Skip to Content

Stock photo from Unsplash
Brussels

Big Tech, the top lobbyists in the EU

With 97 million euros per year, Big Tech is the largest lobbying sector in the EU. With the sector's increasing financial power, its political influence has increased.

Published: May 9, 2022, 11:47 am

    Read more

    The largest technology companies (Big Tech) have recently spent more than 97 million euros per year lobbying the institutions of the EU to steer new legal regulations in their favour. According to the Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), an organization that studies lobbying in the EU, the digital giants are the sector with the most lobbying spending, ahead of big pharma, the oil industry, finance (12 million euros), the chemical industry (17,75 million euros) or the automotive industry (9,85 million euros).

    According to the CEO, while over 600 organizations are lobbying the EU on the subject of digital economic policy, it is dominated by just a few corporations: Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Huawei, Amazon, IBM, Intel, Qualcomm, Vodafone. These companies represent 31 percent of the expenditure (32 out of 97 million euros). Other significant lobbying contributions are made by companies in the digital platform economy: the budgets of Netflix, Airbnb, Uber, Spotify, Alibaba and eBay are between 600 000 and 900 000 euros.

    The top lobbyists work behind the scenes

    The high spending gives Big Tech firms privileged access to policy makers. Their representatives held 271 meetings with high officials of the EU administration, namely the EU Commission, the EU Parliament and the EU Council. Lobbying is also often done indirectly, for example via think tanks (e.g. the European Center for International Political Economy, which is funded by Google), consulting and PR firms (e.g. FleishmanHillard), law firms, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), industry associations or academic institutions .

    According to the CEO, lobbyists from the six largest tech platforms and IT infrastructure companies have met with the EU Commission since December 2019. Google met 46 times, Facebook and Microsoft 40 times each, Amazon 20 times and Apple and Huawei 14 times each. That works out to 174 contacts for the top group alone, or over three contacts per week.

    The danger of lobbyists

    The dangers that emanate from this are broad: Combating a narrow definition of “misinformation”, censorship on the Internet, general surveillance of the population and monopoly efforts undermine democratic principles, are sad examples of too much influence wielded by these corporations.

    Another example is Big Tech’s lobbying campaign to prevent restrictions on its invasive, profitable advertising surveillance model, a core business of digital companies like Google and Facebook.

    In this model, data traces of Internet users are recorded and profiles are created, which can then be used in a targeted manner – from car advertising to the manipulation of voters’ preferences. The Harvard economist Shoshana Zuboff criticized this model for systematically violating the private sphere of citizens without their knowledge and for being based on a monopoly.

    Zuboff’s work is the source of many original concepts including “surveillance capitalism”, “instrumentarian power”, “the means of behavior modification”, “information civilization”, the “individualization of consumption” and “the coup from above”.

    Many issues that plague contemporary society including the assault on privacy and the so-called “privacy paradox”, behavioral targeting, fake news, ubiquitous tracking, legislative and regulatory failure, algorithmic governance, social media addiction, abrogation of human rights, democratic destabilization, and more are reinterpreted and explained through the lens of surveillance capitalism’s economic and social imperatives.

    Big Tech has intensified lobbying

    Over the past decade, Big Tech has steadily increased its influence, replacing previously dominant lobbying sectors such as finance and big pharma, according to CEO. In 2013, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon spent 7,3 million euros (a third of today’s amount). With the exception of Microsoft, the budgets were all under one million euros.

    In a year-on-year comparison from 2021 to 2020, some of the largest technology companies have increased their lobbying budgets in connection with recent negotiations on legal provisions (Digital Services Act, Digital Markets Act) affecting the technology and digital sector, most notably Apple.

    According to the CEO, Apple ‘s main concern was to fight regulatory measures that could loosen its control over the App Store or Apple’s mobile operating system. For this, the big tech group hired the Atlantic Council think tank, which invited EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders to an unofficial dinner with Apple. The whole thing happened in September 2021, when the EU Parliament and the EU Council were still discussing their positions on the Digital Markets Act.

    Critics of the legislation have said it could break encryption for messaging, making products less useful for users, and it provides little clarity on how companies should be regulated. The final text will drastically affect consumers across the globe. Despite this, the discussions among the entities concerned took place behind closed doors.

