Blame it on federal probes or heightened awareness about Internet privacy, but Google's been spending more than $5 million lobbying Congress in the first three months of this year.
To give a little more perspective, Google only spent $1.48 million this time last year, which means spending jumped 240 percent, according to the U.S. Office of the Clerk of the House lobbying disclosure database. From January through March of this year, Apple spent $500,000; Facebook spent $650,000; and Amazon laid out $870,000 to lobby Congress.
Some of the spending is because of new regulations, competition, interests in computer privacy and patents -- all of which have increased in the last few years. (Google didn't set up an office near D.C until May 2005, according to the New York Times.) Last year's lobbying bill was close to $10 million, the highest ever for the tech giant.
This year, the company was accused of bypassing Apple’s privacy settings in Safari in order to track users’ Web browsing activity without their knowledge. In the European Union, Google faces an antitrust investigation and accusations that it violated personal privacy protections.
“As we have seen over the last year, there are a number of technology issues being debated in Washington,” Samantha Smith, a Google spokeswoman said in a statement. “These are important issues and it should be expected that we would want to help people understand our business.”
Google now has 11 lobbyists on staff and recently hired Susan Molinari, a former Republican representative from New York, to helm the Washington operation. Some say the move is to show Congress that Google isn't just a Democratic company and wants to work on both sides of the aisle. That's a wise move, considering that the House is now overwhelmingly Republican.