Google and Facebook continued to pour millions of dollars into federal political lobbying in the third quarter in attempts to influence U.S. lawmakers and have legislation written in their favor.
Google spent US$3.94 million between July and September while Facebook spent $2.45 million, according to disclosure data published Tuesday.
The only tech-related company to outspend Google was Comcast, which is trying to convince politicians to look favorably on a merger with Time Warner and spent $4.23 million during the quarter.
But Google stands as the largest spender in the entire tech industry to date this year. It has run up a $13 million bill lobbying Washington, D.C., politicians and their offices on a range of issues as diverse as online regulation of advertising, cybersecurity, patent abuse, health IT, international tax reform, wind power and drones.
If industry spending continues at its current level, 2014 will mark the fourth year that Google has spent more money on federal lobbying than any other technology company.
Facebook began lobbying Washington, D.C., in 2009 and has quickly risen to become the fourth largest spender in the tech industry so far this year, behind Google, Comcast and AT&T.
The company's lobbying hits an equally diverse range of areas including cyberbreaches, online privacy, free trade agreements, immigration reform, Department of Defense spending and intellectual property issues.
Another notable spender in the third quarter was Amazon, which ploughed $1.18 million into its lobbying efforts. That represents a quarterly record for the Seattle company and is the second quarter in a row that it has spent more than a million dollars on lobbying.
Amazon's lobbying was aimed at many of the same areas targeted by Google and Facebook, but covered additional subjects close to its business, including postal reform, online wine sales, mobile payments and Internet tax payments.
The money is funneled to D.C. lobbying firms that use it to push their clients' agendas to politicians and their staffers. The lobbying disclosure reports are published quarterly by the U.S. Senate and detail spending in general areas, but do not go into specifics.
Lobbying has long been an effective tool used by major companies, but it's only been in the last few years that Internet companies have started spending money in amounts to rival traditional tech giants.
During the third quarter, other major spenders included Verizon ($2.91 million), CTIA ($1.95 million), Microsoft ($1.66 million) and Oracle ($1.2 million).
Apple spent just over a million dollars in the quarter lobbying on issues including consumer health legislation, transportation of lithium ion batteries, international taxes, e-books, medical devices and copyright.
Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is email@example.com