Big Tech turns dominant political lobbyist in US

Dhaka,  Mon,  26 June 2017
Published : 19 Jun 2017, 15:04:51
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Big Tech turns dominant political lobbyist in US

Over the past few years, Big Tech has quietly become the dominant political lobbying power in Washington, spending huge amounts of cash and exerting serious soft power in an effort to avoid regulatory disruption of its business model, which is now the most profitable one in the private sector, according to a global media report Monday.

Companies rich in intellectual property like those that sit in Silicon Valley now control about 80 per cent of the global corporate pie.

Over the past few years, they have begun spreading that money liberally around Washington. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the internet and electronics industry together spent a record $181m on federal lobbying in 2015 and $178.5m in 2016, making them the second-largest corporate lobbyist, behind Big Pharma. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is now the tenth-largest individual corporate spender in the country.

That’s only what we can see. Silicon Valley also funds any number of unrelated non-governmental organisations or interest groups that then help argue the corporate case, either explicitly or by not pursuing agendas that could be harmful to tech.

Google alone has thrown money at more than 140 such third-party entities, from the American Library Association to the American Association of People with Disabilities, the National Hispanic Media Coalition and the Center for American Progress, as well as funding several academic institutions and media fellowships.

Google, Facebook and other major tech firms also have their own revolving door between Washington and industry, regularly hiring influential government officials who then move in and out of business and policy circles, pushing tech-friendly notions like the idea that privacy is somehow a civil liberty infringement, or that cheaper prices should be the key metric for consumer good.

- SZ
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