It looks like both Google and Facebook spent record amounts on lobbying in the second quarter of 2011, as evidenced by the most recent disclosure reports filed in the U.S. Senate’s lobbying database.
Similar to last quarter, Google’s lobbying spend hit an all-time high, with spending coming in at $2.06 million, a 54 percent increase from the same period a year ago. Last quarter, Google shelled out $1.48 million on lawmakers. The search giant spent a total of $5.2 million in lobbying last year, and is on pace to surpass this number in Q3 of 2011.
This past quarter, Google’s lobbying strategy focused on online advertising regulation, intellectual property and trademark issues, cyber security and online privacy, renewable energy, freedom of expression and censorship, H-1B Visa reform, “openness and competition in the online services market,” cloud computing, tax reform, free trade, and broadband access.
Interestingly, this quarter was the first time that Google outspent Microsoft on lobbying. Microsoft spent $1.852 million in the second quarter, slightly above the $1.85 million it reported in the same quarter in 2010. And Microsoft spent $1.72 million in the first quarter of 2011.
It’s no secret that former CEO and current Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt has been spending more time in the Beltway, helping with government relations. In fact, Schmidt is actually going to testify before the Senate on possible Google antitrust issues. Because of his increased presence in D.C., public interest organization Consumer Watchdog is actually calling for Schmidt’s activities in Washington D.C. to be scrutinized to see if he needs to register formally as a lobbyist.
Because of the antitrust probe, Google is actually going to be ramping up its lobbying efforts even further, so Q3’s spend should be significantly higher. Google has announced that it is hiring an additional 12 lobbying firms in response to the probe.
Facebook spent $320,000 in the second quarter on lobbying, which is nearly as much the $351,390 the social network spent on lobbying in 2010. In fact, Facebook has surpassed its 2010 total spend in the first two quarters of 2011, and is on track to spend at least $1 million in 2011.
Policy areas of focus for Facebook this year include global regulation of software companies and restrictions on internet access by foreign governments; patent reform, online safety measures, internet privacy regulations, cyber security, discussing House, Senate, and Government rules to allow more Government and Congressional offices to access social media to engage with citizens, and lobbying for Oregon power and water needs to support high-tech growth and investment in Oregon. Facebook opened a new, energy-efficient data center in Oregon in April.
Facebook has been deepening its ties with the D.C. crowd over the past year, even hosting a town hall meeting with President Obama in April. In May, Facebook announced that it had hired a number of lobbyists to strengthen its government relations team.