According tomedia outlet AppleInsider, FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google) spent record amounts of money on lobbying politicians in 2019, and Apple spent a record $7.4 million on lobbying last year. Apple’s lobbying spending in 2019 increased by $700,000 from $6.7 million in 2018, according to mandatory disclosures filed Tuesday, the Washington Post reported. The tech giant set aside just over $7.2 million for similar work in 2017.
While Apple tends to avoid political battles, it does engage with the U.S. government on issues it considers to be of great social or financial importance. Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, has spent the past three years closely with U.S. President Donald Trump and the current administration, leading high-level lobbying efforts to keep Apple’s products from being shut in, and Apple appears to have benefited. Recently, however, Mr. Trump has asked Apple and Cook to repay those benefits by helping the FBI “unlock” or break the iPhone encryption agreement.
In addition to Mr. Cook’s personal efforts, Apple hired pro-Trump lobbyists in November to try to minimize the impact of trade frictions. Last year, the company also tried to lobby lawmakers to block the “repair right” legislation, which makes it easier for customers to repair their electronics.
Apple spent far less on lobbying in 2019 than Facebook, Amazon and Google, spending $16.7 million, $16.1 million and $11.8 million, respectively. Google’s spending is down sharply from $21.7 million in 2018. Netflix’s lobbying spending was $850,000, up slightly from $800,000 a year earlier.
The increase in spending goes hand in hand with further scrutiny of technology, industry practices and potential negative impacts on the consumer market, which have led to multiple investigations into so-called antitrust issues involving Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google.
In July, the U.S. Department of Justice formally announced an investigation into the operations of large technology companies to uncover potential anticompetitive behavior, monopolies and other related issues. A similar investigation by the United States Federal Trade Commission is under way. Lawmakers are investigating Apple’s business over concerns that it is acting as a “gatekeeper” for the platform and restricting competition and parental control of app and App Store management through “Sherlocking.”