Google spent more on U.S. lobbying efforts than any other technology firm in America, according to statistics from the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP).
Google reportedly outpaced Microsoft in lobbyist spending. With $14.3 million over 2012, Google outpaced Microsoft by more than $7 million. The search giant spent its funds lobbying the U.S. government on patent, antitrust, and telecommunications issues.
According to Nick Nyhart, CEO and president of nonprofit campaign reform group The Public Campaign, tech firms have started to spend like the oil companies and banks before them.
Nyhart said that as Silicon Valley has become more profitable, they've also become more influential in Washington.
"As the tech companies have grown, and eat up a larger amount of the country's GDP, they moved to the kind of activities that the oil companies, the banks, and the pharmaceutical companies have done for years," Nyhart said. "And that is to protect their interests and advocate the policies that help their bottom line."
Google spent some of its lobbying funds this year on the Stop Internet Piracy Act (SOPA). The search giant opposed the bill because it believed it would excessively stifle internet freedoms.
According to the CRP's statistics, Google also spent lobbying dollars on copyright issues and antitrust concerns.
Lobbying the U.S. government has been a growing source of spending for tech firms in recent years. Last year, computer and internet firms spent over $126.8 million on lobbying. In 2010, those same companies spent $122.9 million lobbying governmental officials.
While Nyhart sees lobbying efforts in the tech industry growing for years to come, he also thinks there's hope for change.
"Some tech industry members view old money dominating the tech industry as bad for innovation. So their is a pro-innovation argument that if you have only large companies creating public policy, that goes with their interests, you won't create a helpful environment for innovation," Nyhart said. "There's hope, and in the end it will take millions of people to fight billions of dollars in campaign politics."
This article was originally published on V3.
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