Apple ramped up lobbying spending in 2022, outpacing tech peers

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Chief Executive Officer of Apple Tim Cook (L) arrives at the White House to attend a state dinner honoring French President Emmanuel Macron, in Washington, DC, on December 1, 2022.

Roberto Schmidt | AFP | Getty Images

Apple ramped up its lobbying spending last year, increasing its total for the year by 44% compared to 2021, according to public disclosures.

Though Apple’s lobbying spending grew the most in the past year compared to peers in the industry, it still spends far below other tech giants. Apple’s total lobbying efforts came to nearly $9.4 million for all of 2022, a record for the company but just below Microsoft’s $9.8 million and Google’s $10.9 million.

Amazon and Facebook-owner Meta topped the list by total spend, doling out $19.7 million and $19.2 million, respectively. For Amazon, that was a roughly 2% increase in spend compared to 2021 and it was a 4.6% decrease for Meta.

The five tech giants spent a combined nearly $69 million lobbying the federal government last year, a 5% increase compared to 2021.

In 2022, tech giants faced the prospect of bipartisan legislation that would be highly disruptive to their business models. Such measures included antitrust bills that would prohibit large platforms or online marketplaces from unfairly promoting their own products over others listed on their forums, or prevent app stores from forcing developers to use their in-app payment system, from which they often take a cut.

Those measures ultimately never got a vote on the floor of either chamber of Congress — a fact that the bills’ sponsors have blamed at least in part on an aggressive tech influence campaign.

Apple’s public filing shows it engaged on the antitrust bills in the fourth quarter, as well as on issues including online privacy, taxes, semiconductor policy, content moderation, climate change, immigration and LGBTQ issues including the Respect for Marriage Act. Lobbying disclosures do not include details on what exactly companies advocated for in their discussions.

An Apple spokesperson was not immediately available to comment.

Other tech companies engaged on many of the same issues, though some also lobbied on topics more specific to their businesses. For example, Amazon engaged on cloud computing and the INFORM Consumers Act, a bill that recently passed through Congress that seeks to deter counterfeit goods from being sold online.

Semiconductor companies also saw big increases in their lobbying spending last year as the government considered the CHIPS and Science Act, successful legislation that provides incentives to help grow U.S. computer chip production.

Intel, which has pledged to spend up to $100 billion on a chip manufacturing plant in Ohio, ramped up its lobbying spend more than 72% compared to last year, totaling more than $7 million. Micron, which made a similar pledge to build a chip production facility in upstate New York, grew its lobbying spending by about 118% compared to 2021, totaling nearly $4.2 million.

Crypto and fintech companies also saw a marked increase in lobbying spending in 2022, a year marked by crypto scandal, though many still spend a relatively small amount. Coinbase resumed lobbying efforts last year after a long hiatus, according to a public database. It’s quickly grown its operations, spending $3.4 million in 2022. The Blockchain Association, which represents a variety of companies in the space and has only lobbied for a few years, grew its spending 111% compared to 2021.

Another company that has been in the government’s crosshairs, TikTok owner ByteDance, saw only modest growth in spending this year, up about 4% from the year prior at $4.9 million. Congress successfully passed a ban of the app on government devices. It comes as the company seeks to reach a resolution with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. to continue operations while mitigating the risk of its connections to a Chinese owner, which has raised alarms for intelligence officials and policymakers. After having its biggest lobbying quarter in Q2, topping $2 million, it dropped its spending below $1 million for the next two quarters.

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