competitive practices to cement their dominance. Microsoft, which recently announced it would be acquiring video game maker Activision-Blizzard, spent $10.2 million on lobbying in 2021 — around the same amount it spent the previous year. The specter of anti-monopoly legislation aimed at the tech firms prompted Alphabet boss Sundar Pichai and Apple CEO Tim Cook to personally lobby members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote against the American Innovation and Choice Online Act. Cook and Pichai argued that the bill would weaken American tech companies and give their foreign competitors like those in China an advantage. Their efforts were unsuccessful, as the committee voted to advance the legislation, which targets the largest firms based on market valuation and user base. Google asked a New York federal judge on Friday to throw out most of what it claimed was an “inaccurate and inflammatory” antirust suit brought by Texas and 14 other states over the tech giant’s online advertising practices. The Texas suit — which was first filed in December 2020 and been updated twice since then — claims that Google illegally muscled competitors out of the online advertising market and even struck a backroom deal with Mark Zuckerberg to give Meta’s Facebook a lucrative leg up in online ad auctions. Earlier this month, a judge allowed the Federal Trade Commission to pursue an antitrust lawsuit against Meta, which is accused of monopolizing social media.

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