Axios Pro Exclusive Content

2023 tech lobbying in review

headshot
Jan 23, 2024
Illustration of hands holding up one hundred dollar bills. Each arm is in a row and getting progressively taller, to indicate growth.

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The biggest tech companies spent roughly the same lobbying lawmakers in 2023 as they did in 2022, dishing out $68 million last year.

Driving the news: Washington had a packed tech policy agenda in 2023, with officials in Congress and federal agencies discussing semiconductor manufacturing, content moderation, artificial intelligence, kids' online safety and more.

The big picture: Despite a slight dip in overall spending last year — in 2022, tech spent $70 million — lobbying numbers are still at record levels historically.

  • For context, the same companies spent about $65 million in 2021.
  • Amazon and Meta are the biggest spenders of the group, doling out $17.8 million and $19.2 million in 2023, respectively.

By the numbers, per an Axios review of federal lobbying disclosures:

  • Google spent $2.8 million in Q4 and $12 million in 2023, compared with $11 million spent in 2022
  • Apple spent $3 million in Q4 and $9.6 million in 2023, compared with $9.3 million spent in 2022
  • Amazon spent $4.5 million in Q4 and $17.8 million in 2023, compared with $19.7 million in 2022
  • Meta spent $4.7 million in Q4 and $19.3 million in 2023, compared with $19 million in 2022
  • Microsoft spent $2.1 million in Q4 and $9 million in 2023, compared with $9.8 million in 2022

Notable mentions: Lobbying spend by ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, jumped significantly, going to $8.7 million in 2023 compared to $2.8 million in 2022, including on kids' privacy and proposed legislative bans.

  • Snap, which will face Senate Judiciary lawmakers along with its larger social media rivals next week to discuss kids' privacy, spent only $860,000 on lobbying in 2023.

Of note: Beyond standard tech policy issues of competition, privacy, AI and content moderation, Amazon lobbied on payment processing, autonomous vehicles, e-bikes, telehealth and climate.

Zoom in: Artificial intelligence continued to pop up repeatedly in tech lobbying, just as in 2023's Q3.

  • OpenAI, which registered to lobby for the first time in 2023, spent $260,000 last year.
  • The company's top lobbyist, Chan Park, came over to OpenAI from Microsoft, its major investor/partner.
  • The industry-leading and often controversial AI company lobbied on issues including cloud computing, cybersecurity and privacy, along with three AI bills introduced last year and the general topics of AI and copyright and journalism.
  • Andreessen Horowitz spent $950,000 in 2023, lobbying on digital assets, AI, and the FDA and Social Security acts.

The bottom line: Tech lobbyists in Washington will not be out of work any time soon.

Go deeper