It’s not just driverless cars — now Google is paying lobbyists to bend lawmakers’ ears about its unmanned aircraft too.
Technology companies seem to be having thoughts about their efforts to engage directly in the political process.
I visualized a trove of data from MapLight about the issues on which internet companies are lobbying Congress. Here are the results of that, as well as links to the raw data.
U.S. mobile industry group CTIA has named former FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker its new CEO and President. She will replace retiring CTIA chief Steve Largent on June 2, and brings a pretty long CV working on both the government and lobbying side of telecom policy. She served in the Obama Administration’s Federal Communications Commission from 2009 to 2011 before controversially resigning to become to become SVP for government affairs for Comcast-NBCUniversal(s cmsca). Before that, she worked as Deputy Secretary of Commerce under George W. Bush and acting head of the National Telecommunications of Information Administration, which manages federal airwaves.
Most Googlers you meet are Democrats but their company, adapting to the ways of Washington, has discovered a newfound taste for funding conservative groups like Heritage Action.
Gigi Sohn’s appointment is a very loud message of some sort from new FCC chair Tom Wheeler to the media and telecom bar on K Street, and their water-carriers on Capitol Hill, but what exactly that message says is not yet clear.
Having a larger presence in the nation’s capital and making friends with the policymakers that can wield great power over its reputation and fortunes may just be something Apple has to do.
No company likes to be on the receiving end of an antitrust suit by the Department of Justice, but Apple is having trouble hiding its contempt for the government’s case against it over an alleged e-book price-fixing conspiracy. Apple’s formal response to the charges, filed with the court last week, all but ridicules the government’s theory of the case and the work of the Justice Department lawyers who put it together. It accuses the government of “siding with monopoly, rather than competition, in brining [the]case,” and ignoring the “simple and incontrovertible fact [that] before 2010, there was no real competition [in the e-book market] there was only Amazon.” Ouch. Even as Apple’s lawyers were filing their takedown of the Justice Department, however, Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, was quietly slipping into Washington, DC, to begin a charm offensive on Capitol Hill, where the company finds itself facing growing scrutiny, over its privacy practices and other policies. In meetings with the majority and minority leaders of both the House and Senate, Cook reportedly did not bring up the antitrust case. But I doubt the timing of his visit was a coincidence.
Politico has a great post Wednesday that details how folks in Washington are astonished Apple isn’t blanketing Capitol Hill with lobbyists and money. It goes against standard procedure in our nation’s capital, but as is well known in tech, Apple doesn’t tend to follow standard procedures
In the wake of the epic battle over SOPA and PIPA, companies in Silicon Valley have been ramping up their political and lobbying efforts in Washington. Last month, Google hired former Republican Rep. Susan Molinari to run its DC shop and to give the Democrat-affiliated technology company more traction within the GOP. Now comes word that Netflix is getting in the game. The company has filed paperwork to form a political action committee (PAC) to be called Flixpac, which will allow Netflix to contribute money directly to political campaigns. The company has hired lobbyists in Washington in the past to work on specific issues or bills, but this is the first time it has sought to get involved directly in campaigns. Facebook formed a PAC late last year. The growing traffic between Silicon Valley and Washington isn’t just going one way, however. Having put itself on the political map in the SOPA fight, the technology industry — and its cash — now finds itself being wooed aggressively by both political parties. Republicans in particular see an opportunity to capitalize on the Valley’s estrangement from Democratic-affiliated Hollywood and anti-regulatory instincts to win friends in what has been thought of as a Democratic stronghold. Moral of the story: Be careful what you wish for.