When the content producers actively lobbied in favor of SOPA and initially had Washington on their side, a lot of us did realize that Silicon Valley had a very limited influence in Congress. Although one of the tech giants, Google, went for a blackout which had a massive, perhaps decisive impact on the whole SOPA issue. But it seems that Google has realized that a well-established relationship with lawmakers is critically important.
The amount of influence exerted by a company on Congress can mostly be gauged from the amount of money spent by that company to support the Representatives. Google has been steadily increasing the amount of money it spends on Representatives. This clearly indicates Google’s strategy to have good terms with the lawmakers, so that they can be called upon in need.
During the first quarter of 2012, Google spent a whooping $5.03 million for this purpose. This is a huge amount spent for political purposes in a single quarter – well ahead of the amount spent by Verizon or Comcast.
Google is now among the top corporations in terms of money spent on Washington and having the biggest lobbies. To see the contrast just take a look at the spending other tech companies made. AT&T spent some $6.84 during the same quarter, Facebook a mere $650,000, Microsoft $1.72 million and Apple a total of $500,000.
The increasing political expenditure, and a number of other gestures from Google, suggests that the company is actively seeking to to exert influence over lawmakers on a number of issues. Does this mean something bad? Most probably, no. Since we have seen how content producers were able to outdo tech companies over SOPA. Tech companies need their own army in Washington and can be relevant in Washington’s bills and policies that way. And, it is in fact a good sign that Google has realized this and started working on it.