    “A new set of lobby documents released by the European Commission and Swedish Government via freedom of information requests, shows intense corporate lobbying to shape the final stage EU discussions of new tech rule,” the CEO warned. The lobbyists have tried to limit surveillance ads and expand external scrutiny of how the platforms’ systems amplify or demote content.

    The International Center for Law and Economics is worried that the DMA “appears to blur the line between regulation and antitrust by mixing their respective features and goals”.

    Consider donating to support our work

    Help us to produce more articles like this. FreeWestMedia is depending on donations from our readers to keep going. With your help, we expose the mainstream fake news agenda.

    Keep ​your language polite​. Readers from many different countries visit and contribute to Free West Media and we must therefore obey the rules in​,​ for example​, ​Germany. Illegal content will be deleted.

    If you have been approved to post comments without preview from FWM, you are responsible for violation​s​ of​ any​ law. This means that FWM may be forced to cooperate with authorities in a possible crime investigation.

    If your comments are subject to preview ​by FWM, please be patient. We continually review comments but depending on the time of day it can take up to several hours before your comment is reviewed.

    We reserve the right to del​ete​ comments that are offensive, contain slander or foul language, or are irrelevant to the discussion.

    Europe

    Retired Turkish admiral questions wisdom of Sweden and Finland joining NATO

    AnkaraRetired Turkish Rear Admiral Ali Deniz Kutluk said the constant expansion has turned NATO into a cumbersome and unmanageable organisation. The discussed inclusion in the North Atlantic Alliance of two more countries – Finland and Sweden – will make the structure even weaker, and ultimately more dangerous for current members.

    Latest Great Reset fantasy: Ban food photography!

    BerlinLast week, German Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) made a typical political mistake: Rules for thee but not for me. In order to reduce the "energy consumption" of advancing digitalisation, Wissing seriously recommended that Germans refrain from frequently posting photos of food on the internet. Then his Instagram posts surfaced.

    Spain: Toy advertisements may no longer be pink or blue

    MadridIn Catholic Spain, of all places, gender activists have won a new victory. Children's and babies' toys may now no longer be advertised in "gender-specific" colours such as pink and light blue. In Germany, woke parents are subjecting their children to the same grooming.

    Global demand for vaccines drops sharply

    Chinese biotech firm Kexing Holdings has made a fortune selling Sinovac's Chinese vaccine. A few days ago, however, it became known that the bonus payments were withheld and most of the workforce has been laid off. Exports of Chinese vaccines (Sinovac, Sinopharm, CanSino) were 97 percent lower in April than in September 2021.

    Finland will apply for NATO membership – Sweden will follow on Monday

    HelsinkiIt is now clear – Finland will apply for NATO membership on Sunday. Sweden will submit an application on Monday according to information.

    Great Reset: ‘Famine threatens to wipe out 300 million’

    BerlinThe mainstream media has repeated the simple logic regarding the supposed causal chain of the current disrupted trade and supply flows and global supply shortages: It is the aftermath of the Ukraine war, the inevitable consequences of morally justified sanctions against Russia, and repercussions of the "pandemic".

    Sweden: Large increase in individuals with intellectual disabilities

    StockholmAccording to a study published in the Swedish journal Psykologtidningen, a sharp increase in the diagnosis of mild intellectual disability is seen in Sweden. The worst affected is Örebro, where the increase is over 600 percent. At the same time, researchers warn that the IQ is falling in Sweden year by year.

    Hungary announces veto on oil embargo

    BudapestHungary has announced that it will veto the EU's planned embargo on Russian oil imports. The country will not vote for the sanctions package as it will destroy Hungary's secure and stable energy supply and make it impossible to source the oil needed for the economy, according to Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó.

    Canadian sniper: ‘The war is a terrible disappointment’

    MontrealThe Canadian newspaper La Presse published an interview with Wali, a sniper who had returned from Ukraine. In short, "one of the best snipers in the world" fired only two shots in two months.

    Soros, Gates, Democrats linked to letter attacking Musk’s Twitter acquisition

    Los AngelesEver since Elon Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion, a power struggle has been raging over the future endangered narratives of the "elites". The EU and other globalist organizations have threatened Musk with sanctions if he made the platform too open.

    Go to archive