Tech giants like Facebook, Apple, Google, Twitter and Microsoft spent $64 million last year in the hopes of helping to influence regulations and combat increased scrutiny from U.S. politicians, according to a report in The Washington Post.
Google spent the most at $21 million. Last year, it spent about $18 million. Tech companies have been increasingly in the spotlight, especially after a slew of scandals and the idea that the companies are mishandling people’s personal data without consent.
The increased oversight caused many top execs to testify before congress, including Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Experts expect the increased scrutiny to continue into 2019, as politicians have introduced bills that would police how companies get and use people’s data.
Linda Moore, president of TechNet, a Washington, D.C.-based trade group that represents tech companies like Apple, Facebook and Google, said the oversight was a symptom of success.
“When you come of age as an industry, as we have, and you make so many things possible, you’re also going to be under scrutiny for all of the consequences of that, too,” she said.
Facebook spent about $12.6 million lobbying last year, and Twitter spent more than $1 million. Amazon spent $14 million.
Lawmakers are especially concerned with how algorithms use data and about the proliferation of abusive content like hate speech.
Daniel Castro, vice president at the tech think tank Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, said those issues aren’t going away, and could be a big factor in 2019.
“The question is, is that the start of a new era where they’re up here every year?” he said. “Or is it that it was just a pressure point, that they needed to come up here and answer some serious questions, but after that we move on to the regular way of doing business in Washington?”