The Internet’s two largest powerhouses must have had a lot to say last year, and they let their wallets do the talking. With the hotly contested election in 2012, no doubt Facebook and Google were feeling a little heat in regards to a possibly shifting change in leadership. So, like most conglomerates, they decided to vastly increase their lobbying budgets and throw around a lot more cash drastically throughout the entire year, especially during the final financial quarter.
Facebook especially had a lot to say. In the fourth quarter of 2012 alone it spent more than its entire 2011 budget, shelling out $1.4 million total. The entire budget of 2011 was only $1.35 million, and that number jumped 196 percent in 2012 to the company’s largest total ever: $3,990,000. What favors from politicians did all that cash land them? Well, Facebook was aiming for:
- International regulation of software companies; restrictions on Internet access by foreign governments; protecting and advancing online freedom of expression.
- Federal policy on issues relevant to technology and Internet policy including privacy, security, protecting children and online safety.
- Education regarding Internet media information security policy and Internet privacy issues; federal privacy legislation; freedom of expression on the Internet.
- Education regarding online advertising.
- Discussions regarding reform of immigration system, including temporary high-tech worker visas and
employment-based permanent residency.
- Discussions regarding cyber security and data security.
Google on the other hand broke eight digits for the first time, presenting a whopping $16.48 million over the course of the entire 2012 fiscal year. This was a 70 percent increase in the $9.68 million spent in 2011. However, opposite that of Facebook, its fourth quarter spending spree was actually the smallest of the year at only $3.35 million. Perhaps it had its issues already handled by the time the election rolled around. The firm’s laundry list of issues included:
- Regulation of online advertising.
- Privacy and competition issues in online advertising.
- Music licensing and treatment of “orphan” works.
- Intellectual property enforcement.
- Consumer energy information.
- High Skilled Immigration and Job Creation.
- Openness and competition issues in online services.
- Autonomous Vehicle Technology.
- Online small business advertising issues, benefits of cloud computing and online advertising for small businesses.
- International tax reform.
- Open Internet access.
- Government access to communications.
- Spectrum allocation.
- Broadband Adoption and Deployment.
- Freedom of expression and intellectual property in international trade agreements.
- YouTube Issues.
- Google Earth issues.
While Google spent more money over the course of the year, it was Facebook whose budget actually increased the most. No doubt, Facebook faces a bit more of a challenge than Google considering the controversial policies and loophole dodging its business model sometimes has to contend with.
Regardless, Washington’s regulation and laws of the internet are quickly becoming among the most important issues our country faces with more and more facets of our lives being controlled through cyberspace. With conflicting interests and competition between giants, expect these figures and the amount of cash thrown around in regards to the internet to continue to grow.