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Google spends record $5 million on lobbying

The search giant doled out a record amount to Washington lobbyists during the first quarter, a big increase over the money spent in the previous quarter.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

Google continues to up the ante on the money it spends each quarter on Washington lobbying.

The search giant spent a record $5.03 million (PDF) last quarter, according to the company's lobbying report. That figure compares with $3.76 million spent in the fourth quarter and just $1.48 million in 2011's first quarter.

Among the lobbying issues grabbing Google's attention were the regulation of online advertising, privacy and competition issues in online advertising, openness and competition in online services, and International tax reform.

The search giant devoted lobby dollars to HR 1389 - Global Online Freedom Act of 2011, a Congressional bill designed to prevent U.S. companies from cooperating with repressive foreign governments in using the Internet for censorship and surveillance. Google has of course squared off in the past with China over the censorship of its search results.

The company lobbied for H.Con.Res. 114, a bill "expressing the sense of Congress that the United States should preserve, enhance, and increase access to an open, global Internet."

Through its first-quarter lobbying dollars, Google weighed in on SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and CISPA (Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act), two proposed bills that triggered huge controversy.

SOPA failed to pass last quarter. But CISPA is alive and well, and up for a vote in the House this week. If passed, the CISPA bill would allow Internet companies to divulge confidential customer records and communications.

Google voiced its objections to SOPA, but the company hasn't made a decision on CISPA just yet. A Google spokeswoman told CNET that "we think this is an important issue and we're watching the process closely but we haven't taken a formal position on any specific legislation."

The group Consumer Watchdog, a frequent and harsh critic of the company, said today that "the record lobbying expenditures filed late Friday show that Google's executives have completely bought into the corrupt Washington power game and are now outspending some companies known for major lobbying efforts."

In comparison, Apple spent $500,000, Facebook $650,000, Microsoft $1.72 million, and Verizon $4.68 million in the quarter, according to Consumer Watchdog. AT&T, though outspent the rest, coughing up $6.84 million in lobbying dollars last quarter.

Updated 10 a.m. PT with response from Google.