Facebook has once again significantly increased its budget for wooing politicians. The social network giant spent $960,000 on lobbying in the second quarter of 2012, the transition quarter during which the company went public. This is up exactly 200 percent from the $320,000 the company spent in the first quarter of 2011, and up 47.69 percent from the $650,000 it spent in the fourth quarter of 2012.
As you can see in the chart below, Facebook has been lobbying since 2009 but only cranked up the gears last year. In fact, 2011 was the first year Facebook spent more than $1 million for lobbying. To put the latest numbers into perspective, Facebook spent almost $1 million this past quarter alone, and in the first half of 2012 ($1.61 million) it has already blown past its total 2011 expenses ($1.35 million):
|Report ID||Quarter||Expenditure||Report Date|
|300376569||Q2 2009||$48,137||04/20/2011 (amended)|
Facebook's 16-page lobbying report for the second quarter of 2012 (PDF) lists the following specific lobbying issues:
- International regulation of software companies; restrictions on Internet access by foreign governments; Global Online Freedom Act (H.R. 3605); preserve and advance the multistakeholder governance model (H. Con. Res. 127); protecting and advancing online freedom of expression and privacy through "observer" status of the Global Network Initiative (GNI).
- Federal policy on issues relevant to technology and Internet policy including privacy, protecting children and online safety; Implementation of Children's Online Privacy Protection Act; Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights Act of 2011 (S. 799); Personal Data Privacy and Security Act of 2011 (S. 1151); Do-Not-Track Online Act Location Privacy Protection Act of 2011 (S. 1223); Do-Not-Track Kids Act of 2011 (H.R. 1895); Consumer Privacy Protection Act of 2011 (H.R. 1528); Video Privacy Protection Act (H.R. 2471); Administration's process on Do-Not-Track / multi-stakeholder process; protecting users from employers demanding access to personal accounts (S. 3074); Password Protection Act (H.R. 5684); Secure and Fortify Electronic Data Act (H.R. 2577); Social Networking On line Protection Act (H.R. 5050).
- Education regarding Internet media information security policy and Internet privacy issues; federal privacy legislation; freedom of expression on the Internet; education regarding Facebook's ta g-suggest feature.
- Discussions regarding patent reform legislation to encourage innovation and foster the American economy and competitiveness; discussions regarding legislation to curb on line piracy; Intellectual Property Attaché Act.
- Education regarding use of social networks to reduce energy consumption.
- Education regarding online advertising.
- Discussions regarding reform of immigration system, including temporary high-tech worker visas and employment-based permanent residency; American Growth, Recovery, Empowerment and Entrepreneurship Act (AGREE Act; S. 1866); Startup Act 2.0 (S. 3217); Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act (H.R. 3012 and S. 1857).
- Discussions regarding cyber security and data security; Data Security and Breach Notification Act of 2011 (S. 1207); Personal Data Privacy and Security Act of 2011 (S. 1151); Data Breach Notification Act of 2011 (S. 1408); SAFE Data Act (H.R. 2577); Data Accountability and Trust Act (DATA) of 2011 (H.R. 1841); Data Accountability and Trust Act (H.R. 1707); Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011 (H .R. 3523); SECURE IT (S. 2151); Cyber Security Act of 2012 (S. 2105); SECURE IT Act of 2012 (H.R. 4263).
- Effect of corporate tax deduction proposals on the tech sector.
- Market structure and IPO issues.
In summary, Facebook lobbied lawmakers on advertising, cybersecurity, employment, patents, privacy, taxes, and IPO issues. There are many reasons why Facebook's lobbying is increasing: the improving U.S. economy, the upcoming 2012 presidential election, as well as the various Internet-related bills making their way through Congress.
As all technology companies of Facebook's size, the social network will continue to friend Washington, D.C. as long as it has a list of items it wants help with. Working with the government is one of many ways Facebook is working to protect its interests, and in some cases, the interests of its users.