According to the results of a study released on Tuesday, Facebook Inc, Google and Microsoft Corp are the three biggest lobbying spenders in Europe as they battle new laws aimed at curbing their influence on social media.
Such lobbying efforts are a wake-up call for EU policymakers to further beef up the draft laws and lobbying rules, said the study by campaign groups Corporate Europe Observatory and LobbyControl. It goes on to note, the tech sector outspent even the fossil fuels, pharma, finance and chemicals sectors, which used to dominate lobbying space.
“The rising lobby firepower of big tech and the digital industry as a whole mirrors the sectors’ huge and growing role in society,” said the study. “It is remarkable and should be a cause of concern that the platforms can use this firepower to ensure their voices are heard – over countervailing and critical voices – in the debate over how to construct new rules for digital platforms.”
According to the study, 612 companies, groups and associations spent more than $114.4 million (97 million euros) annually on lobbying in the EU towards digital economy policies. The data was submitted by companies to the EU Transparency Register up to mid-June this year.
Google topped the chart with its 5.75 million euros lobbying effort, followed by Facebook at 5.5 million euros, Microsoft at 5.25 million, Apple at 3.5 million, Huawei Technologies Co Ltd at 3 million and Amazon.com Inc with 2.75 million, said the study.
“We have clear policies in place to protect the independence of the people and organizations we sponsor, including a requirement to disclose funding,” said Google in an email.
“The European Union has been and remains an important stakeholder for Microsoft. We seek to be a constructive and transparent partner to European policymakers,” said Microsoft.
Facebook, Apple and Amazon did not immediately respond to requests for comments.
The tech lobbying focused on two key pieces of legislation – the Digital Markets’ Act lists do’s and don’ts for tech giants, and the Digital Services Act requires companies to do more to police content on their platforms.
The study cited the role played by trade and business associations, think tanks and even political parties in promoting the tech industry’s narrative.
($1 = 0.8476 euros)