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Netflix powers up PAC to boost Washington profile

Why would a Web video-rental service need a political action committee? To help support lawmakers who support things like Net neutrality, consumer protection, and copyright issues.

Cue up 'Mr. Hastings goes to Washington.' Netflix has boosted its lobbying efforts and now is forming a PAC
Greg Sandoval/CNET

Netflix has formed a political action committee called Flixpac, records show.

Under federal election rules, PACs are allowed to make donations directly to federal candidates of up to $5,000 per election.

The formation of Flixpac is just the latest sign that the technology sector is raising its profile on Capitol Hill. The news about Flixpac was first reported by Politico.

Politico wrote that Netflix's lobbying costs have gone from $20,000 in 2009 to $500,000 last year. The documents that Netflix filed with the government for its PAC were signed by Christopher Libertelli, hired in December as Netflix's new chief of global government relations. Prior to that, Libertelli served in a similar position at Skype.

While Politico wrote that Netflix is likely going in this direction because of the company's interest in antipiracy efforts, the truth is that Netflix stayed neutral on the Stop Online Piracy Act, even as most of the other top Web firms were rallying against the antipiracy legislation.

The company has never been very vocal about copyright issues one way or the other.

Netflix has appeared much more concerned about Net neutrality and protecting the company from Internet service providers that conceivably could use their networks to hamstring companies like Netflix to protect their own video services.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has been critical of Comcast and other bandwidth providers that seek to charge more money for the video traffic they deliver over their networks.