Although Europe is known as the most rigorous watchdog of Big Tech, that reputation is at great threat as the tech industry’s aggressive lobbying in recent years has led to regulations and policies that has seen power shift from states to corporations, and the wider impact of this is now evident across the continent.
In recent years, the ‘Big Four’ tech companies – Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple – have increased their lobbying expenditure in the European Union from a collective €2.8 million in 2013 to €15.25 million in 2018, a 444 percent increase within that period.
Google accounted for more than half of that amount, with €8 million spent in 2018, representing a 1,233 percent rise since 2011 when it spent just €600,000, while Facebook has seen a 2,233 percent increase – from €150,000 to €3.5 million – between the same time period, and this upward trend shows no sign of stopping as its lobbying expenses for 2019 grew to €4.25 million.
The number of lobbyists representing these companies has also seen a drastic rise. Google went from having just seven declared lobbyists in Brussels in 2013 to 16 according to the most recent figures. Facebook has gone from eight lobbyists in 2011 to 25, Amazon from five to ten, and Apple from five to seven.
Between 2009 and 2018, Google hired a total of 23 people from EU institutions according to Transparency International, 11 of whom specifically lobby the European Union, highlighting the revolving door phenomenon across the EU institutions.
Microsoft, meanwhile, has spent no less than €4.25 million each year between 2011 to 2018, with a total of €36.5 million which trumps the…